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. 

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