Reports | May 21, 2012 15:26

World Championship: Anand levels the score as Gelfand blunders his queen (VIDEO)

World Championship: Anand levels the score as Gelfand blunders his queen

Due to a tactical oversight by Boris Gelfand, Vishy Anand needed only 17 moves to level the score in the World Championship match in Moscow, Russia. On Monday the World Champion played 3.f3, just like in game 3, after which the challenger went for a Benoni-like structure with 3...c5 instead of the Grünfeld. The game quickly got quite sharp, but suddenly the Israeli chose the wrong path and completely missed that his queen would be trapped. The score is 4-4 with four games to go.

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

Anand returns to 1.d4, but Gelfand won't play the Grünfeld

If we don't take into account the second match game Fischer-Spassky, Reykjavik 1972 it was the shortest decisive game ever played in a World Championship match. Right after the opening Boris Gelfand miscalculated, and got his queen trapped on h1. He could have saved her majesty by developing his queen's knight, but his position would have been lost anyway and so he duly resigned.

For a moment the State Tretyakov Gallery was in total shock, and the journalists in the press room couldn't believe their eyes. Vishy Anand had only needed 17 moves to level the score, breaking the previous record of 19 moves in Steinitz-Zukertort (20), 1886.

At the press conference, which started a bit later than usual because the players were taken away for drug testing, Gelfand admitted that he had simply missed Anand's last move 17.Qf2.

I had to calculate a lot of lines, and I miscalculated.

Anand had seen the idea quite early.

I had seen sometime before that it was a blunder. I think I even saw this when I played exf5.

We've alreay looked at some of the online commentaries and it's striking to see how everyone, blinded by the engine's evaluations, fails to explain the blunder from a human perspective. Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko, who was giving commentary on games 7 and 8 for the official website, told us:

First of all I don't think it's a tactical idea. It's just an accident which suddenly happens because it's completely unexpected, nobody thinks of this. For sure the computer points it out long in advance and that's why everybody thinks it's simple, but no. Black's problem was that after White's g4 he had an incredible wide range of moves. For example he could take on b1 and move his knight, and Black is fine. However, by that point Gelfand was probably very motivated, he was looking for more. Then he saw ...Re8+ and the motif with Qf6 attacking f3, and after Black takes on h1 White's attack on the kingside is not winning. Then, there is also Kc2 for White but I think Gelfand was planning to sacrifice an exchange there. So he was calculating all these complicated lines... I was explaining this to the audience already half an hour before it happened, and it all had a very logical consequence. It was very human to think like this.

The continuation of Leko's explanation is included in our video:

As the video also shows, Gelfand was amazingly professional during the press conference, answering questions the same as always, and even joking a bit here and there.

The match has really come to life now, with two decisive games after six draws. Anand was asked whether he had a different mindset.

I would like to think I play each game hard. It is true, sometimes it happens like that. The last two games were not same as before; they were emotionally tough. I don't know if I (knowingly) played aggressively today. It was a consequence of this position and I knew I had to fight hard. If I played well, I'm happy.


On Wednesday the match resumes with game 9, in which Gelfand will play with the white pieces again.

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.


Sam's picture

Very well articulated! Both days it was such a learning experience! And it was also clear leko was so much more fluent than nepo

KingTal's picture

I liked the church bells ringing in the background after Boris resigned and when he started discussing the game with Anand at the table with a sad face, sounded like a funeral and was kinda symbolic for this game.
Although Boris kept his cool at the press conference without emotions.

classic's picture

Gelfand is just not wc-material when playing out of the box. One may easily imagine Aronian or Carlsen playing Gelfand on unknown ground where chess-skills are more important than preparations.

rajeshv's picture

Wonder why you didn't care to enlighten us with this/similar comment after game 7.

And... one might remind everyone with similar feelings - the match is far from over, and if we have a WC Gelfand in the end, he would have darn well earned it "through blood and sweat" (to borrow his own words).

Mark's picture

Why didn't Gelfand play on with Nc6? Seems to not lose the queen..?

sankar's picture

I had the same question. Please see the chessbase report with the analysis. In the Nc6 line black saves the Queen but will lose material - be a whole piece down.

Mark De Smedt's picture

After 18.dxc6 Qxc6 the material balance may be more or less equal, but positionally speaking White is winning thanks to a beautiful diagonal for his bishop (Bg2), a perfect square for his knight (Nd5) and dangerous pressure on f7 (Rf1).

sankar's picture

Thanks Mark. Here is the line from ChessBase report (

[17.Qf2 Nc6 18.dxc6 Qxc6 19.Bg2 Qd7 20.Nd5 ]

In this position, Nf6 by white can fork the black R, Q, and K. If 20...Kg7 then 21. Nf6 will fork black R and Q. After white exchanges his N with the R, white is a whole Bishop up!

