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    Carlsen-Anand WC 2013

    Anand-Carlsen Match (Chennai 2013)

    This match between the “Old generation” of the world elite (other members of this “club” besides Anand include players such as Vladimir Kramnik, Vasily Ivanchuk, Boris Gelfand, Veselin Topalov, and even still very young Levon Aronian) versus the strongest representative of the “Young generation” (other notable players include Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana) was anticipated with the greatest interest probably last seen at the epic match of Anatoly Karpov-Garry Kasparov (1984-86). Who and which style will prevail? It was one of the most interesting match ups between Experience vs Youth, Knowledge vs Genius, Opening Theory vs Middlegame concepts.

    Biography:

    ANAND:

    Viswanathan Anand  (born 11 December 1969) is an Indian chess Grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion. Anand has won the World Chess Championship five times and has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007. Anand is also very strong in rapid chess (his clear, logical chess style is a great help when playing rapid chess) and was the FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion in 2003. Anand is one of six players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list, and in April 2007 at the age of 37, he became the world number one for the first time. Anand regained the world number one ranking on the November 2010 list, but had to concede the top spot back to Carlsen in July 2011.
    Personal note: Anand is one of the most likable, well-mannered, and friendly players in the chess elite.

    CARLSEN:

    Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen born 30 November 1990, is a Norwegian chess grandmaster and former chess prodigy who is the No. 1 ranked player in the world. His peak rating is 2872, the highest in history. Carlsen was the 2009 World Blitz chess champion.On 26 April 2004, Carlsen became a grandmaster at the age of 13 years, 148 days, making him at that time the second youngest grandmaster in history at that time. In the 2009 FIDE rating list, Carlsen had an Elo rating of 2801, becoming the fifth player to achieve a rating over 2800. On January 2010, he became the youngest chess player in history to be ranked world No. 1, On the January 2013 FIDE rating list, Carlsen reached an Elo rating of 2861, thus surpassing Garry Kasparov's rating record of 2851 set in July 1999.
    Personal note: Carlsen's chess style is scary!

    Styles:

    ANAND:

    GM Lubomir Kavalek describes Anand as the most versatile world champion ever, pointing out that Anand is the only player to have won the world chess championship in tournament,match, and knockout format, as well as rapid time controls.In an interview in 2011, Kramnik said about Anand: "I always considered him to be a colossal talent, one of the greatest in the whole history of chess" and “In the last 5–6 years he's made a qualitative leap that's made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players."

    CARLSEN:

    As a youth, Carlsen was known for his aggressive style and, according to Agdestein (his coach then), his play was characterised by "a fearless readiness to offer material for activity".As he matured, Carlsen found that this risky playing style was not as well suited against the world elite. To progress, Carlsen's style became more universal, capable of handling all sorts of positions well. In the opening, Carlsen starts with both 1.d4 and 1.e4, as well as 1.c4 and1.Nf3 on occasion, thus making it harder for opponents to prepare against him. Garry Kasparov, who coached Carlsen from 2009 to 2010, said that Carlsen has a positional style similar to that of past world champions such as Anatoly Karpov, José Capablanca and Vasily Smyslov, rather than the tactical style of Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and himself. According to Carlsen, however, he does not have any preferences in terms of playing style. Viswanathan Anand said of Carlsen: "The majority of ideas occur to him absolutely naturally. Kasparov expressed similar sentiments: "[Carlsen] has the ability to correctly evaluate any position, which only Karpov could boast of before him.In a 2012 interview, Vladimir Kramnik attributed much of Carlsen's success against other top players to his "excellent physical shape" and his ability to avoid "psychological lapses"Carlsen's endgame prowess has been described as among the greatest in history and described as the "Carlsen effect":

    According to GM Speelman:

    “through the combined force of his skill and no less important his reputation, he drives his opponents into errors. ... He plays on for ever, calmly, methodically and, perhaps most importantly of all, without fear: calculating superbly, with very few outright mistakes and a good proportion of the "very best" moves. This makes him simply a chess monster."

    Strengths:

    ANAND:

    Experience, opening knowledge, great understanding of positions.

    CARLSEN:

    Calculating skills, youth, drive and motivation, physical shape, “computer-like” play in long games.

    Weaknesses:

    ANAND:

    Not many weaknesses (besides being less tactical and older) but not many advantages over Carlsen either.

