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    Saturday
    Nov092013

    World Championship, Game 1: An Easy Draw For The Champion With Black

    The match got off to a great start for the champion. Even though Magnus Carlsen played a line that would have been hard to predict, Viswanathan Anand looked more comfortable both at the board, from a physical perspective, and also with respect to his position on the board. Anand's idea with 9...dxc4 10.bxc4 Nb6! just about killed White's opening as a try for an advantage, and indeed Carlsen said afterwards that he had no options to play for a win and "had to pull the emergency brake and go for a draw."

    The only real question about this 16-move game is whether Anand should have forced the repetition. Both players seemed to agree that both that Black had the better prospects if anyone did, but that there was nothing concrete or terrifying. Perhaps so, but my surmise is that with colors reversed Carlsen would have kept going, and not only because that's what he usually does.

    So it is in general a good start for the champion. He got to dictate the play and achieved a comfortable draw with the black pieces. Carlsen's attempt to play anti-theory theory and go for a slow game didn't succeed at all. One hopes that after months of preparation Carlsen can show more than this with the white pieces. Still, Carlsen can console himself that his opponent remains too willing to take the bird in the hand. Opportunities against a player like Magnus Carlsen aren't going to present themselves in every game, so when you've got them you should use them, even if it means foregoing an easy draw with Black.

    The game can be replayed here, with light but relevant notes. (Subscribers will receive much more detailed coverage later today.) Anand will have White in game two, tomorrow, and then Monday will be a rest day.

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    Reader Comments (7)

    Amazing that after months of preparation that that was all Carlsen brought to the board. Disappointing!

    November 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternoyb

    Carlsen doesn't seem right, nerves look like theyre getting him, course things change, but press conference and the game etc..., as well as Vishy looking very relaxed calm and focused, Magnus in trouble.

    I think he should not sit so early to the game by himself, he looked not so comfortable.

    and no handshake to start? aparntly there was something earlier, but still its just weird this way

    [DM: I was surprised about the lack of handshake myself, but maybe I missed it. As far as being at the board, I was scared that Anand might have a zero-tolerance forfeit - he cut it pretty close!]

    November 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkevin

    They shook hands - see the picture here http://www.chessvibes.com/its-on-first-game-carlsen-anand-drawn-quickly-update-video

    November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVishal

    All that furor over the possibility of Magnus Carlsen falling sick or getting disoriented in India proved to be 'much ado about nothing'. Carlsen had brought his personal chef Magnus Forssell to Chennai during his earlier recce trip. Magnus Forssell is part of Carlsen's team during the current World Championship campaign as well. When they arrived on the earlier recce trip, they announced that they would even bring their own food from Norway which would be cooked by Magnus Forssell. But, once they were in Chennai, they have realized that it would be much more pleasurable to let themselves loose on the food being offered at the restaurants at the Hotel Hyatt Regency which is the site of the World Championship Match as well as where both the teams (of the Defending Champion as well as the Challenger) are lodged. When they arrived on the current trip, Magnus Forssell announced that he was not going to do any cooking but would only oversee Carlsen's diet.

    Now, I have bought a season pass for the World Chess Championships. I am a native of Hyderabad (India) which is about 80 minutes flight journey away form Chennai, so I have to stay in a hotel in Chennai. I thought it would be fun to stay in Hyatt Regency, the venue of the Match, so that I can bump into all kinds of chess personalities including the two players and their teams.

    I am staying in the 5th floor of the 10 floored Hyatt Regency property. Team Carlsen have booked the entire 6th floor and Team Anand are in the 10th floor. The Hotel is a rectangular structure with an open courtyard. If you step into the corridor from your room, you can have a clear view of the other floors. I could see some members of both the parties walking in their respective corridors. Also, the members of the teams/parties who don't mind presenting themselves to the public are very much visible during the first game: like Magnus' parents Henrik and Sigrun Øen, his sisters, Aruna - Anand's wife, Eric van Reem and Hans-Walter Schmitt - Anand's Team Members, etc.

    In this kind of atmosphere, it would have been impossible (it would require great talent, at any rate) for Team Carlsen to hide the 'on site' seconds. The members of both teams who have checked into Hotel Hyatt Regency would have been registered with the hotel anyway (apart from their identity being disclosed elsewhere to fulfill travel requirements). So, Carlsen not divulging the details of his seconds is a bit of a joke.

    Last night I went down to the restaurant serving Chinese cuisine (one of the three restaurants in Hyatt Regency) for my dinner and was seated at the table next to where Magnus Carlsen was having his dinner with his entire family and some others. I could only identify Carlsen's present manager, Espen Agdestein among the other occupants of the table. I am not familiar with chess players so I could not identify the young man sitting next to Magnus. The Chinese restuarant at the Hyatt Regency I am talking talikng about is named Stix, and is an Asian hawker-style noodle stall where the food is prepared by the chefs in the space in the middle of the room and the tables are placed around the cooking place. There was definitely no sign of Mr. Magnus Forssell there. I thought it would be too rude to take a snap of the family with my camera, so I simply enjoyed my dinner and came off to my room without nosing into their affairs.

    Incidentally, the two other restaurants in Hyatt serve Indian and Italian cuisine respectively and Magnus tried all varieties on offer according his personal chef. Magnus is also going off to a Five-star seaside resort called 'Taj Fisherman's Cove' during the rest days (he went to the Fisherman's Cove and had spent time there as soon as he arrived in Chennai). Carlsen was freely trying out food at the above resort as well and is none the worse for it.

    So, the stereotypical assessments of India can be shelved.

    [DM: Thank you for the report! So who are the seconds?]

    November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSreenivas Lakkineni

    On ICC, this was being described by some posters as an "massive fail" for Carlsen. Would you go that far?

    [DM: Not quite, no. It was a failure in the opening, yes, but one assumes Carlsen has further opening ideas.]

    November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid King

    Nice report by Sreenivas Lakkineni! Adding to this from my own European time zone: Carlsen mentioned somewhere that the Hyatt isn't the only (good/adequate) hotel in Chennai, and some of his seconds might stay at a different hotel.

    November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    A person who could fit the description of Laurent Fressinet just passed me in the corridor in front of my room. The guy sitting with Carlsen at dinner last night could be Ian Nepomniachtchi, but I can't be sure. I met Jai Unudurthi in the lobby and asked him: he says on Jon Ludvig Hammer is definitely assisting Carlsen. But I have not seen Hammer.

    Even, Anand's seconds are closeted in their ' war room'. They are not at all coming out. Carlsen's camp is probably much more carefree but I can't by myself figure out whether the characters I have seen are indeed the people I think they are. But, I think taking photographs of these people is an obnoxious thing so I would not do it. I can, may be, ask better informed people once I make more friends.

    But, the important point I am making is that if Anand really wants to find out about the Carlsen's team members who are in India, then, he has the influence (at least in India) to do that. But, he is too much of a gentleman to do that kind of a thing. Therefore, Carlsen trying to conceal it is a joke. Either Carlsen discloses it himself or Anand won't bother about it. However, the non-chess members of Anand's team are actively moving around so they can figure out a Team Carlsen member if they see one. Those people belonging to Carlsen's team who are making no effort to conceal themselves can definitely be identified by Anand's team members or other players, for sure.

    November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSreenivas Lakkineni

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