Reports | May 21, 2012 15:26

World Championship: Anand levels the score as Gelfand blunders his queen (VIDEO)

World Championship: Anand levels the score as Gelfand blunders his queen

Due to a tactical oversight by Boris Gelfand, Vishy Anand needed only 17 moves to level the score in the World Championship match in Moscow, Russia. On Monday the World Champion played 3.f3, just like in game 3, after which the challenger went for a Benoni-like structure with 3...c5 instead of the Grünfeld. The game quickly got quite sharp, but suddenly the Israeli chose the wrong path and completely missed that his queen would be trapped. The score is 4-4 with four games to go.

Event World Championship MatchPGN via TWIC
Dates May 11th-30th, 2012
Location Moscow, Russia
System Match

Viswanathan Anand & Boris Gelfand

Rate of play 120 minutes for 40 moves, then 60 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game with 30 seconds increment from move 61
Prize fund 2.55 million US $ (60% for the winner)
More information Read all info here
Videos ChessVibes on YouTube

Anand returns to 1.d4, but Gelfand won't play the Grünfeld

If we don't take into account the second match game Fischer-Spassky, Reykjavik 1972 it was the shortest decisive game ever played in a World Championship match. Right after the opening Boris Gelfand miscalculated, and got his queen trapped on h1. He could have saved her majesty by developing his queen's knight, but his position would have been lost anyway and so he duly resigned.

For a moment the State Tretyakov Gallery was in total shock, and the journalists in the press room couldn't believe their eyes. Vishy Anand had only needed 17 moves to level the score, breaking the previous record of 19 moves in Steinitz-Zukertort (20), 1886.

At the press conference, which started a bit later than usual because the players were taken away for drug testing, Gelfand admitted that he had simply missed Anand's last move 17.Qf2.

I had to calculate a lot of lines, and I miscalculated.

Anand had seen the idea quite early.

I had seen sometime before that it was a blunder. I think I even saw this when I played exf5.

We've alreay looked at some of the online commentaries and it's striking to see how everyone, blinded by the engine's evaluations, fails to explain the blunder from a human perspective. Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko, who was giving commentary on games 7 and 8 for the official website, told us:

First of all I don't think it's a tactical idea. It's just an accident which suddenly happens because it's completely unexpected, nobody thinks of this. For sure the computer points it out long in advance and that's why everybody thinks it's simple, but no. Black's problem was that after White's g4 he had an incredible wide range of moves. For example he could take on b1 and move his knight, and Black is fine. However, by that point Gelfand was probably very motivated, he was looking for more. Then he saw ...Re8+ and the motif with Qf6 attacking f3, and after Black takes on h1 White's attack on the kingside is not winning. Then, there is also Kc2 for White but I think Gelfand was planning to sacrifice an exchange there. So he was calculating all these complicated lines... I was explaining this to the audience already half an hour before it happened, and it all had a very logical consequence. It was very human to think like this.

The continuation of Leko's explanation is included in our video:

As the video also shows, Gelfand was amazingly professional during the press conference, answering questions the same as always, and even joking a bit here and there.

The match has really come to life now, with two decisive games after six draws. Anand was asked whether he had a different mindset.

I would like to think I play each game hard. It is true, sometimes it happens like that. The last two games were not same as before; they were emotionally tough. I don't know if I (knowingly) played aggressively today. It was a consequence of this position and I knew I had to fight hard. If I played well, I'm happy.


On Wednesday the match resumes with game 9, in which Gelfand will play with the white pieces again.

PGN string

Match score



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.


Al Hughes's picture

Oh dear, what an awful game. Let's hope this unleashes both players now and doesn't just presage a general collapse from Gelfand. Come on Boris!

JM's picture

It is funny that Leko was also advising 14.Qf6...
The match is on fire now!
Well done Vishi!

JM's picture

At least 3 players missed 17.Qf2, Leko, Nepomniachtchi and... Gelfand!

nep's picture

Where can I read / follow Leko's and Nopomniachtchi's comments?

JM's picture

They were today in the official broadcast on the match site, you can still watch the broadcast there. Nopomniachtchi joined almost in the end.

Ivanov's picture

Leko is explaining here exatly why the audience is electrified but interesting to see yet another championship where Anand loses a game and then comes back. Right as what I saw in Sofia.

Amos's picture

Svidler in the Russian commentary booth saw that Qf6 was a blunder and discussed the end-position before Qf6 was played.

