Anand Remains a Strong Force in World Chess Despite Unfortunate Defeat

Champions are Human too — Interesting Revelations from the Match

Why this haste, Vishy! For once in the world chess championship you were not under any time pressure, demonstrating your strengths in rapid chess! But then you came up with a miscalculation that gave Magnus Carlsen (24) an easy title!

It was indeed an unfortunate defeat for Viswanathan Anand (44) in Round 12 last night from what appeared to be a position of strength for him. Having gained the b-file with his rook, he had the edge. I was thinking he would take the rook deep into white’s (territory) and put pressure on Carlsen.

Instead, he made a needless exchange sacrifice and everything else fizzled out. He simply threw away his control of the b-file and with it the match. Childish euphoria over a non-existent attack he had imagined!

But this is not to say rather dismissively that he fumbled, as The Hindu headlined the game report today —

Miscalculation in a Position of Strength

Vishy made the game exciting by playing for a win but just when I was thinking nothing can go wrong for him, he threw caution to the wind and came up with the rook-for-bishop miscalculation, giving the world champion a huge sigh of relief!

An open b-file with the opportunity to line up two rooks is a potent weapon than a closed one with just one rook! And that with the opponent left with two rooks!

Some Revelations

I did not think the least a five-time world champion like Anand will come up with such a costly mistake at a crucial stage when he was calling the shots!

But there were other revelations as well during the two-week-long championship.

  • Carlsen came across as someone beatable, unlike the youngest champion he was when he easily beat Anand in 2013 without losing a single game. It then appeared he would hold the world in a thrall with compelling chess and become a player as formidable as Gary Kasparov or even late Bobby Fischer, who I hold as the best ever player.

— Here Magnus lost in game 3 and Anand could have pulled one more in round 6 but his failure to pounce on a blunder from the world number 1 saw him lose a second time in the championship. Anand had the upperhand in game 10 as well, but did not push hard enough.

  • Both were prone to making impulsive blunders, something we hardly expect from world champions. But then they are human, too, not machines!
  • Almost throughout, Carlsen appeared nervous (not that Vishy was not!) and was hardly showing his usual confidence, preferring to play it safe and going for an exchange of all major pieces, including the Queen.
  • Anand did little to preempt that, allowing Carlsen to simplify the position and wait for the opponent to make a mistake.

No Meek Surrender

All said, Vishy did not give in meekly and gave no indication that age was working against him though there were indications Carlsen was trying to wear him down with one game stretching to 122 moves.

It is not going to be easy for Anand to have another go at the title with world number 2 Fabiano Caruana of Italy, who is only 22, already close to toppling Carlsen in the ranking stakes . But Anand gave enough evidence that he still has it in him to give younger players a hard time!

Personally, I hope to see him again vying for the title in a year or two!

G Joslin Vethakumar


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