Moscow: Victory continued to elude defending champion Viswanathan Anand as the Indian Grandmaster failed to break the deadlock yet again and had to settle for a draw against challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel in the fifth game of the World Chess Championship on Thursday.
This was the fifth successive draw in as many games and leaves the score tied at 2.5-2.5. Gelfand will now wield white in the sixth game on Friday.
It turned out to be another dull day as Anand could not get any advantage with his white pieces despite changing gears and going for the King pawn opening instead of his now-trusted Queen pawn. As expected, the surprise element was missing as the Israeli GM seemed to have anticipated this move from Anand and the game fizzled into draw after 26 moves.
The defending champion had to settle for a draw in the fifth game of the World Chess Championship, leaving the score tied at 2.5-2.5.
Gelfand went for the Sveshnikov Sicilian, something that has not being in vogue recently in top-level chess. However, it holds the reputation of being a forced opening and home analysis again played a crucial role in the forced lines. Anand himself went for the most solid reply in the system, an indication that he had not been expecting the Sveshnikov. The Indian ace obtained only a minuscule advantage out of the opening and it was not enough.
As the game progressed, Gelfand was seen playing faster than Anand, another rarity in this match. The Israeli came up with a new idea by giving his light-squared Bishop on the 16th turn for Anand's centralised knight.
Anand got better space control thereafter, but it was still not easy to improve the position further as the exchanges on queenside were imminent.
What had helped Gelfand getting closer to equalising was the presence of opposite coloured bishops, something that the 16th move had guaranteed.
On the 19th move, Gelfand offered to trade the knights, which Anand accepted, and thereafter playing for a win was nearly impossible for the latter.
To his credit, Gelfand found an easy way quickly, which ensured the trading of another pair of rooks and diluted the position into a dead draw.
Almost everyone had expected Gelfand to go for the super-solid Petroff defence, but the guesses were put to rest with an absolutely stunning choice.
In the post-match conference, Gelfand said, "Even if the pawn would have been sacrificed, it would still have been a draw."
On being asked if this was the easiest game for him in the championship so far, Gelfand said, "Probably yes."