Reports | May 30, 2012 10:20

Anand beats Gelfand in tiebreak, retains world title (VIDEO)

Anand beats Gelfand in tiebreak, retains world title

Viswanathan Anand defeated Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in the rapid tiebreak on Wednesday. The Indian won the World Championship in Moscow and retained his world title for the third time. After winning the 2007 World Championship tournament in Mexico City, Anand defeated Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 and Veselin Topalov in 2010 and now emerged as the winner in Moscow as well.

Gelfand congratulates Anand at the end of the 4th tiebreak game

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 or 55% if a tiebreak is needed)
More information Read all info here
Videos ChessVibes on YouTube


Video of the tiebreak

A very equal match, with two players extremely close to each other in terms of both chess strength and opening preparation, came to an end on Wednesday with a tense rapid tiebreak that was won 2.5-1.5 by Anand. In the State Tretyakov Gallery in central Moscow, hundreds of spectators had come to see the showdown – more than the playing hall could hold. "It went my way," Anand commented afterwards, admitting that a fair share of luck had been involved.

The start of the tiebreak, with Gelfand playing White

Even on this very last day Gelfand didn't really play worse than his opponent, but he needed much more time on the clock. Where Anand showed a "regular" time consumption during his classical games, in the tiebreak the hallmark of his success was his speed.

The games were played at 25 minutes and 10 seconds increment per move. After each encounter there was a 10-minute break in which the players could consult two of their seconds who were backstage. With a clock counting down visibly on stage, this schedule was strictly followed and no incidents occurred.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was one of the spectators | Photo Alexey Yushenkov

It was quite a different day from all the others. The level of security was much higher this time, mostly to avoid noise and other disturbances in the playing hall. We filmed the start of game 1 and then went to the press room for a while. When we wanted to film the final part of the game, we were not allowed back into the playing hall. As it turned out, it had been announced – in Russian only – that people could only leave the hall, but not re-enter, during the games.

Just when the guard at the door said njet one more time, we noticed that we were standing right next to Andrei Filatov, the main sponsor of the event. When we explained the situation, he said: "I'm having the same problem!" Amazingly, even the man who paid for everything couldn't get in! However, all this was quickly resolved when we spotted organizer Ilya Levitov in the corridor...

Gelfand started with the white pieces in the first game, which was a very sharp fight. Anand got an advantage, but it seems that with 21...Bxg3 he miscalculated. After 22.Ra3! and especially 27.Rxb7 it was the World Champion who had to watch out. Instead of 28.Qxh6 perhaps with 28.Qd3 Gelfand could have tried for more.

PGN string

Game 1 in progress, this time seen from the stage | Photo Alexey Yushenkov

In the second game Anand repeated his Rossolimo Sicilian. Probably following more home analysis he won a pawn, but Gelfand clearly had compensation with active pieces and a bishop against a knight. Later in the ending he was even playing for a win for a while, but Anand maintained his extra pawn. With much less time on the clock (basically playing on the increment at some point) Gelfand suddenly allowed his bishop to be exchanged for white's knight, and the resulting R+p vs R was a textbook win – Anand didn't even have to show it.

PGN string

The third game was arguably the most dramatic, with Gelfand having excellent chances to immediately level the score. "I was lost of course," Anand admitted afterwards. Not only in the middlegame, but also in the rook ending. Just three moves before the end, Gelfand gave away the last win, again with little time on the clock.

PGN string

Gelfand agrees to a draw - he missed several wins, the clearest shortly before the end | Photo Alexey Yushenkov

Gelfand had to win the last game with Black, and he actually got an advantage. Anand was "playing too much for a draw", as he said afterwards. However, Gelfand probably chose the wrong plan at some point and as soon as white's pieces became active on the kingside, Anand knew that the worst was behind him.

PGN string

Here are a few quotes from Anand at the press conference:

It was incredibly tense. Right now probably the only feeling you have is relief. I think I'm even too tense to be happy but I'm really relieved.

I would say that my nerves held out better. I simply held on for dear life.

The problem with such a tight match is that every mistake has a much higher value than in a match where there are mistakes going back and forth in every game. In a match where there were so few chances for me it was really an incredibly heavy blow to lose game 7. I cannot remember such a black day. I couldn't sleep. That day I really thought I'd blown the match.

