Anand-Gelfand: the aftermath (UPDATE)
The Anand-Gelfand World Championship match finished four days ago, but the news stream hasn't stopped yet. Vladimir Putin inviting the players at his office, Anand's arrival in India, Gelfand's return to Israel, the reactions on Twitter, Kasparov's criticism, Anand's reaction... In this article we'll mention the most important developments since Wednesday and include the most striking quotes.
Gelfand and Anand shaking hands with Vladimir Putin on Thursday morning | Photo © Presidential Press and Information Office, Kremlin
Not long after they finished their tiebreak, both Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand were invited for a cup of tea by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting took place on Thursday morning in Novo-Ogaryovo, an estate in the Odintsovo District of Moscow Oblast to the west of the city and a suburban official residence of the President. The Kremlin website provided a transcript and here's part of it:
VISWANATHAN ANAND: I’ve been coming to Moscow from the mid-1980s to practice chess and I must admit that I have benefited immensely from interacting with Russian chess players and the school of chess here. I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Russia and this time especially the organisation was superlative.
We played in a very beautiful gallery, the Tretyakov. Overall I would say I enjoyed the Russian hospitality a lot this time.
I would like to thank Mr President for taking the time to meet us. For us, this is a great honour.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you very much for your kind words about Russia. I hope that you will visit Russia and our cities many times in the future. You are the world champion, and I am sure that chess fans, and other people as well, will always enjoy any activities with your participation.
BORIS GELFAND: I grew up in Minsk and every time I came to Moscow I visited the Tretyakov Gallery, a wonderful museum, and I could not even dream that one day I will play in the world championship final in this wonderful museum and a treasury of Russian art.
Due to the busy Moscow traffic, the players almost arrived too late for the closing ceremony! We were told that Boris Gelfand spent his last night in Moscow with his wife and his team. The Anand team in fact was invited for dinner by the Ambassador of India for Russia, Ajai Malhotra.
Friday was mostly spent travelling. On Saturday Anand received a special reception at the Chennai airport as a huge crowd had gathered, among them many school children wearing Vishy masks. Government and chess federation officials were also present. Here's a video by NDTV.
Upon Anand's arrival, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, madam J. Jayalalithaa, announced an award of Rs.2/- Crores (US $360,000 / EUR 290,000) for Anand, and mentioned the support from the Tamil Nadu government for a local chess in schools project. Meanwhile, the All Indian Chess Federation has thanked the CM for her gesture in a press release.
Although he didn't win the match, Boris Gelfand was certainly welcomed as a winner when he returned to Israel. He landed at Tel-Aviv airport on Friday and according to YNet News, all those present at the terminal gave Gelfand a round of applause, as dozens of fans held up signs and presented him with flowers. Gelfand thanked those present, saying that he was very touched and satisfied.
I didn't realize it will be like this. I heard that people in Israel closely followed and that the entire nation watched the games. I was truly excited, and I hope this will elevate chess in Israel to its rightful place. I think it's a very good thing for the public that every child will know what chess is.
Below is a video of Gelfand's arrival at Tel-Aviv airport.
Already on Thursday, Gelfand seemed reasonably down-to-earth about his loss. Here's how he described his feelings to the same newspaper:
It happens, like in Barcelona against Chelsea, when it led 2-0 against 10 players and also got the penalty kick. I can also score a goal sometimes and miss a penalty kick. All in all it was a great duel. I can only regret one truly mystical moment in the third game of the tie-breaker series, when I had an advantage and then I moved my rook away that 999 times out of a 1,000 I wouldn't dream of doing. I came here feeling sure of myself, but I played against a great master who was absolutely capable of causing me problems and also of handling some of the new things thrown at him by my team. Up until the 10th game I was pretty much in control, and then Anand recovered, thanks to his hard work and that of his team of advisers.
More and more chess personalities are active on Twitter. We've collected a few reactions:
What a nail-biting tie break at the WC! I certainly enjoyed every moment of the play off. (...)