Mark's picture

I did look at that in an analysis, but the engines don't seem to think Black is SO much worse.. I mean, Anand did blunder a +1.1 adv before in the match, this was about the same eval..

Remco Gerlich's picture

You shouldn't look at computer evals that much. One "+1.1" position may be a completely trivial win while another position of the same evaluation may have an extremely difficult to spot subtle point in some line that gives it that evaluation.

To computers it's the same thing, to humans a difference like day and night.

Anonymous's picture

If Anand won't play 1. e4, I hope the rest of the games are drawn. It would have been nice to see a top 10 player challenge him.

Al Hughes's picture

Nipped to the shops around move 12 and got back just in time to see them putting Boris in the back of the ambulance. Marvelous.

sankar's picture

In the press conference, Anand said that he saw the trap around his 11th move when he played e4*f5

Agree with others here that non computer aided commentary is very useful to gain insight into GM thinking

Bronkenstein's picture

I wonder where all these prophets of doom ( remember, draw death , urgent measures) disappeared overnight? =)

PS I also suspect that their number would be close (or equal) to zero , had , lessay , Vishy see d7!! in 3rd game , or if any of the players had simply blundered something earlier.

Thomas's picture

Or what if the match included a fan favorite, say Aronian, Carlsen or Nakamura (who didn't come close to qualifying in this and the next WCh cycle)? I guess in that case during a series of draws the majority(?) tone would have been "be patient, the match will come alive sooner or later".

Remco Gerlich's picture

To be fair to them, the talk of draw death in matches had already started during the > 90% draw Candidates matches, and simply continued here.

That said, I refuse to see how a tactical mistake that loses after 17 moves improves the match, I'd have preferred a 30-move draw...

Bronkenstein's picture

´Well timed´ blunders are contributing much more to the popularity of our game than good form/technique or excellent preparation on both sides (which tend to produce ´boring´ games). For example , just one or two ´well timed ones´ in Kazan would imbalance the match(es) and we would most likely see more than 10% decisive games. Unfortunately , the players ´kept´ their blunders for TBs and superior/winning positions.

Therefore , we need more blunders , with more ´OMG how could he miss THAT ??´drama and silly boxing/football parallels to follow, more ´the unworthy challenger´ , ´best players not playing here´ , more broadcasts with annoying commercials - these are actually healthy signs that the game is actually gaining in popularity. Or, is it maybe not what we want?

rajeshv's picture

+1 to both @Bronkenstein and Thomas.

redivivo's picture

I'm sure those guys would have only positives to say about Carlsen's play if he started a match against Gelfand with six draws and a loss :-)

Zeblakob's picture

For me, this is a half tricky win.

Zeblakob's picture

i.e. in my scoring system, Gelfand is half a point ahead.

bhabatosh's picture

tell me how many more ideas you have like this ? please enlighten us about your scoring system ......

Zeblakob's picture

In fact I have an infinity of ideas like that, join me at and I will bless you there.

bhabatosh's picture

tell me how many more ideas you have like this ? please enlighten us about your scoring system ......

nis's picture

funny thing is even after Q*R H1 was played, even then nepo and peter did not know qf2 wins....
anand is a genius no doubt

flinger's picture

Guys, this game was rubbish. And that Leko and co. did not see it is quite scary... it just feels staged. I saw it. What is going on? The only other claim is that Gelfand had a serious breakdown and probably won't put up any resistance in the rest of the match... otherwise this is just nonsense.

nis's picture

compare this bluder to carlsens blunder against giri,
u are patzer u looser

Aditya's picture

I love the part of the video where Vishy is standing in the distance, Gelfand is looking at him and he is looking back. And then, Gelfand stops the clock. Neat!

Niima's picture

Agreed. A snapshot of it would make for a could picture.

nis's picture

lol even after anand played qf2, nepo was like , what the hell is happening, i do not know , then peter leko says ohh the queen is trapped , guyzz respect for the 5 time world champ , reminds me of win against kramnik

abhishek's picture

actually it was the other way was surprising that even after gxh5 they both din t see.. finally after Qf2 nepo said the queen is trapped.....and he asked leko if he would resign in this position...and leko said yes

nis's picture

lol even after anand played qf2, nepo was like , what the hell is happening, i do not know , then peter leko says ohh the queen is trapped , guyzz respect for the 5 time world champ , reminds me of win against kramnik

bhabatosh's picture

u r absolutely right ... may times these big shots see engine evaluation and will tell this is right , but without any computer help it is so difficult to see these details .... what a trap !!!

