Reports | May 23, 2012 15:24

Gelfand-Anand G9, a Nimzo-Indian, drawn after 49 moves (VIDEO)

Gelfand-Anand G9, a Nimzo-Indian, drawn after 49 moves

The 9th game between Boris Gelfand and Vishy Anand, the longest encounter in the match so far, ended in a draw after 49 moves. For the first time in this World Championship match a Nimzo-Indian opening came on the board. With White Gelfand got a slight edge with the bishop pair and hanging central pawns against two knights and a healthy structure for Anand. At some point the challenger went for a concrete continuation which got him the opponent's queen in exchange for a rook, knight and pawn. Anand then defended accurately and demonstrated that Black has a fortress.

It's still equal in Moscow with three games to play | Photo Anastasia Karlovich

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

Gelfand vs Anand: a Nimzo-Indian this time

After yet another draw, but this time a fighting one, the match score is still even: 4.5-4.5. It's funny to see this 9th match game being described in other reports as a "marathon battle" – apparently we've gotten used to short games so much, that a game which passes the first time control is considered that long! In fact the number of moves was 49, and in clock time it was almost five hours. Once upon a time this was the average length of a chess game, wasn't it?

In any case, it was a good game, certainly from an entertainment perspective. GM Ilya Smirin, host at the Russian language commentary on the official website every day, in fact didn't like the level of play so much. He went on to say that the players haven't been showing their top form in Moscow. Smirin was interviewed by us for today's video.

In this game Anand played the Nimzo – some journalists had already predicted that Anand wouldn't play the Semi-Slav/Chebanenko anymore, after having lost with it in his last black game. His team has probably solved the issues from that encounter already, but it's the general feeling, the memories of a loss, that prevail in such situations. After the first match game in Sofia, Anand wouldn't repeat his Grünfeld against Topalov until game 10.

Strangely enough, in quite a famous IQP (Isolated Queen's Pawn) position the World Champion started mixing up variations and middlegame plans basically right after the opening. Without much effort Gelfand got a very nice advantage, which he should have built up with one or two quiet moves, since Black, on his turn, was lacking useful moves already.

But instead Gelfand opted for a forced sequence which won the opponent's queen in return for a rook, knight and pawn. The Israeli felt he could be playing for "two weaknesses", while the Indian expected to be able to find a fortress. And he did. After 49 moves the World Champion offered a draw, and the challenger accepted reluctantly.

On Thursday game 10 will be played and after that two more classical games are scheduled for Saturday and Monday. If the score is 6-6, a rapid/blitz tiebreak will decide matters on Wednesday next week.

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.


Frendu's picture

Superb display of defence by vishy.....

Zeblakob's picture

@Frendu, yesterday I was rooting for Gelfand and I said: "Anand escaped like a fish, Gelfand has the initiative in the match.". Today I am rooting for Anand and I say :"Anand found a genius fortress, he can draw as he pleased". I prefer to be objective and see the match as White Vs Black.

john's picture

+ 1
Awesome display by vishy:)
Though he did say in the press conference tht he lost his way in the opening.

Bronkenstein's picture

Gandalf´s blunder lost the game on the spot, while Vishy´s led ´just´ to unpleasant position. Well, you can´t choose your mistakes...

PS I can already see the next ChessBase article, no matter what is happening in the game - it´s always Vishy this and Vishy that ;)

Harish Srinivasan's picture

In general that is how one makes up headlines in general news articles (not chess). You try and put the more famous person in it although I don't think anybody pays attention to headlines in chessbase. Anybody who visits chessbase is probably more interested in the analysis and the article itself when they are ready.

Bronkenstein's picture

Yes, I know how it works. I would also think twice (being on the place of a journalist) before emphasizing something else in the game(s), especially having in mind great difference in the number of fans of each contender , not to mention haters - poor old Gelfy was unlucky to win ´wrong´ cycle , that was supposed to belong to MC, Levon or Vlad.