Vishy Anand | Photo Alexey Yushenkov

More comments by Anand are included in our video above.

Gelfand said:

I would say that it was an equal match, and that I was better sometimes, for example in the second game. I think I had more than enough compensation for the pawn and good chances. Probably the problem of the whole tiebreak was that I was behind on the clock for most of the time. In such a situation it is sometimes difficult to find the best move on the spot, which happened with my blunders in games 2 and 3. Also in game 4 I had the advantage but because of the same problem, I failed to convert it.

Boris Gelfand | Photo Alexey Yushenkov

On Monday Hans-Walter Schmitt, a good friend of Anand and organizer of over a dozen of strong rapid chess events in Mainz, said that "Vishy must be the favorite in the tiebreak. He won almost all of my tournaments!" And indeed, Anand, who owns an apartment in Germany right next to Schmitt and who spent his last weeks before the match preparing right there, proved that Schmitt had predicted right.

The winning team: Peter Heine Nielsen, Radek Wojtaszek, Surya Ganguly, Eric van Reem, Hans-Walter Schmitt (back), Aruna Anand, Vishy Anand, Rustam Kasimdzhanov (front) | Photo thanks to Mate in Moscow

Anand pocketed approximately US $ 1.4 million (1,13 million Euro) -- 55% of the total prize fund of USD 2.55 million. Gelfand won approximately US $ 1.15 million (92,700 Euro).

According to the latest FIDE schedule, Vishy Anand will defend his title in October-November 2013 against the winner of the next Candidates tournament, to be held in March 2013.

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.


Mohit Sharma's picture

My insinuations about Anand may be bad judgment. In this news story Anand gives his thoughts:

RealityCheck's picture

Please try to get us some really good (close-ups) shots of the winners trophy.

Matt's picture

Awful match and awful attitude for these two players. An event to be forgotten. Hope to see Carlsen, Morozevich, Nakamura, real fighters in the next wc cycle, but sponsors won't be attracted after this sorry show set up by fide.

Sunil's picture

Sorry to burst your bubble , but Nakamura and Morozovich havent even qualified for the Candidates tournament.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah. :( I for one am a bit upset that one of the top 5 rated players in he world- ranked above the current world champion isn't qualified for the Candidates. Yet another thing that suggests that maybe FIDE should look into how they run things...

Bronkenstein's picture

It is only Elo ´ranking´, nothing more than that. There are also some strong match players (Leko, Kamsky, Topa, Pono...) not being there, but I wouldn´t consider current FIDE format unfair based on that.

mircelalettin's picture

This match clearly showed that Anand is not hat strong. He simply couldn't crush him into pieces. Hopefully there are fighters with uncompromising style like Carlsen, Aroninan and Nakamura. Gelfand has never been a top elite player and Anand could not win easily. No doubt Tal memorial will be more entartaining chess.

relges's picture

Ecactly, well said. Anand wouldn't have played this match on first place if the old champion had to qualify like Gelfand and all other candidates. The whole event was doubtful before the first move and proved meaningless, except for 2 interesting games. Let's see how the old and new world champion will fare in Medias, Romania against Carlsen, Radjabov, Karjakin and Ivanchuk from 23 June. I would be surprised if he doesnt finish last.

Profits's picture

History has been made. The future of chess is dead. Control your excitement and calm silence of the chess reporters Boris. LOL. Funerals are more exciting then chess these days. Now seriously these games truly have inspire the children of tom to play professional chess. Naka says there no money in Chess. Stick to video games kids. More fun and creative idea's there.

sab's picture

'The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.'
It's your idea about chess which is dead (or may be never even existed in first place, just an illusion).

noyb's picture

After hearing Vishy's comments, I think that both I and many others may have judged things a little harshly. Ironically, in a strictly sporting sense, this result makes sense. Vishy had a lot of respect for his opponent, who put up a good fight, and Vishy understood that he is in a slump. So, he took the practical decisions necessary to retain the title. Obviously not the most exciting chess for casual or even some serious chess fans, but a fair sporting result.

Looking forward to the next WCC as I have a feeling it will different rules (quite probably Sofia rules) and a different, more combative atmosphere!

RealityCheck's picture

This is really something. You turned your position arouund 360 degrees based on a few comments from the Wch. You been drinking?

