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World Chess Championship 2012 (Tie-breaks)

Viswanathan Anand retains World Chess Championship after Rapid win against Gelfand

Artist Andrey Molchanovsky is justly proud of his creation, the World Chess Championship Trophy. Photo © Eric van Reem. More on his photo website:

Artist Andrey Molchanovsky is justly proud of his creation, the World Chess Championship Trophy. Photo © Eric van Reem. More on his photo website: |

Viswanathan Anand has successfully defended his World Chess Championship title in Moscow by defeating his challenger Boris Gelfand in a very tense rapid tiebreak match 2.5-1.5 following a 6-6 draw at a longer time control. Thus Anand has defended the title he gained Mexico City in a tournament in 2007 for a third time following matches against Kramnik in Bonn 2008 and Topalov in Sofia 2010. Anand paid tribute to Gelfand's "enormous determination and his strength" starting with 2009's World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk and through the Kazan Candidates. The match has been criticised for the short draws but it certainly was tough in the openings and neither player gave much in the way of opportunities and Anand by way of explanation pointed out that "the problem in such a tight match is every mistake has a much higher value" which made the match even more cautious. For Anand the "critical moment in the match" was his loss in game 7 "That day I really thought I'd blown the match" and immediate equalisation by winning game 8 which was "very important for my morale". Given Anand's state of mind (he hardly slept) perhaps Gelfand was trying to move in for the kill in game 8 which might explain his over-aggression in a game so out of character from the rest of his play. The rapid playoff was dramatic with Gelfand's time trouble probably being the decisive factor in him losing game two and failing to win game three. Anand acknowledged "I understood that in all fairness this match simply could have gone either way." Questions over Anand's current form will continue but he will surely defend his title late in 2013 or early 2014. Not a great match by any means but certainly extremely tough professional chess, in fact a product of the system that Gelfand qualified from. Extensive press conference quotes now available along with a summary of the games in the rapid match. Closing press conference and closing ceremony tomorrow, I believe starting 2pm Moscow time, 11am BST.

Brief summary of the Rapid Match

Anand and Gelfand

Anand and Gelfand. Official photos: Anastasia Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov.

The rapid playoff was like the match as whole very tense.

Game 1 Draw: Anand got a big advantage but Gelfand out-played him and eventually took the draw.

Game 2 Anand win. Anand blasted out preparation improving on game 10 and quickly secured a large edge and with it an extra pawn that Gelfand's light bishop and temporary activity did not compensate for. Gelfand was down to about 10 minutes after his first 14 moves but outplayed Anand culminating in the brilliant 23...Bc8! Consequently Gelfand was in real time pressure for the last 50 moves and at the end having almost equalised, he got down to just 2 seconds at one point (10 seconds added per move) This extended pressure on the clock took its toll and he allowed a simple combination that forced a won rook and pawn endgame for Anand.

Game 3 Draw. Gelfand achieved a winning advantage straight from the opening which could have been crowned with the move 26.Nxe4, which was a bit antipositional (and missed by Svidler in commentary) but which just won a piece. Anand had blitzed his way to this position and there would surely have been questions if he had lost in this way. However now Anand's time advantage counted as he turned round the position to a draw. It turns out that now we have the full games-score Anand blundered late on (43.Nf3+?) and Gelfand down to the increment could have won with 61. Kg3 instead of 61.Rh7?

Game 4 Draw: Gelfand had a virtually impossible task to win with black against a motivated and prepared Anand Anand played a very drawish line in the Sicilian which allowed Gelfand a small advantage in a simplified position but one that was never enough to win. Eventually Anand just equalised and the game was drawn and the title retained.

Interesting comments from the Post-Match Press Conference

Boris Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand gave their comments after the rapid tie-break. This was a noisy press conference interupted by chatter from some of the people at the back of the room. Gelfand thought he'd done well in the match and had the better of the rapid match in many ways. Apart from the time trouble which came from the quick play from his opponent. He didn't feel his clock handling had changed much from his earlier successes in Kazan and Khanty Mansiysk. Anand had a number of themes. "in all fairness this match simply could have gone either way" was one of the major ones along with his really dark night following the game 7 loss "I really thought I'd blown the match." No-one asked Gelfand about game 8 but it seemed out of character for the rest of the match. Perhaps indeed he sensed weakness which Anand admits was there, and overdid the aggression. Gelfand's comments were mostly translated from Russian so sometimes seem a bit stilted.

Viswanathan Anand in the rapid playoff

Viswanathan Anand in the rapid playoff. Official photos: Anastasia Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov.

Gelfand on the rapid match:

Gelfand: I wouldn't say it was an equal match, I would tend to believe that it was proceding with my edge in it. In the second game for example I had more than enough compensation for the pawn and good chances there. Probably the problem of the whole match for me was lagging behind in time and sometimes when you are developing a time defecit it is difficult to find the best move on the sport which happened with blunders in the second and the third game and in the fourth game too I had an advantage but probably because of the same problem with the time limit it couldn't be realised.

