The balloon was then punctured by the magician and there appeared black and white coloured birds in the middle of a colourful opening ceremony. Contrary to the last time, when Anand opened with the black pieces and even though held a playable position, agreed for a quick draw barely 90 minutes into the game. Carlsen, on the other hand, remains the favourite but indicated that he too learnt a lot from the last match. "Seriously, it doesn't really matter for the players. You can only do your best and as soon as the match starts it doesn't matter whoever was the favourite," Carlsen said.
"If you play badly you're not going to win. Last time I didn't play very successfully at the start and I could have been severely punished for that in a couple of games. Obviously it's important for me to get off to a better start," he added.
The start will in fact be crucial for Anand too as the rule remains -- hit first and hit hard. It's just 12 games and the race will be over when one of the contestants reaches 6.5 points. It's a hugely deflated prize fund -- one million Euros -- which is set as the minimum for such matches. When the match was announced, the current FIDE regime was facing a tough election against Garry Kasparov and they could not secure a better sponsorship. Carlsen, in fact, was reluctant to sign the contract for the match and it was only after an extended deadline that the world champion gave his consent.
Now that the ceremonies are done with and the initial secrets about the 'seconds' revealed, both players are ready for what promises to be an exciting contest. Even Carlsen agreed that this won't be like the last time: "Drew black in the first game. This match is indeed nothing like the first," tweeted the Norwegian after the opening ceremony.