Anonymous's picture

Anand wins another rapid title from a non Top 10 player. Yawn. I never thought I'd say this, from now on unless the the challenger is a former (WC or WC Challenger), or current Top 5 player, I'll pass. The WC should only consist of the 3 types of players I just mentioned to produce a true WC.

sab's picture

So what's the point to make qualifications matches? Any other ideas?

Septimus's picture

Much better. Much better! This phase was pretty exciting. Some bad luck for Gelfand, but kudos to both for bringing out the heavy weaponry in the rapids.

MrX's picture

Congrats to Anand and hats off to Gelfand! Tough match - and it was as even as I expected. Historically speaking Vishy was never a clear and big favorite. Anyone who has followed chess for the last 20 years knows Gelfand is not a pushover. Too many idiots just stare too much at ELO rating without having a clue.

When it comes to Carlsen and other ELO heavies they still have to qualify to challenge the World Champion. That is the whole point why Chess World Championship is so special: one must climb on top of the mountain first to even have a shot at the title. It is utterly stupid to compare chess in this respect to tennis. If anyone wants to call number 1 rated player champion - fine, but then the champion might change every 2 months when the ratings are calculated! That would be simply hilarious....

Profits's picture

When will they release a dvd showcasing the highlights of WC 2012. How many will it sell. They will need Kasparov to go over the games for it to have any value. Wasted internet bandwidth watching these games. Kuwait chess championships would of drew more excitement.

Nara's picture

Congrats Anand,, so the next WC - against- Svidler....

redivivo's picture

Vishy is a great player and congratulations to him, one of the nicest World Champions ever. He isn't the player he was a few years back though, in 12 classical games he only won one, thanks to Gelfand's losing horribly in the opening, and then in four rapid games he only won the one where Gelfand blundered because of time trouble in a position Svidler said was drawn unless Gelfand hung a piece. But a win is a win and Anand deserved it. The match was one of the least memorable title matches ever, but that won't bother Anand and neither should it. I'm sure he's bothered by the fact that he has had it so difficult to win games the last year and a half though, I wonder if he really will play much longer.

Ball's picture

well said. plus, i have my suspicions that maybe gelfand threw the match. i can't believe the Qf6 blunder in classicals.

NN's picture

Some people are saying: Anand is not playing well, Anand is not a worthy champion, this match is no good, etc. I think those people are underestimating Gelfand, who showed himself to be a genius of a chessplayer, hard-working like nobody else and psychologically very strong when suffering setbacks. They just look at Gelfand's rating and somehow conclude that he is almost a patzer and that a World Champion should crush him easily, but they fail to see how many great players he had to face in matches in the world cup he won and in Kazan, and, because he had a lower rating and could not qualify otherwise, he had to beat them ALL, in order to challenge Anand.

redivivo's picture

The World Cup wasn't all that strong, Gelfand was ranked first so the outcome followed Elo expectations. Then in Kazan he won against Mamedyarov, Kamsky and Grischuk. He did well there as well as here, but I don't think he's anywhere close to the top five, and I'm certain he will finish in the bottom half in the Candidates.

NN's picture

"The World Cup wasn't all that strong" ?! Then perhaps YOU should have gone there and won it, maybe you could, because only 128 players participated, some of which were Gashimov, Svidler, Morozevich, Radjabov, Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, Grishcuk, Jakovenko, Karjakin, Mamedyarov. In Kazan he won against Grischuk in the final, because Grischuk had sent Kramnik home and someone else had eliminated Aronian.

giovlinn's picture

Gelfland is pretty good but he's no genius of a chess player...Very few are.

Mike's picture

This match clearly showed that strong teams supported by strong computers transformed classical Chess matches into a battle not between two players but, rather than that, between computers and teams. That's why a decision was rapidly achieved in rapid chess, when the influence of computer is diminished. FIDE has to do something, because now the Classical Chess World Champion is in fact the rapid chess WC, and IF the decision had occurred in the previous 12 classical games, the champion would be in fact the support teams and their computers...Not so much the individual players...

Anonymous's picture

same crap you keep throwing since the beginning, anything new?

Mike's picture

Its a fact that computers affect Classical Chess. It is not my fault. At least I said something that made you say something about my words...Thanks...I think that ist is a matter of time until some modifications will be implemented in order to protect classical chess as a pure individual battle between two human minds, and not a collective assisted competition. It is my opinion.

