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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

Sport

Anand loses game 6: 'Most rook endings lead to a draw, except when Carlsen plays'
Vignesh Radhakrishnan and Agencies, Hindustantimes.com
Chennai, November 16, 2013
First Published: 14:42 IST(16/11/2013)
Last Updated: 02:01 IST(17/11/2013)

In another brilliant exhibition of endgame skills, Carlsen took advantage of Anand's mistakes and won in the sixth game of the World Championship match at Hyatt Regency, Chennai on Saturday.

With this win Carlsen has taken a huge leap in the points table which currently stands at 4:2 in his favour.

Magnus Carlsen has already accomplished more in his brief career as a chess player than almost anyone in the game's history.

Carlsen, a 22-year-old Norwegian, became a grandmaster at 13 (the third youngest to date) and at 19 the youngest player ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world. This year, he raised his rating, the system used to rank players, to the highest level on record, surpassing the one held by Garry Kasparov, the former world champion.

The only thing missing from Carlsen's résumé is the title of world champion. But saturday, in Chennai, India, he took another significant step toward filling in that gap by winning Game 6 of his world championship match against the titleholder, Viswanathan Anand. Anand, a 43-year-old Indian grandmaster, has been the champion since 2007.

In the best-of-12 series, Carlsen now leads 4 to 2, with wins counting as one point and draws as a half. The winner of the match will receive 60 % of the prize fund of about $2.5 million.

The first four games were all draws, and in the last two, each player was in danger of losing at one point.

Game 5 on Friday, in which Carlsen had White, started with him, as is his style, trying to sidestep well-known opening systems and avoid any complicated positions, where Anand feels more at home. The result was that after only 22 moves, most of the major pieces, including the queens, had been exchanged, and Carlsen held the smallest of advantages because his remaining bishop and rooks were better placed than Anand's.

Anand, one of the greatest players in history, matched Carlsen move for move. But on move 45, after almost 4 1/2 hours of play, Anand slipped up, making an ill-advised check with his rook, and that was all Carlsen needed. He was then able to create two passed pawns on both sides of the board, and Anand could not stop both of them. After 58 moves, and more than 5 1/2 hours, he resigned.

In game 6 too Anand met with almost a similar fate. There is a saying in chess, "Most rook endings are a draw." Carlsen, winning the last two games with rook endings has challenged this. Anand faltered in game 6 too at the end of the match, giving Carlsen chance to pounce on him from a drawn position. The single pawn advantage that Carlsen maintained from mid-game level proved to be a winner at the end.

It was the type of position in which Carlsen excels. When games reach their endgames, he is like a boa constrictor - continually applying pressure by slowly squeezing the opponent's position.

Anand, however, is not unfamiliar with falling behind. Last year, he lost Game 7 of his title match to Boris Gelfand, an Israeli grandmaster, to go down, 4 to 3. But Anand bounced back in Game 8 to win in 17 moves - the shortest victory in world championship history - and went on to win the match.

The problem now for Anand is that Carlsen is no Gelfand.

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(Inputs from PTI)


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