For reasons unknown, the world championship in Sochi between Carlsen and Anand is turning into a catalogue of disastrous blunders by both sides. Last week we witnessed Anand’s instantaneous implosion with one catastrophic move in game two, when he could still have resisted, while in game three Carlsen returned the favour, blundering material in a difficult, but not yet hopeless, situation. The nadir came in game six, when Carlsen committed a spectacular faux pas in a highly advantageous position. Anand could have wiped him out with his response, but without much consideration swiftly selected an alternative which handed victory straight back to the defending champion. Even the analysts are not immune from this vision-blurring mental fog: as I also pointed out last week, the experienced official commentator, Peter Svidler, was busy extolling the virtues of Anand’s play in game two, one move before the challenger was obliged to resign.
Anand-Carlsen: World Championship, Sochi (Game 3) 2014
We join game three when Carlsen, Black, to move must play 28 … h6 to stay in the game. Instead he chose 28 … Ba5 which resulted in immediate destruction after 29 Qa6 Bxc7 30 Qc4 e5 31 Bxe5 Rxe5 32 dxe5 when Anand had garnered a crushing quantity of extra material. 32 … Qe7 33 e6 Kf8 34 Rc1 Black resigns
In game six the crisis came when Carlsen incautiously walked his king into a tactical ambush of his own devising.
Carlsen-Anand: World Championship, Sochi (Game 6) 2014
26 Kd2? This should have lost at once to the tactical shot 26 … Nxe5! 27 Rxg8 Nxc4+! 28 Kd3 Nb2+ 29 Kd2 Rxg8 when White’s position has deteriorated beyond salvation. 26 … a4? 27 Ke2 As it was the status quo ante has been restored and Carlsen went on to mop up with relative ease. 27 … a3 28 f3 Rd8 29 Ke1 Rd7 30 Bc1 Ra8 31 Ke2 Ba4 32 Be4+ Bc6 33 Bxg6 fxg6 34 Rxg6 Ba4 35 Rxe6 Rd1 36 Bxa3 Ra1 37 Ke3 Bc2 38 Re7+ Black resigns
In game seven Anand salvaged a draw, with two pawns for Carlsen’s knight most of the time. So, five games remaining, Carlsen leads by one point.
This week’s puzzle is a classic case in a world championship match of a blunder being horrendously punished.