World Championship Match Comes Alive Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers   
May 21, 2012
Photo Cathy Rogers

In two eventful days the World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and challenger Boris Gelfand in Moscow has exploded into life.

On Saturday, as the sixth game was being played (and drawn) Garry Kasparov stated “Gelfand's chances are improving with each draw; both can stumble but the chances of Vishy stumbling are higher.” and his words proved prescient as Gelfand comprehensively outplayed Anand to win the seventh game. This was Gelfand's first classical win against Anand for almost two decades – overcoming the psychological factor which Kasparov had said was the biggest obstacle to Gelfand winning the match.

Then, on Tuesday when Gelfand's success  was plastered on the front page of many Israeli newspapers and the pundits were counting down Anand's days as World Champion, the 42-year-old Indian struck back by winning the shortest game in World Championship history (forfeits excluded).

Gelfand lost in only 17 moves and 110 minutes after falling into an Anand trap in a double-edged position. “I had to calculate a lot of variations,” said Gelfand, “ and unfortunately I miscalculated.”

At the post-game press conference the sparkle which Kasparov had noted was missing from Anand's eyes in recent times seemed to be back – at least until the two players were taken away for drug testing.

With the match now tied at 4-4 and with only four games to play, picking a winner is a lottery, but Anand has probably returned to favouritism.

Commentator Peter Leko, who predicted a fight back from Anand, was convinced that the win would free Anand to be in his best form in the crucial final four games, saying “Winning your first game is the most difficult – once you win you know you can do it.”

Anand was more circumspect; “I like to think I play each game quite stably but the last two games have been emotionally much more tough. But if I play well, I'm happy.”

The real question mark is over Gelfand's mental resilience. Game after game, Gelfand claims to be playing game by game, not worrying about past results or looking too far ahead.

Yet after such a heavy defeat, maintaining that policy will require superhuman self-control. Yet at the press conference Gelfand looked remarkably relaxed, still able to crack a joke or two with the assembled journalists. If he really can recover from such an ego-shattering loss, Gelfand will have shown nerves worthy of a World Champion.

Moscow World Ch. Game 7


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 a6 6.c5!?
The move Anand must have been expecting when preparing the 5...a6 system, since Gelfand had scored a number of fine victories with 6.c5.
6...Nbd7 7.Qc2!?
The start of a plan which must have baffled Anand, who is allowed to achieve both ...b6 and later ...c5 without penalty.
7...b6 8.cxb6 Nxb6 9.Bd2 c5 10.Rc1

“Black must play 10...Nfd7!,” said Leko. “Then after 11.e4 Bb7 nothing is happening. You keep the knight on b6 to stop Na4 and White's pieces have nothing to do."
"I started to drift a little bit in the opening; with that bad bishop on c8 I had to play more precisely," admitted Anand.
11.exd4 Bd6 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bd3 h6 14.Bh4 Bb7 15.0-0 Qb8
16.Bxf6 gxf6 looks ugly for Black but after 17...Rc8 and 18...Bf8, Anand should be quite safe. Gelfand is happy just piling on the pressure without changing the pawn structure
16...Rc8 17.Qe2 Bxg3 18.hxg3 Qd6 19.Rc2! Nbd7 20.Rfc1 Rab8
"Not a very impressive move," admitted Anand. "If you have to play such a thing, the position is bad." To add to his troubles, Anand was beginning to run short of time,
21.Na4 Ne4?!
A pawn sacrifice to achieve some activity, but Gelfand refutes it by ignoring it. 21...Rxc2 was necessary, when both players thought that after 22.Qxc2! (22.Rxc2 Bc6-b5 would justify Anand's 20th move.) Rc8 23.Nc5 White maintains a large edge. GM Shipov, fresh from a day of public commentary on a match between two chessplaying robots in a Moscow park, believed that after 23...a5 Black might be surviving.
22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Qc2!
Simple chess – 23.Bxe4 dxe4 24.Qxe4 Bb7 would be less clear.
Desperation, but "in a bad position, usually all moves are bad," said Anand.
24.Qc7! Qxc7 25.Rxc7 f6
Condemned by the computer aided analysts but “Black is already lost,” said Leko.
26.Bxe4! dxe4 27.Nd2 f5 28.Nc4 Nf6 29.Nc5 Nd5 30.Ra7 Nb4 31.Ne5 Nc2
32.Nc6 Rxb2 33.Rc7 Rb1+ 34.Kh2 e3 35.Rxc8+ 07.12 35...Kh7 36.Rc7+ Kh8 37.Ne5! e2
38.Nxe6! 1-0
Avoiding Anand's final trap – 38.Ng6+ Kg8 39.Nxe6 which would lose after 39...Rh1+!.
A strategic masterpiece by Gelfand.

Moscow World Ch. Game 8


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Ne2!? 0-0 7.Nec3

7...Nh5!? 8.Bg5!?
Sophisticated play by both sides and suddenly we are in uncharted waters. First Anand manoeuvres his king's knight to c3, which is useful when the game transposes to a Benoni. Gelfand then tries to avoid the line 7...e6 8.Bg5 and Anand reacts by preventing 8...e6.
Of course the critical line for White would be 8.g4 but “it was rather committal” said Anand.
8...Bf6 9.Bxf6
9.Be3 was also reasonable.
9...exf6! 10.Qd2 f5 11.exf5!
Brave play. “I was not so nervous after 10...f5,” explained Anand, “because I had already succeeded in exchanging the dark squared bishops, so his attack was not so strong.”
By this time Anand had seen the trick which later won the game.
11...Bxf5 12.g4 Re8+?!
Played after a 20 minute think but 12...Qh4+ was more accurate, after which Anand would probably have tried 13.Kd1, keeping the position messy.
13.Kd1! Bxb1 14.Rxb1
Falling into Anand's trap – one which commentator Leko had also missed. After 14...Ng7 15.Kc2 White would be ready to attack with h4-h5 - “In that case the whole concept of Black's play is unfortunate,” said Gelfand.
Gelfand had expected only 15.Kc2 when he intended not 15...Qxf3? 16.Be2 but 15...Nf4! 16.Ne4 Rxe4! 17.fxe4 Nd7 with wonderful compensation for the exchange.
15...Qxf3+ 16.Kc2 Qxh1 17.Qf2! 1-0
When playing 14...Qf6 Gelfand had only noticed 17.Qf4 and missed the text move. Now the only way to save the queen is the desperate 17...Nc6 but after 18.dxc6 Qxc6 both 19.Bg2 and 19.Nd5 leave Black's position in ruins.

Also see GM Ian Rogers' articles after six rounds and his couch potato's guide to watching the World Championship.