The fourth game between world champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen petered out into a draw like its predecessors — but what an exciting struggle it was! Both of them deserve kudos for producing this entertaining game though interspersed with small errors.
It played out as if calm waters had unexpectedly turning turbulent! The Berlin Wall — as the variation of Spanish Opening is known — is in fact the most solid defence available to Black!
It had even frustrated the mighty Garry Kasparov — arguably (for few) and undoubtedly (for most) the best player in the history of chess — when he lost to Vladimir Kramnik in the world title match.
So Anand must have expected Magnus to use Berlin as the latter has done successfully in the past. Magnus had lost just two games with this opening once he became a super Grandmaster.
Twist in the tale
The players exchanged their Queens and the spectators resigned themselves to a boring, long drawn affair. Anand was taking the fight to Magnus’ territory — a slow game without hand-to-hand combats.
However, Magnus decided to pay Anand the same compliment by making the game into an extremely complicated struggle. He snatched a pawn and allowed the world champion’s pieces free hand all over the board.
For the first few moves there was bedlam and big debates among the spectators. Who is right: Anand’s decision to sacrifice a pawn or Magnus’ greedy-looking snatch? The game went on and on with the challenger trying to extricate his pieces and the world champion trying to break through.
The tension was unbearable for the spectators as the players were walking a tightrope. One false move and they could say goodbye to the game!
It was Magnus who faltered first and that too, in a superior position. According to former woman world champion Susan Polgar, he could have kicked back Anand’s proud Knight but allowed it to linger around his own king which helped Anand come back in the game.
Surprisingly, Black is proving beautiful in this battle. Both are producing good games from the Black side. Anand is playing a youngster who is trying to wear the world champion down by forcing him to play long games till the end.
Maybe Magnus is trying to induce a few blunders in the later stages. However, Anand is fit enough to withstand all these ploys.
The author is a chess mentor and a Dronacharya award winner.