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Viswanathan Anand - Magnus Carlsen

Round 5
Grand Slam Final
Bilbao

06.09.2008

Anand is far from his best form and yesterday lost in 25 against the leader Topalov, thus sharing the last place. That is not something the World Champion can allow himself to continue, so he should give a real fight today. Carlsen has difficulties playing against the Indian and his score is quite negative. Nevertheless, he showed great progress lately and it is curious to observe if he will be able to overcome the 'difficult opponent' syndrome. Until this round, every game of the Norwegian is very spectacular. Let's hope this will be no exclusion and the audience will once again enjoy the show.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 Quite a surprise - Ruy Lopez, Jaenisch. For a long time this line was not played at all at high level until Radjabov resurrected it. Well, if Radja started playing the Dragon like Carlsen, why should not the opposite happen as well.

4.d3 ( The once automatically played 4.Nc3 is nowadays almost forgotten.)

4... fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6 6.O-O Bc5 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.Nxe5 O-O 9.Nc3 ( Anand deviates from his game against Radjabov in Linares 2008 where 9.Bg5 was played.)

9... d6 10.Nd3 (10.Nxc6 Qe8)

10... Bd4 11.Ne2 Bb6 12.Bg5 Qe8 13.Bxf6 Rxf6 14.Ng3 The opponents rapidly came to this position. Obviously Anand has prepared this line beforehand for his game with Teimour. Magus is also familiar with with this variation as he played it as White - Calsen-Radjabov, Monte Carlo 2007.

14... Qf7 ( A new move. 14... Ba6 15.Kh1 was the usual continuation.) Anand is thinking profoundly over the position. Although Magnus sacrificed a pawn - third game in a row - his Bishop pair and the active Rf6 grant him decent compensation.

15.b3 Be6 Tripling on the 'f' file is an integral part of Black's plan.

16.Qd2 Rf8 Besides the pressure on his center, White has to consider the attempts to attack his King by Rf6-h6 or even h7-h5.

17.Rae1 Rh6 With the obvious threat Qf7-f6-h4.

18.Qc3 ( Simplifying the game with 18.h3 Qf6 19.Nf5 Bxf5 20.exf5 Qxf5 21.Re7 doesn't fit with Anand's style.) (18.Qc3 Qd7 threatening Be6-h3xg2 is a possibility that has to be considered carefully. How dangerous this can be is illustrated by the following line: 19.b4 Bh3 20.e5 Be6 21.Nc5 dxc5 22.bxc5 Qe7 23.Ne4 Ba5 24.Qxa5 Qh4 Of course White's play can be improved.)

18... Rf6 Carlsen spent more than 20 minutes over this move, probably calculating the consequences of 19.Qxc6.

19.Re2 ( I still can't tell what's wrong if Anand had captured the pawn, though 19.Qxc6 h5 20.Nf5 Bd7 21.Qc3 Bxf5 22.exf5 Rxf5 seems like decent compensation,) ( but how about 19.Re2 Bg4 20.Rd2 Be3)

19... Bg4 20.Rd2 Be3 Did Anand blundered or is it a positional sacrifice? Most likely the former.

21.h3 Bxd2 22.Qxd2 Bc8 23.f4 h5 24.f5 ( Looks like another mistake: 24.f5 h4 25.Ne2 Qe7 26.Nc3 d5 and White is in trouble.)

24... h4 25.Ne2 Re8 26.Nf2 25...Qe7 was stronger, but the d6-d5 breakthrough here should bring Black advantage as well. Clock readings: 0.20 0.42

26... d5 27.Ng4 Rxe4 28.Nxf6+ Qxf6 Anand recaptured the exchange but the 'f5' pawn is doomed.

29.Nc1 Bxf5 (29... Re5 was promising.)

30.Qf2 Attacking both the Bishop and the 'a7' pawn.

30... Bg6 31.Qxa7 (31.Qxf6 gxf6 32.Rxf6 Kg7 33.Rf1 Re3)

31... Rf4 After this move the game is likely to be draw. (31... Qg5 was necessary in order to fight for advantage, though it is a bit risky.)

32.Rxf4 Qxf4 33.Nd3 Bxd3 34.cxd3 Qc1+ 35.Kh2 Qf4+ 36.Kg1 Draw agreed. Once again Carlsen sacrificed a pawn for ample piece play. Anand's bad form was showing - at least twice he simply miscalculated, but his experience helped him a second miraculous escape - the first against Ivanchuk. Carlsen could only be sorry for the several inaccuracies in opponent's time trouble that let his advantage slip away. 1/2