Chennai, Nov 20 (DHNS): World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand and Challenger Magnus Carlsen had to undergo a doping test immediately after the eighth game of the World Chess Championship.
That fact was more interesting than the action on the board, with an easy and predictable draw being reached by the players within no time at the Hyatt Regency. It was one of the most lacklustre games so far of the 12-game match on which Carlsen appears to have got a stranglehold. Every indecisive result helps his cause.
Going into the fourth rest day on Wednesday, Carlsen is most comfortably perched with a 5-3 lead and it is time for Anand to bare all his claws in the ninth game on Thursday where he will be wielding white. The Norwegian was in good spirits at the press conference and reiterated that he was not averse to a draw and had no hesitation in leading Anand down a continuation where the fizz goes out of the position.
Anand certainly appeared to be surprised by Carlsen’s opening choice, as were the enthusiasts. For the first time in four games with white, he opened with the king pawn.
Earlier, Carlsen had played the Reti Opening and notched a victory with the queen pawn opening in the fifth game. The game definitely has psychological undercurrents and it was surprising to see Carlsen stare directly into Anand’s eyes after the first move, to guage whether it was a shock, surprise or an expected opening.
Anand was momentarily taken aback and pondered for a few minutes before responding with the Berlin Defence. Interestingly Anand with the white pieces had ended on the losing side with this same defence in the sixth game.
Later at the press conference, Anand said, “In a World Championship match you have to be ready for any scenario.”
About 1.e4 he said he had not got it prioritised. "I have a bonus day and can prepare."
Carlsen, on the other hand, quipped, "I did not mind a draw. The Berlin variation did not surprise me as he had played it in a few of our previous games.”
Indian Grandmasters following the game were surprised with Anand’s choice and said that they expected a sharper opening like the Sicilian since Carlsen had a two-point edge and Anand was expected to press for victory.
Thereafter, it was Carlsen who dictated the course of the game , literally blitzing out moves in super speed, using just 30 seconds for every move. This almost led to a forced series of exchanges and with every exchange the chances of Anand getting an edge or any counter play kept disappearing. By the 30th turn, the board was swept clean of all the pieces, leaving just the Kings and identical number of pawns for each player.
The handshake came on the 33rd turn and it hardly surprised anyone.