Defending champion Viswanathan Anand was held at bay by a solid defensive play by his challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel as the first game of the World Chess Championship ended in a tense draw in Moscow on Friday.
Anand drew the favourable colour in the first game, but could not call the shots that he is used to in World Championship matches as his efforts were met with a perfect counter attack by Gelfand who is looking for his maiden World title.
The opening was a major surprise for Anand in the opinion of many experts as Gelfand went for the Grunfeld defense, something he has not been playing.
The choice by Gelfand gave Anand some jitters even as the World champion took him in to unknown territories right from the beginning. If Gelfand thought he was doing right, Anand took him to the edge to his credit.
It was a completely new position on board soon after the opening. Anand had extra time but Gelfand had worked out the best moves that an engineer of a chess moves will be proud of with black pieces. The Israeli gives the impression that he is heavily built with a staunch tummy but all through the game he was seen walking after making his moves.
"Anand looked very tense at the inauguration," summed up Nigel Short who commented on the first game of the match. Short said that Gelfand had the edge through the course of the game after he got through of the opening.
For Anand, things did not work in the first game. The Indian ace forgot his preparation and lost to Topalov in the last World Championship match and after move 15 against Gelfand many wondered if it was going to be a similar case.
Anand though had other thoughts as he worked on his counter plan easily. It was never worse for him really and in fact just a matter of finding the right moves which the World Champion is expected to do. Anand traded queens, got into a level position and drew without any difficulties. For Gelfand it was a perfect defense, but for Anand it could be a prelude to looking into the Grunfeld as white, as he himself is an exponent of the system when playing black.
It turned out to be a perfect start for the World Championship which many believe that Anand will win hands down. But after the first game, it seems that opening one goes to the Israeli.
The moves: Anand vs Gelfand
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 c5 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. d5 Qa5 10. Rb1 a6 11. Bxc6+ bxc6 12. O-O Qxa2 13. Rb2 Qa5 14. d6 Ra7 15. Bg5 exd6 16. Qxd6 Rd7 17. Qxc6 Qc7 18. Qxc7 Rxc7 19. Bf4 Rb7 20. Rc2 O-O 21. Bd6 Re8 22. Nd2 f5 23. f3 fxe4 24. Nxe4 Bf5 draw agreed.