Anand’s Game 11 gamble fails, Magnus Carlsen retains world chess title
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Sochi (Russia): It is no coincidence that the World Chess Championship, which could have turned on a blunder more than a week ago, ended for challenger Viswanathan Anand on Sunday with an unforced error—a leap of faith in a comfortable position, which he later regretted as a “bad gamble”.
He wasn’t able to think clearly at that time, the five-time world champion from Chennai said after losing Game 11 to Norway’s Magnus Carlsen on Sunday.
Anand, 44, collapsed as his “nerves cracked” in the penultimate game of the 12-game match on Sunday, his age finally showing after a resilient fight of 15 days. “He is a much superior player...and his nerves held up much better,” Anand said about world champion Carlsen.
“It is a huge relief not to have to come back for the 12th game,” Carlsen said after winning the championship with one game to spare.
“Anand gave it a good shot,” Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri said on Twitter. He felt Anand had chances of winning on Sunday, but didn’t see how to covert his advantage into a win, he added.
A point behind and needing a win to catch up, Anand played aggressively on Sunday, and had only started to call the shots when he made an unforced error on the 27th move after three hours of intense battle.
As some 1.2 million people following the game online watched Anand throw away a slightly advantageous position in disbelief, some pundits even described the move as a “bluff”.
It wasn’t. As Carlsen grabbed the opportunity, US grandmaster Susan Polgar tweeted that Anand had gone “crazy”. The world champion wrapped up the game in less than an hour, playing “forcefully” there on.
Asked about the mistake, Anand said it wasn’t clear to him either why it happened. “It was a nervous decision”, he said, taken at a time when we “wasn’t thinking very clearly”. Only a few moves earlier, computer evaluation had showed that he missed an opportunity to tighten his grip on the game.sixthMAds
A “happy and relieved” Carlsen said he didn’t play very well early on, and was “a bit nervous” when he was “not in control” of Sunday’s game, but once he got the opportunity—nothing short of an early Christmas gift from his opponent—there was no looking back.
Had Anand dealt with the position conservatively, Sunday’s game would have very likely ended in a draw and he could taken the contest down to the last encounter on Tuesday.
Both players said it was a tougher match than the one at Chennai a year ago, where Carlsen dethroned Anand as the world chess champion. “I played much better...did much better with white (pieces),” Anand said, but admitted at the same time that “certain things went much worse”.
Asked if the sixth game, which he won to pull ahead in the match, was the turning point, Carlsen said, more than the double-blunder in that game, it was Anand’s inability to equalize in the eighth or the 10th game that gave him the decisive advantage going into the last two games of the contest. In the sixth game, Carlsen had given Anand a one-move opportunity to seize the advantage, but Anand missed it and eventually lost the game. That was seen by many experts as the match-turning moment.
Anand said he isn’t quitting competitive chess. Carlsen said no one had expected him to make such an early comeback as the challenger to the world title within a year of the loss in Chennai.