With Donald Trump waiting to get into the saddle in the U.S. and the match World Chess Championship Match being played in New York, reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen creased a buzz when he choose an opening called Trompowsky Attack.
With the name sounding phonetically close to that of the American President-elect, his fans took it as another example of the Norwegian’s wry sense of humor.
Though he denied his choice of opening had any connection with Trump, Carlsen, true to his style, kept his opponent guessing for hours but could not gain much advantage in the first encounter of the 12-game World Chess Championship match against challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia on Friday night as the first game ended in a draw in 42 moves.
Carlsen surprised his rival and the entire chess world by opting for an obscure opening, Trompwosky Attack, called Tromp by some players. In this opening, the player with white pieces tries to create weaknesses in rival ranks by sacrificing his bishop for a knight of his rival.
To add more intrigue to the proceedings, Carlsen also sprang a novelty (a new move) early in the game to add to the pressure on Karjakin, who was playing his first World Championship final match and was expected to be a nit nervous at the start.
The Norwegian World no 1 managed to steer his opponent into unknown territory, but that was the only gain for him in the first game as Karjakin, a Ukraine-born naturalized Russian, kept his nerves and did not make any mistake that Carlsen could have exploited.
Thus the first game of the 12-game match ended in a draw in 42 moves but Karjakin gained some advantage in the mind games stake as he weathered the initial storm and now has the advantage of playing with white pieces in the next game today and thus surprising Carlsen with his own preparation.
Carlsen, as his usual style, avoided known theoretical complications and tried to steer the game to a quiet middlegame in which he can play his positional chess and build up pressure. He did surprise everyone by the choice of his opening and chess world was abuzz for some time by that but it lasted only for a limited period.
Having dodged the bullet in the first game, Karjakin now has a chance of unleashing his own well-prepared attack in the second game.
No, there is no opening in chess called “Donal Attack” that he can unleash to counter his opponent’s choice of a “Tromp”. So expect some well researched response from the Russian as he tries to grab early initiative in a match that is likely to produce interesting battles later on.