Chennai: Defending champion Viswanathan Anand survived by the skin of his teeth, steering the fourth game of the World Chess Championship to a gruelling draw against Magnus Carlsen of Norway on Wednesday. With eight games still to come in the 12-game affair, the scores are tied at 2-2 and the battle is really heating up if the last two games are any indication.
Anand was pushed to the wall for the first time in the match. The Berlin defence became famous after Vladimir Kramnik used it successfully to beat Russian compatriot Garry Kasparov in the Braingames World Championship match in 2000 at London and since then it has found a stronghold in the elite chess circles.
Anand himself has played the opening with black successfully and he definitely had an idea up his sleeves. However, Carlsen was the first to spring a surprise as early as on move 10 when he moved his Bishop. While it was not a new move, it was indeed a surprise as it had been played just four times prior to this and three out of those four games were played by Jon Ludvig Hammer, trusted friend and second of Carlsen. More recently, Navara David of Czech Republic also played it successfully to get a draw with Lenier Perez Dominguez of Cuba.
While Anand got some compensation, Carlsen opened up the king side for his rook’s invasion and it looked like his extra pawn would count. Making things worse was the clock as Anand also ran a little short of time in the final phase of the first time control. The mutual mistakes however continued.
Carlsen sensed a win somewhere as he started to play fast and Anand pounced on an offered chance to sacrifice another pawn that gave some play. The Norwegian gobbled the second offering too but could not digest it so well as he returned favour almost immediately by making the decisive error. There was still a lot of work to be done, but from staring at a defeat, this was much easier, especially, as Anand is known as one of the best defenders ever. Anand had to do a lot of hard work after the first time control even though the position was just a draw.