There were lots of groans after the tenth game of the 2012 World Championship. Both Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand agreed to a draw in 25 moves in a position that seemed to beg for more examination.
Anand went back to 1.e4 and after 1…c5 2.Nf3 Nc6, he played the Rossolimo with 3.Bb5. This move is one of the most popular anti-Sicilian lines and carries a bit of positional venom if one does not take it seriously. Gelfand brought an idea with him to the board after 3…e6 4.Bxc6 (much more committal than 4.0-0) bxc6 5.b3 e5!? This certainly caught Anand off guard, but he still managed to get a good position with 6. Nxe5 Qe7 7. Bb2 d6 8. Nc4. Gelfand continued to play actively, but he was saddled with weakened queenside pawns blockaded by knights.
Viswanathan Anand checks Gelfand for clues.
Boris Gelfand steals a glance.
Photos from screenshot at https://moscow2012.fide.com.
Anand went after these weaknesses with 17.Ba3?! a move that he stated may have been a bit misguided. After 17…Nd5 18. Ne4 Nb4 white had to make a choice… trade off pieces, or keep the tension and protect c2. Gelfand offered a draw around move 22 or 23 and Anand politely declined. He stated he thought he could exert pressure with Nb3, but then decided to give up the fight a few moves later with a returned offer.
Bobby Fischer (right) on the move against Boris Spassky in their pivotal 1972 match in Reykjavik, Iceland. This being the 40-year anniversary of the Fischer Spassky match, it may be another decade before we see a match that created the same fervor.
There were some Grandmasters who were very disappointed at the agreement and felt there was play left. If one objectively looks at the position, white has a very slight edge and may be able to exploit weaknesses in black structure and bad bishop. Clearly, Gelfand could hold, but Anand may be giving up leverage (as champion) with such quick draws and not playing on a bit.
Would Bobby Fischer agreed to a draw in this position? Doubtful, but perhaps it speaks more to the format and other factors such as the age of the players. Apart from a few games, the match has been rather anticlimactic. Anand has not played as dynamically as he has in the past and with each game the odds of an upset increase. Gelfand has actually produced more ideas in this match.
Score: Anand 5 – Gelfand 5
Game Analysis of Game #10
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/