WCC2013-1: “Damp Squib” in first game

Magnus Carlsen meditates before his first classical match begins.

The highly-anticipated match has begun in what has been billed by some as the “Match of the Century”. There was a throng of photographers outside of the playing area, a press room packed with journalists and millions of fans around the world watching. The Indian press has inundated its 1.2 billion citizens with news coverage and both Indian commentators IM Tania Sachdev and GM R.B. Ramesh stated that this match will give an additional greater boost to the growth of Indian chess.

There was a lot of talk about which opening Magnus Carlsen would play. The 22-year old Norwegian is comfortable in many sorts of positions and is known to vary his opening choice. Thus, he started the match with Reti Opening after 1.Nf3 against Champion Viswanathan Anand. Anand replied with 1…d5. The game resembled a Grunfeld and was a surprise amongst the commentators. Carlsen appeared to be a bit cautious in his first game. He certainly respects Anand’s preparation.

IM Lawrence Trent and IM Tania Sachdev were taken by surprise after 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3!?

GM Daniel King had commented the game and preferred black after 11…Nc5 12.Bc1 Nd5. After 13.Qb3, Anand decided to repeat moves, the two shook hands and draw was agreed. After the game both players looked at a few variations such as 10…Nb6!?, but agreed that there was nothing tangible to play for. Carlsen stated, “I had to pull the emergency break and go for the draw.” He did add that he wished that Anand had played on further.

Friendly discussion after today’s 16-move draw.

Twitter exploded in disapproval with the 16-move draw with GM Nigel Short calling it a “damp squib,” GM Ian Rogers lambasting Carlsen’s opening choice and Silvio Danilov calling for rule changes.

Others were not as critical saying that these are ebbs and flows of a match and that an initial draw is perhaps a way to work out the tension. Nevertheless, the media mill is buzzing with stories and countless of ways to keep up with the action via the main site chennai2013.fide.com, as well as chessclub.com, playchess.com, chess.com, chessdom.com and of course the various Twitter accounts. Stay tuned!

Score: Anand ½ Carlsen ½

Official Site: https://chennai2013.fide.com/
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/11/06/2013-world-championship-anand-vs-carlsen/

Game #1

Game Analysis – Game #1 (GM Daniel King)


  1. Interesting game. I think all the journalistic grips are based on jealousy since they are not playing or they want to be the center of attention. Journalists should let the player play and talk about players style or demeanor even what they are wearing but don’t criticize the lack of drawn blood in the first round. .

    I also find it quite interesting that the multi-game format while not a common tournament format is the highlight of the casual chess player experience where two evenly matched opponents duke it out head to head like a 12 round boxing match.

    1. I believe the sentiment of the first game was widespread, but it is too early to make an assessment of at 16-move draw. Too many people assume this will be an easy match for Carlsen so they are thinking that he should win every white game. That’s not the way these things work. Matches are totally different from tournaments.

  2. Photos of Game #1

    Anand goes through the search process. Security is tight.

    Viswanathan “The Godfather” Anand chills seven minutes before match begins. This is how the ruling “don” does it!

    Anand looks very composed…

    …while Carlsen admitted having “butterflies”.

    Carlsen observes the fantastic crush of media.

    Chief Arbiter Ashot Vardepetyan has a few words for Carlsen.

    Commentary team: GM Susan Polgar, IM Lawrence Trent, IM Tania Sachdev, GM R. B. Ramesh

    FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov makes the first move… 1.Nf3.

    Anand plays 2…g6.

    Amazing spectacle for Carlsen.


    Commentary had an easy day today.

    After agreeing to a draw, a friendly post-mortem.

    Photos by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    Gallery: https://chennai2013.fide.com/photo-gallery-round-1/

  3. It could not be said any better, “ too many people assume it would be an easy match for Carlsen, so they are thinking that he should win every white game…” What would be the point of having a World Championship competition if it was so unbalanced? The truth is, there are weaknesses on both sides, but neither player is outclassed.

  4. I think Anand is really enjoying this match more tha Carlsen. Maybe it is the home court advantage or being challenge by a super kid. Does anyone think Anand feel like the underdog? I don’t

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  6. Cleveland,
    I don’t think for a second Anand thinks he’s going to lose this match. However, as he stated, he has to remain alert at all times against this young phenomenon. I think the strategy he’s using so far, avoiding a full scale melee in the early rounds, may eventually start to unnerve Carlsen and forces him to go beyond what the position calls for.

  7. Guy, That what I think also. While I do not think we will have 12 draws Carlsen’s youthful enthusiasm will prompt more innovation and risk as the match wears on.

  8. We will not have 12 draws, but as the match wears on it favors Anand. This is uncharted territory for Carlsen and the pressure will intensify because he is expected to win. He is prone to make very bad mistakes in the opening… even losing quickly. If Carlsen falls behind, I believe it will go very bad for him. If he jumps out ahead, we will see how he approaches holding the lead. We saw Gelfand go ahead in the last championship match and then lose the very next game. Matches are tricky.

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