Predictability is such an important factor for business managers that they use it to great effect in market-based situations. It is not a mere hunch but it has its basis on sound logic and statistical probability. The same predictability, however, can become a huge liability in the game of chess! In the ongoing World Chess Championship at Sochi, the two contenders locked in a 12-game battle for chess supremacy are different on the predictability aspect. Magnus Carlsen is a ruthless player, who keeps his secrets well within himself and he usually goes for the kill rather than trying to force draws. Vishy Anand, on the other hand, is quite predictable. The Indian master has been around for 21 years longer than the Norwegian world Champion and a lot is known about him and his game. Therefore age difference is causing a disadvantage for an altogether different reason. After a drawn first game, in which Anand somewhat pushed Carlsen with whites, the Norwegian played a crushing second game and beat the Indian out and out. With the third game scheduled for November 11, Anand should be contemplating about his next course of action but Carlsen appears in murderous form.
The official ceremony of the FIDE World Chess Championship took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sochi on November 7, 2014. FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and other famous personalities graced the occasion in which the adviser of the Russian President Igor Levitin read out President Putin’s welcome address. After a mime show, lots were drawn for tournament and Vishy Anand had white pieces in the first game that was played on Saturday. The game turned out to be a draw with both players sharing half point each. Unlike the drawn game at Chennai last year, the first game at Sochi was engrossing and it ended, when both players decided to quit. Anand began with the queen’s pawn or d4 that is usually played for center control. This briefly confused Carlsen, who after 15 minutes, made the most obvious move in the game of chess by shifting his knight to f6. The sequence of moves led to what is popularly called a Grunfeld Defense after the 20th century Grandmaster Ernst Grunfeld of Austria. But after the initial problem, Carlsen bounced back offensively and tried to trade queens in move 19. Anand, however, declined and kept his own initiative. Carlsen had known it and Anand’s predictable game came out in the open. The players had castled on opposite sides and such a setup could have resulted in some ruthless chess. But that didn’t happen because Anand was unable to get his pawn on the attacking h-file, whereas Carlsen succeeded in launching his pawn on the a-file down the board in coordination with his queen and remaining rook. Anand couldn’t find a resourceful move, having made some bad decisions earlier, in which he lost a lot of time. After 3 hours were consumed, Anand put his queen on h1 square and with Carlsen unable to mount a threat against Anand’s king on account of a perpetual check. The players called a draw but Anand didn’t succeed in hoodwinking Carlsen since his h-pawn was more often the target rather than a threat. Despite playing with black, Carlsen looked like winning at times and made Anand play for long without any dazzle.
In Game 2 on Sunday, Carlsen won so convincingly that it would have reminded Anand about his last year’s poor performance at Chennai, where he lost his crown in just 10 games. The Norwegian had whites now and he expectedly opened with e4 as the game proceeded in usual manner. Anand responded with e5 and Carlsen attacked Anand’s pawn as he moved his knight to f3. Anand had no option but to defend his knight by moving it to c6. Immediately Carlsen brought his light-squared bishop to b5. This type of opening is called as Spanish or Ruy Lopez and it is a huge weapon for modern Grandmasters. Anand was pushed on the defensive with Carlsen having several choices. He could trade off bishops, knights, rooks and queens and exploit Anand’s weakness in the endgame. Here Anand had two choices. He could have attacked the bishop by moving his a-pawn one space in a maneuver called Morphy Defense, named after the 19th-century American Paul Morphy. If Anand had played that way, it would have required immediate decision by Carlsen in either capturing the knight or retreating his bishop. But Anand did what is usually expected of defensive players. He moved his second knight to f6 and set up the Berlin Defense. This was the error Anand shouldn’t have made because he had lost a game this way in 2013. Carlsen seized the opportunity and played attacking chess and Anand couldn’t do anything about it. He badly lost the game because he allowed Carlsen to read his mind. In making his moves, Carlsen showed glimpses of Bobby Fischer, the greatest Spanish game players who ever lived. Carlsen doesn’t like draws by the nature of his game and Anand needs to counter him in games that follow and should not attempt to aim for drawn games.