Thomas's picture

I disagree with your basic premise, but let's assume you are correct. What should FIDE do about it? Make it illegal to use computers and hire seconds for match preparation?? BTW at least seconds probably already played a role in many earlier matches, including all K-K matches.

And then how to enforce this rule? Imprison the players on uninhabited islands as soon as Gelfand qualified, and Anand thus knew his opponent? Give them a chess board, pen and paper to make notes, but no computer, no electricity, no phone and Internet??

The other option is to play Fischer Random Chess, but should this be the case only for WCh matches? Or just for professional chess (where to draw the line?)? Or for all chess events, including those by amateurs - like me, presumably you and most others participating in these discussions?

So even if there is a problem, any cure is unrealistic and worse than the purported disease.

Mike's picture

It will be really difficult to deal with this new situation of modern times...The huge Computer's progress will pose some threat to human individual mind, one way or another...Chess is one of the activities that is being affected. Computers are exhausting the variations almost up the 40th move or so, then chess players will have to memorize those moves up to the 40th move (inside the middle game..) and maybe only think for themselves during the resulting end game...Maybe the better endgame player will be now the player with the best results, considering that both player have the same exceptional memory...

Anonymous's picture

You did not answer his question; see how easy it is to criticize without giving any solution. What do you propose to prevent computer influence? Nothing. Keep blabbing.

Mike's picture

One of the solutions was implied in my words...Start the game just were the actual theory finishes, more or less near the the endgame...Because computers will progress, but not totally exhaust the whole game of Chess. There will be always some unexplored territory beyond the "N"th move...So for example organize a tournament or a match like that: A Commission formed by Fide indicated GM's or other Neutral Chess Specialist group present a set of "end-of-theory" positions...The Chess Fans and all the Fide rated players can democratically vote and suggest some of them to be appointed to such an event...Then the competitors will be joined according to any valid system, and at each one game they will have to play from one of the a.m. positions, defined by drawing lots jus before the game starts...Nobody will know previously which position will play...So preparation will not help....Many many other ideas can emerge, IF the Focus is to remove from the game the territory where the machine brute force commands...

Thomas's picture

So you would turn the WCh match quite literally into a lottery? The chosen positions would probably favor one player over the other: they may be part of his (but not the opponent's) repertoire, they may suit one player better style-wise.

Who would be favored if all games had to start with, say, a Paulsen Sicilian? Who if the King's Gambit was mandatory??

Mike's picture

This "problem" is less important that the actual massive computer analysis made before the games, and, for example in a match with 24 games in my proposed system, the styles or characteristics of the chosen positions will vary. Anyway, this system will somewhat favor the player with more universal style (like Spassky) and this will be good for Chess.

sab's picture

A similar idea had already been proposed by Topalov; you'll find an article on that subject on this website. There is also Grischuk who proposed to substitute classical chess by 960chess.

But I doubt those ideas will convince anyway (at least in the near future); I for example don't see myself be forced to play something I did not prepare. Part of chess is to prepare and track your opponent down in your trap. Those who fail to understand that point won't be able to convince people who like to prepare the different stages of the game (here we're mostly talking about the openings but also the middle-game and the endgame which is naturally the result of the first two), no matter how computerized-influenced or not is the preparation.

Also, your idea will fail at some point. Computerizing is a natural path of the human evolution since the industrialization era (the idea is about a mechanism to compute). The positions you want the players to start without knowing in advance will be one day or another all known (left alone the dubious ones). Then the computerizing stuff will start again in another form, just another form, but it will anyway start again.

I found a quote which go along with your words :

'The continual refinement of technique and assimilation of knowledge, particularly in the openings will gradually lead to the extinction of the game - it will be solved, played out. Most of the blame - if that is the word - must fall on the vast store of opening information that is available to every player (and every computer). The amount of study a master has to do to remain up to date in the openings would suffice for a college education. If he neglects his studies his score suffers. I think this corrupts the essential nature of chess, which is a fight between the creative ideas of two individuals. The vast array of predetermined opening variations and theories is, in my view, so much dead weight that should be discarded to save the true values of chess. The task, then, is to find a minimal change in the rules that would retain as much of the present game as possible and yet eliminate its worst feature, the overanalyzed starting position. – Pal Benko'

About that 'minimal change in the rules that would retain as much of the present game as possible and yet eliminate its worst feature, the overanalyzed starting position', I suggest this small change (but which could have some impacts on the theory) :


Inspired by David Bronstein:

'It is annoying that the rules of chess do not allow a pawn to take either horizontally or backwards, but only forwards ... This psychological tuning is ideal for attacking purposes, but what about for defence?'

Zeblakob's picture

My grandfather told me that you are probably a smart troll. Your idea is Ok but your solution is wrong.

Mike's picture

This match clearly showed that strong teams supported by strong computers transformed classical Chess matches into a battle not between two players but, rather than that, between computers and teams. That's why a decision was rapidly achieved in rapid chess, when the influence of computer is diminished. FIDE has to do something, because now the Classical Chess World Champion is in fact the rapid chess WC, and IF the decision had occurred in the previous 12 classical games, the champion would be in fact the support teams and their computers...Not so much the individual players...

rdecredico's picture

Mike wrote: : now the Classical Chess World Champion is in fact the rapid chess WC,


RealityCheck's picture

@redivivo listen you dumb mf. How can you say sht like:
"The match was one of the least memorable title matches ever, but"...........when, when


Who are you to tell us what people will think about this match in the coming days, weeks, months, years, decades? Are you some fortune teller?
You obviously have not forgotten it because you are still commenting on it. So, so just shut up already.

Anonymous's picture

'redivivo listen you dumb mf'
Does that make your point more understandable? Why so rude?

gerles's picture

Anand did not win a single tournament in the past 2 years and only very few games against the elite. If he's lucky he can hold world's number 20 to level score in a 12 game match. Is that an accomplishment you'd expect from a world champion?

S3's picture

The position on the rating list hardly matters, qualifiers do. And Gelfands tpr in this cycle is surely 2800+.

At any rate there have been matches with bigger rating differences and similar outcomes. For instance, Kramnik-Leko was tied when Kramnik had some 100 ratingpoints on Leko.

It seems to me that many spectators have either a bad memory or no clue about chess history. Yet it doesn't prevent them of making all kind of statements.

redivivo's picture

"Kramnik-Leko was tied when Kramnik had some 100 ratingpoints on Leko."

Or maybe 20?!

gerles's picture

You replied to my post, but didn't bother answering really. Apparently this questionable history of privileges makes the world championship so "interesting" to you.

Not that I dislike or in any way disrespect Anand for having been one of the strongest players ever - but just like in any other competition, I'd like to see the strongest players competing for what we're supposed to call a world championship.

S3's picture

But I did answer. Based on historical results, it's not strange to see the world champion tie a match with the challenger. It has happened before several times. Even with a bigger rating difference between challenger and champion it has happened.

gerles's picture

Well, my question was not whether it had happened before but what you (all) thought personally.

S3's picture

Well I did expect this of the champion. In fact I voted for a decision in the tie breaks as most likely in a pre-match poll. I'd have been far more surprised if Gelfand had lost by a large margin-you can't expect Anand to win like that against any experienced top player. Sure it might have been fun if they had played on in some positions but in general the match was good.

redivivo's picture

The rapid games could easily have finished with different results, not just because of Gelfand's blundering away the draw in time trouble in the second game, but also the third game where Gelfand missed a simple piece and game winning move, and then after several mistakes in the endgame he also missed several wins there as thechessmind points out:

"51...Kf5? changed the evaluation to +-, 52.c6? changed it back to equal, 52...Ke6? was losing again, and then 61.(R)h7?? allowed Black to draw when the win was not just there but finally straightforward. Gelfand just moved instantly when he didn't need to on that last one, and then when he finally stopped to think next move he found the correct and obvious idea, one move too late"

Harish Srinivasan's picture

How easily you can call "simple piece and game winning move". Clearly Svidler commentating live said the Nxe4 move that needed to be done looks like the worst possible move on the board to make, but apparently that was the winning idea justified tactically.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Certainly at least one other very strong player Levon Aronian thinks that the match was very interesting and that the players are no doubt the strongest players of the world

redivivo's picture

Aronian is a nice guy but of course Gelfand isn't stronger than Carlsen or Aronian himself, and just look at his results against Radjabov, Kramnik, etc. Not top ten as I see it.


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