Chess

Anand and Kramnik draw the second game

World Chess Championship, Bonn

World chess champion Viswanathan Anand of India started the second game of his championship match against Russian challenger Vladimir Kramnik with a definite advantage Wednesday, but had to settle for a draw.

Still, it was a much more exciting game than the unspectacular opener to the match on Tuesday, which also ended in an draw.

Anand, playing with White, led with the Saemisch variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense. His first move, 1. d4, was a minor surprise because he almost always leads with 1. e4 and it gave him a slight edge over Kramnik.

“At a certain point in the opening, the position became very sharp,” Anand said.

Kramnik, of Russia, called the position “very complicated.”

“Such a strange position is difficult to assess,” he said.

Anand had a definite advantage, with the two bishops and some space.

“There was a brief moment when I thought it was going my way,” Anand said.

He was unable, however, to find concrete plan to realize his advantage.

Both players criticized Kramnik’s 21st move as overly optimistic — Kramnik, playing with Black, ceded control of e5 and was forced to sacrifice a pawn to regain control of that key central square.

Kramnik’s compensation was that Anand’s pieces were not well coordinated and his light-square bishop was poorly placed.

He was also running short on time. When Anand had about five minutes left for eight moves, Kramnik offered a draw (he had ten minutes left). After spending several minutes thinking it over, Anand accepted. Each player has two hours to make the first forty moves or forfeit the game.

“White is objectively better but (the position) is hard to play with little time,” Kramnik said of the way the board stood as the game ended.

He compared Anand’s opener to a strategy that Peter Leko of Hungary, who is also a confirmed e4 player, tried against him in 2004. In that game, as Kramnik sought to defend one of the two world chess titles that he reunited in 2006, Leko switched to 1. d4 and gained the first victory of the match. Kramnik said the sting of that loss against Leko prepared him for Anand’s shift in tactics. “I learned my lesson and am not so stupid today,” Kramnik said.

Kramnik will have White in game three on Thursday.

Asked what he planned to do with the day off, Anand said, “I will wake up and flip a coin.”

The 12-game match is scheduled to continue through Oct. 31. If Kramnik and Anand are tied after 12 games, Nov. 2 is set aside for a series of rapid and, if necessary, blitz games to decide the winner.

Report: Associated press

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