Moscow 1989 — 19-year-old Viswanathan Anand drew against 20-year-old Boris Gelfand in their first encounter against each other. Moscow 2012 — 42-year-old reigning World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand takes on challenger, 43-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel.
Life certainly has come a full circle for the duo and it is only fair that they battle for world supremacy in the very place they clashed for the first time. However, things have changed in the last 23 years, with Anand winning four World titles in all possible formats while Gelfand will battle it out as a challenger for the very first time in his career.
Interestingly and ironically, no one imagined that the World title would be fought by players in their forties, especially in an age where youngsters appeared to be ruling the roost.
They’re like wine
However, both players have reached their playing peak, maturing magnificently like wine in the past couple of years with Anand logging his best ever Elo rating of 2817 in 2011 and Gelfand his 2761 in 2010. Currently at 2791, Anand is ranked fourth in the rating list while Gelfand with 2727 is tottering at 22nd position, his lowest ever in 25 years.
The Indian however would wield a psychological edge as Gelfand has not been able to defeat him for almost two decades in classical chess. The Belarus born Israeli scored his last victory over Anand way back in 1993. The Indian ace has so far scored six victories over Gelfand in Classical Chess while Gelfand has scored five, while a whopping 24 encounters have ended in draws.
Anand recalled the last encounter. “The last classical game I played against Boris was in Wijk Aan Zee 2006, where I beat him in the last round to win the tournament along with Topalov. We played each other last in Monaco in 2011. Incidentally, he had a son during that event and I had Akhil soon after. As an opponent, he is a player, who is very principled in his chess understanding. He is very well versed in theory. I would say he is one of the best theoreticians in chess. He has a very classic understanding of chess,” said Anand.
“Since we have played against one another for more than two decades, we know each other on and off the board quite well. We get along well too and have visited each other’s homes in Spain and Israel respectively. This match will be a very tough challenge as you are playing one of the best prepared players in the world. Boris will definitely be very motivated and keen to win,” added Anand.