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.


What's Next?'s picture

I congratulated Anand to the WC-title already after game 12. It was easy to see that Gelfand's time trouble would be too much to handle in the rapid games.

choufleur's picture

Gelfand pretends he dominated both the playoff and the match. This seems quite arrogant.

Bronkenstein's picture

Gandalf was the only one leading the classical part, while having better or winning positions in all 4 rapids. Also , he never used word ´domination´ or anything similar IIRC.

OFC , he shouldn´t formulate it the way he did @ the press conf. IMO. Also, I don´t remember him congratulating to Vishy there, I expected that - maybe I missed something thou.

But remembering all the pressure he was under OTB and in public, during last years and esp in the match - and the state of his nervous system @ that very special point of his life ( remember , all his dreams were broken just few minutes prior to that ), I cant really blame him.

Klas Henrik Adergaard's picture

What a completely uninspiring event.
It's as if number 9 and 10 in Tennis had met for a match called the World Championship Match, and number 9 won in tiebreak.

Carlsen v Aronian. That's the world championship match and please let it be at least 16 games, not 12. Preferably 18 games with no draw opportunities until move 40, and a rule that says you have to win by actual check mate. No giving up.

S3's picture

Problem is that Aronian doesn't agree with you and has said so clearly. I bet the greedy norseman wouldn't mind to play a match for the title without quailifation though.

MJul's picture

S3: Seriously: what is your problem with Carlsen? Do you know him or did you know him? Is he doing what you would love to had done? What?

Anonymous's picture

Just ask Carlsen to not chicken out! Simply.

MJul's picture

Old news: he will be playing the next candidates.

AljechinsCat's picture

Its so strange that Boris could win a piece for nothing in the 3rd. I`m feeling so sad for Boris. Anand was everything but not the better player.Urgent time for a change.

Arvin's picture

It became clear that Anand's match strategy was to play solid and safe chess in the twelve classical games, and play all out in the rapid games. It worked out for him in this match. Gelfand is no pushover, especially in classical games. In fact, Gelfand surpised Anand with novelties early in the opening and varied his choice of openings. But Anand is superb in faster time controls. Game 2 was an excellent example of Anand's superiority in rapid games. Anand did study the intricacies of the novelty played Gelfand in an earlier game and came prepared in the rapid games. Congratulations, Anand, for a job well done!

PircAlert's picture

While spinning machines are working overtime in different parts of the world...

Congratulations to the Chennai Chess Super King Anand!! More of an effortless show by Anand. He pulled off a win at will on the 8th game when getting an opening advantage is so difficult against some perfect preparation. A world championship record move (played out) win! 11th and 12th game, Anand just teased Gelfand with draw offers in his opponent's time pressure. Rocking the cradle and rocking at the chess board at the same time is not that easy, yet an wonderful show, to hold on to the title without too much exertion.

Anand, sorry, didn't show much support this time. But keep it up. Next championship, I won't let you relax.

So folks, once again get this.. Anand is the greatest ever in the kingdom of chess!!

Anonymous's picture

Don't let reality get in the way of your dreams!

Ball's picture

he is being sarcastic.

Bronkenstein's picture

Indeed, winning even when in bad shape has always been the mark of big champs =)

PircAlert's picture


Anand rocks!! On the board and off the board (cradle).

PircAlert's picture


Anand rocks!! On the board and off the board (cradle).

PircAlert's picture


Anand rocks!! On the board and off the board (cradle).

lefier's picture

The way Anand played this match, all top 10 players on the rating list would probably beat him. Why? Because Anand has got afraid to put up any fight at all unless he is on absolutely safe ground. He has simply lost his nerve with complications, due to a couple of bad experiences lately where he got lost in unclear positions.

Fireblade's picture

Just like Kramnik said he was much relieved after he lost the match in 2008 and since then he has played chess as a free spirit and has got some good results.I think the weight of the crown is too much and restricts you to play with creativity given the presence of machines which can refute an idea at the push of a button.
Anand maybe has a year or two left in his amazing career and the best thing that could have happened to him was him losing the match !

But as a Anand fan congratulations to the World Champ for retaining his title.

silvakov's picture

Anand didnt win the match, Gelfand lost it. On classic and/or rapid time controls. Now we have 8-9 months of Anand without a World championship defense in sight to see if he still can play chess...

filiusdextris's picture

"Gelfand lost it." Just like Gelfand beating Kamsky 2-2 in tiebreaks from their semifinal match in the qualifiers, when Kamsky had Gelfand dead to rights to win their match. Gelfand was further lucky to even be here, beating the 5th, 7th, and 8th seeds of that event in best of 4 matches. Hats off to him for taking advantage of opportunities, but he has proven nothing in my eyes. Nothing.

sam's picture

Congrats to Vishy. This is 5th world championship for him. Great that He won in all formats. Though Anand seems to be not in great form this time, he just managed to win. Probably his speed and vast experience counts. I would appreciate Gelfi for proving to be a tough nut. Rather than 3 rapid games they 'd have put 10 rapid games.

muralidhara gk's picture

Anand is the only chess player
1) who played in all formats and won (unlike most of his predecessors )
2) Adhered to the rules by FIDE (unlike so called old immortals who advantageously avoided strong opponents and imposed unrealistic conditions on probable challengers)
3) Gentleman and well behaved (unlike American and Bulgarian ex champs)

Congratulations to the Indian World Champion and to the Israeli Challenger who exhibited true sporting spirits.

