On Chess: Two moves likely determined the next World Chess Champion
This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - To become a world champion one has to be dedicated to a lifetime of hard work.
The World Championship match is usually organized once every two-three years and lasts about a month, yet it is always amazing to see all this endless work, an entire life’s worth of efforts and years of preparation, put toward a single match that can be decided in less than 24 hours, and in no more than two moves.
This is exactly what has happened at the 2013 World Championship being played in India between the reigning world champ and local hero Vishy Anand and the challenger, the sensational young Norwegian Magnus Carlsen.
After four draws in the first four games (in which both players had chances, mainly Anand in game 3 and Carlsen in game 4), the match opened up with a win by Carlsen in game 5 … and effectively ended in round 6 with another Carlsen win. More games will be played, but with draws in games 7 and 8, Carlsen leads 5-3 and 6.5 points needed to win.
Game 5 featured a very small advantage for Carlsen during most of the game.
The critical moment came on move 45, where Anand went wrong with the move Rc1, still not losing, but getting him into a much worse position, which soon collapsed.
It was extremely interesting to follow the game live on the Internet Chess Club (ICC), as none other than the U.S. No. 1 Hikaru Nakamura was kibitzing online. Hikaru immediately suggested the right move Ra1, writing: “What is Anand thinking?”
Hikaru was totally right. "Ra1" is the best move, and would give black a draw, but what Hikaru might not have realized yet is that he’s already surpassed the World Champ. Anand is simply not as strong as Nakamura now!
Fabiano Caruana also showed up online to offer his opinions for a few of the other games.
It was truly awesome having those two, who one day will fight Carlsen for the title, go online and share their thoughts with simple mortals such as myself.
Game 6 was very similar to game 5. Carlsen equalized with the black pieces, then got a slight advantage. Anand played passively, and then he sacrificed a pawn and got into a worse but drawn endgame.
But Anand failed again, blundering with 60.Ra4 after missing his only move 60.b4, basically losing on the spot.
Is this brilliant chess by Carlsen? Not at all. There have not been any brilliant games in this match as of yet and, from chess point of view, this has been a very disappointing match with not a lot of new ideas introduced.
Carlsen simply is not making mistakes, waiting for his opponent to make one and then taking advantage.
For 20 years there was one king, Garry Kasparov, and a few princes, namely Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, and Vassily Ivanchuk. Later Veselin Topalov joined this list.
Well, I believe the chess world is changing. After 20 years, everyone should get used to names like Nakamura, Caruana, Anish Giri, Maxim Vachier-Lagrave and few other players that are making their way.
Will 2013 be the year that Carlsen becomes the official king of the chess world?
Ronen Har-Zvi is a Grandmaster. He wrote this for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, which provides this column.