Photo: Artur Lebedev/AP
Photo: Artur Lebedev/AP

World Chess Championship: Game 8 ends in a dull draw

World champion Magnus Carlsen maintains one-point lead over Viswanathan Anand with only four games to go

Sochi (Russia): The eighth game of the ongoing World Chess Championship ended in a dull draw in two-and-a-half hours to the advantage of world champion Magnus Carlsen, who maintains his one-point lead over challenger Viswanathan Anand with only four games to go.

The five-time world champion from Chennai looked disappointed with the outcome of Tuesday’s game. Playing with white pieces—which is considered a small advantage—and looking to equalize, Anand tried to create complications for his opponent, but at no point in the game succeeded in seizing the initiative.

It was Carlsen’s turn to show the depth of his homework. He never looked to be in any difficulty and took only 48 minutes to make 40 moves, taking Anand by surprise. The Indian grandmaster was widely seen as avoiding complicated lines of play early on. “Not fatal, but tempus fugit," British grandmaster Nigel Short said on Twitter, commenting on the game and the match situation. Tempus fugit is Latin for time flies.

After Monday’s gruelling battle of six-and-a-half hours, Carlsen said he wasn’t in the “best shape" early on in the eighth game, but started to feel better as the game progressed. He described the draw on Tuesday as “a good result for me", acknowledging the hard work put in by his so-called seconds, or players assisting him with his homework.

One of them, Peter Heine Nielsen—a Danish grandmaster—was one of Anand’s closest aides until two years ago and is believed to have a solid understanding of the Indian grandmaster’s playing style and preferences.

On Tuesday, two hours of play led to a completely symmetrical and uncomplicated position with hardly any resources for either player to push for a win. Even so, Anand tried to pile pressure, perhaps to make a “psychological statement that he is not afraid", as grandmaster Susan Polgar said on Twitter, but before long gave up and settled for a draw.

That has been the key difference between Anand and Carlsen. On Monday, Carlsen probed Anand’s defensive skills for at least 50 moves and an hour without having the minimum resources required to beat even a club-level player. But Anand, 44, who is 21 years older than his opponent, appears not too keen to waste his energy if a draw looks the unavoidable outcome.

The Norwegian pulled ahead in this 12-game match on Saturday after winning the sixth game. It wasn’t a game that Anand played well at all but got an opportunity to swing things in his favour, which he missed. That has been seen by many experts such as Short as the potential turning point in the match.

Earlier on, Carlsen had seized the lead by winning game 2, but conceded it in the very next game, which Anand won on the strength of his homework. The rest of the games have ended in draws. Anand, though, has played in Sochi more aggressively than a year ago in Chennai, where he lost his world title to Carlsen.

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