On Saturday Magnus Carlsen increased his lead in the World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand to 4-2. In a quiet Ruy Lopez, the 22-year-old Norwegian equalized comfortably, got a slight initiative, won a pawn, then another one but the rook ending was probably still drawn. However, Anand again failed to find the best defense and had to resign at move 67.
And he did it again. With an almost unprecedented will to win, Magnus Carlsen ground down Vishy Anand in another rook ending to take a two-point lead in the match. The cold, engine-driven evaluations were constantly saying "draw", but the practical problems Anand had to solve again proved to be too much for the 44-year old Indian GM.
Avoiding the Berlin Ending with the move 4.d3 seemed like a good practical decision by the World Champion, and his 10.Bg5 got Carlsen thinking for 25 minutes. From move 15 onwards, it was clear that Anand was going to try his luck on the kingside. Step one was to try and land a knight on f5.
However, Carlsen found a number of excellent maneuvers and when all the minor pieces were traded it was clear that Black was at least equal. In fact, after 26...c4! it suddenly became clear that it was the Norwegian who was playing for a win.
With a timely exchange, Carlsen left his opponent with a bad pawn structure but the question was how he would improve further. “I thought I got a pretty solid position out of the opening. Then at some point I was little bit better but nothing much was going on.” But then, Anand either “sacrificed or blundered” a pawn, as Carlsen put it at the press conference. Asked about his surprising 38.Qg3, Anand said: “What can I say, some days it just goes like that.”
Carlsen obviously took the pawn, and it was clear that he was going to torture his opponent for quite some time. “After that I got a very good rook ending but I am not at all sure if it is winning,” the challenger said. As he allowed h4-h5 Anand was well on his way to draw the game anyway, until Carlsen found one more miniplan. “I had one little trap, this Kf4-Ke3 etc. Fortunately he went for it.”
Both players felt that it was all over when Black got Ke3 in, but analysis shows that there was still one more chance to draw with White, missed by Anand, on move 60.
Vishy Anand was clearly upset. “I mean, today was a heavy blow. I will not pretend otherwise. Nothing to be done, you just go on.” A Norwegian journalist asked how he would deal with it, to which Anand answered: “Well you just do your best.” The same journalist wanted him to elaborate on his answer, to which Anand answered: “Doing your best means doing your best. I dont know why you don't understand English?”
Sunday is another rest day. On Monday the second half of the match starts, with Vishy Anand again playing with the white pieces. He needs a win soon.
The players in the rest area, minutes before the start of the game
Anand getting his tea, like every day
Carlsen arrives, and the players shake hands — Anand doesn't look up
Still many media are represented in Chennai
Another Berlin, but we won't see the ending this day
Vishy Anand deeply concentrated and under pressure
Carlsen obviously more relaxed, sitting on a 3-2 lead