Okay, so it was hardly a battle, but it was still an interesting and exciting Game as always.
Poor Richard finished 0-4, although I would have finished squarely in last place, had I lost. Not that I had much to lose as a 1799 rating, for example, would be a sandbaggers dream, but I am not going to abuse the system like that and will always play my best.
I quickly got the impression that Richard should not be playing this opening against me. He played it a bit passively or overactively at the wrong times somehow, and by move twelve I was already having my choice of shots. For example, I looked at the fantasy line 12.Rc1 BxNf3 13.BxBf3 Nxc4?! (he told me after the game that this is what he was going for in this variation, so he probably would have played it) 14.Nb5 NxBe3, 15.fxNe3 Qb8 when Black is a pawn up, but his king and queen are awkwardly placed to say the least, and my pieces and center are developed. I figured that if he declined this, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted the rook from a1 on c1 or not. Besides. 12.Ne5 was so simple, and still improving the position.
16…Ka8! Else 17.Nd7+ is winning the queen for two minors.
17…Qd7?? Near the end of the game, I had wondered how I had gotten up a whole rook! I was anticipating 17…QxB, 18.c5 Qd7, 19.NxR Nc8, 20.Nxf7 Qxf7 but he must have gone wrong in his calculations because he had thought he was losing a piece there in any event, when he should have only been losing pawn and exchange. After this, I simply defended and realistically he was toast as I finished with 24 minutes on my clock, and had he played the end better and not dropped a piece, I still would have likely jacked up his position even more and looked great doing it. We both had fun, that is the important thing.
He might have been looking at this line when he dropped that piece. 19.NxR (as above), Nbd5, 20.NxNd5 NxN, 21.Qxh when I appear to have saved my Na8, and even if ..Nf6 I could play for example 22.Qxf7 if nothing else and now I am up possibly two pawns and the rook.
For anyone who “thinks that they can’t”, here is Magnus dropping a piece, losing a winning position, and still winning the tournament. I don’t even think his queening there at the end is good, why not play Nb4 instead of g8(Q)? I’m even surprised at how slow he was playing some of it. Anyone can have a bad day at chess.
Actually, I didn’t like how Anand took the inside pawn instead of the outside pawn. But big kudos to Anand for instantly skewering the pieces and not doubting himself just because Carlsen was the one who played it.