Impasse continues

Impasse continues

Game five sees Anand and Gelfand play out the shortest draw of the match so far

Despite Viswanathan Anand trying out something new — he opened with the king pawn,the first time either player has tried it in the match– the champion couldn’t prevent Boris Gelfand from drawing game five in 27 moves. Anand and Gelfand remain on 2.5 points,but the Israeli plays white in three of the next four games.

Gelfand replied to Anand’s opening choice with the Chelyabinsk variation of the Sicilian defense,when it might have been expected that the challenger would go for his favoured Petrov defense. However,the Chelyabinsk is also a popular choice among several Grandmasters including Gelfand. It gives black a dynamic and strong position– the positives for black are a strong hold on the center and white’s knights being driven to the edge of the board. White,on the other hand,attempts to take advantage of his opponent’s fractured pawn structure and a weak d5 square.

Both players did not get out of the opening book until move 19,when Anand’s a3 provided the first departure from known games of the past. On move 22,the Houdini engine suggested Anand play Qc4,a variation that could have seen Anand capture and try and hang on to black’s b pawn without conceding too much in return. His more sedate Bh3,the first step of the hop step and jump which would result in the bishop finally landing on c6,saw the position peter into neutrality.

A series of exchanges left the champion and the challenger with bishops of the opposite colour,but the imminent fall of white’s b pawn convinced both players that the draw was unavoidable. With both players having more than an hour each on their clocks,truce was signed after just an hour and 40 minutes,making it the quickest engagement of the five games so far.

While all the championship matches since 2006 have seen atleast one decisive game in the first five,Anand had played a sequence of eight draws before notching his first win against Garry Kasparov in the PCA final of 1995. He had,however,gone on to lose the championship on that occasion to the Russian.