Black to play
Alekhine - Bogoljubow, World Championship Match (19) 1929
Less than a week before it all kicks off now. Less than a month before the final whistle.
The Big Showdown. Either the Norwegian FWC becomes the actual WC or Indian experience will hang on to the title for a little while longer.
Whatever happens, one thing's for sure: if Anand or Carlsen were to disappear down a time warp and reach the position at the head of today's blog they wouldn't Cock It Like Bogo. More on that later. First a few musings on world championship rook endings and, yes, if we must, a thought or two on the likely outcome in Chennai.
Last year it was rook endings wot won it. Not an entirely insignificant fact, perhaps, given Carlsen's relatively shaky history in such positions (Magnucide, for example).
Moscow, 2012. In the second play-off game Anand (White) saw this,
and after 72.Ne6+ Kc8 73.Nd4 Rf8 74.Nxf3 Rxf3 75.Kb6 Rb3 76.Rg8+ Kd7 77.Rb8 reached this.
Given this is a theoretical position - dealt with on the introductory pages of The Book, indeed - it's no surprise that Gelfand chucked in the towel here.
The third play-off game was a different story. This time it was Boris on the White side of a winning rook ending,
but he suffered a mind flip here ...
... allowing Vish the time to slip his king across and escape to this ...
... at which point they agreed to call it a day.
A rook ending won. A rook ending drawn. In the end that was all that there was to separate them. Entirely fitting that the fourth and final rapid game should end here:-
As for who's going to win the match, I'm not sure about that either. A lot of folk seem to be expecting Carlsen to walk it which is entirely understandable, but given the way he went to pieces in the last couple of rounds at the Candidates who knows how he'll react if Anand can put some pressure on?
So, while I wouldn't be tremendously surprised if Carlsen achieves a decisive lead within a couple of games neither would I find it particularly shocking if Anand keeps it tight and sneaks a win or two towards the end. Which makes it a fascinating prospect, I'd say.
Anyhoo, still a few days to wait so back to the World Championship of 1929. It is, if nothing else, a good demonstration of how playing standards have risen over the years. Hard to imagine even an 'ordinary' grandmaster getting this wrong nowadays, let alone the challenge for the Crown.
Black to move. White's going to queen his pawn, but there's always the possibility of giving up your rook and shoving your own pawn down the board to force a counter-sacrifice in return. So you need to get your king out of the way.
What's it to be?
A jump to the left
A step to the right
The choice is yours. Again.
Rook and pawn Index