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.


Harish Srinivasan's picture

Really if Gelfand and Aronian train for match, I think it will be even, especially after seeing the tenacity and resourcefulness of Gelfand in this match. Its different in terms of how many tournaments you generally win. When it matters the most, Gelfand has always been up there. Dont forget he finished tied 2nd in Mexico 2007 ahead of Aronian himself. The question really is when Gelfand is motivated and well prepared, how does he match with others who are well prepared. The answer is probably even.

redivivo's picture

Mexico was five years ago though, it's his only top finish for many years and still he was clearly behind Anand then, also compare it to his results in all the Grand Prix tournaments that were WC qualifications the following years. I'd see players like Karjakin and Radjabov as big favourites against him, and I don't see him being particularly competitive in the Candidates next year.

S3's picture

Before this match you also said that Anand would crush Gelfand. So what you think seems to be usually wrong.
Still I commend your boldness. Most people would have crawled away into the shadows after so many wrong predictions.

legser's picture

Aronian being the modest and fair gentleman that he has always been. Obviously the two players in this match have the formal right to be called "strongest" players.

Bronkenstein's picture

+1, my POW as well - but good luck trying to explain that possibility to the masses of rabid Elo-ites crawling aroundhere =)

redivivo's picture

Rabid Elo-ite World Ranking 1999: 1.Kasparov 2.Anand. Real World Ranking: 1.Khalifman 2.Akopian

Rabid Elo-ite World Ranking 2004: 1.Kasparov 2.Anand. Real World Ranking: 1.Kasimdzhanov 2.Adams

Rabid Elo-ite World Ranking 2012: 1.Carlsen 2.Aronian. Real World Ranking: 1.Anand 2.Gelfand

sab's picture


nis's picture
giovlinn's picture

Well, what else did you expect him to say? Lousy match and not so strong players? Get real.

S3's picture

Say nothing perhaps? He clearly tries to make a point but even now you fail to grasp it.

h8dgeh0g's picture

aronian was just being modest. one should not put too much money into this.

slonik's picture

Of course, he and Gelfand are friends but obviously he knows that he is nowhere close to players like himself and Carlsen and that's why he's 100 Elo behind. He just wanted to defend Gelfand from the criticism.

abhishek's picture

yes aronion was being modest...but seriously dude...there s not much difference between aronian and gelfand in match play.....pressure is a difft thing altogether.......its not that aronian or carlsen have dominated chess like kasparov...or a federer or nadal or djoko in tennis....they are far frm it...and they have a lot to prove...if they are to be called all time greats...:)

KingTal's picture

Congratulations to Anand, but was a bad match and not the best performance of him. Gelfand showed good preparation, but he just isn´t even top 10, so i think Anand deserved the title.
Good thing is that the next match can´t be worse than this one, hehe.

redivivo's picture

The more I look at the PGN of that third rapid game the more amazed I am that Gelfand missed the win at the end, as Monokrooussos points out it was straightforward but of course it was rapid and he didn't have much time left. I don't think Gelfand will sleep well when he takes another look at that endgame. I hope for Gelfand's sake that Monokroussos didn't get the moves right. 26. Nxe4 fxe4 27. fxe5 Qxe5 28. Rxb8 of course wins piece and game but maybe that one was trickier to see, I think Anand would have played it in a second if he was white though.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

The pgn is inaccurate. The pawn never went to h7. The rook went to h7. The rook ending was always drawn as I was seeing the live video as to where the pieces were prior to the final position.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Ah I see, instead of Rh7 that Gelfand played, he probably had Kg3 and King march to h7 which was probably winning.

redivivo's picture

Yeah, anyway I'm glad Anand won the match in the end and hope he'll return to his old form again soon.

redivivo's picture

I hope you're right, this is what Monokroussos writes (with the rook going to h7):

"I couldn't find the correct score on the official site or anywhere else. For those watching on ICC, their relayer gave an absurdly wrong reconstruction of the end of the game. So here, based on watching the actual board from the video stream, is the correct game score"

and in another comment on the game score he comments before the 61st move:

"the win was not just there but finally straightforward"

He could well be wrong, the confusion seems to be big with regards to what was actually played

Harish Srinivasan's picture

The official video coverage of the third game at around 15:31 onwards can see what actually played.
At 15:33:14 you can see Gelfand actually moves his Rook to h7.

