Monday, November 25

16th World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Magnus the Champ!  (photo from Chessbase)

Once the subject of a book titled Wonderboy, the Norwegian superstar Magnus Carlsen has reached the pinnacle of chess.  He played in his first tournament at age 8, became Grandmaster at 13, earned the #1 rating in the world at 19, and finally claimed the World Championship one week before his 23rd birthday!

In a match watched around the globe, Carlsen defeated the Indian national hero Viswanathan Anand, nearly twice his age, with a dominant performance.  The final score was 6.5 to 3.5.   Already the youngest to reach #1 and the third youngest Grandmaster in history, Carlsen now stands as the second youngest champion, barely older than his former trainer Garry Kasparov.

The following list includes all of the classical World Champions, following the lineage of Kasparov after he broke away from FIDE in 1993. Vladimir Kramnik vanquished Kasparov in 2000 and reunified the chess championship in 2006.

  1. Wilhelm Steinitz 1886-1894
  2. Emanuel Lasker 1894-1921
  3. José Raúl Capablanca 1921-1927
  4. Alexander Alekhine 1927-1935 and 1937-1946
  5. Max Euwe 1935-1937
  6. Mikhail Botvinnik 1948-1957, 1958-1960 and 1961-1963
  7. Vasily Smyslov 1957-1958
  8. Mikhail Tal 1960-1961
  9. Tigran Petrosian 1963-1969
  10. Boris Spassky 1969-1972
  11. Bobby Fischer 1972-1975
  12. Anatoly Karpov 1975-1985
  13. Garry Kasparov 1985-2000
  14. Vladimir Kramnik 2000-2006
  15. Viswanathan Anand 2006-2013
  16. Magnus Carlsen 2013-

Make sure to check out this Time magazine article written by Kasparov himself.

Wednesday, November 20

Carlsen Takes Command in Chennai

Carlsen plays e7-e5 after Anand opened 1.e4.
This article appeared first at the Internet Chess Club.
Eight games into the World Championship match, Magnus Carlsen leads Vishy Anand by two points, 5:3.  Who could have predicted this?  Two weeks ago, pundits touted the importance of match experience as a factor favoring the reigning World Champion.  Yet the veteran blinked first, and then again.  Contrary to popular belief, the youthful challenger displayed nerves of steel, calculating precise moves when pressured, all while patiently waiting for his opponent to slip.

After four rounds of draws, blood spilled in Game 5.  Carlsen maintained a small but steady advantage with the White pieces, forcing a favorable endgame by move 20.  Over the past two decades, Anand has survived many similar positions against elite competition.  However, the determined young Norwegian maximized the complications, and the champion finally collapsed.

Game 6 followed an eerily similar script, except that Anand played the White pieces.  Carlsen equalized quickly, and by move 30, draw seemed almost inevitable.  No doubt any self-confident Grandmaster around the world would expect to hold the draw.  How would they fare against Magnus?  Alas, it took just two substandard moves for Anand to lose the second game in a row.

A press conference follows every game.
To the chagrin of chess fans in India and elsewhere, Games 7 and 8 ended
peacefully without adventure.  One can understand Carlsen's motivation: every draw brings him closer to the title.  Anand, however, trails two sets to none while playing on home turf, in front of his greatest supporters.  Roger Federer overcame this deficit often enough.  Why not Vishy?  Has the champion given up?

The 43 year old Indian emerged on the world stage in the late 1980s.  Anand won at Wijk aan Zee for the first time in 1989, nearly two years before Carlsen was born!  Some readers may recall the 1995 PCA World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Anand, held at the World Trade Center in New York City.  Perhaps, after all these years, Father Time has tapped on Anand's shoulder.  Indeed, Carlsen headlines the new generation in a chess hierarchy that keeps becoming younger.

Say it ain't so, Vishy!  Fight to win a game--for your billion fans.  Tune into the Internet Chess Club on Thursday and Friday mornings to watch and listen.

And don't forget to visit the Official Website for reports, videos and photos. 

Thursday, November 14

Carlsen vs Anand for World Championship

The 15th World Champion Vishy Anand.
This article appeared first at the Internet Chess Club.

Easily the most anticipated chess event in years, the 2013 World Chess Championship in Chennai remains locked at a score of 2:2.  To the chagrin of millions of chess enthusiasts around the globe, neither the veteran title holder Vishy Anand nor his youthful challenger Magnus Carlsen has broken through yet.  Alas, not all draws can be considered boring.  In particular, Game 4 extended into the sixth hour of play and drew praise on Twitter from none other than 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov for “deep strategic planning” and “fighting human chess.”

#1 Rated in History: Magnus Carlsen.
Both competitors missed promising opportunities as the action heated up.  Playing White in Game 3, Carlsen repeated the Reti opening, but Anand confidently asserted himself for the third contest in a row.  Indeed, pundits fully expected the Indian hero to be strongest in the openings, given over two decades of experience battling the Top 10 players in the world.  The advantage grew in the middlegame and the defending champion could have captured a pawn in complications on move 29.  In time pressure, the Norwegian cleverly escaped into a drawn opposite colored bishop endgame.  

The colors and roles were reversed in Game 4, and for the first time, the challenger showed why he owns the highest chess rating in history.  He employed the Berlin defense, an opening closely associated with the Kasparov - Kramnik title match in 2000.  While Vladimir Kramnik successfully used the Berlin as a draw weapon, Carlsen wanted more.  Fearlessly, he grabbed the poisoned a2 pawn, and nearly cashed it in for victory.  Alas, Anand demonstrated that he, too, could defend cleverly, and traded into a rook endgame, still down a pawn, but dead drawn.

The gloves have come off and I expect more exciting action after the rest day.  Will Carlsen finally achieve an advantage with his third White?  Games 5 + 6 are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with another rest day on Sunday.

Check out many more photos at the Official Website.