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World Chess Championship 2012 (1)

Gelfand surprises Anand with a Gruenfeld and draws comfortably in World Championship Game 1

Gelfand and Anand discuss game 1. Photo ©

Gelfand and Anand discuss game 1. Photo © |

Boris Gelfand obtained an easy draw with black against World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the first game of the World Chess Championship in Moscow. No-one could recall the last time, if at all, Gelfand had chosen this opening. Although Anand was ready for the choice, as surprises of this nature were inevitable. Anand headed straight to a very unusual sideline but after Gelfand captured the pawn on a2 Anand slowed down and seemed unsure of himself. There were certainly alternatives to 13.Rb2 such as 13.Bg5. It seemed for a while like black might be significantly better but afterwards Gelfand said as far as he was concerned "There was no big advantage." The players quickly steered for a draw after this and the game was drawn in 24 moves. Malcolm Pein annotates game one below and wraps up the game with his take on it. Improved notes by Malcolm from the first version just after the game. Game 2 Saturday 3pm Moscow time 12pm UK.

Boris Gelfand

Boris Gelfand had a success in game 1.

On the choice of the Gruenfeld by his opponent Anand said "You do expect to be surprised, I was expecting something. I'd taken a look at it. It was difficult to expect. I can't recall a Gruenfeld of Boris before."

Gelfand was asked if there was a completely different level of pressure playing for the world title. "I read a lot about it and I thought it would surprise me but now I got the chance to test it I couldn't agree with this opinion."

"There's just nothing going on." [at the end] - Anand about the final position

Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Nigel Short and Sergey Karjakin

Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Nigel Short and Sergey Karjakin.

Once again the Russians had their high quality video coverage of the match. They also had a commentary team of Nigel Short and Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, they were later joined by Sergey Karjakin. This was all very enjoyable and you could really see what was going on with the players. is well worth a visit during play or afterwards to see the archive.

Stage during game 1

Stage during game 1.

World Chess Champion Anand deep in thought

World Chess Champion Anand deep in thought.

The venue is the Engineering Building. The Guide to the Tretyakov Gallery says "The museum complex on Lavrushinsky Pereulok includes the Engineering Building. The building’s name, built during the Gallery’s latest reconstruction, is taken from the engineering maintenance services which maintains the museum’s running (climate, security). It also has a conference hall for scientific conferences and symposiums."

Press Conference with Gelfand and Anand

Press Conference with Gelfand and Anand.

The official press release on the match had a couple of interesting points.

The draw that was made in the opening ceremony means that "in the first round the world champion will play with White. He will also be given the right to play with White in games 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 (in accordance with the Regulations for the match, the colours will be reversed at the mid-point, after game 6). Gelfand will play with White in games 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 11."

"The grandmasters 'revealed' their seconds: the world champion will be assisted by Peter Heine Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Surya Ganguly, and the challenger by Alexander Huzman, Maxim Rodshtein and Pavel Eljanov. "

It is certain that the players are also working, or have worked with players not on this list. The Gruenfeld was no doubt prepared by Boris Gelfand with the aid of a specialist, probably not known.

IM Malcolm Pein annotates the game and gives his take on it

Gelfand and Anand discuss the game

Gelfand and Anand discuss the game

In game one of the 2010 WCC final, Anand played the Gruenfeld against Topalov and after 24 moves he could resign. In 2012, Anand had to face the Gruenfeld in the first game and after 24 moves, the challenger Boris Gelfand had secured a draw with black and will be the slightly happier of the two. Gelfand would have been satisfied with a draw before the game and psychologically speaking, he struck a small blow by springing a surprise and answering 1.d4 with the Gruenfeld Defence.

Boris usually plays Slav, Semi Slav, Queen's Gambit or Nimzo/Queen's Indian and so he immediately demonstrated that he has plenty of ideas. The Gruenfeld is considered slightly risky at the very top level. Kasparov lost a few times with it, but Anand has not faced it often, so it was a shrewd choice. As they say in the financial markets there was a 'flight to safety' as Anand opted for 8.Bb5+ which has a reputation of being a harmless line but one which requires a little accuracy from Black. On move nine, Anand decided to play aggressively and avoid 9.0-0 which he has played before but which can lead to dull equality. 9.d5!? was almost a novelty but I thought it had been played before. I couldn't place it but then, in the darker recesses of my (very unreliable) memory I remembered losing a game against GM Gyozo Forintos at the Benedictine International in Manchester 30 years ago. But Chessbase is a wonderful thing sometimes and it turns out that was with 9.0-0 0-0 10.d5 Qa5 11.Rb1 . So I can't claim ownership of that move but the way it turned out, it wouldn't be much of a claim.

