The worst fears for chess fans backing defending champion Viswanathan Anand came true, as the Indian blundered in a drawn endgame and went down to challenger Magnus Carlsen in the fifth game of the World Chess Championship, in Chennai, on Friday.
With seven games to come in the 12-games match, Carlsen now leads 3-2, drawing first blood in his trademark style.
It started with a Notebbom opening that went into the Marshall gambit that never happened. Typical to his style of getting a position wherein he can just continue playing for a long time, Carlsen chose something that has not been seen in elite chess.
Anand equalised easily with some timely manoeuvres and it appeared that he had nothing to worry about while Carlsen still pressing for some advantage.
The hallmark of Carlsen’s play has been to mesmerize opponents from seemingly innocuous positions and to make them commit mistakes. This was exactly what happened at the Hyatt.
Anand had a perfect balance on the board even after losing a pawn but what saved him in the previous game with his clock ticking away caused him the game today.
The World champion had said he was lucky to get some checks to the king before each time control in the fourth game, it was exactly a check that came to haunt him back on the 45th move.
While another move would have kept the balance Anand decided to buy a move and push the king away, but in haste overlooked that the ensuing rooks and pawns endgame was simply lost for him.
Anand could not make corrections thereafter as Carlsen was simply at his best.
The Norwegian is known to make things work for him and he was at his technical best to find the best moves, something that he missed in the fourth game.
Anand’s defense was not as good as it is known to be and the Indian ace will now have to strike back fast. As the trend has been in the last few World Championships clash, Anand has won the next game after a loss.
It happened in 2010 against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria when Anand won the second game after losing the first. And then in 2012, he won the eighth game after losing the seventh against Israeli Boris Gelfand.
Image: Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand during the fifth game of the World Chess Championship, in Chennai, on Friday.
Photograph: FIDE World Chess Championship