Also , Vishy seems to have excellent relations with the Chessbase crew , which also kinda helps.

Niima's picture

Good points.

Bronkenstein's picture

I just checked ChessBase - everything is, OFC, as expected.

Abhi2810's picture

Who do you think is Best World Chess Champion? You can Vote in this ranking...

Simmillion's picture

Pretty cool draw, especially for Anand. My guess is one of the two remaining whites will score him a full point.

(@Harish & Bronkenstein: Google gives less then 300.000 hits searching for Gandalf, and close to 5 million for Vishy, so I would know who I would put in my header being a newssite)

Joe's picture

Apparently letting Googles search results decide your headlines make perfect sense indeed.

Simmillion's picture

Yep, less romantic then some like it, but is indeed very sensible to use knwon people in your headers/articles

Thomas's picture

That's not the point - of course they have to mention both Anand and Gelfand in the article (only Topalov doesn't say "Kramnik", but "my opponent from Elista"). The point is that the Chessbase article is written completely from Anand's point of view, and actually seems inaccurate:
"the NIIT MindChampion opted for active defence by giving up his queen for a rook, knight and a pawn" - this wasn't Anand's choice, Gelfand forced him to give up his queen (rather than going for a less forcing but possibly more promising continuation)

PircAlert's picture

Is "forced him to" accurate here? I would say "Gelfand played inaccurately (slightly or a bit more) to make Anand give up his queen etc. to find an active defense". How about that? ;)

Thomas's picture

A matter of semantics: I stick to "forced him to" because the alternatives (keeping the white passed c-pawn alive) seem clearly worse. Whether Gelfand played inaccurately - probably he did, but IF white had destroyed the black fortress (still a bit unclear with best play) Gelfand supporters and neutral observers might now say that he did everything right. Finally, I wonder if going for a fortress really should be called "active defense".
But my main point might become clearer if we introduce Nakamura-Howell, London 2010 - . Certain similarities with the Gelfand-Anand game. At the time, did people emphasize Howell's brilliant defense, or did they rather say that Nakamura was "unlucky"?

Anonymous's picture

Of course because Google is how most people find things on the web, so if you have a website you hope Google leads them to your site.

Niima's picture

The world champion's name gets people to your website, but that does not mean the articles have to favour one player over another.

genius's picture

Vishy has obviously been the better player of the two for more than 20 years. So of course one should expect more focus on Vishy than Gandalf.

randi's picture

I totally agree man. It happens in Chessvibes, Chessdom, Pogonina's & Polgar's websites, etc..not to mention the increase of Gelfy's coverage is related to Anand, so everytime we hear Gelfand we also hear Anand.

RealityCheck's picture

D e F en C e. A na N d master. D eFen Der. T h E WorLd ChAmp ii On Vis wan A tha n An a N d...

Frits Fritschy's picture

I haven't seen the translation yet, but Shipov comes with a variation that might blow up the fortress:
33.g4 Kg7 34.Qd4 Kh7 35.f4 Kg7 36.Kg3 Kh7 37.Kh4!? Kg7 38.f5 Rd7 and now he plays 39.fxe6 fxe6 40 Qd2 Kg6 (and black equalises?), but what if you wait with exchanging? A Zugzwang seems right around the corner, for instance 39 Qe4 Rd6 40 Qc4 Rd7 41 Qc6 Re7 42 Qd6 Kh7 43 Kh5 and maybe you can go on with h4 and g5 (after a double exchange, f6 is coming). Also 35 g4 looks more promising than the game continuation. I have no engine running here, so maybe the white king just gets mated... But if not?
Too little time on the clock for Gelfand to win?

Bronkenstein's picture

Shipov made almost half an hour long post mortem vid on the game (much longer than average one from this match) , I am just starting to watch it. Maybe he has something...

Henk de Jager's picture

In general: I find the coverage of Chessvibes slightly disappointing, especially since Peter is in Moscow for the match.

