Saturday, October 26, 2013
Carlsen not impress with level of fighting in past matches
Draw could be defending champion Anand's ally
Amit Karmarkar, TNN | Oct 26, 2013, 02.38 AM IST
PUNE: Garry Kasparov, the world champion for almost 20 years, observed that Viswanathan Anand's chances of beating Magnus Carlsen will improve if the score is even at the halfway stage of the 12-game match, starting here from November 9.
Anand must be still harbouring the ambition to take lead in the match before Game 6, but it's quite clear that Carlsen has to play below par to trail at that stage. If Carlsen manages to play at his usual tournament format strength of 2850-plus in the initial stages of the match, the strength of draw will be Anand's biggest ally.
After all, he was quite happy with a spate of draws during his last year's battle in Moscow against Israel's Boris Gelfand (10 draws in 12 games).
"It was a very interesting match from the theoretical point of view with openings and everything," said Carlsen. "However, I was quite unimpressed with the level of fighting. And it was puzzling. For all the time they put in the preparation, they didn't work harder on the board."
In the tournament format, you need to be ahead of many opponents; and hence a draw can force you to lag behind in the standings. But in a two-player match, the draw keeps you on an even keel, enhancing its value further.
The World Championship title matches used to be decided with one player reaching six wins first (draws not counted). However, the prolonged matches (Kasparov-Karpov 48 games in 1984) have become impractical now. Hence, in a shorter match, avoiding defeat takes you that much closer to the title (via tiebreaks).
And Anand's strategy could well be based on safety-first approach. After winning the Candidates tournament in London earlier this year, Carlsen had said: "The difference is, I'm winning tournaments and Anand is holding on to this title. It will be an interesting clash between these two ideas as to what constitutes the best player in the world."
His "holding on" comment succinctly hints at the draw factor in Anand's game and somewhat uninspiring form of the Indian.
But Carlsen can't afford to take Anand lightly. Vladimir Kramnik too had questioned the validity of Anand's title through tournament format won in 2007. However, after losing to Anand, his views changed dramatically.
"In the last 5-6 years, Anand has made a qualitative leap that has made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players. Perhaps, it doesn't look like that to observers, but when you play against him you sense what a great range he has," Kramnik said.