With the white pieces Magnus Carlsen broke the series of draws and scored the first victory versus Viswanathan Anand in game 5 of the World Championship match in Chennai, India. The score is 3-2, with seven games to go — that is, if Anand manages to come back like he did against Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand in previous matches.
After two quick draws and two fighting draws, Carlsen broke the deadlock as he won game 5 with the white pieces. And it was vintage Carlsen: not too ambitious opening play, happy with the tiniest of advantages, keep on pressing and trying, and grabbing the first opportunity to profit from small inaccuracies by the opponent.
Saying goodbye to the unsuccessful 1.Nf3 move, the players went from 1.c4 to a Marshall Gambit of the Semi-Slav.
Carlsen avoided the sharpest lines though and castled queenside early on. With his 13th move, Anand allowed a queen trade and in the resulting ending he was slightly worse, but apparently the World Champion was confident to draw it. "Tricky, but under control," was how former World Junior Champion Abhijeet Gupta described the game after 36 moves.
For a long time the game did seem to be heading to a draw, especially when Anand found an active defense on the queenside. After the first time control Carlsen was a pawn up, but the position was still very drawish. Anand, however, played several inaccurate moves in the fifth hour and the rook ending turned out to be lost. In the "Norway lounge", right next to the press room, an applause and shouting could be heard when Anand resigned.
“I think it was a relatively interesting opening. I think it went quite well for me, I got some advantage,” said Carlsen. “Then I think I misplayed it a little bit in the middlegame; it didn't really materialize. It turned out that it was a little bit more difficult to hold than I thought. I don't know where exactly he could hold it. This rook ending is very, very difficult.”
Clearly disappointed, Anand only used short sentences in his replies to questions at the press conference. “Somehow my counterplay didn't materialize. He took his chances well, and that's it.” About not playing 45...Ra1, Anand said: “I missed that the rook ending was so difficult. I thought that I should be able to create counterplay but it wasn't possible.”
Carlsen was clearly happy and relieved: “It feels good. It was a good fighting game, kind of messy at times. I got there in the end so I'm very happy about that.”
The challenger was also realistic: “It's not that who wins the first game, wins the match. It's a long road ahead but it's definitely a good start. But we'll see. He will have white in his next two game, so he'll have a chance to make a move as well.”
The reason for the two whites is that, at half-time, the colors are switched so that half of the match one player has white after the rest days, and in the other half of the match the other player has white after the rest days.
The score is 3-2 in favor of Carlsen and whoever scores 6.5 points or more, wins. Anand will play with the white pieces in the next two games.