The opening game of the much-awaited World Chess Championship title match opened with an expected draw as defending champion Viswanathan Anand of India and Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik drew Game 1 in 32 moves.Playing in the Queen’s Gambit Slav, Exchange variation, there was little by way of aggression from either side, as they preferred to wait and watch and spar in the first game.
In his previous World Championship matches, Kramnik won the first game against Leko, who is now his second; and against Veselin Topalov he won the first two games. Against Garry Kasparov, he had won the first game with white, so Anand with black playing a calm and assured draw in a decent start.
Anand, the NIIT Brand Ambassador, played with black as the game opened in the Exchange Slav, which is just to Kramnik’s liking for a solid game and it also blunts Anand’s attacking style.
The early part of the game followed theory and soon after castling on the ninth move, Anand stopped copying Kramnik’s moves.
Soon after Anand departed from his copying of Kramnik’s moves, the Russian instead of using the common move of castling at this stage, took the c6 pawn with his bishop.
Anand prevented the loss of a pawn by pinning the bishop but Kramnik could still use the tempo it takes Black to recapture. Kramnik also held greater sway over dark squares because his bishop was unchallenged.
Anand had the choice to sacrifice the b pawn to get active pieces and control of the open file. Kramnik meanwhile played a new move 14. Qb4 and it now remained to be seen how he hung to an extra pawn.
Kramnik tried to create dynamism for himself and reached a position where he had little risk, but Anand needed to be careful.
Into the middle game, Anand had activity while Kramnik’s pawns were more dynamic and it was hard for him to stay a pawn up. But neither Anand nor Kramnik was in danger or mood to cede even the slightest of advantages.
Once the two rooks came off it was a dead draw with opposite colour bishops. Kramnik tried to play for a while, but to no avail.
The two have been preparing for this match for over six months. Anand has come with fellow Indian Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Rustam Kasimdhazanov as his seconds, while Kramnik has Peter Leko, who in the past has worked with Anand.
With the match being just 12 games, neither player will take risks, for a plus one could spell disaster as the other player will hold out for draws thereafter. Yet the temptation to go for a win with white – as they have six each with white and black – will also be great.
The 12-game match carries a purse of euro 1.5 million ($2.04 million) to be equally divided between the two, regardless of who wins.
In recent months, both Anand and Kramnik have played sub-par in tournaments, but that can also be because they have not revealed their preparations for the Bonn match.
The second game of the match will be played Wednesday with the first player to get to 6.5 points being adjudged the world champion. In case of a 6-6 draw, they will play a tie-breaker.
Info: The Indian