Vodkarov's picture

Yeah. Leko, Nepo and also Shipov missed that in his blog comments. He saw it was dangerous for black. But it's hard, even for a GM, to make the precise calculations including Qf2 and realize the queen is trapped.

Leo's picture

Evidently, for some reason Qf2 was difficult to spot, but there was hardly a lot of "precise calculations" involved ... it's like three forced moves, either you see it or you don't :)

Leo's picture

Evidently, for some reason Qf2 was difficult to spot, but there was hardly a lot of "precise calculations" involved ... it's like three forced moves, either you see it or you don't :)

Leo's picture

Sorry for the double post.

Sligunner's picture

No need to be. You hit the nail on the head. After Anand's pathetic play a day earlier, this was positive proof that neither of these two GMs are worthy of the title world champion. FIDE brought this about.

test's picture

Shipov didn't miss this. Quote:

14... Qf6 Wha-a-a-t? Boris is continuing to play riskily with the motto "Not a step backwards!"
16... Qxh1 But will the glutton return from its raid?
17. Qf2 Exactly. Black's queen is hobbled

Shipov shows main variations. Taking the rook and losing the queen was not a main variation so he didn't show it before. You can't show ALL variations or it would be a forest that's unmanageable to wade trough later.

test's picture

Don't make too much of this. They were live commentating without computer aid. They can't talk and think at the same time so they were showing lines based mainly on ideas and chess understanding, not deep calculation.

redivivo's picture

People are making this into some sort of amazingly complicated line that was impossible to see for a human, but for players on this level it was of course a huge blunder. Leko and Nepo were chatting about various lines and memories of old tournaments while throwing out various interesting ideas. It's another thing to sit at the board and go through everything in detail and "be responsible" for the position.

Still surprising that they didn't see Qf2 of course, it was a combination of only five ply. Maybe one reason is that they didn't even look for something like that but "trusted" Gelfand to have checked the simpler tactics, and that this is why they concentrated more on endgame subtleties after hypothetical exchange sacrifices etc.

RealityCheck's picture

Vishy Anand leaves the whole chess world dazed and confused!!!

sam's picture

Anand has to match his playign style to some 2700+ level of tactful play. Some times he can catch hold of Gelfad at 2600+ level of traps.

Michael's picture

It's such a shame the game ended so quickly. Leko's commentary was so entertaining, I wish I could have heard more of it. Does anyone know if Leko will be doing the commentary for the next games?

foo's picture

For sure one more Svidler & Kramnik on commentary. That should be awesome

S3's picture

Leko won´t, unfortunately. But next game Svidler will be there.

laljo's picture

no,it will be svidler.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

Incredible! I believe this is the shortest game ever won in a matchgame for the World Championship. Please correct me, if I am wrong.
Something for Tim Krabbé, perhaps?

cip's picture

That record should be half a move, that is, zero moves.

KingTal's picture

Gelfand got relaxed and blew it. He told in the press conference that he has slept full 8 hours after his win, maybe he should sleep less and be more concerned...

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Ian Nepomniatchi and Peter Leko all missed this shot. But Vishy saw it as early as he played g4. Qf2!!.

Arjo's picture

In the pressconference he told he planned Qf4 and later 'refined' it to Qf2. So he did not see the MOVE Qf2 when he played g4, only the IDEA...

SetNoEscapeOn's picture

No, I watched the conference and nowhere did the concept of "later" appear in Anand's comments; it appears to be your own invention. He said he looked at Qf4, "and then" refined it to Qf2.

Lee's picture

Gelfands confidence will take a bit of a hit after that game.

Leko admitted he didn't see white's riposte (Qf2 - trapping the queen) when it was over. Despite that, his commentary over the last 2 days has been a highlight for me. As the nature of the game positions changed, he quickly came up with plans and ideas. Damn interesting and enlightening.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Leko "Good thing for Boris is that if he listens to my commentary, he will know that I also missed this".

darkergreen1327's picture

Great :-)))

_Nuts_'s picture

Now Anand may continue to play sharp, double edged from the beginning.

Synrise's picture

Could somebody give the link to where you can follow Peter Leko's commentary?

