Reports | March 15, 2012 17:22

Preparations for Anand-Gelfand under way

Preparations for Anand-Gelfand under way

In exactly eight weeks from today, the official opening of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match between World Champion Viswanathan Anand (India) and Challenger Boris Gelfand (Israel) will take place in Moscow – on 10 May 2012, to be precise. This week Mark Gluhovsky, editor-in-chief of chess magazine "64" and press chief for the Russian Chess Federation, informed chess media about the ongoing preparations.

Anand and Gelfand drew their last direct encounter, at the Tal Memorial in November 2011.

Gluhovsky started by noting that the preparations for this most important chess event, which has a prize fund of US $2,550,000, have entered "the concluding stage".

The experience of the Russian Chess Federation, one of the organisers of the tournament, enables me to express my confidence that the match will take place at a high level of quality and will be one of the best sports events of the year.

As we've reported before, the chess crown will be contested in one of the biggest national museums in Russia – the State Tretyakov Gallery. The idea of staging the tournament in the museum came from the sponsor of the match, the Russian entrepreneur Andrey Filatov, who believes that chess is not only a sport but also a part of world culture. In Filatov’s opinion, the synergy between chess and fine art is set to become an additional tool for popularising chess.

The Tretyakov State Gallery | Photo Andrey / Wikipedia

The State Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most unusual museums in the world, says Gluhosky. In the middle of the nineteenth century it began as the private domestic collection of the merchant Pavel Tretyakov, and in 1892 the collector made a gift of the collection of pictures, which by now had grown significantly, to the city of Moscow. Today the State Tretyakov Gallery’s collection numbers more than 1,700 masterpieces and is one of the biggest collections of Russian art. It includes masterpieces of ancient Russian icon-painting, Russian realism, Impressionism, Avant-Garde, Socialist Realism and other schools of Russian art.

According to Gluhovsky, the contenders in the match were enthusiastic about this idea. Viswanathan Anand said he was 

very glad to have the opportunity to play in Moscow: there is always a special chess atmosphere here. Boris Gelfand and I have visited the tournament venue, the Tretyakov Gallery, and once again we were convinced that it’s a very beautiful place. I have a very strong opponent and I’m expecting the match to prove interesting.

Boris Gelfand in turn noted:

It’s a great honour for me to play in Moscow. We played our first game against each other in 1989. Twenty-three years later, we’ll be meeting again in May 2012.

In the opinion of the challenger, chess is not simply a sport, it is an art. Perhaps being close to the pictures will enable them to play games that go down in chess history.

Mark Gluhovsky emphasized that the combination of chess and painting will promote the use of new tools to popularise chess and to attract the attention of a new audience. During the traditional video relay on the Internet, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of viewers every day, the commentators and guests of the match will discuss not only the positions on the board but also the history of Russian culture. The in-house video relay, which has been improved over several years by the Russian Chess Federation at the Mikhail Tal Memorial, will move to a new level: for the first time it will be done in two languages – Russian and English – so that chess fans all over the world will be able to fully appreciate the level of the match and feel that they’re at the centre of chess events.


At the 2011 Tal Memorial there was live commentary by GM Emil Sutovsky (Russian only), who had different non-chess guests each day. For round 1 this was the famous author and satirist Victor Shenderovich. Photo © Macauley Peterson

Gluhovsky also made special mention of the guests at the match. Those who have already agreed to be guests of honour of the tournament include the brilliant Russian musicians Nikolai Lugansky, Vadim Repin and Alexander Knyazev and other prominent cultural figures, writers, scholars and art critics. This way the Moscow match in 2012 will be a hymn to culture and to chess as an important part of world culture, and the attention of the public and the media will be focused on it.

Besides, the best young chess players will come to the match from all over Russia, and they will be able not only to watch the play of today’s outstanding chess players but also to become acquainted with Russia’s cultural heritage. The Russian Chess Federation is organising for these children not only a chess programme but also a cultural and educational programme. It is also planned to include an extensive programme of educational events within the tournament.

