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Cautious Start to World Championship in Moscow Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers   
May 13, 2012
Photo Cathy Rogers

Instead of Karpov and Kasparov battling it out in the Hall of Columns, the home of the Soviet Union's Communist Party Congresses, in 2012 it is India's Viswanathan Anand and Israel's Boris Gelfand who are fighting for world supremacy at the home of Russian art, the Tretyakov Gallery.

Instead of the 1985 prize fund of 72,000 roubles, Anand and Gelfand are playing for $US2.55m.

When Kasparov and Karpov competed for the crown in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev had just become leader of the USSR and his reforms set the stage for the dissolution of the Soviet Union 6 years later.

By 2012, Mikhail Gorbachev has become an elder statesman, signing autographs at the opening ceremony while present as patron of FIDE's Chess In Schools project.

Anatoly Karpov was another guest at the opening ceremony, held in the magnificent Vrubel Hall at the Tretyakov Gallery. Karpov gave plenty of interviews talking about the good old days, but the man with whom he is forever twinned and who took his title in 1985, Garry Kasparov, was not. (Hopes were expressed that Kasparov would attend later in the match and even enjoy a cameo with the commentators.) 

At the opening press conference Gelfand expressed his hope that the players could produce games worthy of the works of art at the Tretyakov. Unfortunately those hopes have not yet been realised.

In contrast to the ultra-voiolence seen so far at the US Championships, the world title match running concurrently has been a quiet affair.

After two games of the 12 game contest, the score is tied at 1-1, after two draws. The underdog Gelfand has already shown that he has come to the title match very well prepared and has given Anand no chances.

Gelfand will be pleased with the current score but knows that he cannot relax. In 2008, Anand's title match against Vladimir Kramnik also started cautiously with two draws but the Indian then broke the shackles with three wins from the next four games to effectively end the contest. 

Anand is not relying on history, saying “Every match has its own story or trend and we will have to see how this one develops.”


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 

The Grunfeld Defence - a system which Gelfand had never used in a serious game. "You expect to be surprised," admitted Anand. "I had taken a look at [the Grunfeld opening] but it was difficult to expect since I can't remember a single game with the Grunfeld by Boris."
4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Bb5+!? Nc6 1.55 9.d5!? 1.55
This is Anand's idea, one that had long been dismissed as innocuous. 
9...Qa5! 1.39  10.Rb1 a6  11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.0–0 Qxa2!? 
Typical Gelfand. 12...0-0 is safer but after long thought he could find nothing wrong with the text move.
13.Rb2 1.44 13...Qa5 1.06 14.d6!? 1.18
14.Bg5 is also promising but the text move sets a sophisticated trap.
14...Ra7! 1.03 15.Bg5 1.10

15...exd6! 0.58
The pundits in the press room, were wondering why Black did not play 15...f6? until they found the stunning refutation 16.Rb8! 0–0 17.Qb3+! Kh8 (17...c4 is no better due to 18.Qxc4+ Kh8 19.Be3 Rd7 20.dxe7 Rxe7 21.Bc5)  18.Ne5!!

when Black is helpless, e.g.  18...fxg5 19.Nf7+ Kg8 20.Nh6+ Kh8 21.Qg8+!! Rxg8 22.Nf7# with a classic smothered checkmate.
16.Qxd6 Rd7 17.Qxc6 Qc7!  18.Qxc7  Rxc7 19.Bf4 
"Once the queens were swapped I had to be exact," said Anand.
19...Rb7 0.43 20.Rc2 0.56 0–0 21.Bd6  Re8  22.Nd2  f5  23.f3  fxe4 0.16
"Of course 23...Bd7 is the critical test," said Gelfand, "but after 24.Rfc1! [preempting 24...Ba4], I couldn't see anything."
24.Nxe4  Bf5 
 Draw Agreed
"The computer assessment of the position is probably –0.15 but after the exchange [on e4] hardly anything could be done," Gelfand explained.
Photo Cathy Rogers


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 a6
The Chebanenko Slav has never previously been part of Anand's repertoire but Gelfand has had plenty of experience playing against it.
6.c5 and; 6.Qc2 have also been tried by Gelfand here.
6...Bb4 7.Bd2 Nbd7 8.Bd3 0–0 9.0–0 Bd6 10.Rc1 1.39
Not especially testing for Black. In three previous games from this position, Gelfand had chosen 10.Qc2.
10...e5 1.52 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.e4 1.30
12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 is supposed to be fine for Black, despite – or perhaps partly because of the isolated pawn.
12...dxe4 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 

14...Nf6! 15.dxe5
Played after half an hour's thought. "This was a very critical moment in the game," explained Gelfand. "There were two options – either dxe5 or Bg5."
15...Nxe4 16.exd6 Qxd6 1.37 17.Be3 Bf5!
"Originally the position after 17.Be3 was thought to be better for White," said Anand, "but we checked this and found that ...Bf5 is exact."
18.Qxd6 Nxd6 19.Nd4 Rfe8!
"Giving up the bishop was a very good decision," said Gelfand.
20.Nxf5 0.34
20.Bf4 Re4 would be an immediate draw.
20...Nxf5 21.Bc5
"When he played this I briefly thought that this might be unpleasant," said Anand, "but very soon I realised that White cannot use the advantage of bishop versus knight in any way."
21...h5 22.Rfd1 Rac8 23.Kf1 f6 24.Bb4 Kh7 0.55 25.Rc5 0.17

Draw Agreed
"Black has found a clever way to bring his king into the game and mobilize all his pieces," explained Gelfand. "I tried but I couldn't find the slightest idea how to give him any problems.

Find more information on the official site and look for further CLO coverage by GM Ian Rogers as the tournament progresses.