Viswanathan Anand interview: Positions in Magnus Carlsen-Fabiano Caruana World Championship were so rich, but no one fell apart


You’ve performed six World Championship matches until date. Which a kind of do you assume resembles the Magnus Carlsen-Fabiano Caruana World Championship match essentially the most?

I don’t assume something resembles this. Perhaps my match with Boris Gelfand comes the closest. However we managed one pair of decisive outcomes not less than.

The primary sport of the match started with a Rossolimo; Caruana performed 3.Bb5. What are your ideas on his opening alternative?

Effectively, Magnus has been dabbling in 2.Nc6 this yr. So, you understand, it was within the air. And concerning the Rossolimo, what can I say concerning the third transfer of a gap – it’s there and when you’ve got studied it, you may play it.

Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand takes a ship journey in the course of the resting day of Norway Chess 2018 match in Stavanger. Reuters

Additionally, within the first sport, Carlsen was profitable after he took the pawn with 31.Qxh5. The place appeared like one thing Carlsen may simply convert. Why do you assume he tousled?

It is extremely unusual. This could have been routine for Magnus. Magnus’ personal hero from 5 years in the past would have gained this place fairly simply! It was one of many large misses of the match. What was placing is that Magnus’ play till this level had been exemplary. He performed at a really excessive degree; everybody praised him. Earlier than cashing in, he may have slowly improved his place. I might solely put one caveat on this state of affairs – it is extremely straightforward to sit down at house and say that is how you must have completed issues. God is aware of, I’ve spoilt many profitable positions as effectively. It is not my purpose to make mild of this. However it’s a missed alternative. There isn’t a manner of going round this.

After the primary sport, did you are feeling that this World Championship could be a really thrilling one provided that the primary sport itself was so stuffed with fireworks?

Sure. Particularly, if he (Magnus) had gained this sport, the impression of somebody merely crushing his opponent could be exhausting to get previous as a result of Magnus, with black, outplayed Fabiano so simply. After which, had he gained the purpose, Fabiano would have needed to chase him in each sport. In order that opens up much more house… it’s a miss.

Within the second sport, Fabiano had performed Rd8 on his 10th transfer. What was your impression of this? Have you ever checked out it or ready it? Or do you assume it’s a one-off concept that Caruana pulled off?

I had checked out it and I had some notes however, evidently, Fabiano went a lot additional. I do know Hikaru (Nakamura) checked out it as effectively as a result of we had mentioned it briefly. It was good opening work. That is the type of factor that ought to occur in a World Championship match. You will have a lot time, you may go actually deep and clear some stuff and play strikes which may not be essentially the most modern. I do not assume it was one-game stuff. I feel Fabiano supposed to repeat it, had Magnus gone for 10.Rd1 once more.

The third sport was relatively uninteresting however within the fourth sport, we noticed this 6…Bc5 concept within the English Opening. That is changing into much more common than the standard strains within the English.

I assume the concept of 6…Nb6 adopted by 7…Be7 continues to be main for those who have a look at the full variety of video games. I wouldn’t say that 6…Bc5 is totally taking up. However for those who see, final yr, I performed this line towards Fabiano at Saint Louis, after which there was the well-known Dubov-Karjakin dialogue. And so it flared up after which dropped out of the radar for some time. However after this match I feel that is simply going to be one of many predominant strains.

And what would you say concerning the pawn sacrifice from sport 5 – the transfer 6.b4?

It’s well-known; and the theme is well-known. It was additionally seen within the 1992 Fischer-Spassky rematch the place 4.Bxc6 bxc6 was met with 7.b4. And even what Caruana performed on this sport has been performed earlier than. I might anticipate either side to be effectively ready. Clearly, Fabiano as a result of he performed it; but additionally Magnus appeared to comprehend it effectively.

After which this transfer, 4.Nd3 was performed within the Petroff Defence by Caruana within the sixth sport. I imply, these strikes like 4.Nc4 or Nd3 within the Petroff have by no means actually been taken severely however they’re now seen being performed in a World Championship. What’s your tackle this?

You attempt to play these uncommon strikes to get a sport. However even these uncommon strikes could be analysed with a pc. You may need heard this well-known dialog between Grischuk and Kovalev that Grischuk had appeared on the sequence that occurred of their sport with Nf4-Nd5 and Black going Nc6-Nd4 (laughs). It is fairly humorous that they’d gone that far. Grischuk knew it was useless and it was not an enormous deal.

