Reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand sparkled in the opening stages of the most crucial and last 12th game of the ongoing World Chess Championship, but challenger Boris Gelfand played actively to defuse the expected fireworks. There was almost a sense of disbelief that the game that started so provocatively and promisingly ended so abruptly in a draw after 22 moves.
A baffling draw offer by the world champion, much to the surprise of the experts and enthusiasts and one of relief for Gelfand abruptly terminated the game! There was no clear cut winning line for Anand, but the position offered scope for exploration along with slight advantage and coupled with the fact that Gelfand had barely 16 minutes to complete 18 moves would have been enough incentive for Anand to press on.
On the other hand, it might be practical or pragmatic to opt for safety first and Anand might fancy his chances in the tie-break format which would be played in the rapid format where he enjoys a formidable reputation. Anand has successfully played and won two titles in Classical format and would be able to evaluate his chances better.
The 12-game match played under classical control has ended with 6-6 score and the title for the first time in the history of Classical Matches will be decided on the tie-break comprising of Rapid and if needed Blitz games to be played on Wednesday.
Anand opened magnificently and speedily in the Sicilian Rossolimo game and brought alive the position with a pawn sacrifice on the 8th turn in. Gelfand was more or less forced to accept the pawn and Black did present a not so pretty picture with fractured, pair of doubled isolated pawns.
Gelfand spent close to 40 minutes for a move then and Anand was more than 40 minutes ahead on the clock. Former world champion Vladimir Kramnik commenting on the game at this point said: “This is a complicated position and making every move here is a crisis situation. A position difficult to play!”
Rather than letting misery pile on him with a cramped position, Gelfand tried to fight his way out with an active defence and counter sacrificed two pawns and in the process managed to swap queens. Anand enjoyed an edge at this point but Gelfand had compensation in the form of a bishop pair and active pieces when peace was signed.
At the press conference, Anand commented: “We only draw when it’s obvious to us at least (looking at Gelfand), the game is going nowhere.”
Anand, Viswanathan (2799) - Gelfand, Boris (2739)
WCh 2012 Moscow RUS (12), 28.05.2012
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d3 Ne7 6.b3 d6 7.e5 Ng6 8.h4 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Nd2 c4 11.Nxc4 Ba6 [12.Qf3 Qd5cxd5 14.Nxe5 f6 15.Nf3 e5 16.0–0 Kf7 17.c4 Be7 18.Be3 Bb7 19.cxd5 Bxd5 20.Rfc1 a5 21.Bc5 Rhd8 22.Bxe7 ½–½