WCC2012-12: Backlash on short draw

Gelfand and Anand square off in last game of the match before playoffs. Photo by Anastasya Karlovich.

Gelfand and Anand square off in last game of the match. Tension was high and building before an unexpected ending occurred. Photo by Anastasia Karlovich.

The angst was high amongst the fans, commentators and journalists alike and the Anand-Gelfand match ended in another short draw. The defending champion actually offered a draw a pawn up with an imbalanced position, not testing the challenger. Have elite players become too trusting in the technique of their peers? Perhaps.

“We are here to play the match, we are not here to entertain spectators. We don’t have to play out the moves; commentators can explain that.”

~Boris Gelfand

This game looked to be a strategic coup for Anand and he prepared a slightly improved version of the Rossolimo he trotted out in game 10. Anand sacrificed a pawn early, but would get fluid play against black’s cramped position. Gelfand got into horrible time pressure wading through the morass of variations and decided to return the pawn. He ended up losing another and the chess world was bracing for what is known as a “walk-off” win for Anand.

Anand defended his position by stating, “We really had a tense struggle and agreed to a draw only when we understood that a game wasn’t going anywhere”. Gelfand was a bit more defensive: “We are here to play the match, we are not here to entertain spectators. We don’t have to play out the moves; commentators can explain that.”

Where has the fire gone in the World Champion? Will we see the “Tiger from Chennai” in the tiebreaks? Photos by Anastasia Karlovich .

This comment got a lot of sarcastic remarks including the fact that the commentators were none to happy to explain the result to the fans. ICC Commentators GMs Suat Atalik and Alexander Yermolinsky were critical of the draw, and frankly disappointed. In the Twittersphere, a torrent of comments were posted by many of the top chess website personalities.

Vladimir Kramnik was shocked at the draw offer by Anand saying “I don’t see any reason for White to offer draw.” He further stated that Anand’s draw is “one of the strangest decisions I ever saw.” Six-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler was critical of Anand for offering a draw in such a position and thought the world champion could play on a few more moves with “no risk”. The game had tremendous imbalances and Grandmasters of old would have no doubt played this further.

What is clear is that both players are perhaps tired and their nerves are starting to fray. Both were seen catching glances at the other and Anand looked visibly nervous. The pressure is on, but Anand is a world-renown rapid player and this matchup should favor him. The match will begin Wednesday with Gelfand starting with white in a four-game match.

Score: Anand 6 – Gelfand 6

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik speaking here with GMs Maxim Dlugy and Joel Lautier. He was very critical at the draw offer by Anand. Photo by Alexey Yushenkov.

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik speaking here with GMs Maxim Dlugy and Joel Lautier. He was very critical at the draw offer by Anand. Photo by Alexey Yushenkov.

Analysis by GM Gilberto Milos.

2012 World Chess Championship (Game #12)

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



    1. They are both boring personalities.
      It is time for the likes of Carlsen, Aronian, Nakamura to fight it out for the title.

      These are the guys that will attract the attention that the Fischer-Spassky, Kasparov-Karpov matchups used to enjoy.

      1. Well… they are certainly not colorful, but we still could have had fighting chess. They are both great fighters and Anand has shown his character in previous matches. I feel Anand has been good for the stabilization of chess. He doesn’t argue or get caught up in mindless controversies that we had for 40 years. These things have made chess unwatchable while they have gotten media attention. “Toiletgate” was a disgrace. However, it may be time for this generation to move aside. Both are far too conservative in their careers. Anand may be changing in life’s perspective as well and his tournament results have shown this. We have to decide what we want… exciting and colorful players or exciting and colorful chess. I suppose we will settle for one or the other. 🙂

  2. Yes… some of the games had promise, but overall the players didn’t seem interested in further discussion when positions got a bit of clarity. Game #12 could have gone out a bit longer, for sure.

