Anand lets Carlsen off the hook in game 5, settles for draw

  • Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 15, 2014 15:54 IST

In the fifth game of the World Chess Championship Viswanathan Anand playing with white pieces drew with Magnus Carlsen in a relatively short game 5 on Friday.

Game board

A well prepared Carlsen

In the press conference that followed game 4 on Wednesday, Carlsen said, "I'm not playing very well. Actually, I'm playing somewhat terribly. My last two games were pretty bad."

He must have thought about this long and hard during the rest day. Certianly game 5 was an improvement for Magnus.

Magnus sensed that Anand had prepared very well for the championship this time, thus playing a theoritical game will not result in a favourable result for him. He wanted to deviate Anand from usual line of play into unchartered territories and he had partial success in doing that on Friday.

As usual a 'well-prepared' Anand started off strongly, but was taken by surprise by Carlsen's reply to his opening. Magnus replied with 'Queens-Indian' defence, a opening in his repertoire for a long time now.

In the past four games, Carlsen was forced into 'thinking mode' by Anand, which actually cost the Norwegian game 3 where he lost on time. This time, there was a role reversal. Anand, 'slightly surprised' at the variations, took a long time initially to reply to Carlsen's moves.

Susan Polgar, famous chess commentator wrote in her live blog, "Anand is pausing after this move after both were blitzing out the first 7 moves. It's obvious that Magnus has something cooking & he's deciding how not to fall into home preparation."

Carlsen played the first 17 moves in under just 8 minutes for which Vishy took more than half an hour to reply. But this didn't prove costly in the end.

As Polgar rightly pointed out in a tweet, "Magnus is ahead by more than 30 minutes. But Anand has plenty of time as both are playing fast."

A lonely pawn and a fiery Knight

Anand had one concern. One of his pawns as usual strayed into Carlsen's territory without much of defence. His 'd' pawn was proving to be a head-ache.

Polgar tweeted, "Even though white is slightly better, black is fine & will have d4 pawn as a target."

But then Anand negotiated the lonely pawn situation carefully and traded it for good compensation and brought his knight to D5. Suddendly chess experts became very interested in the game.

Chess grand master Jan Gustafsson tweeted, "Magnus is in big trouble here. 23...Kh8 24.Re7 f5 25.Rxa7 and I'll give Vishy 75%."

Polgar wrote in her live blog, " Magnus has to carefully decide how to proceed. This is an important decision for black."

It seemed just for a second, Anand had worked out a winning plan in the game, though there was a long fight ahead. Magnus seemed a bit worried and thought for a whole ten minutes before deciding to go ahead and trade his bishop with the white knight.

Trading queens

Realising his weak position Magnus wanted to trade-off the queens in order to minimise danger and he soon achived that in move 23. Which turned out to be a huge relief. It lessened white's chances to push for a win even though it still had an advantage.

Carlsen recounted in the press conference, "After the queens were exchanged there was not enough play left for a win"

The situation still remained tense as Anand's 'A' pawn was still in the game and may anytime start walking towards the opposite end.

Nigel short tweeted, "Basically if Anand allows his a-pawn to be captured his winning chances vanish."

In move 27, Anand had the chance to protect his 'A' pawn by moving his Rook to 'D4', but instead he went with 'RD8' which cost him.

After he failed to safeguard his 'A' pawn, in move 29 Carlsen's Knight gobbled it up, which proved to be the final blow to Anand's winning chances.

A fast end-game

From then on there were a flurry of moves and exchanges, which led to a draw finally. It seemed like Anand decided to play for a draw seeing not much of a winning chance.

After 39 moves both players agreed for a draw. The game never crossed the first time control and ended in two and a half hours. A relatively short game in this tournament.

Chess grandmaster Jan Gustafsson tweeted, "Brrr. Dead draw. Come on Vishy, you could have made the guy work a bit harder today!". This seemed to be the feeling of chess experts generally on today's game.

Previous games

Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4

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