Viswanathan Anand lets Magnus Carlsen off the hook
Indian challenger allows defending champion to get away with a draw after being in a dominant position in Game Five of the World Chess Championship
The fifth game between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen ended in a draw after 39 moves of Queen's Indian Defence. Anand, playing with White pieces, looked well prepared at the start as he rattled the opening moves very fast.
Anand gave a strong Pawn break in the Centre which brought out his pieces like a coiled spring. Magnus defended cautiously but still had to concede a slight advantage. Anand had a much superior Bishop against Carlsen's Knight which was cornered away from the centre of the board.
With both the Queens coming off the board, spectators were expecting a long fight with Anand having a slight advantage with the more powerful Bishop. The World Champion's Pawn structure was also fractured and it left lot of his pawns as easy targets for Anand's pieces.
It was in fact a sort of position which Magnus himself would have loved to play had he been in Anand's shoes. It required a slow grinding play which is not Anand's forte. Anand, to everyone's surprise, then played a continuation which allowed the World Champion to breathe easily immediately.
The ever alert Carlsen jumped at the opportunity to steer the game into a drawn Rook and Pawn ending. Chess lovers watching the match were left with the feeling that the World Champion was let off the hook too easily by the Challenger. Had it been a role reversal, Carlsen would definitely have grilled his opponent mercilessly.
Anand will play Black pieces in Game Six today. He definitely looks better prepared in the openings than Carlsen. It will be interesting to see how Carlsen handles Anand's opening preparation.
The author, a former India women's chess champion, is the youngest Padma Shri awardee at 16
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