The second successive defeat, this time with the white pieces, shatters the Indian

Late into the fifth hour of play, the camera zoomed in on Viswanathan Anand. With a second successive defeat staring in the face, the champion’s eyes looked moist. Clearly, Magnus Carlsen had again succeeded in torturing Anand and hitting between the ears.

Before long, a hapless Anand extended his hand, acknowledging the youngster’s superiority. A defeat hurts. But, for any chess player worth his salt, a loss when playing with the white pieces hurts much more. No wonder, the pain on Anand’s face reflected the champion’s almost unbearable agony.

“This is a heady blow,” was how a devastated Anand described it. He could not have put it more appropriately.

As things stand at the halfway stage of this 12-game World Championship match, Carlsen leads 4-2. So far, the energy of Carlsen has proved far more effective than Anand’s experience. Now it is for the Indian to stop the challenger from gaining another 2.5 points off the next six games. Carlsen only needs to stay undefeated in five more encounters to take the title away.

Solid position

“Today, I got a pretty solid position early on. But, I thought I should try to capitalise on Friday’s win. I wanted to press him a little bit today, there was really not much to risk. Fortunately, I got a little bit lucky and won in the end. I have won two games and with six games to go, it’s obviously a healthy lead,” said Carlsen, after scoring his fifth career-victory over Anand in 11 decisive battles.

In contrast, Anand’s reaction was understandably brief.

“After the opening (phase), I wanted my major pieces to get fairly solid positions. But, one mistake after another… and it goes…”

Indeed, Anand’s position fell apart gradually. Apparently, Anand missed a certain draw following his wrong choice on the 57th move. As he explained later, the ploy to put Carlsen’s king under rook-check was “a mistake”. He realised that, had he threatened Carlsen’s lone queen-side pawn instead, the continuation would have led to a draw.

Carlsen agreed that the position headed for a draw until his “little trap” (of bringing the king out and enticing Anand to give a rook-check) changed the course of the game.

Asked whether Friday’s defeat had anything to do with the result on Saturday, Anand said, “Yes, probably.”

After the defeat in the fifth game, Anand was expected to unleash a new idea with the white pieces and express himself strongly on this day. Not surprisingly, he employed the Ruy Lopez — as he had done in Game Four — and Carlsen responded with the Berlin Defence. Anand produced a new move on the sixth turn, planting his black-square bishop on the kingside, thereby restricting the movement of one of Carlsen’s knight.

At this point, Carlsen was out of his home-preparation. He spent 17 minutes to find a healthy continuation.

Having his way

It is to the credit of this young World No. 1 that he does not necessarily rely on memorising the moves prepared with his team of ‘seconds’, or those played in the past. Over the board, he finds strong responses to the challenges and steers the position to his liking. On this day, too, Carlsen had his way.

Anand, who at one stage appeared to be getting his kind of ‘active’ position, neither initiated any action on the centre of the board, nor regrouped his pieces for an offensive on the king-side, as is usually the case in Ruy Lopez.

Carlsen slowly improved his position even as Anand appeared a bit impatient. Unable to bear the suffering that he was being subjected to, Anand chose to give up one pawn on the 38th move and then boldly offered another on the 44th in order to force a position that often leads to a draw if a player continues to find the best options. However, Carlsen craftily returned three pawns to establish one winning pawn!

The result: Game Six: Viswanathan Anand (India, 2) lost to Magnus Carlsen (Norway 4) in 67 moves.

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