WCC2012-9: intense fight… still level

The second half of the World Championship match started with two decisive results and today the world witnessed an elegant ebb and flow with white pressing for a win. In the end, the world champion set up an impenetrable fortress and a draw was agreed in 49 moves.

Game 9 was an intense encounter all the way to the end. Photo by Anastasia Karlovich.

The game started as a Nimzo-Indian and the changes in repertoire are coming quickly. Perhaps teams are still preparing secret weapons, but this game was nearly a big win for Gelfand. Anand mentioned that he had made some mistakes in the opening by ceding the two bishops. Certainly white had an advantage in space and mobility and black was balancing the position on a razor’s edge.

The big decision came when white forged ahead with 19.c5!? Anand had seen this after the previous move and he had to be prepared to give up his queen. On cue, he continued with 19…bxc5 20.dxc5 Rxc5 21.Bh7+ Kxh7 22.Rxd6 Rxc1+ 23.Rd1. Gelfand has a queen for a rook, knight and pawn, but it wasn’t clear how he would press for a win. The main idea was to push the a-pawn to a6 and play Qb7 at some point causing black to tie down his forces. White would then attempt to create weaknesses on the kingside with moves like g4.

Viswanathan Anand paces the floor while Boris Gelfand ruminates. White pressed for the win, but black was defiant. Photo from screenshot at https://moscow2012.fide.com.

In the press conference, Anand mentioned that he had several fortresses to choose from, but chose the Rc7, Nd5 structure. White probed and probed, looking for any type of slip up. One would have been on 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 Nxg4?? when white wins a rook after 45.Qg8+ Kh6 46.Qg5+ and 47.Qxe7. The problem is that the black rook can never leave the 7th rank and it also has to stop the white king from crossing the c-file.

There was an interesting variation in which white could have ended up losing! On 41.Qf3 Nf6 42.Qg3+ Kh7 43.Qg5?? Ne4 and black wins! 44.Qxh5+ Kg7 45.g4 Rd8! and pinning the queen next move. Gelfand did not fall for this one but decided to use his trump in 43.g4. After 43…hxg4 44.hxg4 fxg4 black simply resorted to setting up a Re7, Ng8 fortress with pawns on e6 and f6. Instructive lesson!

Score: Anand 4½ – Gelfand 4½

Analysis by GM Gilberto Milos.

Game Analysis of Game #9

Video by GM Daniel King.

Official Site: https://moscow2012.fide.com/en/
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/05/10/2012-world-championship-anand-vs-gelfand/


  1. My guess is that whoever wins the next game will lock-in the world championship. First-rate fights are usually between individuals with different styles. That’s not the case here. Seems like Anand has to be provoked to get the fighting spirit out of him and vice versa. Unfortunately, neither player is of A personalities; they are not rude over the board and that’s the missing factor.

    1. It’s ironic that we haven’t had any drama in this match for the first time in a long time. I can see this being good for chess, but of course there needs to be something to sell newspapers. There is nothing on Anand or Gelfand. No complaints, scandals or controversies. There was a comment at the press conference asking the two if their respect for each other is getting in the way of more combative play. Interesting question given the nightmares we have had in the past 40 years.

  2. Over the board, good manners won’t cut it with the audience. Civility has its place, but not in a game of war.

  3. In two countries that have a religious history, I would imagine there is another element here. After the Anand-Gelfand-Ivanchuk generation, we have a couple of interesting characters coming through the pipeline. Nakamura has the potential to stir some interest in the chess world.

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