Congratulations to Vishy Anand, who retains his title! But my sympathy prize undoubtedly goes to Boris :-)
ECU President Silvio Danailov tweeted:
Nobody said the truth.Very boring match for chess was saved by the tiebreak and the brilliant organization from the Russian Chess Federation
Well, as we know Mr Danailov wasn't exactly the only one who complained about a lack of excitement in Moscow. We'll just mention GM David Smerdon's blog post and GM Judit Polgar's blog post, in which she wrote:
Some say the 12 classical games were not so exciting. I have admit, I think that some of them could have been played out longer really. On the other hand, the rules do not forbid to offer a draw any time of the game at all. So when you have big, no sorry, ENORMOUS pressure and there is nothing more you want but to win the overall match and you believe that half a point makes you to get closer then, of course, you do not care about the spectators, if they are happy with what they see or not.
Congrats to World Champion Anand! Great comeback in the later stage of the match! Gelfand deserves a praise for his creative & dynamic play!
@LevAronian What, did they play another match? ; )
@chessninja How come the less a person knows about a subject, the more he treats it with disrespect.
Looking at the last few world chess champ matches, it makes me sad that chess at present is 80% preparation and only 20% is about the game.
It's time to start looking at one of Fischer's greatest inventions, fischerandom chess. No more teams of helpers, or even draws, pure chess!
Since the demise of the Mainz events, perhaps FIDE should consider at least trying to make fischerandom startup events and ratings.
Because, fischerandom chess, imho, is the future...mark my words.
(Natalija Pogonina collected a few more tweets with reactions about the match.)
One of the strongest reactions on the match came from Garry Kasparov. Shortly after the match, the 13th World Champion spoke with Sergey Shipov, who posted the comments on his forum.
Anand played a terrible match, but it seems it wasn't meant to be that Gelfand would beat such a weakened opponent. Anand played wonderfully in the 2008 match against Kramnik, adequately against Topalov in 2010, while his current play is on an entirely different level. The tie-break was beneath contempt...
Anand got lucky that Gelfand qualified to play him. If the Candidates Matches in Kazan had been run under the 6-6-8 system (6 games in the quarter-finals and semi-finals and 8 in the final) then Gelfand's chances of getting to the World Championship final would have been minimal. Someone else would have played Anand and he could have won. Let's say, Grischuk. Never mind the fact that Carlsen would have played in Kazan in that case.
I'll repeat once more that the current match for the title had nothing whatsoever to do with determining the strongest chess player in the world.
(Translation by Colin McGourty)
Deccan Chronicle quoted Anand's reaction to Kasparov's comments, described as a "rare display of irritation".
I think that this is the first time I have played a match where so many people seemed to have negative opinion about my play. And the thing is I do not think I lacked motivation. [Kasparov] keeps talking about my age but I could just as well say Boris (Gelfand) is even slightly older. I think the problem is all the people who started out assuming that I was the heavy favourite in this match were reluctant to admit that their prognosis was wrong. (...) This was Gelfand playing well and me trying to play equally well, hang in there and wait for my chance. But all those people who said I was a favourite were reluctant to admit that they were wrong and were simply saying that I lacked motivation and was playing badly and so on and on. And I definitely feel like I proved something here. (...) But it was very satisfying, especially when the ambiance around you is so negative. In the press conference they more or less keep repeating what people like Kasparov said. It is not secret that I have had difficulty in a couple of tournaments and my confidence therefore suffers a bit. But I think under those circumstances if you can hang in there and win like this then it is all the more satisfying.
We'll conclude, by popular demand, with one more photo of the splendid trophy won by Anand - the one provided by the Tretyakov Gallery and designed & made by Andrei Molchanovsky.
The photo was in fact taken by Eric van Reem at the start of the match, which gives us the opportunity to mention one last time his highly entertaining blog about the match!
Update June 4, 08:23 CET: Anand gave an even stronger reaction to Kasparov at a press conference on Saturday, which was quoted by several Indian media, e.g. Times of India:
He is the man who regrets leaving chess. He misses the attention he got in chess, somehow wants to be there. May be he should play again. Kasparov retired in 2005, he has been trying to make me retire since 2011. You just have to develop a thick skin as a public figure.
And here's a lengthy interview with Vishy and Aruna Anand by IBN Live:
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