They played the Berlin defense and Ruy Lopez. Well the question is more like: why Anand insisted to play Ruy Lopez again and again. wouldn't be better if he had tried najdorf and nimzo indian earlier? I felt like Anand is giving Carlen the world championship as a thanksgiving gift! Why would a GM in a world championship be so stubborn. What was he hoping for and what was his plan by insisting to play the same opening?

  • 3
    You will be interested in Kasparov-Karpov opening war during their challenge for championship.
    – masoud
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 21:42
  • 5
    4 Ruys out of 10 games is nothing compared to what happened in Capablanca/Alekhine in 1927. They played 32 QGDs out of 34 games.
    – tzs
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 3:57

5 Answers 5


One of Anand's strengths relative to Carlsen is better opening knowledge, and Anand also had the better analysis team. (UPDATE: According to Carlsen in a recent interview, his team of seconds during the Chennai match consisted of Hammer, Fressinet and Eljanov.) To repeat openings was a natural match strategy for him, trying to turn the match into an opening discussion.

By varying openings, especially with white, Carlsen cleverly avoided most of Anand's preparation. The only set-up that was repeated was d3 against the Berlin (played in two white games by Anand), but Anand couldn't find any weakness there. Anand has played 1.e4 most of his career, and it's understandable that he tried to catch Carlsen there. The one game Anand played 1.d4 he lost, although probably from a strong position.

Yes, Anand should have taken more chances, but even with hindsight it is difficult to devise a match strategy for him leading to success.

  • 1
    Carlsen never revealed his group of seconds so I am not sure if Anand indeed had a better analysis team. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:12
  • Carlsen revealed in Norwegian media that he had no seconds in India, he only communicated with Hammer via Skype. Who, if anyone, was helping Hammer is still a secret. Hammer is a nice guy, but I doubt he has someone in the world elite working for him. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:24
  • As good as Carlsen is, I simply find it hard to believe that he worked only with Hammer. I see that you are an FM yourself (wow). Were you helping him ;) Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:26
  • 2
    The only way I have helped Hammer is by losing against him several times over the years to build his confidence :) Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:43

I think the simple answer is preparation. Perhaps Anand invested significant time before the match in the open games and to suddenly switch to closed games might have been unsettling.


In my view, in terms of opening preparation, the Anand team failed to obtain middle game positions that suited Anand's style. In general, I think that Anand should have aimed for long middlegames with most pieces intact. While Carlsen should have aimed for long endgames with most pieces exchanged off the board. From this point of view, Carlsen got his types of positions, while Anand failed to get his. This can partially be explained by the chosen opening systems. Additionally, I think that Anand should not have willingly exchanged queens in a single game.


Before every important match, opponents are very carefully preparing their repertoire of openings/defenses. This not only include deeply training of known lines, but also their own analysis how to invent new continuation, that could suprise the opponent. Because when that happens it often leads to easy win.

So even before the first move of first game they both know how they will play and even to what exactly continuation each one will want to proceed.


He couldn't play Najdorf, as Carlsen would have played 3.Bb5+ (as he did in the last match game). He also couldn't know that Carlsen would go for the Nimzo-Indian against 1.d4, it could as well have been a dry Queen's Gambit Declined.

I think Anand's team had things prepared in various lines of the Berlin Defence, but not against the exact variations that Carlsen had chosen.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.