Chris's picture

Nice ending - fortress it makes chess beautiful.

Bronkenstein's picture

OK, Shipov´s analysis show that the game is basically draw after Gandalf´s 19.c5? ( the ´?´ - mark is his) , also most likely after 19.a3!?(...e5!) suggested by Grischuk/Smirin during the broadcast, but simple 19.h3 would give white substantial advantage ie good winning chances , although the lines are far from simple.

Anything after that critical point is woodpushing , and white has only practical chances. Vishy´s fortress-intuition was good , and his defense flawless!

Frits Fritschy's picture

I just read Dana Mackenzie's translation of Shipov's comment (see twitter on "It still seems to me that the harshest test is 33.g4 , followed by, for example, 33...Kg7 34.Qd4 Kh7 35.f4 Kg7 36.Kg3 Kh7 37.Kh4!? Kg7 38.f5 Rd7 39.fxe6 fxe6 40.Qd2 with the threat of Kh4-h5. But Black does have the defense 40...Kg6 Still, the position looks extremely troublesome for Black. Extremely!" Not to mention 39 Qe4 in this variation, as suggested by this not so humble person here.
Well, maybe after that it was just (high level) woodpushing.

Bronkenstein's picture

Fitrst , you have Shipov´s ´live´ , typed comment with brief analysis - the one you got to read the translation of , and then few hours later you can watch (unfortunately , on Russian) his detailed post-mortem , with corrections of ´live´ if necessary - and there is always something to correct , as we can see.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Thanks, hadn't seen that yet. You speaking any Russian? I'm interested in what Shipov's verdict is after the long variation starting with 33 g4. Let's put the queen on b7 and the white king on f5. Isn't white getting somewhere?

Frits Fritschy's picture

Okay, the king can't go to f5 here (Rxb7 and Ne7+). But I'm not so convinced yet this is a draw. Very long variation!

Bronkenstein's picture

33.g4 Kg7 34.Qd4 Kh7 35.f4 Kg7 36.Kg3 Rc3+!(instead of ´live´ Kh7) 37. Kh4 Rf3! and black king feels ...ahem...uncomfortable =) - which is just a part of long and complicated line.

The link can not be copypasted for some reason, but you can google ´Crestbook´ , first article on the site contains table of links - sorted by days , 1 to 9 ATM - some to youtube vid , and some for downloading CBV file of the game´s post-mortem , in case you want to see more details.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Yes, I had already found this line and I was talking about he end position. What is Shipov writing after 53... Kf8? Any translators available? It may well be a draw.

Bronkenstein's picture

53...Kf8 , where? Anyway , I´m off to sleep soon - try to check the aforementioned CBV (which is more or less exact copy of his video post mortem) on Crestbook (for the line in question , that is) .

Frits Fritschy's picture

I watched the youtube link; on the right side you can see an analysis window. But the same is in the CBV file. Shipov's main variation runs 33 g4 Kg7 34 Qd4 Kh7 35 f4 Kg7 36 f5 Rc2+ 37 Kg3 Rc3+ 38 Kf2! Rc2+ 39 Ke1 Rc7 40 Kd2 Rc7 41 h4 Rd7 42 fxe6 fxe6 43 Ke1 Rc7 44 Qe4 Rc6 45 h5 Ne7 46 Qd3 Rc7 47 Kf2 Ng8 48 Qe4 Re7 49 Kf3 f5 50 Qe5+ Kh7 51 gxf5 exf5 52 Qxf5+ Kg7 53 Qg6+ Kf8 and after that comes the mentioned evaluation in Russian.
I'm still looking here at 42 Kc2 Rc7+ 43 Kb2 Rd7 44 Qc5. Zugzwang in the making?

mishanp's picture

The written evaluation there is: "It looks like a draw! [in Russian "ryba" or "fish"] The computer has a high evaluation, but how can you win?"

Generally as I think someone said Shipov couldn't find a win after Gelfand went for c5.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Thanks, it may well be a draw there. Looks a bit like the endposition of the analysis on Giri's website.

