Magnus Carlsen remains World Chess Champion!

NOVEMBER 25 -- Magnus Carlsen came alive with a stunning win in Game 11 that ensured he retain his title over Viswanathan Anand, the five-time world champion he so easily dethroned a year ago in Chennai, India.

In a position where Carlsen's pressing in yet another Berlin had gone nowhere and when he was drifting into a difficult position after he overlooked Anand's brilliant 23...b5, all it took was a miscue missing 26...Be7 and instead opting for an easily misjudged exchange sacrifice for the younger man to turn the tables around with exactly calculated sharp moves played quickly with absolute confidence.  

Magnus Carlsen... still the world champion for another year
Magnus Carlsen... still the world champion for another year

This time around Anand put up a much better fight in this match but in the end Carlsen proved to be the much better player overall and the final score of 6.5-4.5 was probably a fair reflection of their respective abilities.

Carlsen showed many of his strengths in this match but it was obvious that he is not quite the complete player. Clearly this "rematch" just a year later came a bit too quickly for a young man who was starting to be busy being world champion and he will have to do rather a lot more work to win against a younger rival should that be the case in his next title defence.

In several respects Anand showed how good he was and how superior preparation in the openings could be a winning weapon but age had taken its toll and he also did not seem to believe he was the better player or had a real chance to win.
After 8 games into the 12-game match, World Champion Magnus Carlsen enjoyed a minimal one point lead over challenger and former World Champion Viswanathan Anand with the score standing at 4.5-3.5.

Several experts were even saying that everything was still possible as the last few games of a match is different while other pundits were certain that Carlsen was sure to retain his title given Anand's apparent reluctance to take too many risks.

Game 9

In Game 9, Carlsen had White, knowing a win would all but ensure he would remain world champion and it was again a Berlin after 1 e4. The game was unexpectedly short, once again Anand showing superior preparation and Carlsen quickly deciding to bail out by taking a draw through perpetual check after understanding very correctly to try and continue would have led to a position where Anand had everything to play for.

Game 10

This handed the initiative back to Anand in the next game where he had White notwithstanding he was a point behind as a win would not only equalise the score but strike a huge psychological blow while giving him the momentum.

Anand as expected played 1 d4 and surprisingly Carlsen opted for the Grunfeld which he had some trouble with in the very first game of the match and it became quite clear that he and his team have not quite solved all the problems with Anand building up an excellent and perhaps more importantly a sharp position but as we had seen so many times in this match, at critical moments the older man chose a safer continuation and once again Carlsen escaped. What was even more worrying was Anand, as he had also done before, did not try very hard, in fact initiating the simplifications to make the draw.

Game 11

Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was no match for the younger Magnus Carlsen whom he first lost to last year.
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was no match for the younger Magnus Carlsen whom he first lost to last year.

​So the stage was set for the last two games, a win in the penultimate Game 11 with White for Carlsen while a win for Anand would set up a decider in the last game where he would have the White pieces.

Our thanks to, the championship game with notes is given below:


The Ruy Lopez
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Bd7. Anand chose the calmer 9...Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 in games 7 and 9. For the decisive battle, he picked out another critical branch of the Berlin Defence.
10.Nc3 h6 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 c5!? 13.Rad1 b6 14.Rfe1 (14.Nd5 is more common).

14...Be6. Leading the game away from the previous paths by top players; for example, 14...Ne7 15.Ne2 Ng6 was played in Anand-Nakamura, London 2010.
15.Nd5 g5!? (neutralizing Nf4 once and for all) 16.c4 Kb7 17.Kh2!? a5 18.a4. This is usual for the Berlin Wall: White has to accept the potential weakness on b3 if he wants to prevent a5-a4 and lock the queenside.
18...Ne7! 19.g4 Ng6 20.Kg3 Be7 21.Nd2 Rhd8 22.Ne4 (22.Nxe7 Nxe7 23.Ne4 Ng6 leads to mutual chances)22...Bf8! 23.Nef6?!

