4:57 am - Thursday January 28, 2021

World Chess Championship: Carlsen unruffled as Anand plays safe

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Viswanathan Anand is not prepared to play adventurous moves but even his calculated ‘safe’ approach is pushing him to the corner.

Despite getting a slight advantage from white pieces in the Russian variation of Grunfeld defence, he didn’t stretch the position enough to induce mistakes from Magnus Carlsen. A 32-move draw in the 10th game, played over just three hours on Friday, ensured that the reigning champion retained his one-point lead with just two games remaining in the World Chess Championship match in Sochi.

The 11th game will be played on Sunday with Carlsen having white pieces. If he wins that, the 23-year-old Norwegian will retain the title with a game to spare. When Anand was asked about the implications of winning an exchange before Ne4 in the press conference, he said: “Yeah.. but I was not impressed. I thought Black was doing fine after the exchange.”

It indicated that unless there were clear winning chances, Anand wouldn’t have gone for it. Of course, if he draws the penultimate game, he could leave his unshakeable logic behind and go for all-out attack in the last game.

Dutch GM Anish Giri, who had helped Anand in an earlier title match, was forthright after 25 moves. He said: “What is happening is Anand is not creating any complications and is trying to consolidate a stable plus.”

Did Carlsen try for a win? “To some extent. I have not got into too many interesting positions with black pieces. Some of them worse and some kind of boring. I mean it is up to him if he…. but we had a good fight today.”

Anand said: “There were many tempting continuations. But I couldn’t find anything that I missed. Bd4 (move number 18, which was relayed wrongly in the official webcast) was precise from Carlsen. He defended well.”

Anand said it was an intense and interesting game and that he will keep trying.

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