So it’s like you may put together something and play it not less than for one sport?

Sure! And when it really works, it really works. There are instances when your performs like which can be innocent. But when your opponent doesn’t comprehend it on that day, you get one thing. I assume, Fabiano’s preparation has been thorough however we don’t actually know as a result of Magnus has probed little or no. I feel he has simply probed the floor.

Conversely, on the opposite aspect, as a result of Fabiano caught to just one factor and stored on chipping away, we now know that Magnus’ Rossolimo preparation was superb and his Sveshnikov preparation on this 7.Nd5 line gives the look of being barely extra improvised.

Sure, often, World Championships are supposed to probe this manner. However Magnus didn’t appear to be doing that.

Funnily sufficient, I had predicted for this match, and I had hoped for this match, that there could be little or no probing. I believed each of them would take the battle to one another with each colors. I anticipated extra wandering round as a result of each of them are able to a number of openings. However in actual fact, Fabiano caught to 1.e4 and Magnus caught to the Sveshnikov for the entire six video games (with black). I anticipated that Magnus may even dabble into three (openings) however this simply goes to indicate that I used to be fully improper. However it has made the Sveshnikov rather more fascinating. Out of the blue we now have found a brand new place which is way richer than we had thought.  Let’s see what match follow tells us.

On the opposite aspect, I feel Fabiano selected essentially the most strong openings. He selected the Petroff and the Queen’s Gambit Declined… I feel his concept was to provide little or no house to Magnus. It is a technique I had tried as effectively, and even Sergey (Karjakin). It’s an inexpensive technique as a result of, once you play a World Championship, your opponent’s preparation goes to be fairly good. So, you want strains that will stand up to loads of scrutiny. That’s the idea. However then, Magnus, at a number of factors simply appeared to not even wish to strive with white.

In truth, the humorous factor is that, I feel Magnus had been on the lookout for a battle rather more with black whereas Fabiano appeared for a similar battle with white. So, this meant six video games had been fairly fascinating whereas the opposite six, frankly, hadn’t been something to look at. I didn’t even hassle taking a look at them a lot afterwards. I simply checked the openings for the precise particulars and simply moved on.

Let’s discuss Caruana’s “missed win” in sport six the place the challenger was held to a draw regardless of having an additional knight on materials depend. The computer systems advised that Caruana may have gained had he moved his bishop to the h4 sq. on transfer 68.

It was clearly not straightforward. I haven’t delved into it totally however it appears that evidently this isn’t a compelled win to start with, which implies that white may have used his bishop to corral the knight in another manner. I noticed (Peter) Svidler’s recap of this ending and nonetheless I had forgotten all the small print. And the factor is when Svidler did the recap of this ending, he stored on checking the notes and the corresponding squares. It’s a really troublesome endgame. However I feel I perceive the place after 70.Ng1 fairly effectively now. The important concept is to lose a transfer.

Nonetheless, I’ve not but grasped what precisely white ought to have completed a transfer in the past or why the bishop on c4 is misplaced and one thing else… I have to go over this bit slowly and attempt to perceive it. However it’s fascinating as a result of all of a sudden you uncover one thing new about an endgame.

I type of concur with everybody else after they say that they could have solved this in the event that they got this as a puzzle by the strategy of elimination however there isn’t a different manner. There isn’t a technique to know that this place (on transfer 68) is critical and the place from two strikes in the past will not be. Not a single human being knew that till the pc pointed it out.

So would you spend time finding out this endgame? Does it profit you as a chess participant?

Sure, some positions are simply fascinating sufficient that you could examine them. It’s conceivable that sometime I may need the same place on the board and this data could be helpful in some imprecise manner. However I’m not essentially finding out it to attain factors.

If classical chess knowledge had been to be utilized, white ought to have had a transparent benefit after Caruana’s 10…Qd8 within the seventh sport. What’s your thought on it?

Why ought to white have a transparent benefit? Even white has moved his knight again to d2. It is fascinating to notice that these Nd2-b3 plans are the best when the black queen is on a5. However you simply return to d8 and ask: ‘what’s your knight doing on d2?’

