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.


cip's picture

but these guys should be able to smell a tactic a mile away, not just see the easy ones...

redivivo's picture

Yes, it can't be denied that it is unusual that players miss things like this with lots of time on the clock at this level, that's also why no other decisive game in a World Championship has been this short, it wasn't some sort of insanely complicated line but such things happen.

flinger's picture

That's my point dude. Based on the comments I'm guessing no one here has a rating above about 2100. Whenever you have this tactic of Qxf3+ or Qxc3+ the first thing that pops into your head is "okay, I've got the rook, now is that Bg2 or Nf3 going to be a problem? Will I get my queen out?" I find that some of the most difficult traps based on this pattern are those where one can recover the queen to a safe square but the time used up in making this maneuver allows your opponent to launch a strong attack. The queen is the best defensive piece, after all. Yet, what occurred was the simplest version. Qxh1 and it is trapped. The thing is I'm just a master and when Gelfand was about to play his blunder I noticed some comment about Qf6 "sucking" and came up with the played line after walking out of the room. The live analysis by Leko I saw after the fact and was stunned. These players who I've studied, who conjure up brilliancies with shots appearing only 8-10 moves later can't see how to trap the queen in two? Please guys. I for one preferred the draws.

Chris's picture

You are right we are below 2800 ;).

The trap is easy but the problem is how far ahead it has been visible for whom and how masked by other variations.( quality sacriface)

Frits Fritschy's picture

About what I said in an earlier comment (and my rating is just under 2100). I think Anand couldn't believe his eyes when Gelfand really played Qf6. I'm pretty sure he didn't intend it to be a trap. He won't put in in a best games collection!

RealityCheck's picture

So, you have an inflated USCF rating. Well, I'm here to tell you USCF Ratings are the biggest joke on the planet.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Do some checking first. I don't have an USCF rating.

RealityCheck's picture

That shot wasn't aimed at you. Sorry. It was meant to hit "flinger" a few posts up thread right between the eyes..

flinger's picture

I don't have a USCF rating either. This guy has nothing to do with his time except run down other people. Or he has a grudge against USCF...

RealityCheck's picture

@flinger Hey dude, have you nothing better to do than patting yourself on the back.... ("The thing is I'm just a master and when Gelfand was about to play his blunder I noticed some comment about Qf6 "sucking" and came up with the played line after walking out of the room. The live analysis by Leko I saw after the fact and was stunned. These players who I've studied, who conjure up brilliancies with shots appearing only 8-10 moves later can't see how to trap the queen in two? Please guys. I for one preferred the draws.").
By way of dis'n Gelfand and Leko, were you trying to convince us or yourself that you're not so stupid after all?
Dude, that's what I thought when I read your post; you sound like some knuckle head with an inflated Ego, USCF Rating.

AljechinsCat's picture

Very much of your opinion. Even in some well-known variations e.g. in the Slav the same (or similar) motiv of catching a queen by playing Qf2 (or -Qc7 after Qxa8 in the Slav) is well known.
Though this was not an "obvious" blunder I can´t shake off the feeling that Aronian,Kramnik or Carlsen would have taken this trap into consideration. Just remember the Kramnik-Aronian match - there were using longer and much more complicated motifs one after the other. One could witness this in the afterwards conference .

lefier's picture

Gelfand's play in unprepared territory is a little behind of those mentioned. And Anand has not been convincingly either.

Fireblade's picture

Greed ! my friend Greed can make you miss the obvious and the not so obvious.

sankar's picture

All those who comment, "they should have seen it" should go back and review many of the blunders that happened in the WCh matches.
Sometimes they seem to forget that those playing the game are human. Same applies to the inspired brilliancies

Chris's picture

2nd suicide in a row. :(

Matt's picture

Awful game to be played in a WC match. Still can't beleive Gelfand is playing Anand. Please, Aronian, Carlsen, Moro or Naka to win the next candidates cycle, please.......

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Remember Kramnik also missed ...Ne3 by Anand in their fifth game, which was also a devilish trap set few moves ago. Its only 4 years since then, so these things very much happen in wch matches.

