In less than a week from now, Magnus Carlsen will be 23, having been born on November 30, 1990. In being crowned as the new world chess champion, after the conclusion of the 2013 FIDE World Chess Championship, held in Chennai during November 7-22, 2013, Carlsen couldn’t have dreamed of a better birthday gift to come his way. He dominated the tournament from the very start and easily beat Vishwanathan Anand 6.5-3.5, as the originally scheduled 12-match duel did not have to go beyond game 10.
The Norwegian prodigy is an attacking player, who does not focus too much on the opening moves. He is gifted with endgame strength and has modeled his game on the lines of former world champions, Vasily Smyslov, Raul Capablanca and Anatoly Karpov, all of whom had similar abilities.
Carlsen was not even born or at best a few months old, when Vishy Anand won the world Junior Chess Championship in 1988 and top-grade tournaments like Reggio Emilia in 1991. But on Friday at Chennai, though Carlsen just required a draw in the last game, he surprised the keenly watching onlookers by trying hard to fork out a clear win. Vishy Anand was dignified in defeat and candidly admitted later that Carlsen astutely managed in provoking him to make crucial mistakes during the course of the tournament. In the last 18 years, this was the first time in eight championship events that Anand couldn’t win a single game. He lost three games and drew all others. Anand was the reigning champion and made a promising start but soon he was seen making errors. The celebrated Indian looked pensive and did not play as forcefully as he used to. When the tournament started on November 07, 2013, avoidable lapses began creeping in Anand’s game. Playing brilliant chess, the magical Magnus magnified Anand’s little errors and took full advantage. Chess analysts believe that the youthful exuberance of 23 year old Carlsen may see him rule the chess world for a long time. Though chess is not like football or cricket where age works against the players; gifted youngsters can unnerve the most seasoned player, regardless of his past achievements. One possible reason is higher energy levels and enhanced motivation. A commentator said that Anand looked tense during the matches and if he had been absolutely relaxed, he could have played much better.
As the tournament began, Carson and Anand kept settling for draws from Game 1 to Game 4 but in the 5th game, an error proved costly as Anand lost that game. After that the Norwegian kept the momentum, just as the Indian groped for answers. Carlsen also won the 6th and 9th games as other games ended in draws. In three wins in the tournament, the Norwegian had two impressive triumphs, when he played with Black pieces. Before the start, Vishy Anand had a 6-3 head to head advantage over Carlsen, which became 6-6 at the end of the 9th game.
The marathon 10th game lasted over 5 hours and had an incredible 65 moves. The game culminated into a draw when just the two kings remained on the board. Etiquette prevented Carlsen from offering a draw, until it became apparent that Anand did not have enough pieces to win.
In 2000, Vladimir Kramnik had brought Garry Kasparov’s supremacy of two decades to an end. Thereafter, Kramnik remained the unofficial king of world chess until 2008, when Anand dethroned him in a World Championship. This year too, Kramnik came close to challenging Anand but Carlsen prevented any such possibility by fending off the World No 3 in Candidates final to book his spot for the Chennai Tournament.