May 04, 2012 14:30

Anand-Gelfand World Championship match starts in a week from today

Anand-Gelfand World Championship match starts in a week from today

In exactly one week from today the 2012 World Championship match starts, between title holder Viswanathan Anand of India and challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel. The two will play a match of 12 games, unless someone scores a decisive 6.5 points at an earlier stage. In case of a tie, there will be a rapid / blitz playoff to decide. We bring you all the info.


Reigning World Champion is 42-year-old Viswanathan Anand of India, currently the #4 in the world with an Elo rating of 2791. He was born 11 December 1969 in Mayiladuthurai, a small town in Tamil Nadu, India in a Tamil family. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Chennai, erstwhile Madras, where he grew up. 

He played his first World Championship match in 1995 for the PCA, and lost to Garry Kasparov. Between 2000 and 2002 Anand held the FIDE World Champion title and later became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 by winning the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. He then defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 in Bonn, Germany and also in 2010 against Veselin Topalov in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Anand won numerous tournaments in his career, including Wijk aan Zee (1988, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005 joint with Veselin Topalov), Reggio Emilia (1992), Alekhine Memorial (Moscow, 1992), the PCA Interzonal (Groningen, 1993), Biel (1997) and Linares (1998, 2007, 2008).

Challenger is 43-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel, currently the #20 in the world with an Elo rating of 2727. He was born in Minsk, Belarus (then Belarussian SSR) on 24 June 1968. In 1998, he emigrated to Israel and settled in Rishon LeZion, where he became Israel's top ranking chess player.

Gelfand has qualified several times for Candidates Tournaments for the World Chess Championship. In 1993 he won the interzonal tournament in Biel and reached the quarter-finals of the Candidates matches. Three years later he reached the semi-final and in 1997 he was a semi-finalist in the FIDE knockout tournament. He also played in the 8-player 2002 Dortmund Tournament, which was the Candidates for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004, but failed to reach the semi-finals.

In 2007 Gelfand managed to qualify for the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. There he surprised most observers by finishing joint second with reigning world champion Vladimir Kramnik (third after tie breaks); the tournament and the World Championship was won by Viswanathan Anand.

In 2009 Gelfand won the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia and thus qualified for the Candidates matches held in May 2011 in Kazan, Russia. Seeded fourth, the Israeli beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) in the quarterfinals, Gata Kamsky (USA) in the semis and Alexander Grischuk (Russia) in the final, qualifying for the 2012 World Championship match against Anand.

Gelfand has won numerous tournaments in his career, including Wijk aan Zee (1992), Biel (1993), Dos Hermanas (1994), Belgrade (1995), Tilburg (1996), Malmö (1999), and Pamplona (2004).


The match will be held in the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the famous art gallery in Moscow, Russia. It is known as the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world. The gallery's history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a collection, which might later grow into a museum of national art. In 1985, the Tretyakov Gallery was administratively merged with a gallery of contemporary art, housed in a large modern building along the Garden Ring, immediately south of the Crimean Bridge. The collection contains more than 130,000 exhibits.


Day Date Match event Time Commentary
Day 1 10 May Opening ceremony 19.00/20.00  
Day 2 11 May Game 1 15.00 Nigel Short
Day 3 12 May Game 2 15.00 Nigel Short
Day 4 13 May Rest day    
Day 5 14 May Game 3 15.00 Jan Timman
Day 6 15 May Game 4 15.00 Jan Timman
Day 7 16 May Rest day    
Day 8 17 May Game 5 15.00 Joel Lautier
Day 9 18 May Game 6 15.00 Peter Svidler
Day 10 19 May Rest day    
Day 11 20 May Game 7 15.00 Peter Leko
Day 12 21 May Game 8 15.00 Peter Leko
Day 13 22 May Rest day    
Day 14 23 May Game 9 15.00 Peter Svidler
Day 15 24 May Game 10 15.00 Peter Svidler
Day 16 25 May Rest day    
Day 17 26 May Game 11 15.00 Vladimir Kramnik
Day 18 27 May Rest day    
Day 19 28 May Game 12 15.00 Peter Svidler
Day 20 29 May Rest day    
Day 21 30 May Tie break 12.00  


The official document with the regulations can be downloaded here in PDF (including the official rules of chess!) but we'll summarize the most important aspects. To start with, the draw for colors will be conducted during the opening ceremony on May 10th. The colors shall be reversed after game 6. (The player getting white in game 1 shall play game 7 with black).

