Anand needs draw to win the WCC 2008

Anand a step away from the world title in Bonn

Blame it on nerves or novelty but quite clearly Viswanathan Anand was not at his best in the tenth round of the World Chess Championship. It was Vladimir Kramnik who was in full flow with the White pieces to score a fine win. Anand needed just a draw to retain the title while Kramnik desperately needed a victory, just to stretch the Match to the next round.

The score still stands in Anand’s favour with 6-4 going into the rest day tomorrow. “I did not think that the position offered anything special and am pleasantly surprised with the victory,” said Vladimir Kramnik later.

To be honest, today’s game was beyond the understanding of amateurs and followers. A purely positional battle, the hidden nuances in the position only became apparent around the time Anand resigned. In that sense there was utter disbelief amongst those following the game in the auditorium and the commentary area that the game would end so suddenly and in such a dramatic win.

Kramnik later explained: ‘’It was a very strange game, a very delicate position and difficult even for top players to understand.” A crestfallen Anand also confessed: “I really don’t know where I went wrong. He just out maneuvered me. It is difficult to pout the arrow at a particular place.”

In fact the game began on a sedate note with Anand opting for the Nimzo Indian defence against Kramnik’s Queen pawn Opening. The first 15 moves were virtually blitzed out by the players giving indication that the game was progressing on well-trodden lines. It was on the 18th turn that Kramnik sprang a surprise with an innocuous looking move.

Kramnik also said: “It was a novelty alright but not a crushing one.” Anand later however said: “This move was rather tricky as Black has a tough time deciding where to place the pieces.”

The Chess Engines also did not indicate any hidden danger at this point. The Indians following the game in the audience started smelling a draw at this point.

Things were fine till the 22nd move and it is here where Anand’s instincts or his sense of danger deserted him. The position was rather deceptive and was not offering any exciting options. But then this was also the type of position which Kramnik is comfortable and cruises comfortably.

With the 23rd move Kramnik’s queen was deep in Anand’s territory on the queen side and here Anand made a mistake in opening up his King side. Later at the press conference Kramnik made it obvious that Anand’s 23rd move was the decisive mistake. Suddenly Anand’s pieces started looking un-coordinated.

All of a sudden Kramnik’s rook had infiltrated to the seventh rank and his queen was also patrolling in his opponent’s territory. Anand suddenly realised the danger but by then it was too late. Anand did try and bring his queen and bishop back to stop the damage but by then Kramnik’s positional grip on the game was too strong and rather than prolong the agony, Anand resigned on the 29th move.

Anand has lost one game but then when you are playing with a player of Kramnik’s strength you have to take it in your stride and Anand with his experience has learned to accept the unwanted and move on. The Indian will play with the White pieces after a day’s rest on Wednesday and hopefully get the draw he needs to retain the title.

When quizzed on whether he would celebrate Diwali the next day, Anand quipped: “Yes. Why not?” but refused to elaborate on how he would spend it.

Report: Sify

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