Anand, Carlsen start cautiously
“There are times when you have to apply emergency brakes.” This simple statement by Magnus Carlsen at the post- game press conference summed up the story of his first game against Viswanathan Anand here on Saturday.
After the 16-move draw between champion Anand and challenger Carlsen, the statement was easy to understand, though the spectators had to contend with game that last just an hour and half.
Anand on the other hand appeared calm, relaxed with the confidence that he was the better prepared of the duo and a draw with the Black pieces in a World title defence was a satisfactory result. "We exchanged information in game one. It is early to react to every twist and turn in a long match.” added Anand.
A fidgeting Carlsen also later confessed that ‘there were butterflies in my stomach” when enquired about his debut in a World title match. Carlsen also mentioned that by the 10th move he had realized the futility of carrying on and with a wry smile remarked: "I have had a few such embarrassing draws in the Candidates Matches.”
Carlsen must have surprised Anand by starting the game in a Reti Opening while most were expecting a King Pawn Opening. However the game soon moved into the Grunfeld defence and by the 10th move it was apparent that it was in Anand’s chartered territory. The game was more a theoretical duel and the Opening has not been widely dissected. On the 9th turn Carlsen shunned the standard move and a couple of moves later Anand’s knight was unpleasantly anchored in his territory.
Carlsen’s dark squared bishop was forced back to square one on the 12th turn and with Anand’s second knight also coming to the centre of the board, Calrsen’s queen had to venture out on the queen side. After that, Anand’s knights repeatedly attacked Carlsen’s queenand the draw was sealed by repetition of moves as per chess laws.
As a point of interest, the players had just exchanged one pawn before signing the truce. The 30-move stipulation necessary to play before agreement of draws does not apply in this case of perpetual activity.
Later when Anand was quizzed whether he could have pressed on with this minimal advantage he rhetorted: “Computers will like such positions for Black but it was difficult to find a strong line for Black to play and seize the initiative. It is a satisfactory result with Black pieces in the first game of a title match” said Anand. Carlsen response invoked laughter: ” In that case I must say then that it was a highly unsatisfactory result with Whites”.
Unlike the Sofia World title match in 2010 between Anand and Veselin Topalov, the players discussed and analysed their game briefly before exiting the playing hall. At the press conference too, the players were seen chatting to each other. In the second game on Sunday, Anand will play with White pieces and Monday will be a rest day.