Chennai: On a day world chess champion Viswanathan Anand fought hard to head off a certain defeat, holding challenger Magnus Carlsen to a draw in a long drawn battle, a key world chess federation official revealed that the Indian grandmaster’s team had requested the organizers to make sure that former world champion Garry Kasparov wasn’t allowed to sit in the front two rows of the viewing gallery.

Kasparov had come to Chennai for a two-day visit and he watched games 3 and 4 of the ongoing 12-game match over the past couple of days. Georgios Makropoulos, deputy president of the world chess federation, said on Wednesday that he had to explain to Kasparov that he couldn’t be given a front row seat in the audience because Anand’s team didn’t want him to be seated there.

“Garry understood," Makropoulos added.

Kasparov, who has retired from chess, has been rooting for Carlsen, and has repeatedly said that the time had come for the 22-year old Norwegian to seize the world title from Anand, 43, and other players of his generation who have been world champions for the past 13 years.

Asked if his team had indeed made such a request, Anand refused to comment.

On Tuesday, he had said he couldn’t spot Kasparov in the audience, when asked if the presence of the former world champion in the playing hall had any bearing on his mind. Anand and Kasparov are known to have never been friendly with each other, and often been seen taking potshots at each other in media interactions.

A day after Carlsen fought back from a difficult situation to secure a draw, Anand displayed even better defensive play in game 4 to stay afloat in the match. All four games have ended in draws, and the two players remain tied at two points each.

Things went “horribly wrong" in the beginning, Anand said describing game 4, adding: “One illogical move after another… and (my position) was basically lost." But that was when he turned the tide.

Carlsen seized the edge, and should have been able to convert it into a win had Anand not created “obstacles" one after another, the Norwegian grandmaster said. He was “very optimistic" about his chances of winning in game 4, but “I was missing some little things", Carlsen said, adding, “Anand defended very well… all credits to him."

Evaluation of the game by chess programs showed Anand found the most accurate defence right till the end. Carlsen’s advantage was so long lasting—he had one extra pawn—that it was a “bit scary (even) in the end", Anand said, but he managed to find his way to safety through a minefield.

Most experts view Anand’s performance in game 4 as one of his best fight backs, though he earned only a draw with it.

Anand played white in Wednesday’s game 4, and a loss in it would have meant handing a huge advantage to Carlsen. Playing with white piece is considered advantageous at this level of competitive chess, and if Anand had lost on Wednesday, the match could have swung in favour of Carlsen.

It’s a “bit of a pity" that such an opportunity was wasted, Carlsen said.

The players take a break on Thursday. It is the second rest day in this match which is to be played over almost three weeks.

Meanwhile, while Anand was struggling to defend a difficult position, the world chess federation initiated rearguard action in the face of mounting criticism of its decision to ignore Kasparov during his visit to Chennai.

World chess federation official Makropoulos said the former world champion wasn’t really unwelcome, and that he couldn’t visit the match as “chess tourist" as he described himself on arriving in Chennai, because of his stature. The organizers would have surely taken note of him, he claimed.

“If he wanted the flowers and the red carpet, Garry could have had it if he hadn’t decided to ignore all of us," he said, adding that Kasparov didn’t inform the organizers in advance that he was to visit Chennai during the world title match.

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