Game 3 and 4 in the World Championship match in Chennai had everything except a decisive result.
Magnus played the white pieces Tuesday. He did not get much of an advantage out of the opening, if any. A few inaccurate moves was expertly exploited by Anand, and black was better in the middle game. Rather than wait for the black pawn majority advance Magnus in typical style sacrificed a pawn with e3! to create counterplay. Not the preferred choice of the computers, but clearly a good practical decision.
As expected Anand, also short on time, avoided the sharpest lines. After the time control Magnus was even slightly better in the queen and opposite bishop endgame due to black having the weaker king and isolated e6 pawn. Anand easily managed to trade off the g and h pawns and a draw was agreed on move 51.
In game 4 Anand repeated 1.e4 and Magnus responded e5 this time. In the ensuing Berlin wall of the Ruy Lopez, Magnus went for the Be7-line. This time Anand made a few inaccuracies and when Magnus was allowed to take on a2, black was already better anyhow. Anand had some counterplay and the spectators could enjoy a long intense fight. Magnus expertly tried to untangle to benefit from the extra pawn, but Anand kept finding the necessary resources, and just before the time control Magnus let most of the advantage slip. Assisted by computers commentators and spectators might have thought the problems was over, but Magnus continued to but pressure on Anand, and the latter just made the second time control avoiding all the pitfalls of the position. The two against one rook ending was quickly drawn after six hours play.
Both players seemed to have enjoyed the fight and amicably exchanged variations both in the playing hall and in the press conference.
I.d like to put the challenge Magnus is facing into historical perspective. The last time a challenger won the Candidates qualification step and continued to win (or lead) his first World Championship match in 12 games, was in Fischer-Spassky in 1972. Fischer won the 24 games match and had a clear lead after 12 games. Even Kasparov needed 72 World Championship games to secure his first title.
On the first rest day the Carlsen team enjoyed a two hours session of indoor football and basketball courtesy of the organizer and a local school. Today the team has retreated to Fisherman.s Cove and we all look forward to game 5 on Friday!
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Chennai, November 14th, 2013