Mike's picture

The Computer Problem: One of the solutions was implied in my previous 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...

hari's picture

Congratulations for the great Vishy !!! Againe he has proven that he is the greatest chess player ever and a heaven born champion. Kasparov knows very well that just great luck and dirty tricks gave him the advantage in their encounter, otherwise Vishys regency would have started much earlier. Gelfand was a worthy opponent, clearly the best match player beside the "Prime of India", and both created masterpieces of modern chess art. One should rank this match even higher then the classics like Fischer - Spassky and even Capablanca - Alekhine. No doubt Vishys claim to the throne of chess will continue for decades.
Long live the KING!!!

Lizz's picture

and he is also best looking players ;-)

kurti's picture

Good joke. IAnand's regency will continue if he can just sit on his throne, wait for a challenger and then prepare for a full year. Otherwise, his odds clearly aren't the best anymore. Looking forward to the Tiger of Madras demonstrating his strength against the true world elite soon. He will be playing in the 'Kings' tournament in Medias, Romania against Carlsen, Radjabov, Karjakin and Ivanchuk starting June 23. Huge surprise if he can finish higher than 4th (out of 5), even now that there isn't any preparation to hide and he shouldn't be rusty after the match he just played. That's the real test for the best ;-)

Bronkenstein's picture

But, it´s only a tournament , an unofficial one - just another Elo grind. Why should he waste his nerves on much less important stuff, shortly after so tough match?

On his place, I would take it easy and play like a tourist.Let the kids farm their Elo.

Anonymous's picture

"Let the kids farm their Elo"

You don't seem to know much about how Fischer and Kasparov got their Elo.

Bronkenstein's picture

Just few curious details on the Elo, matches and the players you mentioned.

IIRC Fischer lost some Elo during his victorious match with Spassky, same has happened to Kasparov few times (vs Karpov), and again - Vishy lost quite some Elo points after actually defending his crown. I don´t think any of them cared too much.

On the other hand , many players today have nothing but Elo, and , naturally, maintaining it or pumping it up becomes the sole purpose of their career. For example, I remember Nakamura playing some candidate masters (rated 2100-2300 approx, 5 of them) in some unimportant open tournament few months ago. He won these 5 games, gaining 5 x 0.8 = 4 Elo total. Without that, he would be behind Karjakin (who is No7 on live) instead of being No5.

xtc's picture

It's true that Nakamura played candidate masters a few months ago and gained 4 elo points. In the short term, it can have an impact in a 1 or 2 ranking placements but in the long term, it washes out.. BTW, two years Nakamura played in a similar tournament against the same type of candidate masters. One of the candidate masters drew, and Nakamura lost 5 elos points altogether. Playing candidate masters is no gimme. If it were, you'd see more super GMs pad their ratings at will. Didn't Nakamura complain about Caruana padding his elos by playing weak competition. Well, Caruana kept doing it and eventually wound up with only a small net gain.

Bronkenstein's picture

Well , washed out in time or not (and - no1 can guarantee you that the upset will happen) his little farming had the impact on the very top of the rating list. But that remark has nothing to do with my point, maybe I should clarify further.

You can pump your Elo to the very top while actually having negative scores with the elite, no matter if the farm was done on rabbits or sub-2700s, not to mention ´bying´ games/points , cherrypicking opponents/events etc.

redivivo's picture

It still hurts that Carlsen has been topping the rating list for so long, huh?

Reprokid's picture

lol Fischer > Anand

PD's picture

Boris has proven many many people wrong who thought that he would be a pushover. He came so close!! Hope,he gets invited to top tourneys. Hopefully, prize money helps him great deal in his personal life, esp. considering that age is not on his side.

VietLion's picture

Congratulations for Great Anand! Good try Boris Genfand!

PeterV's picture

It wasn't that bad at all. Anyway, I enjoyed the match.

jmd85146's picture

If I were Gandalf I would take the 1.15million dollars and not the 92700 euros.
Congrats to Vishy

Eric's picture

Excellent coverage, chessvibes. Congrats and thanks!

