The World Championship almost started with a bang with the two friends Kramnik and Svidler bailing out for a draw in a most interesting position. Anand tries to wipe Gelfand with a kingside pawn storm, but Gelfand’s control of the centre is more than sufficient to cause Anand to consider a draw. Morozevich has a go at Aronian, but Aronian has sufficient resource to counter the threats. Leko gets an edge in an Anti-Marshall, but cannot capitalise on it.
So instead of blood being spilt, we got four under-30 move draws. Not grandmaster draws – every game offered something of interest and excitement.
Kramnik – Svidler
Kramnik bypasses Svidler’s Grunfeld as the game heads into a Semi-Slav. Kramnik seizes the centre, but Black has enough resources to balance the game. After completing development, Kramnik starts to put pressure on the Black kingside, while Svidler expands on the queenside. Svidler sacrifices a pawn to free his queenside, and dismantle White’s grip of the centre. Kramnik takes a knight away from the centre, which allows Svidler to complete his freeing operation. But the game is agreed a draw with both sides still having lots of play left.
Morozevich – Aronian
Morozevich gets stuck into a kingside pawn advance inside of a Petrosian/Kasparov Queen’s Indian. Aronian counters with pressure on the centre, compelling Morozevich to swap off his potent light-squared bishop. Aronian’s pincer in the centre brings equality, Morozevich has great piece activity, but Aronian has sufficient resources to deal with it.
Anand – Gelfand
Anand play the in vogue 5. Nc3 against Gelfand’s Petroff and brazenly gets stuck into a kingside pawn storm. This gives Gelfand a free hand to clarify things in the centre. Gelfand has the better position, but he misses a brilliant opportunity 16… c5!!, and instead keeps things solid. Anand can make no headway, so a draw is agreed.
Grischuk – Leko
Grischuk heads into an anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez, and wastes a little time. Leko opens the centre and gradually gains the upper hand with better placed pieces. Leko tries a crafty queen manoeuvre to hinder White’s own queen, but Grischuk finds a natural developing move that balances the position. A draw agreed.