Game 2 was also a draw, a few more moves compared to Game 1 but relatively quicker in real time. The Caro-Kann makes sense to me for Carlsen, as Anand’s generally direct style leads to a lot of draws against it, unlike say his record against various Sicilian lines or Closed Lopez lines where he’s got more room to work. Still, I don’t think Magnus is going to remain stationary (at least with the Capablanca Variation of the Caro) if Anand plays 1.e4 in Game 4. Apparently, Anand doesn’t particularly mind the Berlin and Magnus decided not to enter it either, both of which are real surprises to me. Either way, though, I still don’t think 1.e4 is the way to go for Anand in this match.
What was a bit disappointing for me was that Anand won a game in this line earlier in the year (against Ding Liren), but while he varied first with 14.0-0-0 (pretty much the only move ever played it seems, as opposed to the 14.Qe2 he played in that one game), he didn’t have anything new after that.
r4rk1/pp2bpp1/2p1p2p/3qP3/3PQ2P/2P5/PP1B2P1/2KR3R w - - 0 18)
The critical moment it seems – Anand considered 18.Qg4, but he went with the quiet 18.Qxd5 and a draw was agreed not too long afterwards with a repetition.
Frankly, the position after 18.Qg4 doesn’t seem all that dangerous for White. Magnus might have been cagey with his “I was planning to play 18…Kh7” instead of the established sequence of 18…f5 19.Qg6 Qxa2 20.Bxh6 Rf7. Established as in it was worked out to a draw in a recent correspondence game, which is good enough for me.
Still, if he was really planning 18…Kh7 (or was in preparation – he was playing relatively quickly), then he would have been in some trouble after a line banded about going: 19.Kb1 f5 20.exf6 (e.p.) Rxf6 21.Bg5 Rg6 22.c4! Qxc4 23.Qe4 with a big plus.
I’d have expected Anand to go for something a bit sharper given the opportunity, but maybe he’s decided that a strategy that supposedly favors him (according to Kasparov, Kramnik, et al) is the one to follow: keep the match tied through the halfway point to ratchet up the pressure on Magnus. It’s not as obvious to me that that strategy is optimal, but I don’t have their match experience.