Gelfand comfortably navigated the complications and when Anand went in for a long think after 13...Qa5 the silicon collective, otherwise known as 'Let's Check' had decided Black was more than OK. Anand had sacrificed a pawn and by the time he retrieved it, Gelfand owned the bishop pair and had safely castled. Then it was just a question of whether Black had something tangible as he was in possession of the bishop pair and a potentially strong passed 'a' pawn. 22...Bd7 was more ambitious but as the players said after the game, Black had no real advantage. One shouldn't pay too much attention to a computer assessment of +0.1-0.2

Anand,V - Gelfand,B [D85]
WCC Moscow, 11.05.2012
[IM Malcolm Pein]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5

A slight surprise and very combative. Anand played the Gruenfeld in game one against Topalov in 2010 and was crushed after he forgot his preparation

4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5

[5.Bg5; 5.Qb3 are trendy but the Exchange Variation remains the main battleground]

5...Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Bb5+

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 8.Bb5+

A surprise because it's thought to be fairly harmless although Vishy has played it before. I guess the Gruenfeld might be a slight surprise so Vishy playing it safe

[8.Be3; 8.Rb1 Are the challenging continuations]

8...Nc6 9.d5

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 9.d5

A real surprise

[9.0-0 cxd4 10.cxd4 0-0 11.Be3 Bg4 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Rc1 Qa5 Is standard and is sometimes a GM drawing line 14.Rxc6 Qxa2 15.Rc7 Qe6 16.h3 Qd6 17.Rc5 Bxf3 18.Qxf3 e6 19.e5 Amber Rapid 1999 was an edge for White. Black's bishop is blocked out and the 'a' pawn potentially weak rather than passed; 9.0-0 0-0 10.d5 Qa5 11.Rb1 Pein - Forintos Manchester 1982 Black won]


[9...a6 10.Be2 Bxc3+ 11.Bd2 Bxa1 12.Qxa1 Nd4 13.Nxd4 cxd4 14.Qxd4 f6 15.h4 0-0 16.f4 (16.h5 g5 17.h6 Bd7 18.Bxg5; 16.h5 Rf7?! 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.e5) 16...h5 17.0-0 Bg4 18.Bc4 Rc8 19.Bb3 Kh7 1/2-1/2 Gustafsson,J (2634)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2716)/Germany 2008/CBM 127 Extra]

10.Rb1 a6

[10...Bxc3+ 11.Bd2 a6 12.Ba4 b5 13.dxc6 bxa4 Seems playable]

11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.0-0!

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 12.0-0

Of course to extract anything White must continue in gambit style

[12.dxc6 Qxc3+ 13.Bd2 Qd3 Would be fun only for Black]

12...Qxa2 13.Rb2

Sergey Karjakin said that he thought there were a number of alternatives here. 13.Bg5 and 13.Bf4 needed looking at. The commentators speculated that Anand had forgotten his preparation here. [MC]

13...Qa5 14.d6 Ra7!

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 14...Ra7

[This seems to solve Black's problems. After 14...Qd8 15.e5 or (15.Bf4 Bxc3 16.Rb1 Bg7 17.e5 Black could come under pressure although computers are as ever relaxed about it all) ]


[15.Bf4 Looked sharper if only because the best Black responses look a little risky even if they are OK. Now Gelfand has a clear path to safety or perhaps more 15...Rd7 16.Ne5 Rxd6 17.Qc2 0-0! 18.Nc4 Qxc3 19.Bxd6 exd6 20.Qxc3 Bxc3 21.Rc2 Bd4 22.Nxd6 Be6 Must be fine for Black]

15...exd6 16.Qxd6 Rd7 17.Qxc6 Qc7

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 17...Qc7

The safest move. If Black can castle and exchange queens he has the two bishops and a passed 'a' pawn

[There seems nothing wrong with the immediate 17...0-0 ]

18.Qxc7 Rxc7 19.Bf4 Rb7 20.Rc2 0-0

[20...Rb3 21.Be3]

21.Bd6 Re8 22.Nd2

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 22.Nd2

[22.e5 Bf5]


[if Boris wanted to play on then perhaps 22...Bd7!? and if 23.Bxc5 Rc8 24.Bd6 Rxc3 is good for Black; 22...Bd7 23.Ra1 f5; 22...Bd7 "Isn't this rather unpleasant for your opponent?" - Nigel Short question to Boris Gelfand. 23.Rfc1 "Of course it's [22...Bd7] a critical test but after Rfc1 I couldn't find any good idea." - Gelfand. 23...Bb5 (23...Bg4 24.Kf1; 23...Bc6 24.Bxc5 Bxe4 25.Ra2) 24.c4 were all lines given by Gelfand afterwards as not leading to anything.]

23.f3 fxe4 24.Nxe4 Bf5

Boris Gelfand


Viswanathan Anand

Final Position after 24...Bf5

[24...Bf5 25.Re1 The threat to c5 probably forces Black to take on e4 and then there is not much in it so a fair result. A good result for Boris, a draw with Black and Vishy was even under a little pressure for a while as his long think on move 14 indicates]


World Chess Champion Anand deep in thought

World Chess Champion Anand deep in thought.

WCh Moscow
Anand, Viswanathan - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 24 D85 Gruenfeld Defence

WCh Moscow (BUL), 11 v - 31 v 2012
Name Ti NAT Rtng 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total Perf
Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2791 ½ . . . . . . . . . . . ½ 2727
Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2727 ½ . . . . . . . . . . . ½ 2791

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