"How will you spend the entire evening"?
The question was asked in jest but was perfect for the situation as the first game of the World Chess Championship between India's Viswanathan Anand and Russia's Vladimir Kramnik ended in an uneventful draw --- and in double quick time.
The game that was supposed to last a maximum of seven hours ended in less than half that duration, as the two grandmasters signed peace after 32 moves. Kramnik had white pieces in the opening game and tried to be a bit "adventurous to force something out of it". But the position they reached in the end was as boring as a flat carbonated drink. But, then, the two rivals here have never been known to commit hara-kiri --- that to at such an early stage.
But sure the early draw would have left the two with enough time to chalk out their tactics for Wednesday, in which Anand will play with white and hope to capitalise on the advantage.
"When you play the first game of a long-drawn contest, you basically try to get used to the tensions, get used to the conditions and that's what we did today," Kramnik said at the post-game press conference.
Both grandmasters played clinical --- and immaculate --- chess making it look so easy. However, Anand said it was not so easy as it appeared. "It looks innocent but very often such positions have quite a lot of venom in it. Both of us did not make any mistakes and the opposite coloured bishop ending that we had, normally leads to a draw and that's what happened."
The two exponents tested each other in the exchange variation of Slav Opening. The Russian did get a slight advantage from the opening but it was not much.
What came as a surprise to many was Kramnik's move on the 24th turn when he played e5, exchanging a pawn, hoping for Anand to make a mistake. But the India not only took up the exchange, he also steered the game to a stalemate.
"I was trying to put a bit of pressure on him but there was not much chance in the position we got into. I couldn't see what I could have done but play e5 and hope to force something," said Kramnik.