The match sponsor, the Russian businessman Andrey Filatov, sees cooperation with museums as a way of developing chess. An extremely experienced and successful entrepreneur, he is looking for the economic logic that can take chess to a new level. Filatov’s view is that at the beginning of the twentieth century chess developed thanks to resorts: the majority of competitions took place in small towns that became known throughout the world thanks to chess tournaments. Filatov feels that in the new conditions that pertain today, it is necessary to seek new economic tools which will give chess the opportunity to develop. The classic methods of sports marketing in chess are struggling, and chess players are not succeeding in attracting corporate sponsors on a large scale.

Mr Filatov believes that cooperation with world museums could open a new page in the history of chess. Museums are not only repositories of the masterpieces of human thought, but also complex economic institutions. Staging the world championship match in a museum is a great way to advertise the museum on a world scale. The match in one of Russia’s biggest national museums will enable other museums and chess organisers to evaluate the advantages of such cooperation. If the first experience proves successful, it will give a new boost to the development of chess.

Irina Lebedeva, Director of the Tretyakov Gallery, noted during the press conference on the signing of the agreement to stage the match that the proposal by the Russian Chess Federation and the match sponsor Andrey Filatov is in line with the trend of development among modern museums. The modern museum is a meeting place for people with the most diverse interests. Mrs Lebedeva expressed the hope that the world championship chess match would generate additional interest among the public, including admirers of this most intellectual type of sport, in the State Tretyakov Gallery and Russian museum traditions.

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.


noyb's picture

Bring it! It'll be good to get the weakest championship in history out of the way. Hopefully we can get Carlsen or Aronian in the mix for the next several championships!

Anonymous's picture

Good comment....but didn't you forget Alekhine-Bogulbujov?

noyb's picture


redivivo's picture

People always say that Bogo was the weakest challenger and stuff like that, but in that respect I think he is underestimated. Chessmetrics have him as #5 at the time of the second title match in 1934, but he was much stronger just a few years earlier, top five at least 1925-1935 and constant top ten for a much longer period. He won Moscow 1925 far ahead of players like Capa and Lasker, and won also Bad Kissingen 1928 with a clear margin ahead of Capa in a field with 8 of the 10 strongest players in the world. He wasn't Alekhine's level of course, but not such a weak challenger as he sometimes is seen as.

Billy Hunt's picture

Maybe we should defer judgment until we see the quality of the gsmes themselves. The way Gelfand played in the Candidates, he'd more than give Isidor Gunsberg a run for his money, for one.

Bruce Foxton's picture
Billy Hunt's picture

Ah yes, my theme song.

Xeno's picture

Gunsberg's results were good enough for him to be ranked number 1 in the world at Chessmetrics before the match, Gelfand isn't exactly that level, neither in knockouts against Kamsky et al or against the top players in events like Tal Memorial and Wijk

Billy Hunt's picture

If you look at those 1-year+ peak lists at Chessmetrics, Gelfand is well above Gunsberg (and e.g. Euwe, Schlechter) on all of them. And come on, "in knockouts against Kamsky et al"--the "et al" were Mamedyarov and Grischuk, both of whom he beat in extremely impressive games that anyone would have been proud of. Was there someone you think played better at the candidates?

redivivo's picture

If Aronian or Carlsen won an event without playing one single opponent in the top ten of today no one would be particularly impressed, even less so if it was an event largely decided by blitz. No one played better than Kasim in the World Championship 2004 but it was the same knockout format then and said little about actual playing strength. Topalov was a much stronger player than Kasim in 2004 but Kasim did better thanks to the format.

Gunsberg was #1 in 1889, Gelfand isn't top 20 now, so the difference is quite big even though Gelfand had a couple of very good years 20-22 years ago. That is of no relevance to his level today, and Chessmetrics hasn't been updated for seven years. So making Gelfand 2012 relatively stronger than Gunsberg 1890 is difficult. Korchnoi would obviosuly rank far ahead of both Gunsberg and Gelfand if you look at his best years, but that doesn't make the 2012 version of Korchnoi relatively stronger than the Gs.

