Chess champ Magnus Carlsen headed into Monday’s latest championship match on the strength of victory over the weekend, followed by a day off. He and challenger Vishy Anand ended up having to endure a marathon day at work that finally “only” resulted in another draw.
Both men appeared exhausted after Monday’s marathon, and must face each other again on Tuesday. Carlsen’s manager, Espen Agdestein, was mightily impressed even though his client didn’t win.
“People talk about chess as sport, art and science,” Agdestein told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Magnus has always been mostly a sportsman, but today we got to see the scientist Magnus Carlsen.” He said Carlsen plunged into the depths of chess theory, looking for solutions often only hatched in laboratories.
Six hours, 122 moves
Despite some much-hyped errors in weekend play on the part of both Carlsen and Anand, the young Norwegian managed to score a much-needed full point on Saturday in the race towards the 6.5 points needed to defend his title. On Monday, Carlsen admitted that he failed to find a way to beat Anand after an amazing 122 moves and just over six hours at the chess board.
“It was only a remis (tie),” Carlsen remarked when it was all over. “Maybe there were possibilities to win, but I didn’t find a solution.”
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Anand and Carlsen were only two moves away from matching the longest chess game in world championship history. Many players probably would have agreed on remis much earlier in the game, but Carlsen simply refused to give up.
“There were possibilities (to agree to a draw), but there was no danger to keep playing,” Carlsen told reporters. He just didn’t manage to break through what commentators called “Anand’s incredible defense.”
Carlsen still in the lead
Expert commentators still think Carlsen will end up winning the tournament in Sochi and retaining his championship laurels. “I think there’s an 80 percent chance Magnus Carlsen will hold onto this title,” Sergej Shipov, a Russian chess expert who’s covering the tournament in Sochi, told newspaper Aftenposten. Carlsen remained in the lead after Monday’s marathon, with four points compared to Anand’s three.
Carlsen himself had noted that his performance on Saturday, despite what some called a “historic blunder,” put him in a good position for Monday’s match. He led the tournament 3.5 to 2.5 at that point.
Carlsen admitted that he “panicked” after the blunder he made on Saturday, and was simply “lucky” that Anand didn’t immediately see how to take advantage of it. He didn’t want to talk about it much, though, and fended off more questions by saying he was just “enormously relieved” that things went well.
Both men were otherwise relatively candid after that match: “When you’re not expecting a gift, you’d don’t always see it when it comes,”Anand joked with reporters. Now he and Carlsen needed a good night’s sleep before facing off all over again.