The three decisive games

Three victories for Magnus Carlsen turned the tables on Viswanathan Anand in their World Chess Championship match. Here is a detailed analysis of each of the decisive games. By Rakesh Rao.

Four drawn games and the pressure to make things happen was shifting towards Magnus Carlsen. His camp was beginning to worry that the team of ‘seconds’ were not able to pose any problems to Viswanathan Anand in the opening. It was clear that each successive draw brought pressure on the World No. 1 to rethink his opening strategy.

Therefore, the game opened with a few surprises.

Game Five: White: Magnus Carlsen; Black: Viswanathan Anand

Opening: Semi-Slav Defence

1.c4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 (A big surprise, regarded as a super complicated line.) 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 (this move has not been seen at this level for a long time, obviously Carlsen was avoiding Anand’s preparations) c5 7.a3 Ba5 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Be3 Nc6 10.Qd3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ng4 12.0–0–0 Nxe3 13.fxe3 Bc7 Inaccuracy, first critical point in the game. [13...Nxd4 14.exd4 0–0 was better] (Carlsen immediately sensed his chances of getting into a slightly favourable endgame) 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Qxd8+ Bxd8 16.Be2 Ke7 17.Bf3 Bd7 18.Ne4 Bb6 19.c5 f5 20.cxb6 fxe4 21.b7 Rab8 22.Bxe4 Rxb7 23.Rhf1 Rb5 24.Rf4 g5 25.Rf3 h5 26.Rdf1 Be8 27.Bc2 Rc5 28.Rf6 h4 29.e4 a5 30.Kd2 Rb5 31.b3 Bh5 32.Kc3 Rc5+ 33.Kb2 Rd8 34.R1f2 Rd4 (still equal, though Anand later pointed out that this was a “mistake.” It was clear that at this point, Anand was feeling the pressure. Ghosts of threats/problems for the rooks. So Anand began an active defensive route, though not immediately required. Bit of a time pressure, too.) 35.Rh6 Bd1 36.Bb1 Rb5 37.Kc3 c5 38.Rb2 e5 39.Rg6 Critical point. 39...a4? [39...g4! Anand clearly missed an easier way to draw. Trying to solve problems too quickly. He could have passively waited for Carlsen to show his plan but Anand’s pro-active approach was destined to backfire.] 40.Rxg5 Rxb3+ 41.Rxb3 Bxb3 42.Rxe5+ Kd6 43.Rh5 Rd1 44.e5+ Kd5 45.Bh7 Rc1+?

But not that easy already. [45...Ra1 leads to a draw but not so easy to judge the continuation correctly over the board. Anand stayed with the worse endgame position that required very precise calculation for every move.] 46.Kb2 Rg1 47.Bg8+ Kc6 48.Rh6+ Kd7 49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.Rxh4 Ke6 (Anand could have defended a bit better with Kc6 but appeared to have given up already) 52.a4 Kxe5 53.a5 Kd6 54.Rh7 Kd5 55.a6 c4+ 56.Kc3 Ra2 57.a7 Kc5 58.h4 Carlsen wins.

Losing from a position that offered many ways to draw had obviously hurt Anand. There were times in the game when he looked annoyed with himself. He knew he missed several chances to hold the position. After all, in a World championship match, one is expected to hold such positions. Carlsen hung on to the slightest chance he got to put Anand under pressure.


This was also the biggest turning point of the match. In the first four games, Carlsen had looked far less harmless, though in the fourth game he had spoilt a much bigger advantage. In one sense, the first four games were much to the liking of the World champion — Carlsen surviving the third game and Anand’s well-known defence standing firm in the fourth.

Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi