Viswanathan Anand World Champion!
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 29, 2008
GM Vishy Anand just after winning the World Championship.
Photo Cathy Rogers

After a tense drawn final game in Bonn Viswanathan Anand defeated Vladimir Kramnik 6.5-4.5 to become the 15th World Match Champion, the first non-Soviet/Russian World Champion since Bobby Fischer in 1972

Anand was greeted with a 3-minute standing ovation when he collected the World Championship trophy in front of a full house at the Bonn Exhibition Centre.

Receiving the trophy from FIDE Chairman Florencio Campomanes completed a circle for Anand. The Indian Grandmaster's interest in chess was sparked as a nine-year-old by watching Campomanes’ television programme ‘Chess Today’ during the year his family spent in the Philippines. Anand won so many prizes from ‘Chess Today’ competitions that by the time his family returned to Madras (now Chennai) he had an excellent chess book collection, which he read avidly.

Anand thanked his wife, Aruna, his team of seconds, other supporters and the public, and concluded his remarks in halting but understandable German, to the delight of the crowd. The crowd then stood for the Indian national anthem, starting to file out when the ceremony concluded with the FIDE anthem.

At the post-game press conference, with a sedate Vladimir Kramnik by his side, Anand tried to explain how he was feeling.

“I am happy, but more relieved than happy,” admitted the Indian. “Yesterday [after losing on Monday] was not fun. It was just the wrong time for a rest day for me, quite tough. I tried to relax but I don’t think I succeeded at all. Vlad was pushing me in the last few games. After this result I am still very motivated.”
Both players insisted that they would continue to play actively, with Kramnik scotching rumours of his retirement. “If I have chances to play again for the world title, I will try.”
“When you lose you are not so relieved, just disappointed,” said Kramnik. “Life is like this – you don’t always win. It was a harsh lesson but before the match I knew I could lose to Vishy. The last three years was a lot of pressure, a tough period. I had a lot of matches.  Now I don’t have this pressure. I plan to take a rest and enjoy life.”

Kramnik also expressed his hope that the match title would continue, a comment directed at Anand who notably did not say that he valued this win above winning the FIDE World Championship in a tournament in 2007. “A title won under the match format is of great value,” said Kramnik. “I hope that the match format will continue to decide World Championships.”

Overall, the match was decided in the first half when Anand comprehensively outplayed his opponent and built up a three point lead. (Kramnik viewed game 5 as the critical loss.) After game 6 it was a matter of hanging on for Anand and he did this competently, despite dangerous situations in games 9 and 10.

There is no doubt that Anand’s was a popular success. Commentator Artur Yusupov spoke for many when he said “I am very pleased to see [Vishy win]. Before this match there was some doubt [about his status]. Now there is no doubt that he is the World Champion. He is a great chessplayer and a great Champion. And Anand’s win is important not only for India, but for the whole world.”

Anand wraps up the match. Photo Cathy Rogers

Game 11


Opening: Sicilian Defence
A small surprise for Kramnik, who spent a couple of minutes before replying. “I take a few seconds to get concentrated,” Kramnik explained.
1…c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6
Position after 5...a6

“I spent some time yesterday trying to find a forced win for Black against both 1.d4 and 1.e4,” said Kramnik. “The Najdorf is not a bad opening, you know.”
6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7!? 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.f5 Qc5!? 1.51
“Quite interesting,” said Anand. “I had no clue about the theory,” admitted Kramnik. “I thought this was a novelty and I keep the game sharp. 9…Nc6 was all I knew about.”
10.Qd3 1.42 Nc6 1.49 11.Nb3 1.38 Qe5 1.47 12.0-0-0 1.35 exf5!? 1.35
Position after 12...exf5

A surprising decision, but “If I don’t play this move I am structurally worse,” said Kramnik.
13.Qe3! 1.17
“White is just in time,” said Anand, giving the variation 13…Be6 14.Qb6 fxe4 15.Qxb7 Rc8 16.Bxa6 0-0 17.Qb6 and White wins material.
“I was analysing the same line,” admitted Kramnik. “After 17…f5 I have activity but it is not enough.”
13...Bg7 1.12 14.Rd5 1.02 Qe7 1.09 15.Qg3 0.58 Rg8 0.59
“White is better after 15…0-0,” said Kramnik, “but this was a better chance.”
16.Qf4 0.52 fxe4 0.49 17.Nxe4 0.50 f5!? 0.49
Rather desperate, but after 17…Be6 18.Nxd6+ Kf8 19.Rd1 f5 20.Nxf5 “and then if  20…Qf6 21.Qd6+ I am escaping,” said Anand.
18.Nxd6+ Kf8 
Position after 18...Kf8

The final finesse. Kramnik was hoping for 19.Bd3 Be6 20.Nxf5 Qb4! “when everything is hanging and there are tricks all over the place,” said Kramnik, ”for example, if 21.Qd6+ Qxd6 22.Rxd6 Be5 and the rook is trapped.
19….Rxc8 20.Kb1 Qe1+
“20…Nb4 is not working because of 21.Rxf5 Rxc2 22.Rxf7,” said Kramnik.
21.Nc1 Ne7 22.Qd2!
Position after 22.Qd2

22...Qxd2 23.Rxd2 Bh6 0.32 24.Rf2 0.36 Be3 Draw Agreed
“Unfortunately I have no winning chances any more so I called it a day,” said Kramnik of his decision to offer the draw and pass the world match title to Anand.