Magnus Carlsen moved closer to the world chess crown with a second straight win over the defending champion Viswanathan Anand. The Norwegian leads 4-2. Halfway through the contest, one can see the crown slipping off Anand's head but for a miracle in the next six games.
Anand once again began with his favourite King Pawn Opening, which was countered by Carlsen with the 'rock solid' Berlin Defence hoping to reach the same boring drawish ending of game four.
In game 6, however, Anand opted for a closed set-up recently popularised by several top players, a position that has been played by Anand and Carlsen themselves six times before with both colours.
Anand's 10th move, developing the queenside bishop to pin the black kingside knight was theoretical novelty. It aimed at a direct attack against Carlsen's king by preparing to sacrifice a knight.
We can presume that it was supported by deep home preparation involving sacrifices. However, Carlsen found correct squares for his pieces and completely equalised by move 20.
On move 21, Anand initiated an unnecessary and unwarranted sequence of exchange of four minor pieces obviously aiming at simplification followed by a draw. Apparently, Anand had not recovered from the reversal in the fifth game.
At this stage, Carlsen sensed that Anand was at his most vulnerable and decided to play on the seemingly boring major piece ending. From moves 23 to 29, Anand made a series of passive and pointless moves, thereby conceding considerable positional advantage.
Rook, line and sinker
In a queen-and-rook ending, Carlsen considerably improved his positional advantage from moves 30 to 37, restricting Anand's pieces to very passive positions. The champion was forced to give up a pawn on 38th move in order to exchange queens.
However, Anand defended the rook ending very precisely for a long time, tying down Carlsen's king and rook for defence of weak pawns.
When Carlsen tried to transfer his king to the queenside, Anand boldly gave up another pawn on move 44 thereby forcing a theoretical draw. However, Carlsen continued his hunt for a full point by offering all his extra pawns to create a powerful passed pawn on the kingside.
Anand could have forced an immediate draw on the 57th move by attacking Carlsen's 'c' pawn but gave a check instead. That won him another pawn but also allowed Carlsen to advance his king further to a very menacing position.
It is difficult to analyse if Anand could have saved the game on the 60th move - probably not - but the move chosen by him made the things easy for Carlsen. Threatened with the unavoidable loss of his rook, the champion resigned on 67th move.
The writer is India's third GM and has been playing chess for 42 years