I’ve stopped making an attempt to grasp chess by the logic you talked about as a result of the pc retains declaring exceptions. I keep in mind having conversations with my second the place he would inform me a couple of transfer and I might say this has been performed in 100 video games earlier than with an additional tempo. How can this transfer make sense? However I realised that chess would not appear to lend itself to that type of logic – if you can also make use of the additional tempo, good for you. However most of the time you simply examine the brand new place by itself deserves. If it really works, it really works! That was at all times the joke in our crew. If somebody mentioned one thing illogical, and we could not refute it, we needed to agree it really works!

And do you assume the 7…Nd5 line within the Sveshnikov has the capability to come back at par with the principle strains of the opening?

I feel, now, it positively does. Already the truth that Kramnik performed this within the Olympiad exhibits that the road is value revisiting. I’ve by no means actually performed somebody who tried it, so I have never actually gone into this a lot.

On condition that Magnus was going to play the Sveshnikov the entire match there was an argument for spending extra time right here, however you understand this logic can take you wherever. You possibly can at all times say you must have spent extra time right here and in the event that they play one thing else the criticism strikes on.

Within the eighth sport, Caruana was enjoying fairly aggressively and gave the impression to be on the point of a victory when he put the brakes on with 24.h3. Do you assume he ought to have continued his assault within the spirit of the place?

You understand, neither 21.c5 or 23.Rd1 significantly strikes me as being troublesome. They’re pretty apparent strikes. And about Rad1 and Rfe1, I might say a newbie can play it with out understanding why and a pc can play it by seeing the mate.

What was actually wonderful was these strains the place the computer systems flung white’s pawn as much as h6 to kick the bishop to h8 after which introduced the rook in with Re1-e6. Right here, black is helpless even supposing he has a protected handed pawn. In case you see all that then it’s outstanding. However, frankly, for gamers of Caruana and Carlsen’s degree, to make these strikes with the hand is trivial.

And the satan is at all times within the element. Caruana may need seen Qh5 and Rfe1 however there may need been some little transfer that bothered him and he couldn’t work it out. I imply, after you might have seen the pc line, all the pieces appears to be like logical. However’s it’s not logical earlier than. So, it’s a miss however not a trivial one. And the pc’s perception is fascinating provided that you see the entire line.

And, I don’t know, with loads of these strikes, the issue is that when even when you understand the analysis – if somebody had been to inform me the place is +1.9 – I might begin checking the strikes I’ve rejected earlier than. I feel, on the board, it’s a lot tougher. That’s what it goes on to indicate.

And do you assume Caruana’s 17.Bxf3 was some type of a World Championship mistake? I imply, one wouldn’t play a transfer like this in a traditional sport.

Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand plays against Bulgarian Grandmaster Veselin Topalov (not pictured) during the first round of the Candidates Tournament in 2016. AFP

Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand performs towards Bulgarian Grandmaster Veselin Topalov (not pictured) in the course of the first spherical of the Candidates Event in 2016. AFP

Under no circumstances; I truly agree with Fabiano’s logic. I feel laptop’s analysis is way too excessive. What that is for white is a long-lasting benefit, which is disagreeable in nature. However it’s nowhere close to profitable. Initially, if black swaps all of the rooks, I feel white’s benefit could be very small as a result of black has many fortresses.

Having mentioned that, white can play on endlessly, particularly with one pair of rooks. It’s not that the benefit is large, however it may by no means be neutralised. So if Carlsen would have stored one pair of rooks and performed h5 on the proper second, it may very well be torture.

The tenth sport was the tensest sport of the match. You had been commentating on it dwell and also you felt that black had some possibilities of assault there. What’s your opinion now?

I imply, when you might have pawns on e4 and f4, you positively have possibilities of assault. The query is whether or not they’re any good. There was this second when Caruana may have merely performed Bxb5. I used to be on the St Louis present and Maurice requested me, “Bxb5. The pc is screaming a bonus for White. Do you agree?” After that I couldn’t reply his query in an clever manner, due to course I agree. As soon as the pc says it’s good, I perceive why it’s good. But when the pc would have mentioned it’s dangerous, I might have spent a couple of minutes making an attempt to grasp why it’s dangerous! And that is at all times the issue once you attempt to perceive the sport with that essential nugget of data. It’s all it is advisable know – whether or not it’s good or dangerous. And I had talked about my game with Aronian (Tata Steel Chess 2013). All I knew I used to be higher right here. I couldn’t keep in mind a factor in any other case. However that was sufficient for me to search out all the pieces. As a result of in each place you might have any doubts, you may inform your self that is speculated to be higher so a transfer should exist. And that is very completely different from going to a place saying I do not understand how that is going to end up.

