World Champion Magnus Carlsen drew with challenger Viswanathan Anand in the first game of World Chess Championship 2014.
After an aggressive start from the Indian Grand Master, the Norwegian whiz kid played a brilliant mid-game to wrest back initiative. Anand started losing the plot in the middle and committed errors towards the end. Magnus as usual kept on pushing for a win till the end, so much so that, even salvaging a draw became difficult for the Indian chess wizard. But, a brilliant move at the very end of the game helped Anand to force a draw.
Here is the game board at the end of game 1. You can press the arrow buttons and play the game from scratch.
Quick analysis - A sharp but guessing game
Initially, Carlsen took a long time to reply to Anand's moves. The Norwegian GM took forty-five minutes to make the first 12 moves, while Anand took only 4 minutes for the same. But later even Anand slowed down and neutralised the game.
Indian grand master's unusual play kept the Norwegian guessing at the start. Even though the moves were not completely out-of-the-book, they were not the 'usual line of play' either.
As commentators rightly pointed out during the game, "this is a much sharper match for first game of a chess championship. The moves are not the usual ones."
Usually, when chess heavyweights start off in a long championship, they tend to hold back in the first couple of games and size their opponents. But this championship witnessed a very high level of intensity in the very first game.
Anand seemed to have taken cues from the 2013 championship loss where his slow, defensive play was said to be the reason behind his defeat. He started off aggressively and both players showed intent for a result instead of playing for a draw.
Susan Polgar, first woman to earn Grand Master title and also a respected chess commentator tweeted, "Vishy learned from 1st match in Chennai that he can't play positionally grinding positions for 12 games vs Magnus."
Carlsen took back initiative in mid-game
But things started turning sour for the Indian Grand Master after the first twenty moves. Carlsen, who initially looked flummoxed, soon pulled himself together and played a set of brilliant moves and wrested back momentum.
When the game was in this position...
Polgar tweeted, "Vishy has nothing in this position. He has to switch gears to make sure he will hold this endgame." She felt that Viswanathan managed to surprise Carlsen initially but lost the plot in the mid-game tactics.
After the first twenty moves, Magnus losing the game was out of question. Tarjei J Stevenson of chess24.com tweeted at this point,"Magnus must be fine here and can't possibly lose."
From then on, it went from bad to worse for Anand becasue Magnus as usual started pressing for a win. On top of that, Anand started committing small errors too. From moves 30 to 40 Vishy's decisions were not prudent, thus leading to complications in the end-game.
As Chess player and commentator Nigel Short pointed out in a tweet, "Magnus Carlsen's ability to grind with the slenderest of advantages is remarkable." He felt that the game was heading for a draw, but then warned that "one slip and you are dead-meat".
Inaccuracy from Magnus
It was a queen-rook end-game.
Usually a queen-rook end-game is said to be a dead-draw. But then Anand lost focus and landed himself in trouble.
Like Polgar pointed out correctly in a tweet, "Vishy is kicking himself for the way how he handled the Q and R end-game. From a not so difficult draw, problems were self inflicted."
But by now even Magnus got tired and made couple of inaccurate moves which balanced out Anand's errors leading to an interesting draw. Also Magnus' king was not completely safe, thus he couldn't go all out on Anand.
Anand used this narrow lee-way from Carlsen and at the end put his queen to good use to force a draw. Especially his 44th move Qh1 was appreciated by all the chess experts who were following the game as the best move of the game.
Game 1 ended in a fiercely fought draw.
Post-match press conference
In the post match press conference, Magnus felt that, "The game was little bit tentative at the start. At first neither of us were playing confidently. I came out of the difficult postion and also got slightly better, but couldn't do more."
Anand when asked what went wrong in the middle, "Somehow I did some careless moves and got wobbly in the middle, on the 34th move I got into a spot of bother and the time was pressing too. I'm a little bit relieved yes."
On a lighter note when asked about the opening ceremony where a magician helped the players to draw out the pieces, Anand jokingly replied, "In 1998 chess oscars the magician stole my watch, this time it was better."
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