updated 10/29/2008 7:14:40 PM ET 2008-10-29T23:14:40

Viswanathan Anand of India retained his world chess title Wednesday by drawing with the white pieces against Russian challenger Vladimir Kramnik.

The 24-move draw came in the 11th of a possible 12 games and gave Anand a 6.5-4.5 victory.

Down two points, Kramnik needed to win with Black. Instead he had to concede after a short but tough fight.

Anand chose this game to switch back to his normal 1.e4 after playing 1.d4 previously in the match. Kramnik responded with the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense, a variation he rarely plays but one of which Anand frequently uses both sides.

Anand said afterward that Kramnik's choice "surprised me a little bit. The position got very sharp very quickly."

Kramnik said he was "quite happy" to play the Najdorf, though he acknowledged that he had "no clue at all about the theory."

From move six onward, he was in a line he had never played before. He said that he found his ninth move over the board and didn't know if it had been played before. Anand called the ninth move "quite interesting" and said the critical moment came after Kramnik's 12th move, which was the first new move of the game.

Both players had chances
While the position might objectively have favored White, pragmatically Kramnik had achieved the kind of unbalanced position he needed — both players had chances. Kramnik's kingside pawn structure was shattered and he had tripled pawns, but he had the two bishops and one of the pawns was an extra.

Anand said his 13th move, which brought his queen to the center with threats on both sides of the board, came just in time.

On move 15, Kramnik faced a critical choice. He said later that castling "was maybe not good but the only chance to fight" for a win. He played the objectively best move, which allowed Anand to regain his pawn.

Kramnik was hoping for Anand to play a plausible developing move on 19 after which he would have "tricks all over the board." Instead, Anand had what Kramnik called "a very cool reaction" — he simply traded off one of Kramnik's bishops and moved his king to safety.

Anand said that at that point, he knew he was out of danger.

On move 22 Anand forced the exchange of queens into a favorable endgame.

"I had no tricks anymore," Kramnik said. "Maybe I can hold the position but it's clear that I have no winning chances."

He offered the draw after his 24th move, which Anand accepted as the audience burst into applause.

A purse of 1.5 million euros ($1.94 million) is to be equally divided between the two, as agreed before the match began.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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