Friday, 1 November 2013

Carlsen vs. Anand World Championship match

A quick diversion from the main theme of this blog, as many chess fans are wondering about how the Anand-Carlsen match will pan out.

Like many others, I don't think Anand really has much of a chance.  I remember the Kasparov-Anand match from 1995, when Kasparov was uncharacteristically tentative and prematurely agreed to a lot of draws, before finally coming undone in Game 9, thanks to a powerful exchange sacrifice on d5 which he was probably unwise to accept. But then Kasparov bounced back immediately, with a fine attacking win in Game 10, and Anand subsequently collapsed.

Anand has better match play experience but I don't think his all-round game is quite as strong as it was in 1995, while I doubt that Carlsen will be particularly afraid of Anand. If Anand wins their first decisive game I reckon he will succumb to a similar comeback.

Carlsen, like Kasparov, is known for occasionally using 19th-century openings, including a fair number of King's Gambits in his blitz games (and even won with 1.a4 on one occasion), but I doubt that he will use any in the upcoming world championship match.  Most likely, he will use slightly-offbeat lines in closed games which may be marginally sub-optimal theoretically, but provide strategic and relatively uncharted middlegame positions that give him scope to positionally outplay Anand.  In keeping with the modern trend at grandmaster level, I expect to see a lot of 1.d4 and some of 1.c4 and/or 1.Nf3 and we may well see no more than a couple of games starting with 1.e4.

My prediction is that Carlsen will win 3 of the 12 games, Anand will win 1, and there will be 8 draws, giving a scoreline of 7-5 in favour of Carlsen.  I also think that the match will be worth watching, as Carlsen's general approach is resistant to computer-assisted preparation and is unlikely to result in many uneventful draws, regardless of how Anand chooses to combat it.


  1. Excellent comments. I agree with most of it, but I think Carlsen lacks Kasparovs confidence should he fall behind. If Anand takes the lead early on I would say that evens out the chances for a match win.

  2. Well, looks like I was wrong- an uneventful draw already in Game 1!

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