It is never easy to beat a Grandmaster who wants to make a draw with White, even if you are an ex World Champion. Clearly, in case of a match of 4 games the outcome would be easy to guess, but at a one game at 10 in the morning anything might happen!
1.e4 c5 Judging from Anand’s latest games, 1…e5 is his main move.
2.Nf3 e6 And of course the Paulsen is a choice for a fighting game. For so many years Anand was the biggest expert on the Najdorf, but the fear of 2…d6 3.Bb5 probably made the ex World Champion choose the Paulsen, where the game quickly gets out of theory.
3.d4cxd44.Nxd 4.a65.Bd3 [5.Nc3 is the other main move.]
5…Bc5 For people who don’t play the Sicilian this move might look strange, but in fact it is very logical. Before developing the bishop on e7 or a7, Black is chasing the white knight from d4 which leads to a win of half a tempo. The knight is clearly better placed on d4 than on b3.
6.Nb3Ba7 A rather rare line. [6…Be7 7.Qg4g6 8.Qe2 would lead us to the main position of the line.]
7.Qe2 [A slightly more popular setup for White is 7.O-O 7…Nc6 8.c4 Nf6 9.Nc3 d6 10.Kh1 with the idea of playing f4 next.]
7…d6 This move is needed anyway.
8.Be3 Nc6 Taking on e3 doesn’t make much sense as the black rook is often taking a quite good position on a7 because of b5-Rd7-Bb7 ideas.
9.Bxa7 Once again White chooses the most solid plan. Nc3 followed by 0-0-0 would have led to a much more complicated position.
9…Rxa7 10.Qe3 White is not playing for an advantage, but just trying to be solid. A very good strategy against a much stronger opponent.
10…Nf6 11.O-O White is also quite tricky here and doesn’t hurry with developing the knight from b1, keeping both options of playing Nc3 or N1d2 in mind.
11…O-O A solid move. [Maybe Black could have tried to bring the game onto sharper territory by playing 11…b5 12.a4 White needs to act against Black’s pawn structure: 12…b4 And this position is a bit more unbalanced.]
12.c4 And again White is not trying to play for “anything”.
12…e5?! This can’t be the right way to go on… [Anand probably didn’t want to play 12…d5 because of 13.exd5 exd5 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Qg3 and the position is very close to a draw, but I still think he would have had better chances than in the game here.; another way to go on could be 12…Re8 with the idea of playing next d5]
13.Nc3 Now White’s position just looks more pleasant.
13…Be6 Black has to reactivate the rook.
14.Rfd1 Bobras continues playing solid-safe moves, not even pretending to try and achieve an advantage. [14.Rac1 followed by Nd5 next could have been an attempt to get the upper hand.]
14…Ra8 15.Be2 White wants to double on the d-file.
15…Rc8 In a slightly worse position with no clear play, even such great players like Anand can’t do much…
16.Rd2 And Bobras continues with his safe and logical moves.
16…Qc7 17.Rad1 Rfd8 Black of course managed to defend the d6 pawn, but he is still a bit worse.
18.Nd5 This move is basically fixing the draw for White and this is clearly what Bobras was trying to reach. [18.f3 would keep the game alive with a small edge for White because of the better pawn structure.]
18…Bxd5 This move is forced.
19.cxd5Ne7 The black knight doesn’t have a better square…
20.Rc1 White is winning control back over the c-file.
20…Qd7 21.Rdc2 Bobras doesn’t even leave Anand the smallest hope and by those exchanges on the c-file the game is slowly coming to a peaceful end…
22.Rxc2 Rc8 23.Rxc8+ Many hobby players are often shouting: “How can somebody over 2750 make a quick draw against a 2520GM”, but in fact we all play with the same pieces and yes, lower rated GMs are weaker than the Top 10 players in some areas, but the difference is not that big and simple positions can be handled almost at the same level even by a player who is over 250 ELO points lower. 1/2-1/2