In the eighth round of the Bilbao Masters, Magnus Carlsen broke world champion Viswanathan Anand’s string of seven draws. Spectators had been wondering whether the popular Anand had been overwhelmed by caution after having a close call against Boris Gelfand in his defense of the championship. At the same time, perhaps it was the case that Anand was almost impossible to defeat. One is reminded of the Austrian Carl Schlechter who drew six out of seven of his matches, including one against Emanuel Lasker, the world champion. Carlsen, however, leveled that comparison with the following game, playing the white pieces.
In this game, Anand played the Sicilian defense and Carlsen set up a pawn formation known as the Maroczy bind, with pawns at c4 and e4. However, on the 15th move, Anand was able to break the bind with a forthright d5. Following exchanges, Carlsen played a sneaky Qe1 threatening to fork Anand’s queen and rook. Anand stepped lightly aside by 17… Rdc8. In hindsight, that appears to be an error as he buried his rook. Carlsen then went on the attack and sacrificed a pawn to disorganize Anand’s king side pawns. He then closed in for victory. Anand is a very popular world champion, and spectators were both amazed and disappointed that Anand could be so easily defeated.