The curtain comes down today on the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2012 at the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Russia which pitted defending champion and eventual winner for the fifth time Viswanathan Anand (India) against his challenger Boris Gelfand (Israel) after twenty one days of grueling mental calculations. The tiger of Chennai can continue reigning supreme at the crest of the chess empire. It was my first interaction with the world championships, (i.e. via a webcast).
It has been a tense and suspense filled championship which kept each and everyone guessing, from the reputed International Grandmasters to the novices like me. The statistics were against Gelfand from the onset, Gelfand had not beaten the Vishy in a classical game since 1993. (Right from the start, I believed that the championship was Vishy’s to lose. However, when the draws started appearing on the board, I got worried. Then the shock of seeing Anand lose the seventh game and as a result trailing 3.0-4.0 in the 12 game match with five games still to go. I started doubting my prediction, I had thought and believed Anand was the better master of the chituranga, he had to win in order to restore my confidence. Anand bounced back and won the eight game to restore his chances of retaining the world crown.
The coverage was superb; thanks to the official championship portal, Susan Polgar, The Internet Chess Club, ChessBase, ChessGames, Chess Vibes, Chessdom, The Week in Chess, and Europe Echecs. The statistics record making. 12 games with classical time control ended in a draw 6:6, so the champion was determined during the tie-break. Players had to play four games with the control of 25 minutes till the end with an increment of 10 seconds after each move. After 575 moves, 12 classical games, and 4 rapids, Anand vindicated my prediction as he emerged the undisputed champion for the fourth time in a row, having won the competition previously in 2007, 2008 and 2010. He had also won the world title in 2000.
The first game was very tough, each side had chances to win, but eventually all the pieces were exchanged and game was drawn.
In the second game Anand, playing white, won a pawn but Black got compensation and was defending precisely. However Boris Gelfand spent too much time and as a result blundered in the endgame. Anand won the second game in 77 moves.
In the third and fourth games Gelfand got very good chances to equalize the score but failed. Vishy remained the World Chess Champion!
The great chess wizard and former world champion Garry Kasparov had even written off the Tiger of Madras questioning his ability. Vishy, the king of Blitz chess went full throttle, making swift and tactical moves which left Gelfand a product of the legendary Soviet School of chess which emphasises on precise technique and sound positional understanding bamboozled. In a thrilling tie- break in the Rapid time control, Anand defeated Challenger Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5. The first game ended in deadlock and Anand struck in the second game with Whites and let the third and fourth game drift into draws.
The championship had historical cognizance, the only other time a World Championship match was decided in a tie-breaker was six years ago between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov The thrilling tie-break was worthy of a tournament whose history also includes the historic 1972 clash in Reykjavik at the height of the Cold War between Bobby Fischer of the USA and Soviet great Boris Spassky.
One image that will not be easily forgotten in my mind is the act of Gelfand rotating a captured piece in his right hand. It made some somewhat boring games, exciting.