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It was the kind of draw that left both players with mixed feelings. Viswanathan Anand, after getting a fairly promising position with white pieces, clearly had Magnus Carlsen worried for a brief phase during the 39-move deadlock.
Though Anand could not force a serious error out of the Norwegian, he had reasons to be pleased. He had succeeded in pushing the World champion without being threatened at all.
Despite responding with a new opening line and taking less than a minute on each of the first 11 moves, the position Carlsen got into after 20 moves was far from something he would be happy with.
However, the manner in which game panned out, especially after Anand’s 27th move, is sure to leave Carlsen relieved.
Overall, the fifth game of the World chess championship in Sochi, Russia, had its interesting moments before the inevitability of a draw set in rather quickly.
Anand held his ground all through with a touch of dominance while Carlsen attained his objective of not giving Anand a second taste of success with white pieces in the space of three games.
Though Carlsen’s new choice of Queen’s Indian Defence — as against the Grunfeld Defence (in Game 1) and the Queen’s Gambit Declined (in Game 3) — did not catch Anand unawares, the World champion deserves credit for playing the critical phase in an unfazed manner.
As Anand indicated in the post-match press-conference, he had analysed the continuation till the 21st move. Asked if he was surprised by Carlsen’s third opening choice in as many games with black pieces, Anand said: “You have to expect everything.”
Both players agreed that white held the upper hand throughout the game.
Series of exchanges
The game saw a series of exchanges, before Anand offered bait in the form of a queen-side pawn. Surprisingly, Carlsen took it, and this decision injected a fresh dose of excitement into the proceedings.
The exchange of queens followed, and with one of Anand’s rooks occupying the seventh rank and winning back the pawn, Carlsen appeared on the backfoot.
All this while, Carlsen’s lone knight was completely out of play, with Anand’s bishop controlling the key squares. Carlsen managed to bring the knight into action. One set of rooks were exchanged, raising the possibility of a draw.
Thereafter, the players reeled off the moves to hurriedly reach the obvious outcome.
Strangely, all the queen-side material was off the board by the 31st move.
“After I played Rb7 (on move 27), it is just a draw,” said Anand.
“At least (neither) of us could find anything better,” said Carlsen, about the deadlock.
“It was better today than in my last game with black. Now I have a couple of white games, and I am looking forward to them.”
About his opening preparations, Carlsen said: “It was okay, I guess. I mean, he was also better prepared. He knew it was a critical (game with) white.
“I could have played more accurately. No doubt, it was more pleasant to play with white.”
When asked if he thought he was playing stronger and stronger in this title-match, Anand, dead-batted the question.
“During the match, you don’t start analysing too much,” he said.
Over the next three days, Carlsen plays with white pieces on either side of Sunday’s rest day.
The next two games could be very crucial since both decisive games so far have gone in favour of the player sitting behind the white pieces.
From : The Hindu