One of the most anticipated games of recent times ended in a draw,but Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand perhaps revealed a little bit of what was in store at the World Chess Championship later this year.
In the second round of Norway Chess 2013,Carlsen and Anand played out a long and engaging 59-move game that ended with honours even,with the Indian having to playing accurately to hold together a slightly messy position. On other boards,Veselin Topalov and Teimour Radjabov too settled for a draw,but Hikaru Nakamura and Peter Svidler,winners from round one,fell to defeats. Sergey Karjakin,with his second win in two days,moved into sole lead.
This is expected to be the last time that Carlsen and Anand play each other before their World Championship match in November. Anand,playing black,opted for the Moscow variation of the Sicilian defence. The opening phase of the game is one where Anand is expected to score over most opponents,and against Carlsen,he was able to move the position towards neutrality fairly early on. However,Anands 20th and 25th moves,both rook manoeuvres,weakened his position,making his backward pawn on d6 a permanent liability. From then on,there were only two possible outcomes for the game a Carlsen win or a draw. Anand had to defend with precision from there against Carlsens famed middlegame prowess.
It was not a flawless performance from Anand but he was doing enough to hold his position together and Carlsen,uncharacteristically,was under time pressure. Anands 38th move opened a backdoor for Carlsen,and if the Norwegian had spotted the right continuation,it would have left him a pawn to the good. With his clock ticking down,Carlsen couldnt spot the pawn push that would have given him the advantage. Despite that,Anands isolated h pawn and backward d pawn were targets that Carlsen could probe,secure in the knowledge that his own pawn chain could never be threatened.
Once Carlsen missed the chance,Anand held out with relative ease in the rook,knight and pawns ending. While it would have been understandable had the players settled for a draw,considering it is still early days in the tournament,they elected to push on until there were few men left on the table. The game went on until just the kings and a knight were left on the board,the ending a dead draw.
In the match between Aronian and Nakamura,the exchange variation of the Slav defense seemed to have reached an even keel when Nakamuras decision to go for the exchange of his advanced pawn blew up his position. It allowed whites knight to park itself on an advanced outpost and from there Nakamura fell apart steadily. Though the American persisted until move 70,the conclusion was foregone.
Jon Ludvig Hammer,the lowest ranked player in the tournament,fell to his second loss in as many games as Karjakin,the youngest to become a GM in the world,took advantage. Hammers inexperience in the end game handed the 23-year old Russian the win.
Anand (white) will play Veselin Topalov,the Indians opponent during the 2010 World Championship final,in the third round on Friday.
Levon Aronian (0.5) bt Hikaru Nakamura (1),Veselin Topalov (0.5) drew with Teimour Radjabov (0),Magnus Carlsen (0.5) drew with Viswanathan Anand (0.5),Jon LudVig Hammer (0) lost to Sergey Karjakin (1),Wang Hao (0) bt Peter Svidler (1).
Anand vs Topalov,Nakamura vs Carlsen,Svidler vs Aronian,Radjabov vs Hammer,Karjakin vs Hao