23...b5! A brilliant positional sacrifice by Anand. Black tries to open up the queenside without c7-c6 (this square can be useful for the king). However, the problem is White is not obliged to accept the gift, and the position remains closed.
24.Bc3. After 24.axb5 a4! the a8-rook comes into the play, and Black's compensation for the pawn is at least sufficient in case of either 25.bxa4 or 25.Re3 a3!. Even worse is 24.cxb5? c6!, and White can't secure his d5-knight -- see the annotation to the 18th move!
24...bxc4 25.bxc4 Kc6!

26.Kf3! Perhaps it was this interesting decision that has disordered Anand's analytical mechanism: with so many pieces present, the king calmly goes to the very centre to protect the knight! An illustrative line is, for example, 26...Ne7?! 27.Ke4!.
26...Rdb8. Black was having a really difficult time trying to choose between many lines. The commentators -- Svidler and Nepomniachtchi -- were also jumping from one move to another. Anand was considering 26...Bg7 in order to attack White's construction in the centre, but in this case White has 27.Nh5 Bh8 28.Ke4! (again) with rough equality.
However, 26...Be7! would have posed definite problems for White. The position after 27.Ke4 Bxf6 28.exf6 is the one Vishy meant while thinking of 26...Bg7, although, as he admitted, he wasn't already "thinking very clearly" (probably as well as many other journalists, commentators and translators at the end of the match - AD). Black is somewhat better after 28...Bxd5+ (28...Rd6!? - Anand) 29.cxd5+ Kd6, but the situation isn't looking fatal for White.

27.Ke4! Rb4?! "I don't think his exchange sacrifice was justified" - Carlsen. "I can't understand why I went for the exchange sacrifice... I saw that I could play 27...Rb3 and it's roughly equal: 28.Rb1 Rab8 29.Rxb3 Rxb3 30.Bxa5 Ra3 31.Bxc7 Rxa4" - Anand.
28.Bxb4 cxb4?! It's clear that Anand's idea was to bring the f8-bishop back to life, not only to create the protected passed pawn. However, his central fortification becomes much weaker once the c5-pawn goes aside. After 28...axb4 Black's compensation for the exchange could have been nearly sufficient.

29.Nh5 (the immediate 29.f4 is interesting too) 29...Kb7 (preparing c7-c6; the alternative was 29...Re8) 30.f4! gxf4. The irrational line 30...Bd7 31.f5 Bxa4 32.fxg6 fxg6 33.Nhf6 Bc2+!? 34.Kd4 Bxd1 35.Rxd1 c6 is an interesting chance but still doesn't work due to 36.Nd7! cxd5 37.cxd5 and the white pawns are far more dangerous.
31.Nhxf4 Nxf4?! 31...c6 is more persistent. Now Carlsen delivers a series of final blows.

32.Nxf4! (32.Kxf4? c6! would have led to a type of position desirable for Black) 32...Bxc4 33.Rd7! The only winning move! Black can't repel both threats (Nd5 and Rc1) at the same time.
33...Ra6. As Anand had said once: "In a bad position, all moves are bad", and this is exactly the case. If 33...Kc6 then 34.Rd4 or 34.Rd2 are good enough, with the same follow-up: Rc1, Nd5, etc.
34.Nd5! (not 34.Rc1? Rc6) 34...Rc6 35.Rxf7 Bc5.

36.Rxc7+! Rxc7 37.Nxc7 Kc6 (37...b3 38.Ne8 and Nd6 is also hopeless; 37...Kxc7 38.Rc1 is just resignable)38.Nb5 Bxb5 39.axb5+ Kxb5. It might seem that there is some hope for Black due to his connected passed pawns, but in fact he is too short of time for anything real.

40.e6 (White can already choose from several ways) 40...b3 41.Kd3 Be7 42.h4! a4 43.g5 hxg5 44.hxg5 a3 45.Kc3. 1–0 (Annotated by GM Mikhail Golubev, translated from Russian by GM Andrey Deviatkin)