World Chess ChampionshipThe 7th game of World Chess Championship at Sochi was a make-or-break affair for the Indian challenger. Vishy Anand had to avoid a loss in any case after blowing up a straightforward winning chance in Game 6 on Saturday. But Anand waded into troubled waters in the Berlin Defense and needed to sacrifice his bishop for two pawns to prevent Carlsen from overpowering him. After that, the Game continued endlessly with Carlsen trying to break Anand’s position but the challenger held on to his ground. The 7th game marathon lasted over 6 ½ hours, before the gentlemen shook hands over the board and settled for a draw.

Carlsen’s opening idea on Monday was a Berlin, which appeared outwardly predictable but no one knew the champion’s mind. To his e4, Anand’s response was e5. Carlsen’s next move was Nf3 and Anand too responded by moving his knight for Nc6. Carlsen’s third move was Bb5 as he stationed his rook in front of the knight at Nc6. Now Anand responded with moving his other knight and brought it to Nf6. In the next move as Carlsen went for castling, Anand took his e4 pawn with his knight. The two masters kept going with their own strategies. While Carlsen tried to create a technically sound position for the win, Anand kept fortifying his defenses, which was his priority under the circumstances. Suddenly in the move 24, Carlsen came up with a twist by playing g4. This seemingly innocuous move added a perplexing dimension and Anand paused to think. Though Anand was playing a passive game with a draw in his mind, he still thought for long about trying to counter the White’s initiative. Finally the Indian challenger decided to sacrifice his bishop in order to reach an endgame where White had one knight, two pawns and a rook against Black’s rook and four pawns. To onlookers, it wasn’t the best way because they thought that White could still crack Black’s defenses. In move 33, Anand decided to exchange one of the pawns instead of entering a rook endgame. This was done by Anand to build further defense against the White pieces.

The position of sacrifice allowed Anand to go on playing from move 31 to move 122 without a threat from Carlsen of a possible crack into his defenses. In the process, Anand lost his e-pawn before Carlsen took many other Anand’s pawns later. The game became a drag after 100 moves until just three pieces were left on the board. Anand just had his king against Carlsen’s king and a knight. But Anand couldn’t have lost because the Black king always had the chance to get away.

It was one of the longest games in the history of the World Chess Championship. If Anand and Carlsen had played two more moves, They would have set a record for the longest game in WCC history. Many analysts found the Game 7 as a strange endgame, where Carlsen kept looking for ways weaken Anand’s position, while saved himself by building his defenses. At certain junctures, however, Anand also looked like pulling off a surprise on Carlsen with the imbalance of his Black pieces. In any case, Game 7 turned out to be an epic battle that completely exhausted both players. On Tuesday, the match will resume with Anand playing White in Game 8. Trailing by a point now, Anand has to look for a win now, or it may become too late.