"I am relieved," Vishy Anand said shortly after his victory against the challenger, Boris Gelfand of Israel, in the World Chess Championship. "The match was so even."
Played at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow during the last three weeks, it was a tough, tense match. It ended 6-6 after 12 classical games and it could have gone either way in the four rapid tiebreaking games. The Indian grandmaster eventually prevailed 2.5 - 1.5, and defended his world crown. He brings home $1,53 million.
The young Anand used to finish classical games under an hour before he matured and took more time to think. (In classical games each player usually gets 3,5 hours per game.) But speed was always his friend. Gelfand didn't have bad results in the past tiebreaking games, but long deliberations against Anand spoiled some of his promising positions. He was running out of time and made mistakes. For example, he could have saved the only decisive rapid game.
Anand,Viswanathan (2791) - Gelfand,Boris (2727)
Anand just played 58.b5 and Gelfand had a chance to steer the game into a draw but missed it with 58...Bf5?!
The b-pawn helps Anand to push Gelfand's defense back. Snatching the pesky pawn leads to a theoretical draw. After the introductory moves 58...Bd3 59.Rh6, black has two ways to do it:
A. 59...Rxd5+ 60.Kxd5 Bxb5 draw.
B. After 59...Bxb5 60.Rb6+ Kc8 61.Rxb5 Rg1 black draws, but has to play precisely.
59.Rh6 Bg4 60.Rf6 Rf5 61.Rb6+ Ka7 62.Rg6 Bf3 63.Rg7+ Kb8 64.Nc3 Bb7 65.Kc4 Bf3 66.Kb4 Bd5 67.Na4 Rf7 68.Rg5 Bf3 69.Nc5 Kc7 70.Rg6 Kd8 71.Ka5 Rf5?
Helping white to go straight into a winning rook endgame. Going to the corner with 71...Bh1 preserved drawing chances.
72.Ne6+ Kc8 73.Nd4 Rf8 74.Nxf3 Rxf3 75.Kb6 Rb3 76.Rg8+ Kd7 77.Rb8 Black resigned.
The pawn moves quickly to b7 and white eventually wins by building the famous Lucena bridge. For example, 77.Rb8 Rb1 78.Ka7 Ra1+ 79.Kb7 Rb1 80.b6 Rb2 81.Rh8 Rb1 82.Ka7 Ra1+ 83.Kb8 Rb1 84.b7 Ra1 85.Rh4 Ra2 86.Rd4+ Ke7 87.Kc7 Rc2+ 88.Kb6 Rb2+ 89.Kc6 Rc2+ 90.Kb5 Rb2+ 91.Rb4 the bridge is finished and white wins.
It was not over, because Gelfand could have tied the score in the next game:
Gelfand,Boris (2738) - Anand,Viswanathan (2780)
The critical moment. Gelfand could have brought the point home with 26.Nxe4! fxe4 [On 26...Ng6 27.Nd6 wins.] 27.dxe5 and white wins the jammed bishop on b8.
Instead, he played 26.Rxb8 and after 26...Ng6, Anand was still in the game and eventually drew in 63 moves.
Gelfand had the initiative even in the last rapid game, but Anand was able to equalize.
Note that in the replay windows below you can click either on the arrows under the diagram or on the notation to follow the game.