If Viswanathan Anand used his control of the tempo of the game with black pieces to force a draw in game one,Magnus Carlsen employed a surprise choice of opening to return the favour in game two on Sunday. Like on Saturday,the second game ended early as well,with the players splitting points after 25 moves,having used up just 67 minutes on the clock to leave the 12-game series tied at one point each.
Anand has not lost to Carlsen with white pieces in classical games so far but has found it difficult to achieve a breakthrough against the Norwegian in recent times,having gone without a win against the challenger for almost three years now.
Statistically,then,it wasnt much of a surprise that the game ended in a draw but nonetheless,a clearer picture of what opening complexes the players have spent time analysing and are likely to employ,emerged. Anand reverted to the king pawn opening (1. e4),something he hasnt done this early in any of his three title defences since the World Chess Championship 2008 against Vladimir Kramnik.
Theoretically,1. e4 represents the best way to get Carlsen into sharp positions early,an area the 22-year old hasnt been tested in too often. Carlsen did not opt for the Petroff or Berlin defences,both ultra-defensive options for black,which have neutralised the king pawn opening effectively in championship matches before. He replied instead with c6,the Caro Kann. Retrospectively,this seemed an ideal choice for Carlsen,who is not strong in opening preparation but instead relies on his positional sense through the middle and end games to gain advantage. This semi-open system has the reputation for solidity at the start,with a pawn structure that is supposed to give black an edge in the endgame,and also provides some room for middle game tactics.
However,it seemed to have caught Anand a little off-guard. Anand has plenty of experience in varied opening systems and the Caro Kann is by no means an obscure choice. The champion breezed out the early moves but was understandably wary of complications. The players castled on opposite sides,usually a sign that an attacking game could be brewing.
At a critical moment,however,Anand stepped back,making what he called a prudent choice and decided to trade queens. With the strongest pieces off the board,a draw became the most favourite result. The players then repeated moves to leave the contest even going into game three on Tuesday.
It is not likely that players go into a championship match having prepared the lone set of opening or response with either colours. After this early exchange of information,it would be interesting to see how soon they reveal their change-up. Carlsen started game one with the unlikely 1. Nf3,but Anand equalised very early. It is perhaps unlikely that he will try the same opening with white in game three but Anand could still get some mileage out of 1. e4. Firstly,Carlsen only knows that the Caro Kann surprised Anand but what it was that the champion expected him to play is unknown. Secondly,it will be two days before Anand plays white next and if he persists with 1. e4,there will,technically,be enough time for his seconds to find something to work with in Caro Kann.
game Two: White: Viswanathan Anand ; Black: Magnus Carlsen; Caro-Kann Defence B19
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 e6 8. Ne5vBh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nd7 11. f4 Bb4+ 12. c3 Be7 13. Bd2 Ngf6 14. O-O-O O-Ov15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 Nxe5 17. fxe5 Qd5 18. Qxd5 cxd5 19. h5 b5 20. Rh3 a5 21.Rf1 Rac8 22. Rg3 Kh7 23. Rgf3 Kg8 24. Rg3 Kh7 25. Rgf3 Kg8. Draw agreed after three-fold repetition.
game Three: Tuesday