The contest resumed after a day’s break which both players must have spent contemplating what had gone wrong in the first two games. Though the opener was a great disappointment for Magnus Carlsen, he did very well in the second confusing Viswanathan Anand by a sharp aggressive opening. In fact, at the media conference, Anand had appeared a little worried about the depth of Carlsen’s opening preparation.
So everyone was already looking forward to a fierce battle on Tuesday where the presence of all-time great Garry Kasparov provided an added attraction.
While all were expecting a new opening, Carlsen repeated the same quiet Reti Opening he had chosen in the first game. However, he varied on as early as move 3, which changed the character of the position compared to the first game. Anand, with his quick guesswork, chose to bring out his knight on fourth move which apparently surprised Carlsen, as he took considerable time for his next few moves. With superb play on moves six and seven, Anand was able to get an easy equality, reaching a complicated position with chances for both sides.
On the 13th move Anand opted for an exchange of knights, probably prematurely, thereby giving a slight pull to Carlsen. It was Carlsen’s turn to return the favour and with a bad bishop move in the 13th, he allowed Anand to finish the development comfortably.
The battle reached an interesting phase. While Carlsen chose to play the game on a move by move basis — thinking only in terms of the kinetics of the position — Anand decided to counter by trying to improve the position more fundamentally. During the quiet middlegame battle from moves 14 to 27, the world champion systematically outplayed the challenger.
Once again, Carlsen’s lack of knowledge of basic strategic understanding and planning came to the fore. On move 28, the challenger was forced to offer a couple of pawns to avoid a slow but certain defeat.
Here began the final phase. Carlsen had obviously burnt his boats and was out for Anand’s king at the cost of material. Anand could have obtained a winning advantage by capturing the pawn offered on the 28th move. However, he opted for active play himself, a possibility which was probably insufficient to win.
On move 33, Anand had a powerful possibility of initiating an attack against Carlsen’s king, but he chose to capture the gambit pawn offered to him since move 28. This enabled Carlsen to organise his pieces, and eventually recover, forcing a draw on move 51.
Anand will have white pieces in the game on Wednesday and we can look forward to another sharp complicated battle.
The writer is India’s third GM and has been playing chess for 42 years