A well-prepared Viswanathan Anand managed the easiest of draws with black pieces in his ninth round match against Magnus Carlsen on Thursday but the Norwegian inched closer towards retaining his World Championship crown as he leads the Indian ace by a full point.
The scoreboard reads 5-4 in favour of defending champion Carlsen, who may just seal it with another win in the next three rounds. For Anand, he desperately needs a win to remain in contention.
Anand, expectedly, did not go for any risky venture with black pieces. While many had expected Carlsen to press for a victory on Thursday, he was simply taken aback by the Indian’s preparation in the Berlin defence.
The shortest game of the match thus far was over in just over an hour, lasting a mere 20 moves and the last five of those moves were just repetition.
The players again blitzed out the opening moves and Anand was on top during the initial phase of the game. Especially after he uncorked his 12th move that forced Carlsen ponder a lot over his next move.
The position was not a new one with a few games already being played but Carlsen was not happy when it was played on the board.
As it turned out, Carlsen played his next move after thinking for more than 13 minutes and after the next move by Anand – which was a new idea – again sank in to his chair for 26 minutes.
The ‘new idea’ was in fact a brilliant find by Anand and his team that probably changes the evaluation of the position at that time.
A game-changer it might have been, but Anand did not divulge further on it.
“It is something I would rather not discuss about,” he said in the post-game conference.
Carlsen, on his part, quickly conceded that playing for a win from this point was futile. Just made a routine pawn move, and then quickly gave repeated checks to the black king to sign the peace treaty.
With three games still to come, Anand will now play with white pieces in the 10th game tomorrow. After that the players will get a day’s rest before the penultimate game of this World Championship is played.
Compared to the match in Chennai last year, when he lost 6.5-3.5 in just 10 games, Anand has done quite well and his two whites in the last three games gives him a real chance to make a match of it.
Carlsen, on his part, was not disappointed as he still maintained the lead.
“If there’s any disappointment with a short draw with Whites, it’s easy to swallow if you’re up in the match,” he said after the game.
Anand also noted that he was satisfied with the outcome.
“You just got to play the positions you get,” he said.