Viswanathan Anand held the upper hand with an extra pawn but settled for a draw in a tense encounter with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia after 32 moves in the second game of the World Chess Championship in Bonn, Germany.
In daring strategy, the Indian ace abandoned his pet king pawn (1.e4) on the first move and opted opening the game with the queen pawn, thus aiming to surprise his Russian opponent.
Thus, Anand seems to be aiming to sidestep Kramnik's ploy which worked well for him against Kasparov in the 2000 World Championship match.
Avoiding both the Petroff or the Berlin system of the Ruy Lopez against 1.e4, Anand may thus be trying to reach dynamic positions and invite Kramnik to come out of his shell.
If this is going to be Anand's strategy with White pieces for the match, the world of chess will definitely be treated to some open fights on the even-numbered games, as witnessed today.
Starting with 1.d4 for which Kramnik responded with the Nimzo Indian defence, Anand went in for an open middlegame position with irrational pawn structure, thus making his intentions clear to have an open fight.
With his unconventional 8..f5, Kramnik aimed to surprise his opponent in turn and the game entered a tense middlegame, where Anand enjoyed a slight advantage due to his Bishop pair.
Understandably, this being the early stages of the match both traded slight inaccuracies between moves 14 17 and by move 18th, Anand had once again regained a slight initiative, though Kramnik managed to exchange queens.
Anand boldly took his King on a march to the g3 square, for which Kramnik replied with 21Ndf6?, an obvious mistake which was widely criticised by the assembled Grandmaster spectators at the venue.
Anand responded with the cool 21.Bb1, which made Kramnik realise the precariousness of his position and sacrifice a pawn to wriggle out.
But, just when it looked that Anand was going to start the process of realising his material advantage, a few inaccuracies and a mounting time trouble brought Anand under pressure and he agreed to a draw on move 32 when Kramnik seemed to be getting his pieces active with a strong outpost on d4.
It looked like an overcautious decision by Anand as he still looked better in the final position, but it was dictated by the normal cautious approach of anyone involved in a World Championship match.