On a day India had one god less, an icon was pushed closer to the brink than he has ever been. Viswanathan Anand found out on Saturday that being a sporting immortal at 40+ is looking like mission impossible.
Magnus Carlsen, who is still not 23, has showed over two days, in games five and six of this battle, that youth can eschew brashness for brilliance. With white and black, he has pushed the five-time world champion to the ropes in a manner that hasn't happened since Anand again summited the Mt Everest of chess, in Mexico in September 2007.
That nicely coincided with the time a man, then not much older than Carlsen, gave India a high by winning the T20 World Cup. It's a drug India can't have enough of since.Conquered champion
Anand had then dryly wondered about the kind of reception he would get at home, his arrival nearly coinciding with that of MS Dhoni's team. Forget humour, if Anand smiled after the 67 move loss, the wan smile was of the conquered.
"This is a heavy blow. I won't pretend otherwise...Magnus' manoeuvre with the knight was quite good. Then I started wondering what to do. Then I thought with Qg4 with the major pieces, I could get a solid position. Then I don't know ... one mistake after the other. Well, there's nothing to be done. You just go on," said Anand.
The rest of his answers were as cryptic as crossword clues. Why did you give up a pawn and not stay put on Qg3? "Some days it just goes like that." Did Friday's loss influence your game? "Yes, probably."
The inevitable question on Sachin Tendulkar came somewhere in the middle. "I kind of noticed what's been happening. Let's just say I've had other things on my mind," he said.
And when a Norwegian journalist pressed Anand asking what he meant by saying he would do his best, the champion said: "Well, do your best is do your best. I don't know why you don't understand English."
Carlsen didn't break into a jig like he did in London during the candidates' meet but after slowly, surely stretching the game and again inducing errors from the champion, he said: "Today there was not much to risk and so I played on. Fortunately, I was little bit lucky and I won in the end. Obviously I am in a good mood now. I won two games and with six games to go that's obviously a healthy lead."
Carlsen's joy was a little premature in London. For an encore, Anand will have to create magic on Monday and beyond but even that may not be enough.