When the stakes are high, a sedate start is in order. Testing the waters and wading carefully is no crime.

Without doubt, the early exchanges between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen have left the majority of the followers of their World chess championship clash a tad disappointed.

But Anand and Carlsen are here not to entertain. They need no reminding that, like marathoners, they have distance to cover.

Like two heavyweight boxers, they are exchanging punches, testing each other without dropping guard. It is only in the later rounds that one is likely to see the more desperate of the two starting to throw punches.

They are aware that conserving energy is more important than expending it in playing to the gallery.

But these are still early days in this bout.

Up against a young and restless rival, Anand knows that a draw is a fairly good result at this stage of the match. In fact, even the World champion may not have noticed that these draws have helped him climb three places in the live World rankings. A gain of 2.6 rating points off the drawn encounters has pushed Anand from ninth to the sixth place in the ranking list.

Similarly, Carlsen has surely had no time to think about the loss of 2.6 rating points in two games.

The World No.1 is here to protect his reputation — a reputation gained from his ability to see a winning continuation from situations where the others, including his unsuspecting rival, cannot visualise anything more than a draw.

So far, Anand has ensured that Carlsen does not see too far ahead.

The two drawn games — totalling 41 moves spread over 155 minutes — did not go a long way in holding the attention of the casual follower of the championship.

But Anand has assured everyone of better games after Monday’s rest day.

“We both have had a little bit of information about what the other has been aiming for. I think it’ll start to get interesting,” said Anand, ahead of the third round.

Looking back at the “very short games” the champion said: “Both of us got caught in unexpected situations. That’s what happened.”

On Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if Carlsen tests Anand in a new opening, after having walked into the champion’s prepared lines in the first game.

Depending on how the third game pans out, the fourth on Wednesday will have Anand pulling out another potent arrow from his quiver.

Surely, it’s time for longer battles. In this marathon match, the next two games may well set the pace.

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