Let me dally with what can be viewed as a profane exercise in offering lessons to a five-time world chess champion. I can hardly resist that urge and have been regularly tweeting about the title match between challenger Viswanathan Anand of India and champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, currently being played in Sochi.
Vishy won his titles only because of his quick-thinking attacking play, making his pieces mobile, without abandoning the need for a solid defence strategy.
Lack of Past Strengths: But all I have been seeing in the ongoing championship is a passive style with little aggression and a disinclination to venture forth and take chances to test the mettle of Carlsen.
With six of the 12 rounds complete, it was this lack of his past strength that has made Carlsen take a one-point lead. It could actually have been a two-point lead for Anand had he utilised the chances he had in rounds 5 and 6.
Blunder and Counter-Blunder: He held the upper hand in the fifth round almost throughout the game and chose to play it safe towards the end when he could have easily pushed for a win. He missed a few aggressive moves that could have applied enormous pressure on Carlsen who is about half his age.
Yesterday, in round 6, Anand was on the mat for most of the game but the reigning champion blundered in move 26 that Anand could have easily capitalised on with an Nxe5 move that will have given him a pawn and winning counter-play.
Time Management: Instead, he spent less than a minute to reply with a counter blunder. Poor time management has been in evidence from Anand who was once a lightning kid.
At this level, it is too costly to fritter away those golden opportunities. Carlsen himself admitted he was lucky to get away with it.
It is not right for an amateur like me to sit in judgment from the comfort of my home without any of the pressure the players get into on a global stage with all eyes of their peers on it. The top grandmasters of the game have been tweeting regularly move after move.
Watchers like me passing comments on achievers can be seen as uncharitable and just not right.
Journalists, Super GMs?: In fact, it is precisely for this reason that I hate it when journalists who hardly play chess write as if they are super grandmasters. It is not a game that can be covered only by someone who has excelled at it.
That is precisely why we have top grandmasters are called upon to cover events such as the world championship live.
Svidler’s Brilliance: Those who have been following online the ongoing title match will know what a fantastic job GM Peter Svidler has been doing. His super analytical ability and the speed at which he demonstrates the various options the players have even as they are mulling over it on the table is remarkable.
I have been watching every game as the time is convenient for me — starting at around 9 pm Singapore time.
I have played the game only at the district level during my days as a student in Chennai. As an active member of the Mikhail Tal Chess Club then I have had the opportunity to watch Anand, who is much younger than me, and other stalwarts play.
Vishy’s Seconds: So, I have been taking the liberty to offer my thoughts on the games. They are not necessarily lessons or tips for the champions for the remaining games.
That is something their chosen seconds for the match can do. I am hoping they will prepare Anand to go on the offensive in the remaining six rounds that will determine if Carlsen keeps the crown or will be dethroned.
Here are some good links to follow the match:
You can also check out First Post for the live matches
G Joslin Vethakumar