Taking advantage of the superiority of White pieces, world champion Viswanathan Anand halted challenger and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen’s juggernaut with a toothless but much needed draw in the seventh game of the World Chess Championships in Chennai yesterday.
Anand may have been relieved with this result, but at the same time, Carlsen is gradually inching towards the crown with 4.5 points to his credit, with wins in the fifth and sixth games. World No 6 Fabiano Caruana’s trainer and ace coach Grandmaster Vladimir Chuchelov told me before this match that the most amazing thing about Carlsen’s game is that he always plays at a very high level.
Even if the World No 1 loses any game, he approaches the next round as if nothing happened in the previous encounter. Psychologically, he is simply too strong. When Anand decided to repeat his ‘Anti Berlin’ move order, the world champion was trying to send a signal to his illustrious opponent that he was not afraid of Carlsen’s homework. He needed some respite from the avalanche of defeats and Anand achieved it without any sweat.
The challenger who had planned Anand’s downfall by extending the game into the sixth hour in both the previous ties could not find anything to play for and the game was abandoned as draw on the 32nd move. Whether Anand has achieved a moral victory by stopping his young challenger’s winning run is debatable, but I found that the defending champion adopted the system which was used by Carlsen three times last year against top opposition.
Anand himself had reason to be optimistic as he had recently beaten arch rival Vladimir Kramnik in just 27 moves. Grandmaster Andras Adorjan who has written a book — Black Is Ok!, must be happy to see that Black pieces are stealing a march in this match.
And Anand’s camp would be buoyed by the fact that he is going to play with black pieces in three of the coming five games. But the big question remains: has Anand recovered from the back-to-back defeats on Friday and Saturday?
The author is a chess mentor and a Dronacharya award winner.