India is in the chess news this week as the host of the World Chess Championship between Anand and Carlsen.  For someone of my vintage this is very strange.

Fifty years ago India was a chess back-water.  They had but one titled player, IM Manuel Aaron, who was good enough to beat Cecil Purdy to earn a place in the Interzonal, but was hardly a world class player.  Today of course things are a little different.

India has 34 grandmasters and the World Champion, Vishy Anand, is an Indian however by the time you read this the World Chess Champion may well be a Norwegian!  Poor Anand is playing Magnus Carlsen, the World’s highest rated player, in a best of 12 game match for the Championship.  He started OK with 4 draws but has subsequently lost 3 games and Carlsen is now only half-a-point away from becoming the World Chess Champion.

carlsen-anand-reutersThe match unfortunately can only be described as “underwhelming”.  The most boring Championship match in history?  Possibly.  The match started with two boring short draws then two slightly less boring long draws.  Anand is good at the openings but Carlsen is better in the endgame and he managed to outplay Anand in two long endings to take a strangle-hold on the match.  This meant that Carlsen could just draw his way to the title and sit on his lead – one of the reasons why FIDE used to have matches for first to win 6 games.   That format requires players to play for a win more so that the current best of 12 games format, although there was that famous Karpov v Kasparov match that went forever and was eventually abandoned at 5-3 with Karpov leading.

Fortunately game 9 of the current match was a bit interesting with Anand appearing to be close to having a winning attack whilst Carlsen plodded away on the queenside trying to queen his “b” pawn.   Perhaps you missed it and have not yet heard the result?  Then let me take you back to last night and see if you can do better than Anand.  Black is about to play 26…b2 and Anand is then contemplating 27.Rf4.  How would you advise him?

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