My predictions after Carlsen and Anand are tied after round 4 of the World Chess Championship

Last week I made some predictions about the 2014 Carlsen-Anand World Chess Championship match before it began. Now, four rounds later, there have been two draws and a win for each player. What next? Since I correctly predicted some things already, I thought I’d speculate about the next couple of rounds.


As White

As I expected, Anand opened with d4 with a view to aggressive, sharp lines based on home preparation. In round 1, he lost his nerve and lost his initiative, but in round 3, he won convincingly, first inviting a Queen’s Indian (as I expected he would) but then defeating the Queen’s Gambit Declined. I do not see why he would vary from d4 as White in the future unless he ends up ahead in the match and has psychological reasons to mix things up.

As Black

So far, Anand has only faced 1 e4 as Black. In round 2, Anand made what seems like a stupid decision to try to go into the Berlin Defense, and got punished by a loss. I see no reason for him to play the Berlin Defense again; playing 1…e5 just seems to be playing into Carlsen’s strengths. In round 4, Anand went for the Sicilian, as I expected; he used an …e6 move order to avoid the Moscow and Rossolimo, causing Carlsen to vary with a g3 anti-Sicilian, resulting in a draw. My suspicion is still that Anand might be aiming for a …Nc6 Sicilian through transposition, perhaps a Taimanov. I expect him to try this again.

I’m most curious about how Anand would face the English. I think it would depend on his situation. 1…e5 would be an ambitious, unbalancing choice, while transposition to a Slav structure is also possible.


As White

I made no specific prediction about how Carlsen would open as White. He has played 1 e4 twice, once with success but once leading to a draw. Psychologically, his inability or unwillingness to engage Anand in an Open Sicilian does not make continuing with 1 e4 right now seem plausible. I expect him to vary, possibly using the English. I certainly hope he doesn’t try the Reti again as he did last year, even though it worked then; he is facing a different Anand this year.

As Black

The Grünfeld in round 1 was a surprise, but exactly true to my expectation that “he will do whatever might confuse Anand”. That he varied in round 3 with the Queen’s Gambit Declined suggests that the Grünfeld may not appear again soon, but he lost with the Queen’s Gambit Declined, so will he play it again? It is possible. Another possibility is to resort to the Queen’s Indian, making sure to avoid sacrificial lines (which means possibly playing a traditional …Bb7 instead of …Ba6). Or he could play a Ragozin.


Right now I think Anand is actually in good shape in the match, having a certain momentum. It appears Carlsen is mainly winging it, in the last two rounds. I expect him to change things up.

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