Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Magnus Carlsen closes in on world chess crown

Chennai: Magnus Carlsen is just a step away from being crowned the world chess champion. The Norwegian challenger won the nail-biting ninth game against holder Viswanathan Anand in 28 moves and improved his lead to three points.

With the looming threat of the world chess crown passing on to Carlsen, Anand went in for attack from the start.

Anand opened the game moving his queen pawn two squares to d4 and Carlsen replied with his knight move to f6 square in the ninth game of their title match, which is sponsored by the government of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The game progressed into a Nimzo-Indian defence Samish set-up with Carlsen, who normally blitzes in the opening phase of the game, spending time thinking.

“It is an unclear set-up and usually the players do not get into end game phase quickly. They have to play the middle game. Anand seems to have come prepared for this match,” India’s second highest rated chess Grandmaster P.Harikrishna told IANS.

Harikrishna said Anand seemed to have arrived determined to play for a win and made his moves fast. Anand has played this variation earlier and recorded wins against a Chinese Grandmaster and Vladimir Kramik.

On the fifth move, Carlsen exchanged his black bishop for Anand’s white. Anand started opening up his king’s side, pushing his g pawn two squares forward. That did not deter Carlsen from taking his king to safety by castling on the king’s side. Two moves later Anand castled on the same side.

Carlsen, trailing Anand in time, decided to focus on the queen side, pushing his rook pawn forward with his knight already seated in b3 square.

On the part of the champion, the focus was on centre board and king’s side.

Interestingly, except for Carlsen’s knight, all his other pieces were on the last rank.

At this juncture, Carlsen exchanged his knight on b3 square for Anand’s black bishop. Anand captured the knight with his queen.

“Carlsen could have gone for exchange couple of moves later as well. But it seemed he wanted to play safe so that Anand’s bishop does not come into active play,” Grandmaster Humpy Koneru told IANS.

She said the position on the board after the knight-bishop exchange was equal and Carlsen was expected to open up play on the queen side.

As predicted by Koneru the Norwegian brought his knight to c7 square and pushed his pawn to b4 square.

Anand obliged Carlsen’s expectation of simplifying the position by exchanging pawns and one rook.

Pushing his pawn to f5, Anand continued with his king-side attack. Anand had three pawns on the 5th rank.

“At this position, white has to go for a checkmate as he has his e,f and g file pawns on the 5th rank. This is the position that Anand plays well and not exactly to the liking of Carlsen,” Harikrishna said.

“I don’t know whether Anand and his team heard that. But it seems Anand did not have the time to make a change from his earlier strategy. After drawing last two games and a rest day, Anand seems to have changed tack now,” Harikrishna added.

Harikrishna added that Carlsen’s 22nd move b3 showed his understanding of the position though it seems black’s king is under impending attack.

After thinking hard, Anand committed his queen to attack black’s king, moving the piece to f3 square and Carlsen responded by moving his knight to c7 square.

On the next move, Anand pushed his pawn on the f5 square to f6, threatening to open up black’s king’s defence.

Carlsen replied with g6 and Anand with g5. Pressing his attack further, Anand moved his queen to h4 and Carlsen moved his knight to e8 square to come to his king’s defence.

Replying to Anand’s Qh6 move, Carlsen pushed his pawn to b2 square, to which Anand played Rf4. Carlsen then queened his pawn and gave a check. It was two queens on board for Carlsen.

Anand moved his knight before his king and Carlsen moved his new queen to e1 square, sealing the champion’s fate.


White: Viswanathan Anand, India Black: Magnus Carlsen, Norway

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 c4 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. g4 O-O 11. Bg2 Na5 12. O-O Nb3 13. Ra2 b5 14. Ng3 a5 15. g5 Ne8 16. e4 Nxc1 17. Qxc1 Ra6 18. e5 Nc7 19. f4 b4 20. axb4 axb4 21. Rxa6 Nxa6 22. f5 b3 23. Qf4 Nc7 24. f6 g6 25. Qh4 Ne8 26. Qh6 b2 27. Rf4 b1Q+ 28. Nf1 Qe1 0-1