World Champion Viswanathan Anand would not have dreamt that he will facing the same humiliating situation which challenger Magnus Carlsen endured in the first game. In fact, the World Champion humbly apologised to a record Sunday crowd after taking an early draw with White pieces. “I sensed that playing for a win was not possible in that position and I took a prudent decision by going for a draw,” Anand admitted.
In fact, though Anand feigned surprise when Carlsen whipped out the Caro Kann Defence, he must have expected it. Sicilian Defence is the favorite weapon with most of the top players but Carlsen would not have risked it against Anand — the Sicilian Slayer. So considering whatever openings were left with the challenger, Caro Kann was the most logical choice.
After a few opening moves, Anand’s position was looking threatening and the Sunday crowd at the venue and millions on the net watched eagerly as Anand’s Knights started making inroads into the Black position. Anand put more psychological pressure by ordering his pet green tea. This was to indicate that he was ready for a hand-to-hand combat and is just settling into a nice cushy position.
Carlsen’s position was looking cramped and the commentators started discussing a possible Anand victory — probably a crushing one. At that moment, the Mozart of Chess, as Carlsen is called, woke up. He took measure of the situation and started exchanging pieces one after another.
Once both of Anand’s raiding stallions got exchanged, Anand was left with his centralised Queen. Carlsen ruthlessly offered exchange of the Queens with an eye on his specialty — a long drawn-out battle.
Anand started thinking and for the first time in the match, the challenger seemed relaxed. Anand had two choices: go for Carlsen’s blood with a whirlwind attack or exchange his Queens and settle for an equal position. To the disappointment of the spectators, Anand opted for the latter and soon truce was signed. Anand is not in a desperate situation and both the warriors are still judging each other.
The lukewarm draw is a logical conclusion. I remember that former World Champion Tigran Petrosian used a strategy of tiring down his opponents by playing for a draw. He used to pull the rug under unsuspecting opponents’ feet when they got used to sedate pace of the match. When Bobby Fischer was to play Tigran, Grandmaster Tal said, “Petrosian can only win against Fischer by boring him to death.”
However, Bobby’s dynamic play trounced the wily Armenian easily. If Carlsen is planning something along Petrosian’s line, he will face a similar
fate. After Monday’s rest, I expect Carlsen coming up with a positive plan with White pieces and the game will be very interesting as both the players have judged each other by this time.