9:14 am - Saturday January 19, 2019

World Chess Championship: Carlsen tears into ‘Berlin’, deflates Anand

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Viswanathan Anand gets `quick chance` to fight back from losing world crown
Viswanathan Anand gets `quick chance` to fight back from losing world crown

You give him an inch, he takes a yard. Even if it’s Berlin defence.

Magnus Carlsen tore into Viswanathan Anand’s ‘wall’ with white pieces, scored a win in 34 moves in a game lasting almost four hours and opened a new wound in the Indian’s heart. The Norwegian world No. 1 took a 1.5-0.5 points lead after the second game in the World Championship duel in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday.

The third game is scheduled on Tuesday after Monday’s rest day. Though Carlsen went for an Anti-Berlin set up (fourth move d3), the opening was far from being a huge problem for Anand. Carlsen mounted a clean attack on the kingside after both players did short castle. After the minor pieces were exchanged (with queen and both rooks each on the board), Carlsen showed excellent nous to strangle his opponent.

Under intense pressure with no real counter-attacking options, Anand’s great defensive skills remained only on paper.

Earlier, in a bid to assess Carlsen’s plan of attack, Anand took almost 28 minutes over two moves (number 19 and 20). But it didn’t deter Carlsen.

Carlsen’s 28th move (Qe2) seemed to offer a breather for Anand. But it was just false hope.

In the end, Anand took just 40 seconds to play h5 without realizing the deadly Qb7. Resignation was the only option left then.

The Berlin defence, made famous by Valdimir Kramnik who used it to dethrone Garry Kasparov in 2000, is still a nice weapon for Black. And Anand had never lost with Black in 15 games of the Berlin defence.

Anand and Carlsen themselves played Berlin defence 10 times regardless of the colour of the pieces. Anand had won three of those from black pieces including a classical game at Bilbao Masters in 2010.

Carlsen’s notable wins from the white side in Berlin defence came against Russia’s Alexander Grischuk (Candidates 2013) and Italy’s world No. 2 Fabiano Caru ana in rapid play at Zurich this year.

Former World championship challenger Nigel Short tweeted during the game: “I’m at a loss to suggest anything sensible for Black. This is gruesome suffering.” Caruna tweeted: “This is very nasty for Black. And exactly the type of position where Carlsen is at his most ruthless.” He was.

When Anand’s position worsened quite a bit, Peter Svidler, former second of Vladmir Kramnik and a ‘candidate’ himself, said: “Today Anand can be under no apprehension like in Game 1. He has to play for a draw. But we can’t forget that he is one of the best defenders in the world.”

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