“Its one of those days when you cant sleep and your brains have switched off. There are many questions. Did I miss or could I have.. Maybe,” tweeted Viswanathan Anand on Monday, a day after he failed to regain his world championship crown. As Anand is left to ponder what could have been, we pick three games where he had lost the plot.
Game 2: Frayed nerves
“My nerves were first to crack,” was Anand’s frank summary after he lost the championship to Magnus Carlsen and his first blunder had come as early as in the second game on November 9. At the end of the 22nd move, both had two rooks, queen and seven pawns. But things began to get claustrophobic for Anand and in his 34th move, the five-time world champion blundered with ‘h5’ and Carlsen sealed the game, moving his queen to b5. Game over. Nigel Short tweeted immediately, “Blunders don’t happen in a vacuum. Came under enormous sustained pressure.” In response, Anand had this to say, “It’s a pity I threw it away.”
Game 6: Ridiculous blunders
Anand could have actually won the game as Carlsen was the first to blunder on move 26. But the Indian just didn’t see it. “When you are not expecting a gift, sometimes you just don’t take it,” Anand had said then. Carlsen’s white king was exposed but Anand made his move in rapid quick time without seeing the potential, allowing the Norwegian to move his king away from danger. “Carlsen said he was “extremely lucky” and “massively relieved” to have won. “It was complete panic. I did not keep my poker face at all (after making move 26).” Nigel Short chipped in with a cricket reference to rub it in further. “Magnus got away with a huge error. Almost as bad as dropping Rohit Sharma when he was on 4 runs”. Carlsen moved to a 3.5-2.5 lead.
Game 11: Sacrifice backfires
After three straight draws, that included a 6.5-hour long drawn out game, Anand cracked again in the 11th. Desperate for a win, Anand sacrificed his rook (27 .Rb4) but it ended up giving an opening to Carlsen, who grabbed it. “I played it quite forcefully and he didn’t have any chance,” said Carlsen. Another chessmaster Jonathan Rowson put it succinctly: “Vishy’s Rb8-b4 is a bit like Harrison Ford jumping into the abyss to make the path appear, but unclear if the bridge is there.” Carlsen won the match and championship 6.5-4.5.