Leo's picture

"What a trap", really? A couple of forced exchanges and the Q is caught in one move. More like "what a blunder", if you ask me :)

Septimus's picture

Leko is very articulate. Will Karpov show up again? I enjoyed his observations.

Gandalf could have played on for a bit, perhaps throwing a rook or something to save the queen.

AK's picture

Leko is an excellent live commentator and probably the best annotator in the world. I always love to read his annotations. Although I was slightly bothered by his accent and loud talk. You could hear him even while watching Russian booth:)).

But overall I think Svidler is at least as enjoyable. Both in English and Russian. He shows ideas and lines that illustrate them. Although I slightly prefer his English commentary because NiC editor allows him to talk, while Smirin always talks way more than superGMs next to him. You could see, that both Svidler and Smirin wanted to be in the drivers seat today and they ended up talking over each other a lot.

RealityCheck's picture

You're right. Really the NiC guy gives the whole program direction. I was surprised he didn't get annoyed when Kasparov was in the booth bogarting the mic.
As for real commentators Leko, Shipov (in print), and Svidler gotta be top three . Although I enjoyed Timman too...

Henk de Jager's picture

Peter Leko has been absolutely fenomenal in the live coverage. No more ´boring Leko´ for me. Great analysis, nice variations and a lot of good chess strategy talk. The organizers have made a tremendous effort with the match website, including live comment, press conference etc. (

Niima's picture

Not to mention that he comes across as being a super nice guy.

RealityCheck's picture

Nice guy my azzzz. Leko, Anand, Gelfand, Kramnik, Aronian, , Ivanchuk etc, are just civilised. They are cultured people. And, they are very un-like the crude personality we see in a Fischer or Kasparov, etc...

sankar's picture

Any one have access to translation of Sergei Shipov's commentary. For some reason the ChessInTranslation live game link is not working

mishanp's picture

I don't see an earlier link but this should work:

Or it's also in the player at this page (you need to choose the last game):

sankar's picture

Thanks a lot Mishanp. I think the problem is with my settings. I can see the game viewers in ChessBase and ChessVibes. I cannot see the ChessTempo game viewer in the links you gave me. I will look it up later in the evening again.

p.s: Are you Russian?

mishanp's picture

No, English (it's a long story with "misha"!) Strange that you can see the game here as it's the same viewer. I think it's working, but maybe try a different browser etc.? I might also put up Shipov's commentary just as text later, though I'm not sure yet.

sankar's picture

Thanks for clarifying. Envious that you are English and can translate Russian so well!!
Keep up the good work!

Harish Srinivasan's picture

I agree with general consensus that Leko has provided some very nice commentary. Also in general, commentary with out engines brings out the best in terms of what the players themselves might be thinking. I missed the ICC commentary today, did they see it before or had to wait for a computer-kibitzer to prompt them?

If there was no such human commentary, this win by Vishy (or rather the move Qf2) would not have been considered a brilliant trap, but rather only Gelfand had blundered in an obvious position.

cip's picture

I just wanted to add that it is the nature of Benoni, that lines are sharp and Black, as the side with less space, has only lines that all depend on little tactics happening as late as 10 moves in the future.
The one today was particularly nasty, because it involved the kind of un-natural move allowing Qxf3 and follow-up of Qf2, though for a GM there is no excuse. It was a blunder. Too bad as well, the position looked promising for Black.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

If not for this line with ...Qf6 (which completely fails to this one move Qf2), it seems white is better. At least GM Ramierz on chessbase, Leko and Nepomniatchi had the same thought. Ofcourse they could be wrong.

cip's picture

After Bxf5 etc. it seems a bit forced. Though Re8 was the real bad move. Qh4 instead would have probably equalized. (comps think so, don't know how it plays over the board)
But I thought Black didn't have to take on f5 at all. Bxf5 allows g4 with a tempo. Maybe sack the pawn for activity and strategical, long term pressure on the dark squares. Like for example with Re8, then Nd7-e5, smthg like that.

robert's picture

So fed up with all the comments saying "how could Gelfand missed that ! It's so easy, etc..." with the computer always on....
Such a great idea to have the commentators speaking about the position and not about the computer's evaluation.
And seeing the whole line beginning with Qd2 and after Qf6 was really not easy when you don't have computer with you. Just so many spoiled kids !


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