FWCM 2013 Anand and Carlsen

At the World Chess Championship in Chennai, India the first four games have all ended in a draw. Yet getting there has been much more interesting than that record would suggest! In fact, I’d say that the games represent well the extended competition of a 12 game match.

Ending after only an hour-and-a-half and 16 moves, game 1 was a warm-up—Anand and Carlsen feeling each other out and positioning themselves psychologically for the remaining 11 games. Carlsen, taking the lead as white, played a pretty standard game. Anand, too, decided to forgo any radical approaches and let the game play to a draw based on repeated moves.

The second game extended to 25 moves. However it finished even quicker, ending after only an hour and 10 minutes, and again in a forced draw. By the speed of his turns, it appeared that most of the moves played had been prepared and studied in advance by Carlsen.

Game 3 was much more interesting. At one point, Anand was up two bishops to Carlsen’s one, while Carlsen’s queen was stuck in the H1 corner. The Norwegian also ran pretty close to the first time control. Anand’s advantage didn’t hold, though. At move 40, he offered a draw, which Carlsen rejected. Yet the draw couldn’t be avoided and was eventually called at move 51.

For game 4, the intensity of play ramped up even further. Over the 6 hour, 64 move game advantage was traded several times between the players and spectators were treated to a number of interesting developments—including the trading of queens before move 10, Carlsen taking Anand’s A2 pawn with his bishop, Anand almost running out of time twice, and careful rook positioning in the endgame by both players.

After a one day rest break, game 5 starts Friday afternoon at 3:00 India-time. Even if you don’t have the time for a whole game or the schedule to see it live, I highly recommend watching at least some of the video feed. The team of official commenters does a great job of explaining the players’ strategic options and providing background on the tournament.