Thomas's picture

"The more I look at the PGN ..." is quite revealing: how many minutes or hours did you look?? The players - at least Gelfand - had just seconds to look at each position. The win was straightforward for Monokroussos, but not for Svidler doing live commentary under about the same conditions as the players (only without pressure on him) - Svidler only hinted that 59.Rh7? was a strange move, but didn't realize that it threw away the win which was otherwise there.
Regardless, the fact that Anand won a drawn endgame in game 2 and drew a lost one in game 3 underlines that he was the better rapid player, at least today. Gelfand's time management and time trouble is part of the story. One could still argue that game 2 had the correct result, even if Anand didn't find the fastest way and needed 'help' from Gelfand.

Aditya's picture

Congratulations to Vishy Anand!

I feel sorry for Gelfand though, to bring some solid preparation to the table and to barely lose the title in rapids is disappointing. A large portion of the chess world would'nt have wanted to see the decision come this way and I'm one of them. It showed in the last game where Boris knew it was a draw 4-5 moves before he stopped playing. He would regret it a lot more as in today's age I think Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik are very consistent players and in a tournament, I think they'll get the better of him.

S3's picture

I don't think anyone of Gelfand's age can muster the energy to seriously attempt a 2nd ascend after coming so close.

redivivo's picture

OK, no more confusion concerning the third rapid game now that Chessbase repeats the score Monokroussos posted after going by the live stream. GM Milos calls Gelfand's 61st "an incredible mistake" that throws away the win after Anand had played the endgame quite badly and gotten into a lost position more than once from what had been equal with huge time advantage. The second game losing mistake by Gelfand was more understandable according to Milos even if the endgame "should be a draw" but there Anand played better and had a big time advantage also there.

Thomas's picture

What do you mean with "Anand had ... gotten into a lost position more than once"? It seems that both players made one mistake each: Anand should have played 51.-Kf4 rather than 51.-Kf5 (the former is actually still given on the match homepage, but the live video clearly shows Kf5). Then the endgame is drawn as the white king is cut off - I can be sure about this because I checked with tablebases. Milos doesn't mention this, hence his question mark on 48.-Nf3+ is wrong. Don't trust GMs blindly (of course he was right about Gelfand's 61st move).

Niko's picture

Congratulations to Anand! He is and will remain in History of chess one of the very best ever.
Also, I would like to say that I don't understand people saying it was boring: 2 decisive games, a fortress out of a very bad opening, a grunfeld with opposite castles and very strong positionnal moves like ...c4 and ...e5 in the sicilians etc... Sorry but for me it was very high level and tense battles. Then when the position is a draw: it's a draw. Also It is important to note that Anand played in Moscow (look on the video how many persons applaude when the last game finish and you can understand the 'atmosphere' of the match, of course in Moscow people were for Boris) but he won / like in won in Sofia! and finally, Anand is a young father. For all that aspects, his victory is a great achievement!

nis's picture

it is evident that zeblakob must have a very low chess rating . i mean the guy just does not understand chess . stupid guys like him just want results , not proper fights ...

MJul's picture

No... He just have a different sense of humour.

And a lot of people here is pretty irritated for some reason.

lersge's picture

Who is zeblakob?

Zeblakob's picture

@lersge, he is a young beautiful tactical player...

Zeblakob's picture

@Nis. I have beaten some people blindfolded in a simul, if you want you can join them at: Parc Sainte-Marie, Nancy, France. Adding an extra board does not disturb me.

nis's picture

@zeblakob yeah? boris on his death bed will beat u blind fold . as for draws go and check out other wcc matches , especially of the creep kasparov who was drawing games in 10 moves while trailing!!! , anand went for a super sharp game when he was trailing. proves that kasparov without his opening edge was not just another super gm. as for Levon he could not handle candidates pressure and boris could do it. so stop whining .

Zeblakob's picture

My grandmother told me that Anand chickend out in 2000 and was replaced by Kramnik in the WCC Vs Kaspy. Those GMs are free to do what they want: draw in 10 moves or in 1. However, they are pretending playing chess.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Anand put it very nice on his perspective on the match as a whole in the press conf. which is also here

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Gelfand has proven a lot in this match. Still, the candidates tournament in march next year is another great opportunity for him. If there is a poll on who will win the candidates tournament and if you had to purely vote objectively, I think Gelfand at this point might get more votes than expected. But its important to have the poll now rather than just before the match when people might forget Gelfand's capabilities.