Gunsberg played a long match against Chigorin the same year as the title match, and drew 11.5-11.5, when Chigorin was ranked #2 by Chessmetrics. To me Gelfand ranks as the weakest challenger ever together with Janowski, but that of course doesn't make them bad chess players. Just far from World Champion material.

Thomas's picture

"If Aronian or Carlsen won an event without playing one single opponent in the top ten of today no one would be particularly impressed, even less so if it was an event largely decided by blitz."
Last year Carlsen won Biel which didn't have another 'current' top10 player (Morozevich re-entered the top10 only later). Then he won Bilbao which was ultimately decided by blitz. In both cases, at least some people were quite impressed.

Funny also that you write "top10 of today": In Kazan Gelfand faced Mamedyarov (top10 before the event) and Grischuk (top10 just a few months before, until he had a terrible Wijk aan Zee). It seems that you ignore or minimize Gelfand's achievements, notably also his shared second place at the Mexico WCh, maybe discounting them as accidents. To me such results suggest that he is a very strong player (World Champion material or at least close) whenever he plays at his upper limit. Another story is that he isn't as consistent as some other players - but for example Ivanchuk is VERY inconsistent, still many would consider him World Champion material.

redivivo's picture

"Last year Carlsen won Biel which didn't have another 'current' top10 player (Morozevich re-entered the top10 only later). Then he won Bilbao which was ultimately decided by blitz. In both cases, at least some people were quite impressed."

No one says that Biel was more impressive than the Candidates or that "people are forgetting what kind of opponents Carlsen won against in Biel" just like the same thing is being said in this thread about Gelfand and his opponents in Kazan. Bilbao had three 2800+ players and Carlsen alone scored +3 and won, the blitz tiebreak matters less than the opposition and performance. If he only had won Biel and had Gelfand's results against the much stronger players in Tal Memorial and Wijk I bet few would talk about how strong opponents Carlsen had faced in Biel.

"In Kazan Gelfand faced Mamedyarov (top10 before the event)"

Yes, he was 9th on the rating list but I wonder how many that would count him as a top ten player just because he picked up lots of points on fourth board in team events, and the main thing isn't if someone was 9th or 11th this or that month, just that Gelfand didn't face any of the strongest players, so I think the statements about people having forgot how strong opponents Gelfand won against in Kazan are a bit over the top.

"It seems that you ignore or minimize Gelfand's achievements"

I think others exaggerate them and that his rating speaks the truth about his playing level, maybe it is a bit less flattering than the truth at the moment, I'd say he is stronger than a couple of the players currently rated above him and maybe around the 20th strongest player in the world.

Billy Hunt's picture

I'm with Thomas, of course, and think that Gelfand is far better than that (20th) on the big occasions (World Championships--clearly not so much the Tal Memorial). My admiration for Gelfand's performance at the candidates was more to do with the style in which he won classical games than with the ranking of his opponents. I can see you have a reasonable case to argue the other way. But my original point was that we should wait to see the actual quality of the games in this match before we pass final judgment on Gelfand's strength or weakness as a challenger.

Thomas's picture

Mamedyarov didn't just beat (relatively) weak players in team events, he then also defended his high rating for a while (notably shared first in Tal Memorial 2010) - so, form permitting, I do count him as a top10 player. Grischuk also did pretty well in Linares 2009 (shared first with Ivanchuk, ahead of Carlsen, Anand and Aronian) and 2010 (behind Topalov but ahead of Aronian). Maybe Gelfand's win in Kazan would have been more 'convincing' if he had to play Aronian, Kramnik and/or Carlsen - not his fault that Aronian and Kramnik were eliminated, and Carlsen eliminated himself! And you wrote "top10" rather than "top5".

"his [Gelfand's] rating speaks the truth about his playing level"
It reflects his average playing level, what matters in any given event is his potential maximum level. With his form from Tal Memorial and Tata Steel he wouldn't have won in Kazan, also not against these opponents. With his form from Kazan, Anand at least shouldn't underestimate him.