After Bxb5, the plan with …Rf6 to g6 or h6 turned out to be trickier than it appeared. So there are some issues for white to unravel, however he does clear up them. It was an incredible sport. I do not assume both aspect was misplaced at any second, but it surely felt harmful, virtually harmful. And that is the fascinating level about this match. At many factors we now have landed in positions the place I might say to myself, I may lose this with white and I may lose this with black in a sensible sport. And nonetheless we received six attracts! These positions have been so wealthy, however neither aspect fell aside. So we now have to go with them for that relatively than simply discuss missed alternatives.

{Game} eleven was type of useless however the remaining sport of the match witnessed this sudden draw provide by Carlsen. Have been you shocked by Carlsen’s resolution?

I used to be shocked. It was unusual for me that Magnus did not wish to make even three extra strikes. He may have performed Bd7, and even Ra6, Rb8 and b5. Make three extra strikes and you’ll nonetheless provide a draw. Why provide it right here?

I attempted to think about the same instance. Typically when I’m misplaced out of the opening after which I’m defending the sport for 20-25 strikes, actually struggling. After which my opponent makes a transfer that not solely loses him the benefit, however places him in a barely worse place. Basically you must wipe your head and begin considering I’ve a bonus and begin enjoying for a win. However generally it is extremely troublesome to make this change. You will have been considering for a draw for therefore lengthy that it is extremely troublesome to make this change.

However Carlsen was by no means misplaced on this sport. He did not have to change. I feel he was preventing a battle in his personal head. He needed a draw badly on this sport, as a result of was fearful that he may lose it and he was not capable of change that thought. After making all of the allowances, and understanding the circumstances, I’m nonetheless shocked that Carlsen supplied a draw right here.

Viswanathan Anand. Image courtesy: Amruta Mokal

Viswanathan Anand. Picture courtesy: Amruta Mokal

One other large shock was Caruana’s downfall within the tiebreaks. Having matched each wit of the world champion within the classical leg, he merely collapsed within the rapids.

I feel the match began to go improper for Fabiano very quick. Within the first sport, I feel, there was an important second the place Magnus performed 4.e4, proper within the opening. And, I feel, Fabiano had come to the board with the intention of not falling behind on the clock however, sadly, this was one of many conditions the place it was value spending a bit of time, simply to grasp what you must do. After Magnus had castled, I feel he had precisely what he needed to get.

It was truly disagreeable for Fabiano, although he performed moderately effectively. There was one second the place he may have gone 19…Nb7 as an alternative of 1…Nb5 however this was effectively inside the margin of error of this stuff. I feel, he had seen this useful resource of taking his knight to d4 and felt that he was holding. It was very exhausting to calculate all that.

This was a kind of positions the place if are considering clearly and for those who maintain, it provides you some confidence. And I feel if Fabiano had held this draw – and he was very shut – the match may have gone otherwise. However it’s typical additionally that the one who is making an attempt very exhausting wins after a few errors. You by no means lose these positions with one mistake, you lose them with two or three. So, Fabiano, I feel, let it slowly slip away. However full credit score to Carlsen for seeing beneath the circumstances that 37.Re7 was essential.

And after that, I feel, it’s principally hopeless. Magnus received again his confidence. I understand how great it feels to get a degree’s lead after not having the ability to break by means of (for 12 video games).

Within the second sport once more, Carlsen performed rather well. On high of that, I feel, Fabiano underestimated the counterplay that black had after 21.c5 and 22.c6. You want extra time to see that it appears to be like deceptively good for white.

{Game} three was principally Fabiano making an attempt to carry on in a hopeless match state of affairs. He received some very small probabilities on the finish. It confirmed that even Magnus’ nerves can have an effect on him. After 26.e5 and the simplifications, all of a sudden 31…Qb2 occurred. However he had the presence of thoughts to play 32.Qd6 and stabilize the place. After which one or two additional errors and it was over. However you may’t actually fault somebody within the state of affairs. When you find yourself two factors down (within the match), it’s fairly hopeless.

Ultimately, I feel, Magnus confirmed his power in speedy chess. I feel his capability to play nearly any sort of place and play it moderately effectively is a large benefit for him in these conditions. As for Fabiano, he simply didn’t get into the match within the speedy stage.

Sagar Shah is an Worldwide Grasp and CEO of ChessBase India.

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