Anand on the Match as a whole:

I had the impression that this just would be a very tough match where neither of us would get a lot of ground. I was not really going to oppose this. When I was looking at all of Boris' matches on the way here he was of course trying in every game but never doing something insane and trying to unbalance it. If the match is proceding steadily then... In the beginning you could see our preparation was more or less balanced, I wasn't getting anything much with white and probably neither was he, at least for the first six games. But the problem in such a tight match is every mistake has a much higher value than in a match where there are mistake flowing back and forth in every game. In a match where there were so few chances for me it was a really incredibly heavy blow to lose game 7 and I count myself extremely fortunate that I was able to come back the next day. For me I would even say this was the critical moment in the match from my perspective because I was not getting a lot of chances and that's exactly the situation where you don't want to be behind.

We continued trying until the end, I know some of you thought we were already heading for the tie-break but it wasn't like that. But the thing is we're not heading for it but I'm not going to do something insane just to avoid it because then you might not even get there. So in game 12 for instance we had some interesting ideas but every time Boris would pull some move out, I mean c4 was brilliant, he found it over the board I think, and this showed his reaction was very good. And so again this equalising tendency just continued.

Anand on the Rapid Match

Well today what can I say? I wouldn't say there was some kind of justice in this or something. You simply play the tie-break. I think given that we drew our first 12 games deciding it by a tie-break is quite a reasonable situation. Obviously I'm not suggesting we start with it but after such a long and tough match may it's the only thing that could separate us. Well even the tie-break was just incredibly tense, I imagine my opponent as well, well things really went my way, that's all you can say. I think I can say that I won because I won and that's it.

Boris Gelfand

Boris Gelfand. Official photos: Anastasia Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov.

Gelfand on the match as a whole

My strategy has been quite simple to take it one game at a time and to try and make the best moves. I have put forward many good ideas and I have found good solutions during the match. I would tend to believe that it was a solid performance on my part.

Shouldn't he try and avoid time trouble?

Gelfand on time trouble:

The fact of the matter is that I have being playing like that all along if you take a look at my statistics with tiebreaks that will be 90% of games played were won in this manner so because of just one error I don't think it makes much sense to change your ways. This has been my approach, my policy and that's why I have been doing it.

Gelfand on his critics

I've seen this movie before you know for 15 years maybe. Like in 1998 they started to send me pack on tension sometimes and even if I get into the World Championship they say well that was just good luck on his part. Or World Cup they say again probably the format and contenders were not good enough and it's just good luck on his part. I try to discard such assertions. I'm just doing my thing, playing chess.

Gelfand also discussed the favourable publicity in Israel. He wanted "Chess to get upgraded to a better position in society." he felt the situation for talented juniors and professionals was terrible. "We have very few professional chess players left in the country. maybe 5-6 maximum. " and juniors were told "you shouldn't develop your talent and we lost generation after generation." He hopes that will improve and that there will be top class tournaments.

Anand to move.

Anand to move. Official photos: Anastasia Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov.

Anand on dark night after game 7

Ian Rogers: What got you over the line in this match?

Anand: Well today it's difficult really to claim anything I would say simply that my nerves held out better. Even these four games so much back and forth going on, I simply hung on for dear life, I won't claim more than that. But if I had to pick a moment I'm really proud of it's my reaction to the 8th game. I understand it wasn't Boris' best game, but still I cannot remember such a black day like after game 7, I couldn't sleep. That day I really thought I'd blown the match. Because the tendency was also getting tough I mean I was still going to give it my best shot. Game 8 was just very, very important for my morale also.

Today, it just comes down to nerves in the end. You just hang in there as best as you can.

Pre-Game handshake

Pre-Game handshake. Official photos: Anastasia Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov.

Anand relieved and his tribute to Gelfand

What's next what do you think, what's your next move?

Anand pays tribute to his opponent: I barely got through this one and you're asking me about the next one. No, I have no thoughts whatsoever, it'll take some time even for today to sink in. I'm mainly relieved, because I understood that in all fairness this match simply could have gone either way. I noticed it already starting 2009 At that point I didn't know that Boris was going to win Kazan of course. In Khanty Mansiysk I saw his enormous determination and his strength, I mean the tests he survived there to qualify and then again in Kazan. So I think he showed that for what he was really motivated for... Personally I never felt like a favourite. I knew I would have my chances but I never really felt like a favourite, I know Boris much to long for that. Right now I'm just relieved. I can't think beyond that.

We'll perhaps return to key moments in the rapid games in a separate article later.

WCh Rapid Playoff Moscow
Gelfand, Boris - Anand, Viswanathan ½-½ 32 D45 Anti-Meran Variations
Anand, Viswanathan - Gelfand, Boris 1-0 77 B30 Sicilian Rossolimo
Gelfand, Boris - Anand, Viswanathan ½-½ 63 D12 Slav Defence
Anand, Viswanathan - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 56 B51 Sicilian Rossolimo
WCh Rapid Playoff Moscow (RUS), 30 v 2012
Name Ti NAT Rtng 1 2 3 4 Total Perf
Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2791 ½ 1 ½ ½ 2822
Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2727 ½ 0 ½ ½ 2704

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