Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen are two articulate, witty men. They proved that yet again in ample measure at the press meet after the opening game of the World chess championship at Hyatt Regency on Saturday. “I have had a few such embarrassing draws in the Candidates Tournament,” said Carlsen with a sheepish smile when asked about the short draw. Now, Carlsen is known for fighting it out till the end and the ability to play long games is one of his strengths. And he was playing with white pieces on Saturday.

Was Carlsen’s choice of opening a surprise for Anand? “Well, you have to expect the surprises,” said the defending champion.

Though a comfortable draw with black pieces wasn’t a bad beginning for him, he refused to read too much into it. “Yes, it was a satisfactory result for black, he said. “I think we just exchanged information in Game One.”

Too early to react

“It is too early to react to every twist and turn in a long match,” Anand said. Carlsen too agreed with that view.

Anand said though the computers might have liked his position more, it was difficult to find a strong line for him to press his slight advantage. Carlsen said if he had black pieces in a similar position, he would not have done anything different, either.

Anand was asked if he had read a recent article by Sergey Shipov about how to beat Carlsen, he answered in the negative. “I would like to read it,” said Carlsen, flashing that mischievous smile once again.

Anand said he hadn’t given much thought about playing in his hometown. “I am fully concentrating on the match,” he said. “Yes, I am thrilled that the match is being held here. I am playing in Chennai for the first time since the match against Alexey Dreev in 1991.”

Relief to play, finally

At the beginning of the press conference, Anand admitted he was happy that finally the first game is over. “After months of preparation, it is finally a relief to get a chance to play,” he said.

Carlsen said he wasn’t thrilled with the way game went for him. “The crisis developed quickly in this game, and any of my options didn’t look particularly promising. I had to pull the emergency brake and go for the draw.”

About the huge media coverage, Carlsen said he was happy to see all the media and spectators turning up.

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