World Champion Vishwanthan Anand played out a draw with challenger Veselin Topalov [ Images ] of Bulgaria in the third game of the world chess championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.
After two full bloodied games, Anand went for a Slav defense with black pieces, which turned out to be a big contrast to his opening choice in the first game wherein the Indian ace had chosen the ultra sharp Grunfeld defense.
Topalov apparently had been expecting the Slav but possibly not the variation that Anand chose, as it was a choice popularised by Russian Vladimir Kramnik [ Images ], a rival of both Topalov and Anand in the last two world championship matches.
The game started on a sedate note, a complete opposite of the first two games when both players went on a rampage with white pieces. It may be recalled that Topalov had won the first game in very quick time showcasing his deep preparation in the middle game arising out of a Grunfeld and Anand had bounced back with a very convincing victory in the second game of the 12-games match.
Instead of walking in to what Topalov excels at, Anand aimed at getting a decent position after the opening and then equalising and see if an opportunity would come his way. This tactic worked fine and a draw with black means that the Indian has a slight upper hand in the match as he has more games with white pieces remaining.
As things turned out in one of the popular variations, the queens got traded very early giving Topalov an optical space advantage which lasted for quite some time but did not materialise in to a real advantage.
Anand's 14th move solved his opening problems and black could develop his pieces harmoniously after nearly making a half move aimed at supporting weaknesses on the king side.
On his 20th turn, Topalov offered Anand a pawn which would have led to unclear complications and possibilities of the Bulgaria coming on top. Anand rejected the pawn offer in no time and concentrated on following the basics which proved enough to hold the balance.
Further exchanges forced the game in to a rook and minor piece endgame wherein the result of the game was clear by the 33rd move when Anand forcibly entered a pure rook ending. 13 moves later the draw was signed through repetition of moves.
Interestingly, the observers were a bit surprised to see a lengthy 46 moves game when the outcome was clear to the naked eye many moves before. The reason for that was the fact that Topalov was following 'Sofia rules' according to which the draw can be agreed only through repetition or in consultation with the arbiter.
To sum it up, the players are not allowed to offer draws.
Anand apparently, did not agree to this proposal and Topalov and his manager Silvio Danailov had gone on record saying that Topalov will neither offer nor agree to draws during the match.
Anand had proved vulnerable in the first game but in the course of the match since then has shown that the World champion has steely nerves to back his fantastic preparation.
Now, the onus is on Topalov who will have to save himself as black in the fourth game.