My predictions and hopes for the 2014 Carlsen-Anand world chess championship rematch

The 2014 World Chess Championship is about to begin, featuring Anand and Carlsen again, this time with Anand as challenger and Carlsen as defending champion.

Last year when I followed the World Chess Championship match, I wrote several blog posts looking at each game that was played. This year I’m not planning to do the same, but instead, I would like to offer some predictions and hopes for the rematch.

Recall that I made one prediction that was eerily correct last year:

My correct prediction last year

Before round 9 began, I predicted correctly:

It came to me in a dream: Anand playing d4 in the next round, then going for an f3, e4 Pawn storm against Carlsen #FWCM2013

This was a critical game in the match, in which Anand blundered horribly to lose a game that he had very good chances of winning.

For this year


Anand’s play last year was very disappointing: he did not win a single game in the match, as he was psychologically unprepared to play aggressively enough when he had good positions against Carlsen.

I expect that this year, being the challenger instead of the defending champion, he will play in a more forceful way, because he has no choice and nothing to lose. What does this mean?

Last year I was surprised Anand played e4 as White inviting the Berlin Defense. This was a big mistake. I cannot imagine why he would play e4 again. He surely must play d4, or at least the English Opening with c4. What could he possibly have against the Nimzo-Indian, however, now that the f3 weapon is well-known? There’s always the Rubinstein e3 variation but Carlsen, like Karpov of old, should be happy with Black there. The other option is to avoid the Nimzo-Indian and use one of the Pawn sacrifice lines in the Queen’s Indian or Catalan. But Carlsen must be prepared against such. So there remains the option of trying for a tiny first-move advantage using the English. I guess we’ll see.

As Black, Anand could stick with the Grunfeld setup from last year, or return to a Slav setup. But what about against e4? There’s always the Najdorf, but that allowed the Moscow last year, so maybe a Nc6 Sicilian? In any case, I hope we see fewer Berlin Defense games this year.


Carlsen is still the favorite to win this year, but is not invincible. He can either play like he did last year, or play differently. Because he is versatile, he can change his plans depending on what happens. I suspect that because he is champion now, he may want to prove his dominance, and play more sharply than last year, but he can always fall back on his wait-for-opponent-to-self-destruct style. Since Anand is simply not going to last forever, Carlsen needs to already start preparing to play against his younger rivals such as Caruana and might want to send a message to them in this match.

I expect that his aim will be to psychologically destroy Anand one way or another, so he will do whatever might confuse Anand. I cannot really predict how he will play. I suspect his use of the Reti as White is over, however; there are plenty of ways to still control the situation as White while playing d4 or c4. Playing the English might be smart, actually, especially if Anand is also thinking of playing it. We could see one of those matches where both players decide to enter openings as both colors.


I have no idea if any of my “predictions” will actually come true, but thought it would be fun to get them on record in case they do.

Are you going to follow this year’s World Chess Championship? What do you expect to see in the 2014 match in Sochi?

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