Anonymous 's picture

A typical prejudiced comment by noyb.

mdamien's picture

To appreciate chess history is to appreciate the value of this world championship match. Anand is the sitting champion and Gelfand is the rightful challenger.

Looking forward to some great games!

Max's picture

How did Gelfand become the rightful challenger? anyone can challenge the world champ or should first win some lower rank players? I could see someone like Ivanchuk as challenger but Gelfand?! His rating is not even so top rank. What's going on? I suspect an Indian wealthy Jew just wished to give these two some money and a good holiday gift in Russia!

Anonymous's picture

Gelfand is the rightful challenger because he won the candidates matches. Ivanchuk and Aronian were both eliminated and Carlsen refused to participate.

redivivo's picture

To appreciate chess history and to appreciate blitz knockouts isn't the same thing to me though, I prefer to see formats where the strongest players make it, not lotteries where anyone can win (i.e. Kasim, Khalif, Gelfand). Otherwise the rightful challenger is always the one that for some reason gets to play the match: Kramnik was the rightful challenger in 2000 and Shirov wasn't. If Shirov had been given the match he would have been the rightful challenger instead, and if Anand hadn't declined he too would have counted as the rightful challenger.

mdamien's picture

I will agree that there are times when the rightful challenger is in dispute, or where the rightful challenger isn't given the title shot, but this isn't one of them. In this case, for this contest at least, the system and rules for determining the challenger were clear, and Gelfand rose to the occasion. True, it would have been better with longer qualifying matches without the rapid tiebreaks, or even a candidates tournament, but we had what we had.

I am hoping that Gelfand will rise to the occasion again and give us some great games. We saw in Mexico and elsewhere that he's quite capable of it.

darkergreen's picture

yes, I am also looking forward to this event. Because last couple of weeks were so boring in terms of chess! I miss AMBER a lot! It would be great to have that blind/rapid games... Instead we are dealing with boring news such "chess in schools" or "can girls play chess with mini-skirt or whatever -(chessbase)"...

Richard Fireman's picture

It's also admirable that - as opposed to matches involving Topalov - the two combatants are friendly with one another, thus promoting a positive atmosphere on the world stage and in the media, which is good for the representation of the game as a whole. In fact, I remember reading that the two were planning on exchanging their impressions of how they felt to be new fathers, as both of their wives had children about a year ago or so.

Bob Nurse's picture

Agree, the lack of vitriol will be a refreshing change.
Thinking of refreshment....
Just wondering by and by - is Gelfand an alkie? His endearingly red bulbous conk suggests that he likes a tipple.
Anyhoos, let's chess, let's rock, let's Petroff.

Zeblakob's picture

@RF, for me it is better to have players who hate each other just for fun, rememeber K-K and K-K and K-T.

hansen's picture

Topalov added a bit of controversy to matches that sells to media better. Now we have two fourty + year old chubby dudes fighting for a championship. They are great chess players but the match itself is very unmarketable and the players themselves aren't marketable either. a match like Aronian-Carlsen is the type that can invigorate chess and that is what I am looking forward to.

Septimus's picture

Why does it matter if they are chubby or not? They are not gonna be parading in a bikini are they?

hansen's picture

Septimus because I'd like to see chess taken more seriously and the image improved. Like it or not two unattractive guys with beer bellies billed as the best in the world is not good for chess. How much sponsorship have Anand and Gelfand attracted in their career? If Carlsen was particularly ugly or fat he'd never have been picked for that G-star gig and added some good press to chess.

Parkov's picture

My ideal sequence of events would see Gelfand winning the match and Anand dominating his next few supertournaments and the candidates. But even that won't shut some people up!

redivivo's picture

Shut up about what? If Anand dominates the next super tournaments I think few would see it as anything else than a very positive thing. There has never been any period in his career when Anand dominated the super tournaments and it would be nice to see him do that when he's almost 45 against opponents like Aronian and Carlsen, that is something that would cement his legacy much more than any result against Gelfand could do.

Aztec's picture

Anand will win by just one point, and then he'll lose to Carlsen next year. That's my prediction, not a very difficult one, I know...

giuong tang's picture

It is not easy for Anand to beat Gelfand, and it is also extremely difficult for anyone in the near future (Carlsen included) to beat Vishy if he really wants to draw the point. And Carlsen did not play in the WC cycle, how could Anand lose him (in a WC match) ?

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Carlsen may have to wait longer than people think... just for the opportunity to compete for the title, much less win it.

Andre From Outkast's picture

The match will be decided by whoever has the most powerful computer, as the Anand-Topalov match demonstrated...

Igor's picture

In fact Topalov had the most powerful computer :P (Rybka on a cluster - 112 cores)

Septimus's picture

Unfortunately for Topalov, wits at the board played a bigger role than a cluster in a cold room.

nickeur's picture


jussu's picture

You mean, the one with the more powerfuil computer will lose?

Thomas's picture

I think Andre was ironic ... and other things also played a role last time: Anand's "human cluster" (Carlsen, Kramnik, Giri) and extra pressure (home disadvantage?) for Topalov.

This time, neither may be relevant: Anand and Gelfand seem to be popular among their colleagues (more than among some of the people commenting in this thread?). The favorites didn't like to lose at the Kazan candidates, but to my knowledge noone questioned Gelfand's achievement. And while the sponsor is a friend of Gelfand, even he may not expect Gelfand to win the match - just to put up a good fight.

Stephen's picture

I think both players are being hugely underestimated by some of the comments here. Anand has shown how versatile he can be in the matches against Kramnik and Topalov. In turn Gelfand has shown throughout qualification that he is capable of adapting too, both with the various formats/speeds in the knockout and by coming out on top against many of the best players in the world.

I think that we will see some very entertaining chess in the upcoming match. Even if the games do not turn out to be spectacular for the wider audience, I am sure that true chess fans (and not fanboys) will have much to appreciate.

christos's picture

I think people are forgetting what kind of opponents Boris Gelfand had to eliminate in order to reach this match, both in the Khanty Mansiysk World Cup and in the Kazan candidate matches.

Xeno's picture

The three strongest were Kamsky, Mamedyarov and Grischuk in the knockout, but top ten players is something else, just take a look at his stats against the best 7-8 players the last years.

Thomas's picture

First, Grischuk and Mamedyarov are former top10 players, currently just a little bit behind (#11 and 13), and even Kamsky (re-)visited the top10 on the September 2011 list. Second, did you really take a look at Gelfand's recent results against the current top10? I did, checking statistics on the FIDE rating pages.

Conclusions beforehand: the overall score is negative, but not terrible IMO. Only two players seem to "own" Gelfand, and this doesn't include Carlsen. Now in detail: Gelfand against
Carlsen +1=6-2 (which includes seven games with black)
Aronian +4=7-6
Kramnik =8-1 (OK, 6 games with white)
Anand =6 (5 whites)
Radjabov =5-4
Caruana +1=3-1
Nakamura +2=4-2
Karjakin +4=2-2
Morozevich +1=5-4 (if Moro had similar scores against other top players ...)
Ivanchuk +3=16-2 (wow for the sheer number of games)

My overall impression: Gelfand can be a dangerous opponent if he rises to the occasion (if past results mean anything, even Aronian wouldn't be clear favorite in a match?).

sofa phong khach's picture

I root for Anand. Forward Anand, you can win.

Corinne's picture

I rather watch paint dry rather than follow Gelfand's games . . . yooooowwwwnnnn

Septimus's picture

Perhaps you were indeed watching paint dry instead of Kamsky-Gelfand at the Candidates. Every game was a thriller.

Rhonda's picture

I'd rather change a tampon than read these silly remarks.

Zeblakob's picture

Gelfand will win and everybody agrees on that.

nickeur's picture

"I'd like it will be"

kramnik 2.0's picture

and giri will touch 3000 this yaer and we will have wormholes.

Latest articles