For much of today's Anand-Carlsen game, white seemed to have a powerful mating attack. But from the analyses I've seen, there was never a point where it was clear that black would not be able to defend against best play. Was there any point in the game at which, with best play on white's part, all lines lead to a win?

[FEN ""]
[Event "WCh 2013"]
[Site "Chennai IND"]
[Date "2013.11.21"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E25"]
[WhiteElo "2775"]
[BlackElo "2870"]
[PlyCount "56"]
[EventDate "2013.11.09"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8.
e3 c4 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. g4 O-O 11. Bg2 Na5 12. O-O Nb3 13. Ra2 b5 14. Ng3 a5 15.
g5 Ne8 16. e4 Nxc1 17. Qxc1 Ra6 18. e5 Nc7 19. f4 b4 20. axb4 axb4 21. Rxa6
Nxa6 22. f5 b3 23. Qf4 Nc7 24. f6 g6 25. Qh4 Ne8 26. Qh6 b2 27. Rf4 b1=Q+ 28.
Nf1 Qe1 0-1

4 Answers 4


The game was ambiguous until move 28, there is no clear way to win but as you mentioned white has the attacking form.

Let see the game from move 18.e5

2bqnrk1/5ppp/r7/pp1p2P1/2pPP3/P1P2PN1/R5BP/2Q2RK1 w - - 1 18

White is attacking on king's side as Kasparov mentioned he could play 18.Rb2 to avoid black to make a passed pawn and keep pressure in both king and queen sides. But white decided to complicate the game.

Another move which leads many people criticize Anand was move 20.axb4

2bq1rk1/2n2ppp/r7/p2pP1P1/1ppP1P2/P1P3N1/R5BP/2Q2RK1 w - - 0 20

1.f5 b3 2.Raf2

Some GMs and also engines prefer to push the pawn to f5 and continue attacking just in king's side. White's 20.axb4 made a passed pawn for black on square b3 (two moves to promote) and black got counter play.

Before move 28 white had attacking chances and a draw at least. But white made a blunder 28.Nf1??, if 28.Bf1 was played, then the game can continue in this way:

2bqnrk1/5p1p/5PpQ/3pP1P1/2pP1R2/2P3N1/6BP/1q4K1 w - - 1 28

1. Bf1 Qd1 2. Rh4 Qh5 3. Nxh5 gxh5 4. Rxh5 Bf5

The game is almost a draw with some minor advantages for black. It's ambiguous.

But white played 28.Nf1?? and black put his queen on e1 to capture the white's rook on h4 -- a big material advantage for black.

  • 7
    "Assume the game was equal until move 28 ..." But doesn't assuming that ignore exactly what the OP's question is about? We all know that 28.Nf1?? was a blunder, but the OP's question is whether Anand had at some earlier point a win that he missed. For instance, I know some strong GMs criticized 20.axb4 while the game was in progress, and suggested (rightly or wrongly) that alternatives such as 20.f5 b3 21.Raf2 might have offered better chances.
    – ETD
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 16:19

How about 28 Kf2? Answer either 28 ... Qc2+ or 28 ... Qd1 with 29. Ne2.

  • Interesting idea! I ran this through some engine analysis and it looks like black can force a draw, though: 28. Kf2 Qb2+ 29. Ne2 Qdb6 30. Rh4 Qxe2+ 31. Kxe2 Qb2+ with perpetual check.
    – TKR
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 4:03
  • You may be right. The question is whether White can escape the checks.
    – Gerry
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 2:44

I ran this position through an analysis engine, which assesses it as a win for black after 28. Bf1 Qd1 29. Rh4 Qh5 30. Rxh5? gxh5 31. Nxh5 Qa5 32. Ng7 Qxc3 33. Nxe8 Qxd4+ 34. Kg2 35. Qg6.

But it gives Black only a slight edge after 30. Nxh5 (instead of Rxh5) gxh5 31. Rxh5 Bf5 32. Bh3 Bg6 33. e6 Nxf6 34. gxf6 Qxf6.


Yes, Anand had a mate if not for the blunder. Here is the line. I don't know why everyone missed it.

28.Bf1 Qd4 29.Rh4 Qh5 30.Rxh4 gxH5 31.Nxh5 Here any move by black would be met with 32.Ng7! Now, if 32....Nxg7 33.Qxg7 mate. Any move by black now would be met with 33.Nxe7 or simply moving the night away to any other square followed by Qg7 mate. Have I missed anything?

  • 1
    Do you mean 28 ...Qd1 and 30. Rxh5?
    – TKR
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 3:26
  • Black can still get in some checks with the queen: 31 ...Qa5 32. Ng7 Qc3 33. Nxe8 Qd4+. Then if Black can keep checking and at the same time get his queen on the b2-a7 diagonal, he can play Qg6, covering against the mate, and is up material.
    – TKR
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 3:32

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