Anand-Carlsen: game 2, a Caro-Kann, drawn in 25 moves - UPDATE: VIDEO
The second game of the World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand, playing the white pieces, and Magnus Carlsen ended in a draw after 25 moves. The crowd was pleased with the World Champ's move 1.e4, which was awarded with applause, as was 6.h4 and some other moves. The second quick move repetition was met with less enthusiasm, and the players expressed at the press conference that they're also hoping for more spectacle. The score is 1-1, with 10 more games to go.
After the surprisingly quick draw in the first game, few people expected that the second game of the Anand-Carlsen match would last even shorter. Despite playing more moves, the players only spent an hour and ten minutes at the board this time, and again the point was split.
Vishy Anand, whose main weapon was 1.d4 in his previous two title matches, started his first white game with the king's pawn, which was applauded by the audience. According to Chief Arbiter Ashot Vardapetyan the players can actually hear this, so the glass between them and the audience is not a hundred percent sound proof.
Carlsen quickly replied with 1...c6, the Caro-Kann Defense, which he had only played six times before. A theoretical line was followed for quite some time, and the chess fans got excited quickly when a position came on the board with castling on opposite sides. But, like on Saturday, the players drew their game in less than 1.5 hours.
Anand, who spent most of his time on the moves 12-14, admitted that he was surprised by his opponent's opening play. "It was a mild surprise. The position after move 12 is a very sharp one and I hadn't really expected it, that was clear. I had to decide if I wanted to fly blind or... I chose a slightly solid line."
Basically it was Anand who went for the "emergency brake" today as he got maneuvered into a position where his opponent was better prepared. "Today it's my turn to tender a slight apology. I am sorry about the decision but I decided to be a bit prudent today."
Perhaps with last year's heavy criticism on the many draws against Boris Gelfand in mind, Anand was quick to add: "I am sure there will be better games than these two."
Top GM Hikaru Nakamura, known for his fighting spirit, was one chess fan to be disappointed about the match so far:
I am not feeling inspired by the start of the WC match in India. One thing @Kasparov63 always understood is that chess needs to be a show.— Hikaru Nakamura ( @GMHikaru) November 10, 2013
Carlsen, however, made it clear that he understood his opponent's decision. "Especially when you're caught in prepation, it's hard to go for the sharpest lines." He compared the start of the match with his previous event in the world championship cycle. "It is similar to my start at the Candidates' tournament and that one took off quite quickly."
The one moment where Anand could have tried for more was move 18, where Qe4-g4 was suggested. Local R.B. Ramesh of Chennai, one of the official commentators, felt it was a good try for the World Champion, without running any risk. However, it seems that both players are playing it safe at the start of the match.
One journalist asked the players if they would be watching the Champions League match Manchester United vs Arsenal. Anand said he might, but that the computers "would not be switched off". Carlsen said: "Yeah sure, now that you mention it!"
Monday is a free day and Carlsen plays with the white pieces again in the third game on Tuesday. Ten games remain to be played in this 12-match series which has a prize fund of Rs.14 Crores.
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On a final note, it should be mentioned that before the game the author of these lines was approached by one of the organizers responsible for technical issues. Having read the first report, he explained the reason behind the internet lag the other day and that it had been resolved. And indeed, the internet was much better today. Great service!