By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Former world chess champion and currently the title challenger, India’s Viswanathan Anand has not only to decide on his play style but also score an early win to have any chance of regaining the title he lost to champion Magnus Carlsen, say experts.
Five times world champion Anand lost the title tamely to Carlsen last year here.
Playing white Saturday, he scraped to a draw in the first game at the end of 48 moves after playing sharply initially and changing tactic later.
“The most important thing is he (Anand) has to make a definitive decision whether to play aggressively or positionally. Indecision against Carlsen is a recipe for disaster,” Susan Polgar, a four-time women’s World chess champion, told IANS in an email interview.
On whether Anand can give a tough fight to Carlsen as in the first game as the challenger started off sharply and later switched on to safety mode to get himself into problems, Polgar said: “This is a problem which can only be solved if Anand can score first.”
“Anand was perhaps indecisive toward the end of the first time control. He knew he was burned at the end of the match last year against Carlsen. He went all out and Carlsen’s counter attack sealed the match. It is a psychological issue which is not easy to correct,” Polgar said.
She stresses that it is much more important for Anand than for Carlsen to score first.
“Anand has to take a lead during the first half of the 12-game match. If he does not, it is going to be an uphill task in the latter stages,” an Indian chess grandmaster told IANS preferring anonymity.
On her reading of Anand’s first game strategy, Polgar said: “Knowing that opening is not Carlsen’s strong point, Anand opted for something more aggressive, and his opponent had to spend a lot of time thinking right from the beginning. I believe Anand did not want to get into slow positional positions against Carlsen.”
According to her, Anand can break the Carlsen jinx with a win.
“It will all come down to one win. If Anand can score first, it would give him an incredible mental boost. No one knows how Carlsen will fare playing from behind in a match,” Polgar said.
“Just as in Chennai, Carlsen is the slight favourite as he is in his prime while Anand is not. This is why Anand consciously made a decision to have a different game plan. You cannot beat Carlsen playing his type of positions,” she reiterated.
Polgar said the first game is important to both the players.
“It is important for Carlsen as he knows that he can get out of a difficult position, even with black, and had chances to win. For Anand, it is important to know that Carlsen is not a machine.”
“He did make an inaccuracy on move 43. 43…Re3 instead of Re2 would cause Anand a lot of problems. He had a second chance to save a very difficult position. This may help him play even more freely,” Polgar said.
To a question whether it is going to be a cat-and-mouse game played by Carlsen allowing the challenger to play aggressively then blunt it and grind slowly towards a win in the end game, she said: “Magnus will try to keep grinding every game because he knows he has more stamina than Vishy.”