SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The much anticipated matchup between the current World Champion Anand and the current world number one rated player Carlsen turned out to be more of a whimper than a bang. Just 19 moves of theory, that had been played many times before. What happened to the Sofia Rule, if nothing else? (The Sofia Rule stipulates that no draws can be agreed in less than 30 moves)
”I must have missed something in the opening.” Anand
Anand – Carlsen
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6
Carlsen has a wide opening repetoire. The dragon , as this line is known, has become one of the Norwegian’s favourites in recent times. Both sides need to memorize a lot of theory…at least 19 moves in this case!
6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. Bb3 Nxd4
All the rage today! My brother in law (Antonio Ferreira) recommended this variation 25 years ago…
11. Bxd4 b5
This sharp move discourages White from castling long as Black will follow up with a5 with serious threats.
12. a4 b4 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. ed Bxd4 15. Qxd4 Qa5
White really has no choice but to castle short now
16. O-O Rac8 17. Rfe1 Rfe8 18. Kh1 Qc5 19. Qh4
Exchanging Queens would be good for Black.
Here both players agreed to a draw. The position is well known to theoreticians. Play could proceed 19… e5 20. Re4 a5 21. Qh6 f6 22. Rf1 Qa7 23. Rh4 Bf5 24. Qd2 agreed drawn, Mamedo – Guseinov, Kocaeli TUR 2008 TCh-TUR . This position has also occurred in thousands of blitz games on the internet at all levels of play.
So why did both players chicken out? Here is what Anand said after the game:
“I wanted to try. He surprised me with this opening; I’ve been checking lots of other stuff but exactly this Dragon I didn’t expect from him. (…) It seems that I just have to force the draw with 19.Qh4. He goes 19…e5, takes, bishop takes, swap everything down, Qe7, Qe5 and it seems to be a draw. (…)
My problem is that if I don’t force the draw where I did, on the 19th move, then it takes very little for me to be worse. Either his e-pawn comes to e5 and if I don’t force the draw I’m just worse because my bishop is really bad now. It’s only good if I can keep this pawn on e7.
I must have missed something in the opening.”