S3's picture

foo's picture
Mark De Smedt's picture

Alright, it was a major mistake by Gelfand, but from this title ("Gelfand blunders his queen") one may think he played like a beginner. However, at this level most miscalculations, even these huge ones, are not that easy to spot. For one thing, during the live commentary both Peter Leko and Ian Nepomniachthi (top-20) were convinced Gelfand was winning until the moment Anand played 17. Qf2. Anand also deserves some credit: during the press conference, he said he already calculated the whole line before playing 12.g4. And even in the final position it would take considerable skill to finish off the work after Black plays 17.... Nc6. Technically this allows him to save the queen (Houdini suggests 18. dxc6 Qxc6 with +1.50 for White). I'm sure Anand would have won if Gelfand had played on, but I do want to stress it's easy to criticize blunders, draws and so on. Another thing is to sit there and dispute the title. My greatest respect to both players for the chess and sportsmanship they've displayed so far.

rajeshv's picture


And I hope hearing Leko's commentary (which has been totally terrific so far -- nobody else doing commentary in the last 3 WC matches has come close to giving the kind of lines/analysis that is going on in the minds of the players) will change the mind of his critics who are too quick to criticize his draws - and show respect for a very strong top level GM.

And, match ON.. the match couldn't be better poised at this stage.

Frits Fritschy's picture

17... Nc6 leads to a position that may be +1.50 for the moment, but without any counterchances. It would be masochism to play on like that.

Raj's picture

@, Mark De Smedt: Nice to read your mature response and respect shown towards players at the highest level. Seems like those who are criticizing consider these matches as if it was a weekend club game.

abhishek's picture

may be anand should play like tal....gelfand will be mighty scared to accept any piece offeres from now....

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Ok, Vishy at press conf. said, he saw this when he played 11.exf5. Ok that is pretty deep even if its expected at the wch level. May be its one of those moves either you see it or you dont. And thats why Gelfand, Leko and Nepomniatchi dint see it until it was played.

Harish Srinivasan's picture
Chewish Guy's picture

Expect an upgrade from the Merkava Chariot in the next game.

Bardamu's picture

"On Monday the World Champion deviated from earlier games and played 3.f3"

He played it once before right?

Frits Fritschy's picture

A bit dangerous to comment on this, because of course I saw Houdini play Qf2 too, before Gelfand played Qf6. But still: quite unbelievable 3 top IGM's missed this. I mean, Anand isn't just a common patzer and with Nf4 coming, his position doesn't look too good if he can't take the knight. And it looks a bit naive just to think Anand blundered the exchange with 13 Kd1. Catching a queen that takes a rook on h1 or a1 is as old as modern chess itself; no need for exclamation marks on Qf2.
So, what went on in Gelfand's mind? (I missed the press conference.)

redivivo's picture

Gelfand must have thought he was just winning the game and the match and that Anand had blundered away it all. Still, he had more than 50 minutes on the clock and should probably have checked again, it is after all not often Anand blunders that badly in the opening and this was quite an important game.

That Leko and Nepo also missed it was surprising, but on the other hand they sit in comfort in the studio and chat about this or that so they aren't as concentrated on the position as the players.

Anand had seen the whole line in advance, as he pointed out, it reminds of that game against Kramnik in 2008 when Kramnik thought he was winning and realised he was losing first when Anand's hand was in the air to make the final move.

cip's picture

There was no point for Gelfand to check. All other moves were already bad. The whole line was bad, starting with Re8. That's where he was calculating and obviously, miscalculated.

redivivo's picture

Well, he was slightly worse but there's a big difference between being slightly worse and dead lost, so saying that there was no point in Gelfand's checking if what he thought was the winning line worked is an exaggeration, it is the World Championship after all and it was an important game. Even if several commentators missed that Qf6 was losing it still wasn't a very complicated line for a title match, it was only five ply to the final position.

cip's picture

^_^ I agree with you, redivivo!
But is was also psychological. Gelfand thought he had Anand on the ropes with this secret weapon. He wasn't even considering being in a position where he had to scrape a draw.

Oh well. It's hard to play Black and Benoni is even more tricky. Even when everything goes Black's way, you can end up in losing position.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Leko and Nepomniatchi was analyzing lines were white was giving the exchange for some attack on g6. Ofcourse, the text move is far better. But probably Gelfand thought the same as Leko did.

abhishek's picture

See the good thing is that they are not using engines in the live commentary...this is absolutely see the expression on the faces of those GM s when they missed it...nowadays..most commentators have a rybka...or a houdini with them when commentating...its such B.S...coz it clouds their opinion...and we amateur s can t learning anything from it. Watching leko though...we really get an insight into how a GM things ...what are the plans...etc....rather than jst looking at my engine and tonnes of variations....:)


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