AK's picture

Moro and Naka have no business in the World Championship match. And Moro is my favorite player. For me those two are Bent Larsen of our time. Exciting chess, but when things get tough they are a clear step below absolute best.

And Gelfand has done more than those two and many others in the recent years. Second place in Mexico, 1st in the World Cup, 1st in Kazan. Ratings are nice but care to name 5 players who have won more important events/games in the last 5-6 years.

Anonymous's picture

But at least BG played the Benoni, right?

Anonymous's picture

But at least BG played the Benoni, right?

DirkBredemeier's picture

Finally some exciting Chess! Wonderful! Bravo to both players, no matter the result!

Chris's picture

exciting? catastrophic!

katar's picture

A Frank Marshall style tactical swindle, where he purposely falls for a "trap" only to reveal a sting at the end (oops!). This game makes the modern SuperGMs appear quite vulnerable when outside of the safe harbor of "theory", e.g., QGD and Petroff. I can't imagine a prime Lasker/Alekhine/Marshall failing to spot the queen trap line. Hopefully we will someday see a SuperGM tournament in FischerRandom which features more of these rather embarrassing 15-20 move miniatures. Good for fans.

Thomas's picture

It occasionally happens to the very strongest players, even in a Petroff:

katar's picture

Gelfand also lost in 16 moves a couple years ago in a Petroff. The reference to Petroff/QGD was just a generalization.

george's picture

the carlsen worshippers are in full force today. why did he chicken out of the candidates again?

flinger's picture

Again? He won't play this one either?

Anonymous's picture

Why did he? Do you know?

MrX's picture

To all the people whining after Carlsen, Aronian, even Nakamura...: One must win the right to challenge the World Champion! None of the above have done so ever yet. Anyway, I'm glad the match really exploded now! Leko was brilliant as a commentator - simply brilliant! And Svidler is of course simply great...every time.

Aztec-warrior's picture

Well, poor Boris, this happens to all of us, although not at WC level, but the match, hopefully, will continue to stay interesting now that both have taste victory and defeat.
I am rooting for Anand. But next time I hope is Carlsen who becomes Champion against Vishy. We'll see...

RealityCheck's picture


Anonymous's picture

Let's also congratulate Boris for playing the Benoni when he was a point up with five games to go.....Can anyone imagine Kramnik doing such a thing?

Mike's picture

The first game far departed from computerized lines, and the human error appeared...

VietLion's picture

Thank you Anand!!!

Yesterdays, I was upset. Not only because of the defeat Anand, but also because the way Gelfand won the game was not convincing for me.

Today, it is clear who is the best chess player in the world.

By the way, I would propose to return the traditional tie-break rule for WCh matches: If the match is draw, the Champ retains the title.

This means the Chalenger should be cleary better than the Champ, and beat him in classical games, not only playing solid and hoping for his luck in the rapid tiebreak.

Mike's picture

I completelly agree...Actual WCC rules are good for Poker and Texas Hold'em , not for Classical Chess...

Arne Moll's picture

17...Nc6 reminds me of the famous game Averbach-Spassky, Leningrad 1956. I wonder if Gelfand saw it, was it mentioned in the press conference?

cmling's picture

Was not mentioned, no - and is not comparable, I would say.

visy's picture

Leko speaks too much..

tomf's picture

Like a the commentators on this site.
His words make far more sense though

Septimus's picture

I still don't understand why he resigned so quickly. It was not like a mate in 1 or something.

george's picture

It was lost for black. positionally as well as materially.

Aris's picture

I can't believe that Gelfand couldn't calculate three simple moves. The moves are forced! 17.Qf2 is not to hard find.

Pakuola's picture

Anand broke another record! Stenitz-Zukertort, 1892, 19 moves, Vishi in only 17!

Aditya's picture

A very nice trap! But it really surprised me that Nepo and Leko and Gelfand all missed it. Hard to comprehend that at 2700+ level more than one player misses 2-3 move deep traps. I think we all develop a standard rule early on, that is if the queen is allowed in the enemy camp to get an advantage, make sure she can get out. The move was certainly much less obvious than a Bg2 or Nf3 block, but it's still hard to believe that Gelfand missed it. Perhaps an off day for him, but Leko and Ian too? To know of the trap at g4 is extraordinary, but at Qf6, I think their antennae should have been buzzing!!

Aditya's picture

Shipov immediately realises something is wrong with the rook capture. His awesome comment "But will the glutton return ?" after Q x h1 says it all.

Mike's picture

Gentlemen...I am not a GM, just a +-1800 rated...But I will suggest a new rule for Classical WCC matches (and others): The less a game have actual theoretical moves (or the less it agree with the calculated computer lines), the more valuable it is, in such a way that, independently from the outcome of the game, both players will receive an extra reward due to the greater value of the game in terms of originality, of course for the benefit of Human Chess. I pass to the mathematicians the challenge of developing an algorithm to calculate the game value and the respective rewards to be given to the players, an extra 0,5 points for the loser, an extra 1,0 point for both in case of draw, and an extra 1,5 points for the winner of such an original game (containing at least one theoretical novelty before the "N" th move for example). This will reward the more talented, courageous and original player, who will help to find a way to develop Human intelligence beyond the Machines ones...It is nonsense to transform Chess into a proof of the superior manipulation of computers...

Bartleby's picture

A mathematically calculated algorithm? Then surely it can be implemented and the computer program wins the prize for originality and greater value.

Mike's picture

No, actual computer programs evaluate according to what they "think" are the best moves, so in order to "imitate" the original GM, and deviate from theory, e.g. produce "inferior moves" according to all other computers, the programmer would have to modify all the classes of evaluations used today, say, to produce an "inferior/original" program, and this one off course will deviate from all others softwares (the strongest) and the Chess Judges will eliminate it as a non-valid cheating computer program...

Xenyatta's picture

Gelfand should have played on for a few more moves. Nobody would have faulted him for bad form. Nor will anybody give him credit for promptly resigning. He lost a super-miniature (under 20 moves), and the game and the blunder will brand Gelfand more than it ought to, Fischer just got crushed in Game 11 of the 1972 WC, and he played on until move 31. An embarrassment, but no miniature.

I remember the Kamsky win, too--but here Anand only resigned at the last moment.

Gelfand's weakness is perhaps his analysis of concrete lines. He pruned off a key line in the Analysis tree.

All of Gelfands wins will be grinds, but Anand can expect to outcombine Gelfand

[Event "Ch World (match) (cand.) (1/4) (active)"]
[Site "Sanghi Nagar (India)"]
[Date "1994.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "10"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Gata Kamsky"]
[Black "Viswanathan Anand"]
[ECO "A46"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "33"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 g6 4.Bg5 Qb6 5.Qb3 Ne4 6.Bf4 Nc6 7.d5
Nd8 8.Nbd2 Nf6 9.e4 d6 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.a4 Qc7 12.O-O Bg7 13.e5
Nh5 14.exd6 exd6 15.Rfe1+ Kf8 16.Bxd7 Qxd7 17.Qb5 1-0
[Event "Reykjavik WCh"]
[Site "Reykjavik WCh"]
[Date "1972.01.12"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "11"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Boris Spassky"]
[Black "Robert James Fischer"]
[ECO "B97"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "61"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6
7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Nb3 Qa3 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Be2 h5
12. O-O Nc6 13. Kh1 Bd7 14. Nb1 Qb4 15. Qe3 d5 16. exd5 Ne7
17. c4 Nf5 18. Qd3 h4 19. Bg4 Nd6 20. N1d2 f5 21. a3 Qb6
22. c5 Qb5 23. Qc3 fxg4 24. a4 h3 25. axb5 hxg2+ 26. Kxg2 Rh3
27. Qf6 Nf5 28. c6 Bc8 29. dxe6 fxe6 30. Rfe1 Be7 31. Rxe6

Geof's picture

Gelfand once again proves that he is one of chess's most outstanding sportsmen. This has to be the most heartbreaking defeat of his entire career, but he handled the news conference afterwards with amazing grace.


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