What's Next?'s picture

This was the peak for Gelfand. Now it's time for Magnus Carlsen to do what it also took Bobby Fischer too many years to achieve - winning the WC-title.

rdecredico's picture

worst world championship ever.

Chris's picture

Congratulations to fans that the crap is over

Thomas's picture

And what will so-called fans do next? Complain about too many draws at the Tal Memorial? (Quite likely as the field is also pretty strong and balanced).

Interestingly, one doesn't have to know much about the game to be a self-declared fan - in chess but also in other sports such as football.

MJul's picture

"And what will so-called fans do next? Complain about too many draws at the Tal Memorial? (Quite likely as the field is also pretty strong and balanced)."

Thomas: Morozevich will be playing there.

Chenk's picture

The matches are over because of computers.. We need to go to the round-robin tournament with 8 players and 2 or 4 games between them, so the preparation could be overwhelmed because of the many style of play of different chessplayers.

lerges's picture

+1! I couldn't agree more.

gerles's picture

I agree, time for a change and for chess to arrive in the 21 century already. The round robin format is a good idea against excessive computer preparation. Also finally abolish outdated privileges and have the champion qualify for the next championship just like all other candidates.

Anonymous's picture

4x7 = 28
So unfortunately no chance these days.
But you are correct: Matches are outdated.

Michael Lubin's picture

Matches are not outdated at all. The previous three World Championship matches involving Kramnik, Topalov, and Anand were all exciting, hard-fought affairs. The problem was this match was the relatively lackluster (although high-level) play, in particular not enough fighting spirit, particularly on Anand's part. Tournaments are fine for determining a challenger, but how can a round-robin ever live up to the sheer intensity of having the two best in the world go mano-a-mano? Unfortunately, this match was not between the two best in the world--rather between a great but past-his-prime champion and a very gutsy challenger a small cut below the world's very top.

S3's picture

Draws aren't the result of computer preparation but the logical result of games between approximately equal opponents.
The biggest reason for (possibly) seeing less draws in such a tournament would be the presence of a weaker player or someone out of form. At the top it would still be a draw fest.

And even if preparation were a problem; there are always conceptual openings like the Berlin and side variations that noone has memorized.

Aditya's picture

Draws may not be the result of computer preparation (and they are perfectly acceptable), but computers definitely aid the 'short draw' syndrome. Players are equipped with the means of getting to equal positions in novel lines even before they come to the game. Players are also scared to try out dubious and impromptu moves now as they are afraid that the opponent has already a computer analysed answer for it which might put the risk taker (who is not sure if the move is decisively good or bad) into a bad position. This last point is the reason why players stick to home prepared lines as far as possible and reach insipid positions much sooner than before.

S3's picture

Fair enough although I am not sure how a tournament would help in this matter (I'm not even sure it is a problem, it sounds like such decisions are the result of players personalities and their ability to assess complications-most players will play it safe if the stakes are high).

Just for fun; here is a reminder of another side of computer preparation:

Aditya's picture

I don't think tournaments will help either although they might lessen the extent of preparation impact slightly. To me chess now constitutes of two factors 1) preparation 2) on board calculation. I would want to see a bit of both, ideally more of the latter. If a game ends with just (1) and almost nothing of (2), I am disappointed, even though preparation is a display of effort. I admit it is the aesthetics of chess that has drawn me to it and it is the joy of Svidler's Re2, Aronian's Ne1, Shirov's Bh3 and the likes that keep me addicted to chess. I dont look for these in every game, but I'd like to see genius minds at work on the board rather than at home with their computers.

On the other hand, as Gelfand said , nobody cares for what I think and as long as the system allows for it, it is possible to come and display only preparation and go home. That is, as long as the sponsorship allows for it. I know, In my opinion it is time to consider chess960 seriously as a solution.

MJul's picture

Kasparov said something about that. Choose 3 or 4 Fischer Random positions and play them in determinated moments through the year. So the player can develop openings but it won't be too "Houdini".


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