    CARLSEN:

    Youth, less-than-superb opening preparation and inexperience in match play. 

    Predictions before the match:

    About 70/30 split in favor of Carlsen.
    Garry Kasparov predicted a tough match but with the likely outcome of Carlsen winning the match. Many predicted a +2 result in favor of Carlsen. Some thought (or hoped) that if Carlsen loses a game early in the match, Anand will be very hard to beat afterwards.

    Most likely open choices by Anand:

    as White:

    Mainly 1 e4 (about 90% chance). Unless the tournament situation forces something risky and creative.

    as Black:

    Caro-Cann (his favorite), Sicilian (to play for a win) and something solid (such as Ruy Lopez for draw or solid play)

    Most likely open choices by Carlsen:

    as White:

    1. e4 if he is prepared well against the choices given above for Anand. 1. d4 if the Slav Defense can be broken and any of other solid first moves if nothing else is found in 1. e4 and 1. d4.

    as Black:

    That was very hard to predict. Sicilian (if needed to win), French Defense (for more complex fights), Ruy Lopez Berlin system or 
    Main line Breyer system (for normal play) and possibly 1-2 special preparations opening lines as a surprise weapon.

    What would Anand try to do to win:

    Most likely get very theoretical positions right out of an opening with both colors to force Carlsen to prove he is on par with the opening lines or force therefore Carlsen to seek refuge in opening systems that lead to nowhere. Base the match on being “deeper” than Carlsen in every aspect of 
    the game based on knowledge and experience. Avoid long, boring “almost equal” but full of life games that can last forever.

    What would Carlsen try to do to win:

    Avoid super theoretical lines unless he has done special work on the somewhat limited choices, which Anand tends to rely on (but who said Anand will play here what he always plays?). Transfer the games into long, positional games where he can play his famous “computer-like chess” and wait for a mistake. 

    How did our predictions work out?

    Correct guesses:

    Spot on in regards to styles, to which each player stuck religiously in every single game. Correct guesses on the Ruy Lopez (though we did not anticipate for example the Berlin Ruy Lopez to be played 10 times out of 10!). Correct on the fact that Carlsen will play very computer-like though assumed he will make more mistakes than he did in the match. We were correct also that Anand will be better prepared in the opening than Carlsen. A bright example is the preparation in games 1 and 3 of the 1Nf3 d5 2 g3 g6! line. Unfortunately the opening preparation is not the whole game. 

    Incorrect guesses:

    Did not guess Carlsen will employ the Caro-Cann or stick to 1 Nf3-2 g3 system twice (though very unsuccessfully). We thought most likely if anyone blunders it will be Carlsen, who trying to win will overstep the boundaries but it was Anand who made some obvious mistakes and 1-2 outright blunders while after a dubious play in Game 2, Carlsen did not make a single move that can be characterised as a mistake.

    Match Quality:

    The overall quality of the games were very high as expected. Anand would have above average chances against anyone else in the world with the work he had done for the match and the quality of the games he played.... but not against Carlsen! At the end the youth prevailed!

    -- IM Levon Altounian and CM Sameer Manchanda, November 2013

    • 11: Quick Draw...
    • 62: Clarity in the Caro...
    • 23: Reversed Dragon...
    • 74: Mainline Berlin...
    • 35: Endgame Maestro...
    • 86: Draw? Psyche!...
    • 47: The Dark Berlin...
    • 99: Nimzo Knightmares!...
    • 58: Berlin Rises...
    • 1010: Coronation...
  • Author
    Levon Altounian

    IM Levon Altounian is on the list of the most prominent chess players, coaches and organizers in the USA. He was a participant of three of the most prestigious US Championships, winner of the 2000 National Open and 2011 G10 National Open, many Arizona and California State Championships, including the 2010 “Champion of the State Champions” title. He also holds numerous records on ICC (chessclub.com) where he recently played a match with GM Hikaru Nakamura. Under his leadership, his students from all over the US won more than 100 Individual and Team State and National titles, including the K-5 Nationals in 2004 (Tucson, AZ team) and Denker competitions. His organization, called Arizona Chess For Schools, works tirelessly to promote chess on every level and also specializes in organizing chess events, camps and providing private and group lessons. To find out more please visit Arizonachessforschools.com or contact Levon directly at laltounian@msn.com.