Chennai: Five-time champion Viswanathan Anand requires a win at once to keep his chances of retaining the title alive in the world chess championship against Magnus Carlsen here.
After eight games, the Indian is trailing the Norwegian wunderkind by two points and unless he goes all out for a full point on Thursday, the match will end tamely in the favour of the world no. 1.
Anand, who is ranked no. 8, hasn't faced an opponent in the calibre of Carlsen, whose current rating is 2870, in his world battles. The big match in Chennai has panned out like this: two quick draws, two nailbiting draws, two wins for the Norwegian in equal rook endgames and two more quick draws.
With four games to go and Carlsen only three draws away from his first title, this paper spoke to experts to find out what Anand can do now. The consensus is: Playing aggressive chess is the only way out for the Indian.
“There is nothing more to lose. Get into complex positions, play the Sicilian defence with black and open with queen pawn in white,“ said Tejas Bakre, Gujarat's only GM.
“Carlsen is smart and he will play only dry chess. So Anand should try to keep volatile positions in the middle game and try to lure Carlsen into making mistakes,“ he added. Carlsen did provide Anand a whiff of victory in round three, but the Indian didn't take advantage of his opponent's poor middle game. At that time, the match was in its nascent stage and an Anand win would have dramatically altered the course of the series.
According to IM K. Priyadharshan, Anand needs to play systems that would make life difficult for Carlsen. “He should go for a King's gambit or Scotch opening. Or he should change to queen pawn opening and test new turfs,“ he said.
With the Indian not being able to gain any real advantage against Carlsen's Berlin, going all out, even if it means walking a tight rope is the only option for Anand.
“Anand has to play sharp. He has to aim for positions where even a single mistake can swing the game to either side. It is a risky strategy, but he has no other options now if he is keen on retaining his crown,“ Priyadharshan added.
Newly crowned national challengers' champion and GMelect Thej Kumar said Carlsen did not handle complicated positions well in the initial games. “In closed positions, Carlsen is doing well. So I think Anand should go for open positions,“ he added.
And more than anything else, fans of Anand say that the Indian should play for a win and also believe that he is capable of beating the world no. 1.
TEN THINGS WE LEARNT FROM EIGHT ROUNDS
TEN THINGS WE LEARNT FROM EIGHT ROUNDS
?DC/ TN Raghu: Magnus Carlsen of Norway leads defending champion Viswanathan Anand 5-3 after eight rounds in the 12-game world chess championship, which is under way in Chennai, and the 23-year-old world no.1 needs a further 1.5 points to win his first world title.
This is the story of the world chess championship in simple words. But the biggest event in the sport isn't only about moving pieces on a square board. Here is an account of what we learned in the eight rounds apart from chess: 1. Garry Kasparov remains the biggest draw in the sport, even eight years after his retirement. It would be the understatement of the championship to say the reluctant Russian is charismatic.
2. Even Kasparov's shadow frightens Fide, the world governing body of chess. In his prime he intimidated his opponents and post-retirement he's a nemesis of administrators. 3. Carlsen can be funny, seriously . When a journalist asked the Norwegian the exact moment he got nervous in the world championship, the world No.1 said: “You are being ambitious.“
4. Anand, too, has a fine sense of humour as long as the results aren't against him.
After being told about Kasparov's presence in the match venue, Anand shot back: “Who, Elvis?“ 5. The five-time champion, the epitome of gentleness all over the world, can indeed lose his temper. The Indian questioned a Norwegian reporter's English knowledge after his loss in Round Six.
6. The good-looking Tania Sachdev is a great advertisement for chess. But her commentary isn't. The WGM's lack of expertise and experience has been exposed thoroughly .
7. The organisers' decision to stage the match in a hall that can only accommodate 300-odd seats isn't wrong. No wrestling bout was reported at the ticket counter.
8. Some chess lovers, on the other hand, didn't mind spending a tidy sum to fly over the seas to watch the big match.
Anand vs Carlsen has attracted visitors from Malaysia, Thailand, USA and Germany to name only a few countries.
9. The next world championship will be a bigger event on smart phones, as the game is tailor-made for the gadget.
10. Anand enjoys great chemistry with his current rival, Carlsen. But his equation with a former rival Kasparov isn't that great.