  3. “We are here to play the match, we are not here to entertain spectators. We don’t have to play out the moves; commentators can explain that.”
    ~Boris Gelfand

    …but at least in other games and sports you can play and entertain at the same time and when things ‘aren’t played out’ it’s because somebody already clinched (as in a 4 game sweep in a 7-game series or a straight-sets victory in tennis) not in order to draw! Chess is the only game where players ‘clinch’ a draw LOL! And all games and sports are watched for entertainment. Furthermore, entertainment value is directly proportional to the money that players earn! Gelfand is there to record games for the annals of chess scholarship, not to entertain. A cold reality. Imagine if NBA players thought that way: ‘I’m here to put my plays on tape for future players to study, I could care less about the spectators’

    Actually, if I recall correctly, I read that world champ Tigran Petrosian changed his play style a little bit to entertain people. His chess was noted for extreme defense and prophylaxis, but when enough people expressed how little entertainment value there was, he actually introduced some semi-exciting ‘enticements’ into his game. In other words, even though he stuck with the defense, prophylaxis, and drawish play, he started making moves that intentionally invited his opponents to attack–just to entertain people…

    1. Well… I remember the boring U.S. Championships in the 90s filled by a field of ex-Soviet immigrants. It was the same idea that you played for scholarship and there were so many draws and the winner was scoring +2. People had lost interest in the U.S. Championship before Erik Andersen stepped in and saved it. Gelfand talks about his classical chess education and comes from that school of thought that you want to play correctly… even if it is a lifeless 20-move draw. However, there is no chess scholarship in this because you have not explored the depths of the conversation.

      I have heard several Russians (including Kramnik) say that a draw with black is good whereas players like Fischer and Kasparov used black as fighting weapons. However, the objective to win is the same for both black and white. I tire of hearing the black/white analysis and think it is a culture run amok in chess. The draw has become a way of escaping the test. Anand doesn’t come from a particular school, but he has changed in the five years of defending his crown. His play is no longer fluid but more minimalist where he avoids losing. This is not his style.

      In my belief, the Soviet/Russian School of Chess is passe’. Yes… Russians still have the deepest federation of strong players, but there are new methods of study and new players emerging who do not come from that school. There are quicker and more efficient ways of knowledge assimilation. Gelfand idea of “chess education” is overstated. He is often critical of players like Carlsen and Nakamura who have grown up on databases and online chess. Yet they have become world-class without reading the classics. I’m not suggesting they should not read the classic books like Zurich 1953, but I’m sure they are familiar with the games.

      Asia is the future of chess and that is where we will see the next renaissance. Time to breathe new life into chess and show its true universality. The world championships of the future will feature players from countries without any tradition in chess and we will see another chess sensation in our lifetime. We will look back at this match and wonder why the games were so short and dry.

  4. Interesting conversation but what is wrong with a draw?? I once read or heard that GM makes bad moves to confuse their opponent as to their true intent. I suspected if the opponent is not fooled the game will end in a draw barring error. I respect the senior age of the two combatants and would not draw conclusions of a different match results based on the upcoming youth movement. Speaking of style of play reminds me of a story about two bulls on a hill looking down on a herd of cows. The young bull say let’s run down and grab a cow (pawn analogy ). The older wiser bull shook his head and said young bull save your energy and walk down since we need to grab them all. Before we are accused of age discrimination (not wanting to see two old geezers) we should respect what they have accomplished. After saying this, YES, I would like to see or even pay to see a head up series between Anand vs. Carlson.

  5. Carlsen tweets this…

    Magnus Øen Carlsen @MagnusCarlsen
    Seriously though, I don’t blame the players for agreeing to all those early draws, it’s just appaling that the rules allow them to

    1. I have read interviews of the sponsor of this match. The interviewer neglected to ask the sponsor — Why reject the Sofia rule for this WCChamp match?

      I would like to hear the sponsor’s answer.

      In any case, the sponsor presumably made this decision deliberately; which seems weird to me.

      Do not blame the players.
      Blame the current rules of chess, or the people that control the rules.
      These pieces on this board need not be quite so enormously draw prone.

      1. I agree in principle. Over the weekend, I notice a number of six-move draws while following the Chicago Open. Winner Sargissian got a six-mover in the last round to clinch.

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