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Daniel Gurevich on the World Championships Print E-mail
By Daniel Gurevich   
May 25, 2012
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So far, the second half of the World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand has been a delight to watch. While spectators attending the first six games were disappointed by uneventful draws, the most recent games have been exciting from start to finish.

The question after game eight was whether Gelfand could recover from his crushing 17-move loss. Most players would fall apart after such a catastrophe, but not Gelfand. In game nine, he showed his nerves of steel by forcing Anand to struggle for a draw in a lengthy battle. “Obviously I messed something up in the opening,” Anand admitted at the press conference following the game. As a result, Gelfand earned the two bishops’ advantage.



However, Gelfand made the mistake of cashing in too soon. Although he gained a queen for his efforts, Anand’s job was made easier and he soon navigated his way to a fortress. This struggle lasted longer than any of the first eight games and Anand was forced to play accurately to draw. However, Gelfand was unable to regain the lead.

The tenth game of the match marked Anand’s penultimate game with White, but he was unable to use this chance to earn an advantage. After playing a novelty on just move 5, Gelfand confidently defended a slightly worse endgame to earn the half-point.



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Anand and Gelfand shake hands after game ten, Photo Cathy Rogers

These games were probably fun to watch online. However, seeing the same thing in real life is a completely different experience. Very few of us have ever had a chance to attend a world championship match. After all, the last world championship hosted by the United States was back in 1999. However, although chess does not have a reputation as a spectator sport, I believe that no chess fan would regret attending one of these matches, even if it means traveling halfway around the world.

It is one thing to watch Wimbledon on TV at home and another thing entirely to take in a match from the stands themselves. In my opinion, the same is true of chess. Being in the thick of the action can bring about an entirely different perspective.
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For me, the spirit of the event was the main attraction. The World Championship has brought together so many chess enthusiasts. The Soviet Union was a hotbed of chess activity, and the chess culture still remains today. There are few other places where a chess event would attract hundreds of spectators daily. Some of them are there to support the players; some just want to enjoy high-quality chess. I suspect that there is also a third group: those who are there for the social element.

The people attending this event make it unforgettable. Anand’s wife, Aruna, is always there for moral support. She also seems to have an acute sense for when her husband’s games are about to finish, often arriving at the press center “fifty seconds or a minute” earlier, as a journalist at the press-conference following game nine observed.

Gelfand has not forgotten his childhood coaches, Tamara Golovey, Leonid Bondar, Eduard Zelkind, and Albert Kapengut. Gelfand invited them all to his match; they have always been his biggest fans.

The match also offers an opportunity to meet dozens of strong players and coaches. They commentate, play simuls, and give autographs every day. There is just nothing like it anywhere else in the chess world. Everybody seems to be having fun, including the photographers (just look at the photo reports on the tournament site at http://moscow2012.fide.com/en/)!

The decisive last two games of the World Championship are definitely going to be worth watching. Tune in online, and let us hope that the next games will be exciting as the previous ones.

To my young readers: I would be happy to answer all of your questions in my CL4K column! Send them all to CL4K editor gpetersen@uschess.org. I have more stories to tell and would love to get some questions about the World Championship match.

For more on the World Championship, see GM Ian Rogers latest CLO report, World Championship Match Comes Alive, the official website and Eric Van Reem's "Mate in Moscow" blog.
 
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