In the end the crocodile overcome the tiger at the World Chess Championship Match in Sochi, Russia. The match ended unexpectedly in the 11th game when the challenger Vishwanathan Anand, who had a positional advantage at some stage in the game went for went for a gamble and it backfired badly. Magnus Carlsen won the match 6.5 – 4.5.
Many experts were predicting that Anand, with the Black pieces, would probably play it safe in Game 11 and go for everything in the last classical (normal time controls) game of the match where he would have the white pieces. However, things did not go according to script as the Game 11 ended as swiftly as it was dramatic after the fateful blunder from Anand.
The game did not seem to offer any winning prospects for Carlsen until Anand started to lose his way after the gamble. The chess engines nowadays are so strong that if a blunder is made in the game, the evaluation of the game will change pretty much immediately. Despite the fact that there were no queens in the game, the middle was very complex. There was a lot of manoeuvring going on, and at a single glance would have been very difficult to tell what was taking place on the board.
Anand sacrificed his Rook for Carlsen’s bishop who was was more than happy to take this sacrifice and within a few moves Anand’s position went from very promising, to a completely lost one.
A few moves can be a very long time, especially in chess. Carlsen changed gears in that game with phenomenal speed from a slow travelling gear to a high revving and sudden acceleration. Carlsen had brought his King close to the middle of the board which is very uncharacteristic for a position where there are still so many pieces on the board. Normally one does not bring out the King until there have been a lot of exchanges on the board and there is little danger of the King getting caught in a mating net.
Perhaps that game does much to solidify Carlsen’s crocodile reputation. He was happy to play against the very solid Berlin Defence. This is the same defence that the great Gary Kasparov could not overcome in his chess match against eventual champion Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. That’s the same match that cost Kasparov his title. He tried everything in that match against the Berlin but just could not crack. The Berlin Defence is so solid that it now has a reputation as being the antidote to the King’s Pawn Opening e4. Yet Carlsen was more than happy to play this in a very important and crucial game one of the best players Anand. He was very patient and when his got one chance that was all he needed. Like the crocodile that gets ready to lunge from the water when it has decided to go for the kill, Carlsen moved so swiftly and with such precision that Anand did not have any time to recover. Carlsen played forcefully liquidating the position, reducing the number of pieces on the board to go into a won ending where Anand shortly resigned.
The Tiger lives to fight another day but for the now The Crocodile’s reign in chess continues, at least until 2016 when we have the next world chess championship.