Game 1 Carlsen-Anand World Championship: Draw

Game 1 Carlsen-Anand World Championship: Draw

| 94 | Chess Event Coverage

The first game of the World Championship match in Sochi, Russia between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand  ended in a draw.

The opening was a Grünfeld, 5.Bd2 variation. First Anand seemed to have an initiative, then Carlsen looked slightly better until both players had only a rook and a queen.

From what should have been an equal position, Anand, with more time on the clock, played inaccurately and had to defend for a while after the time control.

The second game is scheduled for Sunday, 15:00 local time

Carlsen adjusting his pieces before the game.

And... it's on. The much-awaited World Championship match has finally started in Sochi, and if Twitter is a good measurement of the chess world then it's safe to say that everyone was pretty excited!

The playing hall is one of the many huge areas available in the enormous Sochi Media Center (the total area is over 158,000 square meters!), built for the Olympics at a cost of 17 million rubles.

The table and chairs are placed on a podium which is about 80 cm high, and the players are sitting about 10 meters away from the first row of spectators. This year there is no glass wall, unlike in 2013 and 2012, and no curtain like in 2010. Instead, one big lamp hanging about five meters above the players is keeping the spectators almost in the dark.

The playing hall at the start of the game — lots of media still present.

There are nine rows of 27 chairs which totals 243 seats, but only 25 or so were used for most of the day. At the start of the game the first few rows were all filled with FIDE officials who had attended the presidential board meeting in the morning, but they didn't stay long.

These days the chess experience behind a computer (with live camera views and GM commentary) beats being present in the playing hall, unless you're strongly attached to one of the players.

As always, former Mainz Chess Classic organizer and good friend of Anand, Hans-Walter Schmitt, and Anand's wife and manager Aruna, could be found sitting in the last row throughout the game.

Carlsen's second Peter Heine Nielsen briefly visited the hall at the start.

Visitors also spent their time elsewhere in the building.

Anand was the first to come on stage, less than 10 minutes before the start of the game, and soon Carlsen joined him.

In the presence of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the ceremonial first move was executed by adviser of the Russian President, Igor Levitin. The two big electronic screens along the back wall showed 1.e4.

Would we be seeing a Berlin Wall? It would be very thematic this November, but no. After the arbiter started the clock, Anand went for 1.d4 instead. A more logical choice, since it was with this move that the Indian had reached a close-to-winning position last year in Chennai.

Anand playing 5.Bd2 against Carlsen's Grünfeld.

And no Nimzo-Indian this time either; Carlsen went for the Grünfeld Defense, like Gelfand played in his match with Anand, and like many top players, including Carlsen, are playing these days.

Sidestepping the deepest theoretical waters with 5.Bd2, Anand won the preparation battle as Carlsen spent 16 minutes on his 9th move, and 21 on his 13th.

After that, Anand finally started spending time on the clock too. That was a bit of a strange moment, because 13..c6 was a logical move. Had his preparation really ended there?

Norwegian media immediately picked up this moment. For example, the homepage of VG (Norway's biggest newspaper and co-sponsor of Carlsen) had “Anand thinks for the first time” with big chocolate letters for a while!

Not one, but two big Norwegian channels are covering the games in Norway live online: NRK and VG. Here's what their coverage looks like:

Live coverage online by NRK | Today they interviewed Ingrid Carlsen and yours truly among others live from Sochi.
Live coverage online by VG using the Play Magnus chess board — GM Simen Agdestein in the studio.

Back to the game. To release some of the tension, Carlsen offered a trade of queens (that would be “an achievement” as he said at the press conference), and it was understandable that Anand decided to keep the ladies on the board as the ending is his opponent's forte (and his structure was worse).

Carlsen found a nice regrouping of his pieces, and suddenly Black's position looked slightly more comfortable. The body language of the Norwegian revealed the same: he was taking control of the game. It was around that time that online commentator GM Peter Svidler said: “I might have overestimated White's initiative.”

Carlsen was taking control of the game.

After a few more trades both players had only a queen and a rook, and that position, around move 30, was about equal. Not “dead equal”, though. Just before the time control Carlsen was suddenly better again — clearly better. 

Somehow Anand had misplayed a bit, somewhere before move 40, and after the time control he needed to defend passively. Ghosts from Chennai might have disturbed the Indian in the last playing hour, as he lost positions like that a year ago.

But this time it all ended well for the five-time World Champion. Anand kept his cool, and drew the game with accurate play.

Game 1 annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov

At the press conference Carlsen seemed content with the draw: “I was getting a little bit optimistic at some point but I didn't see a way to win. If there was a way to win, please tell. I didn't see it. It's OK by me, I am not disappointed at all. I think it's a good start, all good so far.

The players at the press conference with FIDE Press Officer Anastasiya Karlovich.

Anand seemed both relieved about having survived the final phase, and a bit annoyed that he had allowed the problems in the first place: “These days you don't get an advantage with White in every game. I was a bit wobbly for a few moves but then I got back on track. I am slightly relieved. When the pawn came to a4 I thought for a moment that I might be getting into some trouble.”

On a final note, don't miss the blog Chess in Tweets, which is back for this match!

Carlsen-Anand 2014 | Score

# Name Rtg Perf G01 G02 G03 G04 G05 G06 G07 G08 G09 G10 G11 G12 Pts
1 Carlsen 2863 2792 ½ 0.5/1
2 Anand 2792 2863 ½ 0.5/1 Coverage of the World Championship will provide daily “recap” shows after each round! This is the ONLY place (that we know of) offering in-depth, SportsCenter-style breakdowns of what happened in the games. 

Not able to watch the games live? Don't worry, you won't miss anything with's highlights showsStay tuned to the calendar page for updates as we assign many of our great broadcasters to daily shows. will also host highlights shows on the rest days from Sochi! 

IM Danny Rensch will be hosting the first highlights show with top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on Monday, Nov. 10!

Further shows will feature none other than top GM Hikaru Nakamura on Nov. 13 and 16. 

Look for more updates on the calendar or follow @chesscomtv on Twitter!

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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