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You are here: Home News Bytes FIDE World Chess Championship: Anand holds Topalov to neutralise the extra white. Match all square at 5

FIDE World Chess Championship: Anand holds Topalov to neutralise the extra white. Match all square at 5

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The tenth game of the World Chess Championship in Sofia ended in a routine draw with both players keeping the game mostly by the book and deciding to split points after just(!!) 60 moves. Anand surprised the audience in the Military Club as well as the many thousands following the game on the internet, by opting to return to the Grünfeld Defence, with which he lost the first game in this Championship match.

The Grünfeld has a cherished history in the classic game of chess, with the first recorded instance of its use dating back to 1855, when an Indian Mahesh Chander Banerjee used it against John Cocrane. The move though is named after the Austrian Ernst Grünfeld who used it in Vienna, 1922 - when he defeated Alexander Alekhine.

The first few moves barely took any time as the players exchanged knights by the sixth turn. Anand was the first to deviate yet again, opting to bring the pawn forward to b6 instead of playing Na5 as he did in the first game. The move came just after the players castled on the ninth and tenth moves on the short side.

At this point the challenger started to consider his moves carefully, even though there wasn't anything new. He was analysing to see if he could devise a strategy to optimise his chances whilst playing white against the champion. This is turning out to be a long and taxing championship battle in which physical fitness has become a key ingredient besides the intellectual fortitude that we come to expect from players at this level.

Anand, on the other hand was content to work for a situation that would lead the players to a dead drawn situation to neutralise the challenger's advantage in playing white. In a quick sweep between the 16th and 18th moves the players took the two pairs of rooks out of play. The elimination of rooks was an obvious ploy by black to mitigate some of the end game risk.

Anand's 24th move allowed Topalov some relief and the challenger took immediate advantage. At this move Anand chose to move Nc6, while it appeared as if playing a pawn was a better option. Topalov wasted no time in advancing his bishop to a6, following that with the queen to c4 gaining some valuable room on the queen side of the board. Commenting on this situation, later after the match, Anand said "I think I got a decent position but a careless move on the 24th turn allowed Topalov to get some play."

Both players continued to play for safety and wasted no time in clearing the field, the war of attrition suspended only after queens were exchanged on the 27th move, this after the players traded a knight for a bishop on the previous move.

The middle game developed into a situation of comfort for white, while black still had to be careful in execution to ensure a draw. During a brief passage of play, white seemed to have a razor thin edge with an isolated pawn in the centre and the diagonals marshalled by a pair of bishops. It appeared that Topalov may have missed an opportunity to press the advantage when he chose to move Be6, when a possible Bb4 may have wrested a better end game for the white. There would be no further action subsequently.

When there was an exchange of bishops on the 49th move it was very clear that the game was heading for a draw. While Anand was happy to play towards a repetition to retire early after the strains of the previous game, Topalov wanted to explore a little more and refused the possibility.

The game reached a dead drawn situation by the 56th move. Finally the players settled to share the point and go into Game 11 with five points each.

There are two games left to play, with each player having a white and black. Topalov will be the man under pressure, when the players come out on Sunday to play the eleventh game, knowing that Anand has a clear edge in the rapid version of chess. The first player to 6.5 wins the championship; in the event of a 6-6 draw they will engage in a battle of rapid warfare to determine the winner.

Saturday is a rest day.

Scores: Anand 5 - 5 Topalov

Moves: Access a visual representation of the entire match here.

Story so far (Anand - Topalov): Game 1 (0-1), Game 2 (1-1), Game 3 (1.5-1.5), Game 4 (2.5-1.5), Game 5 (3-2), Game 6 (3.5-2.5), Game 7 (4-3), Game 8 (4-4) & Game 9 (4.5-4.5).

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