The seventh game of the in World Championship match Chennai between Viswanathan Anand, playing the white pieces, and Magnus Carlsen ended in a draw after 32 moves. In another 4.d3 Berlin Ruy Lopez, Anand chose a quiet, positional variation and both sides castled queenside. After the h-file was opened, all rooks were traded and the resulting ending with QN vs QN was a dead draw. Anand must score a win (or rather two) in the next few games, while Carlsen needs only 2.0/5 to become the next world champion.
After the double blow on Friday and Saturday, World Champion Vishy Anand had a day to recover and another white game on Monday. Many chess fans expected him to go "all in" and take some risks. Maybe even change his opening to 1.d4. Anything. But Anand went for the Berlin Ruy Lopez again, and playing 5.Bxc6,
he preferred a calm approach.
“I chose a line that actually both of us have played quite a bit in the past. You get a very slow, maneuvering kind of game. (...) I thought I might be able to press a little bit. It's not huge, but... somehow I was not able to make it happen.”
Anand explained at the press conference that the other big plan for white was to play for f4. Maybe he should have gone for that, because the early h2-h4-h5xg6 didn't give him much. “Swapping all the rooks gives him adequate counterplay,” said the Indian.
Carlsen was obviously satisfied with how the game went. “There are many different plans but whatever you play, it's usually quite slow. I thought I was doing more or less fine; just a little bit worse but nothing real. It's always going to be a tiny bit more pleasant for white but my pieces are well developed and I have no particular weaknesses so I don't think I should be in any major trouble.”
To many chess fans, Anand's quiet approach was a surprise. Hikaru Nakamura wrote one of the sharpest tweets of the day:
Anand admitted that he didn't get much as White: “Obviousy after the last two games it's nice to break this result but... I was hoping for, you know, to be able to press him a little bit and I didn't manage very much to be honest.”
One journalist asked about the psychological aspect of the match. Anand only wanted to admit that "they are there", while Carlsen gave a longer answer: “
Of course there are some psychological aspects. For instance there was no doubt that the outcome of game 5 influenced the next game. I think that's unavoidable in a match, so that's little bit different [from tournaments]. You just try to move on as best as you can but it's not so easy, especially if you lost of course.”
A Russian grandmaster who has worked with Carlsen in the past, tweeted:
Although it's too early to state that Anand has thrown in the towel, he was surprisingly cheerful at the press conference. To the question whether his team is passing on the messages that are coming in via the social media, he replied with a smile: “In general if they think I should know something they let me know. I don't know what they're not telling me!”
Carlsen answered the same question: “ I've been following it just a little bit. I'm very happy, very thankful for all of those who wish me well and for those who don't I don't read it anyway!”
The score is 4.5-2.5 in favor of the challenger, who will play with the white pieces tomorrow. It will be interesting to see whether Anand will change his opening strategy and or and start playing for a win as Black. At the same time, the question is what kind of Carlsen we will see. As the 13th World Champion tweeted on Sunday: World Championship 2013
Vishy Anand again sat down at the board first...
...while Carlsen preferred to stay in the rest area a bit longer
After shaking hands for the 7th time...
...and filling out the notation form...
...Carlsen actually left the stage, and returned at the board...
...only 18 seconds before the start. The term "zero tolerance" could be heard in the playing hall!