In this 12-game match the time control for each game shall be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game. If the scores are level after the regular twelve games, after a new drawing of colors, four tie-break rapid games shall be played. The games shall be played with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds. If the scores are still level, a match of two games shall be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment. If the score is level after a maximum of five such blitz matches, the players shall play a one sudden death game. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the  player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds from move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

Prize fund

The prize fund of the match is 2.55 million dollars, 60% of which will go to the winner and 40% to the loser. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.


The main sponsor is Andrei Filatov, shareholder of the N-Trans Group of Companies and a student friend of Boris Gelfand. N-Trans is Russia's largest privately owned group that provides services in transportation and infrastructure, including rail freight transportation and port asset management.

Filatov has strong ties with chess: he is USSR Candidate Master of Sport in chess and in 1993, he received a sports teaching and chess coaching degree from the Academy of Physical Education and Sport of the Republic of Belarus.

He actively participates in social assistance programs and is engaged in philanthropic activities. For instance, Filatov has financed the restoration of the tombstone and monument to the legendary Russian-born chess player Alexander Alekhine in Paris. Today, in an interview Filatov revealed that sponsoring the Anand-Gelfand match won't be all; he is also intending to be involved in a French-Russian event to commemorate Alekhine. (Here's an interesting interview in English with Filatov.)

Businessman Gennadi Timoschenko as well as Novatek and the Ladoga Charity Foundation will also sponsor the match.


Last summer there were only two bids for the Anand-Gelfand match, and Filatov's Moscow bid for hosting the match defeated Chennai's bid. In the aforementioned interview, Filatov said about this:

Actually the competition could have been bigger. But due to the FIDE President playing Gaddafi before the bombing of Libya a huge number of potential competitors simply didn't bid...

Side events

Several tournaments will be held during the match in Moscow, which will bring together chess veterans including renowned grandmasters, former World and European Champions. These tournaments will be supported by the Ladoga Foundation, which made a care program for the senior generation a strategic focus of its activities.

Young chess players from all over Russia will be able to attend the match in Moscow. The Russian Chess Federation, together with the State Tretyakov Gallery, is currently working on the program for their stay in the capital, which will include not only workshops and multi-board chess games with famous grandmasters, but also guided tours of the Tretyakov Gallery and lectures on the history of art.

Live online coverage

Live online Russian- and English-language video coverage of the match will be provided on the official website. Chess fans from all over the world will be able to watch the games online, commented by leading chess experts, while the studio will host well-known grandmasters, public figures, authors and musicians. During the webcast, viewers will also have the opportunity to learn about the history and exhibitions of the State Tretyakov Gallery.

Today the list of commentators was revealed on the website of the Russian Chess Federation. The host for the Russian language commentary will be GM Ilya Smirin (Israel), and his guests will be Sergei Rublevsky, Dmitry Jakovenko, Viorel Bologan, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik. The host for the English language commentary will be editor-in-chief of New In Chess Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, and his guests will be: 

May 11-12 Nigel Short
May 14-15 Jan Timman
May 17 Joel Lautier
May 18, 23-24, 28 Peter Svidler
May 20-21 Peter Leko
May 26 Vladimir Kramnik 

(See also the schedule above).

The guests of honor will be world champions Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, long-term contender for the championship title Viktor Korchnoi, the oldest living grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, composer Vladimir Dashkevich, pianist Nikolai Lugansky and other prominent players, and cultural figures.


We'll be in Moscow during the whole match to provide on-the-spot reports, photos and videos. You won't miss a thing!


Generally the reigning champion is considered to be the favorite, but by how much? What do you think?

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Harish Srinivasan's picture

Peter Svidler for 4 days on English Commentary would be a delight.

Lee's picture

Short, Svidler and Kramnik will definitely be worth a listen.

Timman, Lautier and Leko are strong players, but I've never heard them commentate so I'm unsure if they'll be interesting or not - I hope so though.

Thomas's picture

I heard Timman (2011 in Wijk aan Zee) and he's certainly also worth a listen. Altogether, it seems unprecedented to have so many top players past and present doing live commentary for a WCh match!?

RealityCheck's picture

I'd take the private of sponsorship of A. Filatov over the commercial sponsorship of an IBM any day of the week! Andrei Filatov is serious, he means business and is good for chess.

Karpov, Kasparov, and Short take note. This is how it is done.

noyb's picture

This may well be the most boring, insignificant and irrelevant WC in history. A sign of the anacronistic machinations of FIDE that not even one of the top three players in the world is participating.

Ganesh's picture

Maybe if Anand was still ranked 3 like he was some months back, then you would have changed your complaint to - not even one of the top 2 is participating .. LOL...Anand is one of the strongest players in chess history and a deserving world champion and there are enough of real chess fans who are interested to ensure that the match is a success. You and other pathetic sourpusses can just ignore what is goin on if you feel it boring, insignificant and irrelevant. At least learn to think properly before making such idiotic comments.

Thomas's picture

Actually Anand was #2 until November 2011, and one year ago he was #1 slightly ahead of Carlsen.
What noyb wants is a "system" which guarantees at least one, preferably both of the following:
- the defending champion stays on top of the rating list
- a rating favorite wins the candidates event; hence someone like Gelfand is allowed to participate but must not win ... .
Historically this was easy to achieve when Kasparov and Karpov (and before Karpov and Korchnoi) were clearly ahead of the rest, but these times are gone and are unlikely to return.

redivivo's picture

"someone like Gelfand is allowed to participate but must not win ... Historically this was easy to achieve when Kasparov and Karpov (and before Karpov and Korchnoi) were clearly ahead of the rest"

Not with the same system that was used this time, in minimatches Kasparov may never have qualified for a title match, he was even behind after four games against the more than 30 years older Korchnoi. The reason the best players won back then was that Kirsan hadn't invented the knockout system yet.

Thomas's picture

Hmmm, that was the transition period: IMO it wouldn't have been a major upset if #2 Kasparov (2675) had lost against #3 Korchnoi (2635), also taking into account that the latter had much more match experience. If this had been a "wrong" or undesirable result, we might as well forget about playing altogether and simply nominate the rating favorite?

In the same cycle, Smyslov (world #30 at the onset) eliminated Huebner by the spin of a roulette wheel [I prefer rapid and blitz tiebreaks, not yet known back then] and then reached the final against Kasparov.

bondegnasker's picture

If Kasparov and Korchnoi had only played 4 games we wouldn't know if the result was "wrong" or undesirable, because the result of such a short match is too random to tell who was really the better player at the time.

But the fact of the matter is that they played 11 games and Kasparov won 7 to 4, so the answer to your question is that yes, a win by Korchnoi would have been a wrong and undesirable result. We know this because they played a long match. That's why long matches are better than short matches.

Thomas's picture

So the first half of their match (Kasparov equalized in game 6) was wrong, and the second half was right?
"Long matches are better than short matches". That's easy to say and I won't disagree - within certain limits: nowadays matches with more than 20 games, let alone open-ended matches (first to win six games) would be unbearable given the amount of preparation that's currently required.
But the question is: would such a series of long matches still be feasible? In 1983/84 Kasparov played three candidates matches within one year (followed by his first WCh match against Karpov). Nowadays this would mean that he could hardly play any tournaments for two years. And you have to find organizers for _all_ candidates matches, not just the ones that include fan favorites. This seems ancient history - maybe the WCh title is a bit devaluated, so be it!?

redivivo's picture

So Kasparov and Karpov weren't so far ahead of the rest that no one else could win Candidates in those days, unless a format that rewarded the strongest players was used. Fischer was 2-2 against Petrosian after four games and could have lost a rapid tiebreak. If even the player with the biggest margin ever to #2 easily could have lost in a minimatch knockout it shows that using such a format to find the challenger isn't a good idea, at least not if the World Championship is supposed to mean something.

Thomas's picture

If Fischer was far stronger than Petrosian, he would have won the rapid tiebreak!?

Any format favors the stronger player - where stronger isn't necessarily the same as higher-rated (cumulative results against many different opponents) because this is not-so-relevant in a direct confrontation. Any format allows for surprises or upsets, else there would be no point in playing.

A four-game match between Fischer and Petrosian or Kasparov and Korchnoi cannot be compared to the first four games of a longer match - both players knew beforehand which distance has to be covered. In a marathon, it doesn't matter in the end who was leading after 10, 20 or 30km. If several runners are tied 1km before the finish, a "rapid tiebreak" decides the outcome. If they are still tied with 100m left, there is a sprint or blitz tiebreak.
If the same runners compete over 10km, the loser cannot argue "I would have won if the race had been longer" ... .

Back to chess, the question might be which "format" is ideal: 10km (4 games), half-marathon (10 games) or marathon (20 games). And - referring to my previous comment - which format can be realized under current circumstances (sponsoring, scheduling and competition from other events).

redivivo's picture

"If Fischer was far stronger than Petrosian, he would have won the rapid tiebreak!? Any format favors the stronger player - where stronger isn't necessarily the same as higher-rated"

No, the minimatch format favours the weaker player since it improves his chances of winning. Khalifman, Kasimdzhanov and Gelfand didn't win because they were the strongest players and the rating list failed to show it, they won because in rapid/blitz tiebreaks the stronger player runs a much bigger risk of losing, see for example Kosteniuk's beating Anand, Aronian and Carlsen in the World Blitz Championship. In a tiebreak Petrosian could in the same way have beaten Fischer, while the latter won easily in all serious formats since he was the much better player. This is why the knockout minimatches are such a bad format.

RealityCheck's picture

Many of us including most pro's could care less about the rating game. Really we just want to see the WC Anand play! We certainly don't want another champ sittin' on his butt FIVE long years telling us how good he is or was, ducking challenges, creating problems, dividing the fraternity.
By the way, Anand could have kept his rating up artificially just like Kasparov by dropping out of the Bundesliga, by not playing until he found a suitable (one to his liking) for his next WC Match.
But, Anand is bigger than that, bigger than Fischer, Kasparov, and all the rest of them Ivan the terribles. He's proven that he's not about fk'n people over. Killing someone elses career by not playing because their Elo rating isn't high enough, because he can't make enough money from the deal, because he didn't like the format, because he thought their was a communist conspiracy being played out against him....
If this match is to be so uninteresting why did Mr. Andrei Filatov risk associating his name with the Anand--Gelfand World Championship Match? He does know something about chess afterall.

Joseph's picture

That's not true. Carlsen, Aronian, and Kramnik had a chance to play in the Candidate's Tournament. Carlsen didn't want to play; Aronian and Kramnik lost to Grischuk; while Gelfand defeated Grischuk. So please no sour-graping. If a player wants to be called a World Champion, he must beat the other candidates in organized matches, and then finally beat the reigning champion. This is the test of grit and character, not a popularity contest.

redivivo's picture

"If a player wants to be called a World Champion, he must beat the other candidates in organized matches, and then finally beat the reigning champion"

Just like Kramnik in 2000 and Anand in 2007, right? :-)

Anonymous's picture

I'm glad Mr. Filatov doesn't subscribe to your petty point of view!!

Bartleby's picture

The second match Alekhine-Bogolyubov may have been more irrelevant.

Niima's picture

Another classic comment by noyb. Keep them coming. Life would be boring without them.

mar's picture

" Actually the competition could have been bigger. But due to the FIDE President playing Gaddafi before the bombing of Libya a huge number of potential competitors simply didn't bid..."

And he just now played chess with Syria's Assad. This clown is a disgrace to chess.

Greco's picture

I dont think this is gonna be such an exciting battle. However Gelfand has earned his title shot competing with some of the strongest players in the world for the WC challenger spot.

nickeur's picture

It's very nice to see two young men for the battle of the reigning world chess.
When some live a whole century they are still very young.
i m glad.

Joe Fiasco's picture

Good luck for both of them, though I am supporting Boris. He has certainly deserved the title after such a long and fruitful career!
For anyone still underestimating Gelfand, read here what Anand's second has to say about him. At least Anand's surrounding isn't as naive and condescending as apparently many of his supporters are...

It seems the higher the rating, the more favourable outcome for Boris is projected.

redivivo's picture

"Gelfand has won numerous tournaments in his career, including Wijk aan Zee (1992 and 1994), Biel (1993), Dos Hermanas (1994), Belgrade (1995), Tilburg (1996), Malmö (1999), and Pamplona (2004)"

Some strong results in the first half of the 1990s, even if he didn't win Wijk in 1994. The two mentioned wins from the last 15 years are less impressive. Malmö 1999 was no top event (Gelfand didn't have any opponents in the top 25) and also in Pamplona 2004 all participants were below 2700 (14-year-old Karjakin in second place was 2576).

cmling's picture

Vienna 1996 is worth mentioning. Tied for 1st with Topalov and Karpov, had best tie-break. Category 18, which was a big deal in those days.

steve's picture

#4 vs #20 for the world championship. someone's math is off.

Aditya's picture

#4 and #20. World champion and surprising challenger. 'An' obvious 'gelf' between the 'and's :)

Rudi Matai's picture

It reads: "Between 2000 and 200 Anand held.." I guess the year "200" is incorrect. Please rectify.

Peter Doggers's picture

Corrected to: 2002.

Ians's picture

Well , i think we should respect Gelfand and the merit he had to earn legitimately his place for the WC

On the other hand , i understand that some people find bizarre that the 2 highest rated and most succesful tournament players of the last 2-3 years are not competing in the WC match , it's nothing disrespectful to observe this

So i think a solution would be to either make longer candidate matches , so that the probability of a higher rated player to win is increased , and then make sure everyone plays everyone

This would avoid the scenarios where player A beats player B , player B beats player C most of the time , but this time player C beats player A in the last draw , so he's qualified without having proved to be better than player B .

So basically getting rid of knock out system and have more thorough candidate selection .

Another solution which i don't like is to make a seeding system (like in football champion's league , where basically big clubs are highly favoured by the draws and rules because they bring the most money to sponsors and TVs ) , but ok this seems inappropriate for an individual game like chess

Lee's picture

Definitely, the candidates process needs to be more robust.

However, lets just recognise that Gelfand did what needed to be done to get to the World Championship match and just deal with it.

When it's over, we can all get back to being anonymous internet jerks, but maybe for just this next short period, we can just support chess and enjoy this event.

Abhi's picture

I hope that Anand has already reached the venue, he certainly doesn't want to repeat what happened last time :)

Bob's picture

I agree that it seems strange to have a match between Anand and Gelfand, yet Gelfand qualified fairly by the means that was there - beating the players in his way - and gained the opportunity to challenge. If he wins he will be "WC". Don't like it? Blame the format of the candidates?

The answer: abandon the outdated concept of an absolute champion. It's not relevant any more.

Bob's picture

Having said that I am looking forward to this match very much and rooting for Boris. :-)

Bronkenstein's picture

Go Gelfy!

Stephen's picture

2012 is the year of the Boris. Boris Johnson has just been re-elected mayor in London. A good omen for his namesake against Vishy ?

Would it be better for chess in terms of publicity and interest if Boris, as the outsider managed to pull off the win ? Or would it be better for Vishy with his 100s of millions of supporters in India ?

If Boris did pull it off, does Vishy get a return match ? Or would he have to go through the Candidates cycle like everyone else ?

nickeur's picture

If Boris did pull it off, does Vishy get a return match ? Or would he have to go through the Candidates cycle like everyone else ?
-Like everyone else

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