Peter Grahn's picture

Its better to decide WC in classical games.Let them play 20-24 games like in the 80thies.Its moore fair

Manu's picture

I am really shocked to see how little of the real press has echoed the final outcome of this match , chess is going down faster than expected .
Congratulations to Anand 4 winning this , and hail to the real world champion from Norway , his reign is now much clearer than ever .

mishanp's picture

Here are 539 or so articles from Google News for you to be even more "really shocked" about:

The simple fact is this match has been incomparably better organised than the last match in Sofia, which was frankly embarrassing in terms of the venue, organisation and what was made available to the international media. Ok, the chess was a little dull at times, but I think chess fans tends to exaggerate the influence the actual games have on the image of chess - the show that was put on in Moscow was much better for chess (for attracting potential sponsors etc.) than the more enjoyable match in Sofia.

Manu's picture

Thx for the link , i knew you could do google! , now read it and see that apart from the indian media there are no really big repercussions from the match .
Please also note that most links on your search refers to articles that are not precisely "headlines" .
You really wanna do this? you really want to have the discussion about chess being noticed on world media?
BTW IMO the match in Sofia had only mediocre repercussion , but this , this is just sad.
Also nobody argues about the quality of the organization , thing is that is never enough when the event itself is irrelevant.

Thomas's picture

The Google ranking may be based on number of hits, which would explain why Indian sources predominate. But there are also English ones (BBC News, Guardian), American ones (Houston Chronicle, Washington Post - both interestingly focusing on Gelfand and how the match was received in Israel), even Australian ones.

My own experience in other languages:
- A major German newspaper had a reporter in Moscow throughout the match, who IMO did a very good job writing for a general audience.
- Today I was puzzled that "my" Dutch newspaper didn't report on the sports pages as they had done throughout the event. As it turned out, today it was a "top story" on page 5 - right next to a pictorial report on the earthquake in Northern Italy (whatever that means ...).
I don't know what you, Manu, expected: Argentinian media probably reported in more detail on the San Luis WCh - just like German media had even more coverage on the Anand-Kramnik match held in Bonn.

Manu's picture

Not engaging this argument , sorry , the media attention on this match has been timid to put it mildly , and it has decreased a lot match by match since Kasparov departure ,that is a fact.

S3's picture

How long since the "real world champion" has played a serious game?

Mark De Smedt's picture

I very much enjoyed the live commentary by top players. It wasn't the most thrilling match ever, but even so, as a chess fan you can learn and discover a great deal by trying to understand both players' moves and plans. I don’t feel the players let us down. Gelfand put up a great fight and Vishy managed to retain his title once again, thanks to his speed and strong nerves. During the final press conference, he honestly admitted that the match had been completely balanced and that he had just "hung on for dear life". Congratulations, Vishy, what a classy champion you are !

This doesn't diminish the merits of Carlsen, Aronian or anyone else, but tournaments just aren't the same as matches. 2013 will be their next chance.

Mark De Smedt's picture

Although the tie-break was nice to watch, I find it a true shame that the world title, a century-old tradition and more importantly a contest that is well suited to the unique characteristics of chess, can be decided in rapid games. Classical chess, rapid, blitz, blind and 960 should have completely separate world championships, because they are all beautiful in their own right ! Here’s a practical solution in order to maintain the value of a world title in classical chess:

In case of a 6-6 tie, regular games could continue until the first decisive game while alternating colors in a balanced way (BWWBBW, after a WBWBWBBWBWBW scheme during the first 12 games). And if 6 more draws would follow (making it 9-9), the champion could retain his title, but in turn he would have to play a semi-final match against the same opponent during the next cycle. Regardless whether such an exceptional semi-final takes place, there could always be another semi-final between the nrs. 1 and 2 of the candidates’ tournament. Semi-finals could be disputed over 8 classical games, with a maximum of 6 extra games (until the first win) in case of a tie. If the tie doesn’t get broken (7-7), the winner of the candidates’ would qualify for the final WC match.

If the champion has to play a semi-final and loses, his opponent inherits his draw odds in the final WC match. If the exceptional semi-final ends in yet another prolonged tie (7-7 following the 9-9 in the previous final WC match), the champion would again benefit from draw odds, but in that specific scenario his legitimacy would be somewhat diminished, so draw odds during the final WC match would automatically pass onto the new challenger (i.e. the winner of the other semi-final). In the same scenario the old challenger, who has become the victim of draw odds for two cycles in a row, gets a spot in the next cycle’s candidates’ tournament, just like the runner-up of the final WC match.

Sligunner's picture


Bronkenstein's picture

Very interesting ideas , but I would still prefer rapid TBs , maybe just slightly slower- though this tempo still looks OK.

Speaking about tempo, Both Vishy and Boris were ´off tempo´ in TBs. They should be able, under ´normal´ conditions, to give us rapid games of 2600+ ´classical´ quality. Boris, with his horrible time management (which costed him the crown it seems), made it look much more blitzy and random than it can be.Vishy, on the contrary, played too fast - especially in the openings - reaching dubious or just plain lost positions very fast.

PS I am also looking forward to FIDE rapid/blitz ratings and WCCs.These forms of chess are much more media/fan friendly and therefore ideal for further popularisation.


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