Viswanathan Anand held an upper hand with an extra Pawn but settled for a draw in a tense encounter with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia after 32 moves in the Second game of the world chess championship now underway in Bonn.
In a daring strategy, Anand abandoned his pet King Pawn (1.E4) on the first move and opted opening the game with the Queen Pawn, thus aiming to surprise his Russian opponent.
Thus, Anand seems to be aiming to sidestep Kramnik's ploy which worked well for him against Kasparov in 2000 World Championship match.
Avoiding both the Petroff or the Berlin system of the Ruy Lopez against 1.E4, Anand may thus be trying to reach dynamic positions and invite Kramnik to come out of his shell.
If this is going to be Anand's strategy with White pieces for the match, the world of Chess will definitely be treated to some open fights on the even-numbered games, as witnessed today.
Starting with 1.D4 for which Kramnik responded with the Nimzo Indian Defence, Anand went in for an Open middlegame position with irrational Pawn structure, thus making his intentions clear to have an open fight.
With his unconventional 8..F5, Kramnik aimed to surprise his opponent in turn and the game entered a tense middlegame, where Anand enjoyed a slight advantage due to his Bishop pair.
Understandably, this being the early stages of the match both traded slight inaccuracies between moves 14 17 and by move 18th, Anand had once again regained a slight initiative, though Kramnik managed to exchange Queens.
Anand boldly took his King on a march to the g3 square, for which Kramnik replied with 21Ndf6?, an obvious mistake which was widely criticised by the assembled Grandmaster spectators at the Venue.
Anand responded with the cool 21.Bb1, which made Kramnik realise the precariousness of his position and sacrifice a Pawn to wriggle out.
But, just when it looked that Anand was going to start the process of realising his material advantage, a few inaccuracies and a mounting time trouble brought Anand under pressure and he agreed to a draw on move 32 when Kramnik seemed to be getting his pieces active with a strong outpost on d4.
It looked like an overcautious decision by Anand as he still looked better in the final position, but it was dictated by the normal cautious approach of anyone involved in a World Championship match.
The moves on next page...
The moves (with brief analysis): V Anand vs. V Kramnik (2nd Match Game)
1.D4 (The big surprise, abandoning 1.E4 which he has employed all his career) Nf6, 2.C4 e6, 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The Nimzo Indian, which Kramnik has employed regularly before), 4.F3 d5, 5.A3 Bxc3, 6. Bxc3 c5, 7. Cxd5 Nxd5, 8.Dxc5 (White aims for an open pawn structure, aiming to play dynamic positions), 8...F5 (A surprise, especially from the solid Kramnik), 9.Qc2 Nd7, 10.E4 fxe4, 11.Fxe4 N5f6, 12.C6 (By pushing the Pawn which will be captured anyway, Anand creates a messy pawn structure, where his Bishops will have good score) 12...Bxc6, 13.Nf3 Qa5, 14.Bd2 (A little cautious either 14.Bc4 or the simple 14.Be2 could have kept the tension in the position), 14...Ba6 (Exchanging a pair of Bishops to bring down White's control of the board) 15.C4 Qc5, 16.Bd3 Ng4 (Aggressive but may not be the best.
With 16. 0-0, Black could have tried to apply pressure), 17.Bb4 Qe3, 18.Qe2 0-0-0, 19.Qxe3 Ne3, 20.Kf2 (The King starts his march!) 20.Ng4+ 21.Kg3 Ndf6? (21. Nge5 would have kept the balance of the position), 22.Bb1 h5, 23.H3 h4+ 24.Nxh4 (White is a Pawn up) 24...Ne5, 25.Nf3 Nh5+, 26.Kf2 Nxf3, 27.Kxf3 e5 (For the sacrificed Pawn, Black has active pieces and an outpost on d4) 28.Rc1 Nf4, 29.Ra2 Nd3, 30.Rc3 Nf4, 31.Bc2 Ne6 (Black is activating his pieces whereas White gets into a little tangle), 32.Kg3 Rd4 (White is still a Pawn up but Black's pieces are getting active and Anand was getting short of time).