Carlsen-Anand 2014 – Game 1
The Grunfeld was a surprising choice from Carlsen. He has played it from time to time in the past, but I find it too heavy on the theory for his approach to the openings. It reminds me of his use of the Caro Kann in his first black game in Chennai, a surprise which worked out perfectly, but too dangerous to try again (as Anand showed his improvement in this year’s Candidates against Andreikin).
Anand also tried a line that cannot possibly pose problems in more than one game, 5 Bd2. He managed to get his preparation in and obtained an unbalanced position but then as if his old fears set in – instead of playing aggressively with 21 h4 he went for solid centralisation and this allowed Carlsen to get rid of the unnecessary pieces and obtain a position which must have reminded Anand of last year’s match – there he lost game 6 in an endgame with a queen and rook each, with equal material. To his credit he managed to take his chance when Carlsen missed the only way to pose serious problems on move 42.
My general impression is that Anand started confidently and aggresively, but as the game progressed and he finally had to play on his own he slowly drifted towards the fear-induced state of mind. It was good for him that he managed to save the game as it should give him confidence that he can save these kinds of unpleasant position, something he didn’t manage in Chennai. As for Carlsen, a normal game for him, being caught in the opening he responded well and even managed to put pressure later in the game. He did miss a chance to press for more, but for a first black game he can be satisfied.
Here’s the game with more detailed notes: