Reports | October 29, 2008 19:01

Viswanathan Anand retains world title

Anand Wins World ChampionshipUpdate: video added.
Viswanathan Anand has retained his world title by drawing Vladimir Kramnik in the 11th game of the World Championship match in Bonn, Germany. The final match score is 6?Ǭ?-4?Ǭ? for Anand.

It was a task he had never managed to do before: beating Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces. And after his opponent switched to his long-life weapon 1.e4, Vladimir Kramnik couldn't do it today either. At the press conference the Russian said it was a "difficult day" for him: "It was not easy to prepare for e4 and d4, trying to find forced wins for Black against all these moves."

He was reasonably satisfied with reaching the Najdorf, because "at least we had a game - it was not easy to just get a game". But he managed, although then Kramnik soon had to work on his own, because a few moves after Anand's 6.Bg5 he was out of theory - he actually found 9...Qc5 behind the board.

Black's seemingly anti-positional 12...exf5 was his only chance, Kramnik said, because "otherwise White simply gets very easy play"; he mentioned the standard moves Kb1 and g3 + Bh3, pressing on e6. "So I decided to mess things up." However, Anand reacted very well, calculated very well, and forced a liquidation to an ending that White simply cannot lose. "Miracles happen, but very rare, unfortunately," Kramnik finished his statement about the game.

After the game Anand said he was "happy, but at this point probably more relieved than happy. Obviously it's really nice to just have the title. Vlady was really pushing me in the last few games. With White I was really hoping to have the world championship title in the evening but I wasn't sure, you never know."

With this official and undisputed World Championship, Anand has won every big event that has been organized during his career. In fact, he's the first player to have won a world championship in three different formats. In the year 2000 Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship which was a knockout event, in 2007 he won the World Chess Championship which was a tournament of six players, and now he has won a World Championship match. If he didn't yet belong to the list of great names starting with Steinitz, Lasker and Capablanca, he now sure does - nobody can deny it anymore. After all, today Anand has beaten the man who beat Kasparov.

Thanks to his 11 games in Bonn, Anand is also the new world's number one on the live rating list (for the top ten see the column on the far right) - he shares a virtual rating of 2791 with Topalov but tops the list because of actually having played games in this period.


Today Anand, who will turn 39 on December 11, won the most important prize of his career. It all started in 1983 when he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship with a score of 9/9. He subsequently became the youngest Indian to win the IM title at the age of fifteen, in 1984. One year later he became champion of India and in 1987 he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, at the age of eighteen, he became India's first Grandmaster.

Ever since he won the super tournament of Reggio Emilia in 1991, ahead of Kasparov and Karpov, Anand has been among the world's elite. Among his colleagues he became known as the fastest player in the circuit and this was confirmed by him winning the unofficial world championship of rapid chess many times.

In the year 2000 Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship in Tehran after defeating Alexei Shirov in the final. In the same year Garry Kasparov lost his world title to Vladimir Kramnik in London.


In 2002 Ruslan Ponomariov took over the title of FIDE World Champion and in 1995 Anand finished shared second with Peter Svidler at the San Luis World Championship tournament, behind Veselin Topalov. One year later Topalov lost his title against Kramnik, in a match that decided the first undisputed World Championship since 1993.

In September 2007 Anand became World Champion again by winning the FIDE World Championship Tournament held in Mexico City. He finished on 9 / 14 which was a full point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. Kramnik had agreed to participate in this tournament after FIDE had given him the right, if he wouldn't finish first, to automatically challenge the new World Champion.

This eventually resulted in the Anand-Kramnik match held in Bonn 14-29 October, that was dominated by the Indian from the start. After two reasonably quiet games he won twice with Black in games 3 and 5, and then scored another full point in game 6. In the final phase of the match Anand lost his concentration in a few games and even lost game 10, but by easily drawing the 11th game, he reached the unbeatable 6.5 points.


It was Anand's strategy with the Black pieces that decided the match. It's possible that the Indian didn't expect to achieve too much with the White pieces against one of the most solid players in the circuit, and therefore decided to focus the attention on Black. His choice of the sharp Meran positions was a brilliant one and with it he delivered the first major blow in game three. Again under pressure, Kramnik blundered in game 5 and this second blow led to the Russian playing his weakest game, number six, where he lost an ending that he would have drawn in most other situations.

Being 3 points down in a 12-game match is another way of saying: it's just hopeless. But it can only be admired how Kramnik managed to fight back in subsequent games - he finally started to feel confident, finally started to come up with theoretical novelties and simply... finally started to play on his normal level. But it was too late - Anand's narrow escape in game 9 earned him a valuable half point and then for Kramnik it was clearly a mission impossible to score 3 out of 3 against this kind of player.

Anand's victory was based on a combination of excellent preparation and playing almost flawlessly. A deserved champion who has deservedly entered the famous list of World Championship match winners.

Here's the 11th and final game of the match, in which I included some notes by co-editor IM Merijn van Delft as well:

Match score:

Name Nat. Rtg
Anand IND 2783
Kramnik RUS 2772

Here's our playlist of videos. If the game 11 video is not appearing, please remove your "temporary internet files" and / or press (Ctrl-)F5.


(Note that the comments below this article started during our live coverage of the game)

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


SamtheCat's picture

Every match in world championship history has had the same winner after 16 games as after 24 games, so 16 is quite enough.

Theo's picture

Good idea Mark!

Congrats Anand!!

val's picture

I share your enthusiasm. All the same,my guess is that the best thing wuould be for them to play 14 to 16 games rather than 12, let alone even less than that.

Manu's picture

There is no need to be rude.
You don't have to agree with me, everyone has an opinion .Lets keep this sofisticated... dont u think?

Paul's picture

The Evonik girls in the back (but very present) seem to be a bit outplaced in a worldchampionshipmatch. Why is this..i would just die standing there ...seems humilating. (This contribution was made by my girlfriend.. not me) but even i get her point! Were where the Chippendales when Alexandra got her title?

Kranik's picture

Semipatz, I like your idea of 10 + 10.

I have to say that this was a great match. Both players displayed quality chess despite the errors/blunders (which are bound to happen). Also, both players showed good professionalism and did not find any lame excuses for their (game) defeats. All in all, a very enjoyable experience (especially when compared to Topalov-Kramnik match).

dirtboy's picture

Congrats to Anand! To beat Kramnik three times in a match of only 12 games is amazing!

Congrats to Kramnik for a sublime win in game 10 and for being such a good sportsman and gracious in defeat!

Future WCC matches should be match-play only and I support them being over 16 games.


biglay's picture

But I agree with Andreas that the Fischer random chess and chess clock should be tried and made more popuplar before coming to any conclusions about it.

biglay's picture

congratulations to both the winner and the runner up.

Good fighting games. Glad to see Anand not backing down on the challenge of sharp lines and going for it even in game 11.

Well deserved win for Kramnik in game 10.

Wells done sponsors and thank you for bringing us great match.

Evonik & Gazprom thank you. amd Bonn too..

biglay's picture

Oh Shut Up Andreas ,

You seem to act like the Fox channel in the USA, if not worse. You make a hypothesis with ifs and buts, and then go on to unethically smear dirt on one party.

Ask the same questions to both the parties.

otherwise classy match. How do you not know that kramink is not assisted unethically or illeaglly either by computers or the Russian chess mafia?

How dot you know that he did not have several more computers than Anand?

Let us not be stupid and idiotic in our comments, which will reflect poorly on us, because they are false alelgations just to smear some one.

Do not lose your credibility.

T.SrinivasaRaghavan's picture

congrats Anand for retaining the world chess crown and achieving a unique feat of becoming world champion on 3 occasions under three different formats i.e 2ooo-Teheran/New Delhi-knockout,2007-Mexico-tournament,now 2008-Germany-match format with Kramnik. Also congrats for making INDIA feel proud. I feel he will have even a greater reception than on the previous occasions on coming back to INDIA.

noyb's picture

I fully support the Evonik-Gasprom girls. Anyone who feels otherwise can go jump in a lake.

Jagdish Dube.'s picture

I strongly feel & forecast that Vi
shy Anand will get the Chess Oscar for the year 2008.

Place 4930 colarado springs (USA)

semipatz's picture

Wow...this is a really good day if you live in India, or Philadelphia.

ChessMind's picture

"Yeah, and if that match had been scheduled for 10 games, it would have been all draws until the last two. Is that the way a world championship should be decided?"

Well, the fact is there were so many draws in Anand-Kasparov in the first half mainly because they were preserving their stamina and not taking too many risks.
All 16 games can be draws in a 16 games match - then what? 10 or 12 games are a lot and should be enough to decide a championship - be realistic.. You don't have other sports where the final is 10 or more games. Also, by your logic, why stop at 16 or 24 and not go on for ever so that each one of them gets enough chance to get back? We need to be realistic in terms of organization too.

semipatz's picture

"Well, the fact is there were so many draws in Anand-Kasparov in the first half mainly because they were preserving their stamina and not taking too many risks."

How do you know? If there are draws in the first half, people say that. If there are draws in the second half, people say they were too tired to take risks. In the end, those things may be factors, but it mainly comes down to the chess. The logic of positions sometimes drives games to draws. Sometimes there is lots of fighting chess but mostly draws (e.g., Lasker-Schlechter).

"You don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t have other sports where the final is 10 or more games."

Fine, but it's not how many games, it's how many DECISIVE games. Many sports require 4 wins to win the least, in the U.S. this is common. Well, I don't have a problem with a chess championship format if there's enough time for the winner to win at least 4 (5 or 6 would be nice).

Here's a statistic for you. In all the World Championship Matches between World War II and Kramnik, 1951 to 1995, the winner won from 4 to 7 games, except one...the 1961 Tal-Botvinnik match, a slugfest where Botvinnik won 10-5 with only 6 draws. The four classical championships involving Kramnik have been 2-0, 2-2, 3-2 (not counting forfeit and tiebreaks), and now 3-1.

Draws may sometimes be great chess, but one thing they never do is sort out who's the better player. Only wins can do that. Judged by number of wins, the last four WC matches -- scheduled for 16, 14, 12, and 12 games, respectively -- have produced a grand total of 15 decisive games, 10 for the winners, 5 for the losers. That's enough for two matches...very flimsy for four. How do we know the best players really won, in ANY of them? There's too much random variation in such a small number of games.

Besides, what could be better than a long, satisfying match between two titans? It take many years of tournament encounters to produce so many games between any two players as a 20-24 game match. Having the highest possible stakes only makes it more delicious.

Amos Sky's picture

Peter- Great coverage of this championship. As usual nothing but the best from you. This site is truly something special. I love it but my chess days are winding down. Besides being a lackluster player it takes up too much of my time but thanks for this site. It is magnificent. Keep up the great work!!

pwells's picture

Related to semipatz's statement:

There's no perfect formula for a world championship match. The reason FIDE went to a limited number of games match (instead of having to win a certain number of games) was because of the first Karpov-Kasparov match. A player had to win 6 games to win, and the match went on and on, and lasted over 40 games and was abruptly stopped (obviously with controversy) with no winner decided. The format was then changed to a 24 game match.

Personally, I think 16 games would be sufficient.

ChessMind's picture


We cannot say that the best player won in any WC matches so far. One thing is certain - the player who was in the best form and displayed the best chess for that duration (of games) - won. It would be absurd to say that luck can be a factor in ten or twelve games. Anand was in the best form for this duration of 12 (or 11 rather) games and Kramnik was not. As simple as that. Same logic can be applied for Anand-Kasparov and other WC matches. As long as both players know in advance how many games are going to be played, it is fair. I can argue that 24 games is not fair in a case (for example) when A wins 5 games in the first 11 and B wins only 4 in the next 11 games. I can then argue that 30 games should be played and so on. There is no limit to this argument. Where do you draw the line? Your other suggestion that n wins is needed for WC has a possibility that the match goes on for ever (as was witnessed in Karpov-Kasparov). Also, a long match can pose many challenges (in terms of organization, sustaining interest in the match, etc.) which can hurt (rather than help) chess in the long run.

Christian's picture

"Anand is also the new world?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s number one on the live rating list, he shares a virtual rating of 2791 with Topalov but tops the list because of actually having played games in this period."

I don't agree. Anand is second in the live rating list. You can't round up the number as FIDE does, i.e. you can't use FIDE rules in Mr. Runde's list calculations. The latter has its own rules. Take it or leave it.

ChessMind's picture


We all know that WC is not just the moves that we see - it is much beyond that. Both players know in advance how many games are going to be played. Knowing that, they both come up with a strategy (together with their seconds). In this case Kramnik's strategy did not work but when he played Kasparov, it worked wonders (with his famous Berlin defence). In that light, Anand is a worthy champion in this WC and Kramnik was a worthy champion in 2000.

There is never going to be a perfect scenario. Given that, it is just amazing that Anand as won three different formats.

Manu's picture

The future is bright at this point , the next matches are going to be really exciting .
We now have a champion who is not afraid of any person or format, Anand wont hide behind his crown like Kramnik did.
I hope he gets the chess oscar this year.

sreeram_srinivas's picture

The World Cup format needs to be changed

Step One = Start - League format , the top say 12 are decided
Step Two = Tournament round amongst the 12 players
Step Three = The top 4 are decided
Step Four = 3- Round tournament amongst the Top 4
Step Five = 10 match amongst the top 2
Step Six = Declare the winner

Then we should also have some other prizes / Titles - Creative / Dynamic / Safe ...etc. Players

Surely such a format would drag the event, well Chess has limited sponsorship unlike Tennis, or the event can be spread into 2 or 3 sub-events....

jussu's picture

Congratulations to Anand, congratulations to India! Anand was better in this match (said by one who actually watched the last game with with black pieces on the bottom).

Can we please drop this silly "undisputed" and simply talk about World Champion? It feels like referring to a delicious meal as "unrotten food".

peter's picture

Well, jussu, it's admirable that one day after the match you don't want to see "undisputed" anymore, but I guess we have to keep on using it until everybody else also realizes that there really is no other champion!?


Zenman's picture

Congratulations to Anand YES YES! (;))!

TC's picture

Kramnik and Anand are both great sportsman. We are lucky to focus on the games themselves and nothing off the board!!!

andrej's picture

your idea is too complicated
let's use fide elo to get the 8 or 10 players who will determine the next challenger
Let those 10 play a round robin tournament.18 games in a month is acceptable

Sergio's picture

I am very happy Anand is worldchampion.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

I agree with dirtboy, pwells, and semipatz that there can be no perfect formula for finding the "most deserving" winner. If I have one week to finish a hard project, I will toil hard every day of the week. But if I have six months to do the same project, I will most certainly not have the same level of intensity, but basically much of my energies would be expended towards the last couple of weeks. This is esential human nature. Chess players are no different. In a longer match, they will use the first several games to "feel each other" out. This tends to encourage a lot more draws than a shorter match. My basic point is that a champion is one who can win no matter what the conditions are, because he has better chess playing abilities. In that regard, Anand has demonstrated this more than anyother world champion before him, since he has one blitz championships, rapid championships, knock-out WC, and now, a classical format WC. One can' ask for a more deserving champio. So, let us all give it up and hail the king!

Guillaume's picture

Kasparov: "This result ends the illusion that Kramnik is a great match player. London was a unique occurrence and I still stand with Leonid Yudasin as the only players Kramnik has ever beaten in a match!"

I'm very disappointed by Kasparov's comments. I don't quite understand why Kasparov keeps insisting on being remembered in history as the only World Champion to be defeated by a nobody.

I was rooting for Kasparov in 2000. I want to remember him as the greatest of all champions, who only lost his title in a match against the great Kramnik!

I don't think it would be fair either to remember Anand as the only World Champion who got his title by beating a nobody. Anand should be remembered as the worthy champion that took his title from the great Kramnik. He should be very proud of this achievement. I'm sure he is.

I thought Kramnik was teaching Topalov a sportsmanship lesson by being so gracious and humble in defeat. Now I wish Kasparov could learn from that lesson too.

srini's picture

Congrats Anand and Vladimir for great matches.

Vladimir wish to see you in many more world championship matches.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

I just looked at the final press conference. I can't describe in words how impressed I was with Kramnik's response. Eventhough I am a die-hard Anand fan, I have developed immense respect for Kramnik. I wish him a wonderful post-match career. What humility in saying that Anand taught him a great lesson and that he would go on to improve his chess based on this experience. I would really like to see a more agressive Kramnik, playing for wins and creating wonderfully creative chess like Kasaparov used to do.

pwells's picture

I must also say that I'm impressed with Kramnik's sportsmanship. I have known Anand to be a gentleman for a long time, but didn't know how Kramnik would react.

In the Kasparov-Kramnik match, I was rooting for Kramnik as I wanted change. I still believe Kasparov to be the best player in the world, combining Kramnik's solidity with Topalov's aggressiveness, but I was rooting for the underdog. So I was happy to see Kramnik win that match. But ever since then, it did appear he was dodging Kasparov consistently, and so while I think Kramnik is a great player, I lost some respect for him.

I hope now that the chess world is considered fully unified, and congratulations to world champion Anand and to Kramnik for a great match!

semipatz's picture

"Your other suggestion that n wins is needed for WC has a possibility that the match goes on for ever (as was witnessed in Karpov-Kasparov). Also, a long match can pose many challenges (in terms of organization, sustaining interest in the match, etc.) which can hurt (rather than help) chess in the long run."

I'm not suggesting a match where you are actually required to win a certain number of games and draws don't count, merely one where the number of games played (say, 20) is enough that it is LIKELY that the winner wins a reasonable number of games. Even ultra-drawish Petrosian won 5 and 4 games respectively in the two WC matches he won, because they were out of 24.

Of course the proper length has something arbitrary about it...that's true of anything. Naturally we could argue over the right number, but by your reasoning, why not shorten the match to 6 games or less? Just because something is arbitrary doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t mean you can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t arrive at a reasonable compromise. Mine is similar to what prevailed in chess for decades. Prior to 1995, almost all of the WC matches had been out of 24 or 30 games, or they required 6, 8, or even (in the early days) 10 wins (Lasker-Schlechter was an exception, but only because part of the match fell through).

I doubt many people in North America would be happy if the World Series were best of 3 or best of 5. It's okay if it ends in 5 (as it just did), but you still have to win four to prove you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re the champs. It's a question of taking a championship seriously enough to demand a steep climb to the top.

In terms of sustaining interest, I don't recall this as having been a problem in the days of the long WC matches...quite the contrary. The hard thing is getting enough interest in candidate's matches or tournaments. Once you actually have a head-to-head, king of the hill championship match, it's very easy to keep people riveted.

semipatz's picture

"sreeram_srinivas on 30 October 2008 7:51 AM

The World Cup format needs to be changed
Step Four = 3- Round tournament amongst the Top 4"

If you mean a triple round robin, that would be a 9-game tournament, with some players getting White more than others...rather strange.

How about this instead: have two 13-player, 12-round Candidates Qualifier round robins, with the top two from each advancing to a Candidates Tournament, which would be a 12-round quadruple round robin. The winner of this gets to challenge the World Champion for the title. The only role of the World Cup is that the top 8 (all the quarterfinalists) get seeded into the Candidates Qualifiers, along with the strongest under-18 player, the strongest woman, and the 16 highest rated players (other than the World Champion and the ones who qualify another way).

The nice thing about this is you get four of the best players in the world in the Candidates Tournament playing four games against each opponent...usually you have to wait a long time to see just one or two such "heavy matchups" that everyone eagerly anticipates.

ChessMind's picture

"Just because something is arbitrary doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t mean you can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t arrive at a reasonable compromise. Mine is similar to what prevailed in chess for decades. Prior to 1995, almost all of the WC matches had been out of 24 or 30 games, or they required 6, 8, or even (in the early days) 10 wins (Lasker-Schlechter was an exception, but only because part of the match fell through)."

Just because longer matches were played in the older WC matches does not mean that those lengths are/were right. We need to think what looks practical and interesting. Kramnik and Anand mentioned in the press conference after the final game that 14 and 12 games (repectively) are good for WC. That looks like a reasonable compromise (on the length) to me. I know it will not look good for you and this debate will go on :-)

semipatz's picture

Well, personally, I suspect Kramnik mostly wants the matches to be shortly because of his arthritis condition. It's hard for him to sit for long periods, game after game. Anand has said in the past he actually prefers a tournament to decide the WC. I hope there aren't too many takers on that.

semipatz's picture

oops, "short," not "shortly"

Manu's picture

A humble person is always humble.
Kramnik was very arrogant when winning , so i find it hard to believe this new super humble act.

pwells's picture

I was thinking 16 games sounded like a nice, (binary) round, number. But if they think 12 or 14 games is sufficient, that's fine, too. Maybe FIDE should survey the top ten players for input on this, since they are the ones who may become involved.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

Kramnik's "you can only control the quality of your preparation, but not the results" sounds very "Gita-ish". I believe that such a philosophical, yet pragmatic, outlook has been the main reason for Anand's even-keeled personality and for his remarkably consistent success for nearly two decades. Although, given the debacle, I am not sure about the quality of Kramnik's preparation.

val's picture

On one or two occasions I saw Kramnik playing blitz and I heard people saying K was a natural tactician who was forcing himself into positional manner of playing after the example of Dr Euwe.

sreeram_srinivas's picture

I trust Kramnik's humblest statement post Championship that he has to concentrate more on his skills is his own statement....... I had been critical of his earlier "lent Anand the Championship_2007", the current makes Kramnik a much more mellowed and matured person. My respect grows for him !!

On Semipatz - WC tournament format....agree .....good to have few young and old faces and top four competing against each other... gives even chances to all players..... hope one day this wisdom dawns on FIDE...... Tongue in cheek...We will not claim any "copyright" on our original WC format ideas !!??!!

Manu's picture

Anand is not current number one in the virtual rating list .The first position in both rankings (official & virtual) goes again for Topalov.

Lionaile's picture

With the rule of FIDE, Anand is Number One

Lionaile's picture

I mean:
if we publish the results of the virtual rating list right now, Anand is Number One with the FIDE rule (number of games played)

Mark's picture


I don't know any player who starts his career as a strategical genius. Fortunately Kramnik specialized in this kind of skill, otherwise how could he have dethroned Kasparov and how many brilliant & instructive games would we have missed ? (By the way, Kasparov also had to improve strategically before he could dethrone Karpov.)

When Kramnik said at the final press conference that his playing style might change in a notable way after the lessons he has learned in this match, this doesn't necessarily mean that he will become a tactician again. I suppose part of the change could consist in taking a bit more risks in the opening in order to improve his winning percentage. Already before the match he hinted at this when being asked about his opening strategy of playing for equality as Black. At that time he said that since 2000 he had been playing a series of matches, where it isn't necessary to try and win as Black. However, Anand has now shown him that even in a match it is very risky to put all of your hopes in the white pieces.

Manu's picture

That would be in case Anand and Topalov shared the same virtual ELO , which is not the case.
Topalov is number one in the FIDE ratings and in the live ratings.

Manu's picture

I must remind you also that FIDE rules dont apply on live ratings .
You are reading the live rating as if you were FIDE , which i asume you are not.
I wonder why is so hard to accept that Topalov is the number one rated player.


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