After the drawn Game 9, Magnus Carlsen continues to hold the one- point lead over Anand. This is an advantageous position for the Norwegian as the score reads 5-4. With three Games remaining, all the champion needs to do is draw Game nos. 10, 11 and 12 and still retain the world champion’s crown. For Viswanathan Anand, nothing less than a win in the next three games will work, if he wants to remain in contention. On Thursday, Carlsen consumed 49 minutes to Anand’s 14 in Game 9, which lasted for just over an hour, before the players agreed for a draw. It was the Berlin Defense to Spanish, which is one of the most difficult games, when the White opens with e4 and Black comes up with d4. Such a game makes it very hard for the White to generate winning chances, especially if Black is well-versed in the opening theory. Having understood Anand’s versatility in the opening theory, Carlsen was content in playing for the draw rather try anything risky. It seemed that Carlsen was taken by surprise in watching the well-prepared Anand. Therefore, the draw after 20 moves was the best choice for the champion. Last 5 of those 20 moves were just repetitions.
Since he had the Black Pieces in game 9, Anand avoided any risky adventure. Lot of people had thought that Carlsen would try to force victory in Game 9 but the champion was surprised with Anand’s level of preparation in Berlin defense. The players literally blitzed in the opening moves and once Carlsen noticed Anand having an upper hand in the early moves, he apparently preferred safety to anything wild. When Anand played his 12th move, Carlsen was forced to spend 13 minutes in pondering over his response. It wasn’t any position that Carlsen had not tackled but the Norwegian looked far from happy. After he finally made his move, Anand came up with his next move as if he had already thought of his strategy. This time Carlsen was even more perplexed and he spent 26 minutes in forking out his response. It was a new idea from Anand but Carlsen lost the appetite to engage the challenger further. Carlsen had sprung a surprise with the same opening in game 7 and pressed for a win. That approach resulted in the Game prolonging to 122 moves before they agreed for the draw. Yesterday, Carlsen didn’t want to do that and agreed for a draw after just over an hour’s play.
Carlsen admitted during the post-Game press conference that he found it futile to continue. He thought that the best course after that was to lead the Game to a draw. On his part, Anand said he wouldn’t want to divulge the details of his new idea just yet. Analysts and commentators have been comparing the Sochi contest with the last year’s match at Chennai, where Anand had lost 6½ – 3½ in just 10 Games. In contrast, Anand has done quite well this time. In the last three Games, Anand will play with White on two occasions and this could afford him a chance to win at least once. But as things stand now, Carlsen is comfortable as long as he could prevent a shock defeat.