JM's picture

This was in my opinion the best game so far! Is undoubtedly the best draw and superior to the decisive games because it don't contains any blunder, only an inaccuracy by Gelfand with 19.c5.

It was a great show of defense by Anand and a show of persistence by Gelfand.

It is obvious that the psychological aspects of the game are increasing as we approach the end. The fact that Gelfand performs better when he is in a psychological inferior position and performs badly when he has an edge is quite interesting, this has been obvious since the start and I don't know to witch extent the move 15...Bxf3 wasn't based on that...

Congratulation for both players also for reaching move 40!

S3's picture

Considering the duration of the match I think Gelfand should change his play a little. So far he is mostly going for relatively uncomplicated and forced lines and he seems a bit afraid exploiting better positions when it gets more complicated. Anand may be better in calculating but Gelfand shouldn't be afraid when he has the advantage.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, except for the absurd decision to play the Benoni when he was up by a point....but, of course, few people want to have BG world champion.

Arvin's picture

As this game shows, Anand should be very careful not to be too overconfident in the remaining games. Gelfand (it's funny that a lot of people refer to him as Gandalf) is very determined to win and showed strength here after a disastrous Game 8. In my opinion, he is still a very dangerous opponent. By the way, kudos to Anand for the way he defended a difficult position here in Game 9.

chessian's picture

can someone explain why Anand took the Knight from his Bishop?

Ganesh's picture

That’s a novelty (never played before). Anand took a risky gamble by choosing his two knights Vs whites two bishops. In this position white has lot of advantage. Anand is expecting a mistake from Boris in the pursuit of attacking. Boris is not attacking until all his minor pieces are traded, may be as a result of last game. But the later attack of Boris was well defended by Anand.
Boris attack is very good with the a-pawn, which effectively tied the black rook to the 7th rank. But I have expected a little more aggressive attack by Boris with queen, that is entering into the fortress and attacking instead of attacking from outside. Apparently Anand did well with his pawn and knight.

Manu's picture

IMHO Gelfand is getting close to a decisive victory , although Vishy is obviously the favourite here , of course this is just a gut thing , Vishy has been a better player 4 the last 20 years .
I agree with the israeli GM that the level is not very impressive so far.
I never liked Gelfand in the past but this event made me somehow appreciate him a lot more , i really hope he wins this.

AK's picture

Franky, I don't understand why many of you keep praising Vishy. Great defense? Sure.

But that Bxf3 was a horrible move, simply horrible. He had fairly solid position (again) from the opening, but once again he totally messed up in the late-opening/early-middlegame phase. Anand has been highly unimpressive, unfortunately. If Gelfand doesn't make a suicide once again and plays his normal chess then money is on him.

redivivo's picture

My impression: As AK I think Anand had a good position out of the opening and then made a really bad blunder with Bxf3. After that Gelfand had a huge advantage on board and clock. If he just had kept pressing slowly like in his previous white game Anand would probably have cracked again.

As it was, Gelfand went for a forced line that lost him much of the advantage with the unfortunate c5, but he still had chances to make Anand suffer. If he had found the g4 line discussed above I think Anand would have failed to find the thin line to survive. But now, draw.

The last 16 months Anand's only win against a player rated above Vallejo is the one where Gelfand blundered into a lost position before the 15th move. Apart from that, nothing, and here he plays slowly and gets into bad positions. Anand just is nowhere near as strong as he was a few years ago.

Chris's picture

He is a father.

Biggy's picture

here goes one more GM annotation in case you are interested:


Frits Fritschy's picture

Thanks, that's another good try. I don't think we have heard the last of this 'fortress' yet!

Sveshi's picture

I was going to suggest Anand Play Bb5 vs Gelfand's Nct Sicilian and he has done it!

Sveshi's picture

I was going to suggest Anand Play Bb5 vs Gelfand's Nct Sicilian and he has done it!

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