After trading wins and tying Challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel at 6 games apiece to force a four game playoff, Viswanathan Anand of India was victorious in the second rapid playoff game and retained his World Chess Championship crown. After drawing the first game, Anand won game two and kept the lead by drawing in the final two games. The victory won Anand $1.5 million, and Gelfand took home $1 million. Anand had last successfully defended his title in 2010 against Bulgarian challenger Veselin Topalov. Anand praised Gelfand for a tense match and said he felt more "relieved" than happy because he wasn't sure of his win until the very end. "In all fairness, this match simply could have gone either way."
“Yes, of course the tie-break was incredibly tense", says Anand. "When I woke up this morning I had this feeling that one way or the other the match would finish today. I simply didn’t know how it was going to be. The match was so even that I had no sense what shape the tie-break would take. I think right now I only feel that I’m relieved. I think I’m too tense to be happy.
The game one was an incredibly tense start and I have no idea we were playing correctly or not. When all those complications happened after 21…Bg3 and the forced line with 26.Bg7 I played 26…Kh7. To be honest I saw 27.Rb7 but I could not believe it. Had it happened, the game would have gone really nuts there. In the second game I think I was better during the most of the game but, of course, Boris was defended extremely well and the result should be a draw. However he didn’t have much time and actually the position was unpleasant for Black when I had my pawn on b5. With my knight on c5 and rook on seventh rank anything can happen. Boris blundered and made me a gift.
I had a lost position during the third game but I was lucky to have some contra play at least. So I had this pawn mass in the center and g-file, even Rg7. But honestly speaking the score in the match could have been equalized right away.
In the fourth game it was enough to make draw and I know that I was not supposed to play too hard for a draw because it can be finished very badly but somehow at the board I just started to do it. Let’s say I was happy when my rooks were doubled and I’ve got this trick with Re6. Still I think my opponent had a lot of chances in the games 3 and 4.”
Gelfand commented that, “The fight was variable today and I believe I had an edge. In the second game I think I played well and had more than enough compensation for the pawn. Most likely the problem in the tie-break for me was lack of time. When you don’t have time it’s not easy to make all best moves and big mistakes in the second and third games were decisive for the fate of the match. I had also an advantage in the fourth game but again I needed more time to find the best way to develop my edge. In the fourth I game spent a lot of time after 5.e5 because I was trying to find the best variation for Black in order to get complicated position and have some chances to win.”
The match was played in a room filled with about 100 people at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, one of Russia's finest museums. Hundreds of other chess fans of all ages watched it on a large TV screen in a hall outside. "We're seeing so many attacks and counterattacks in the games that they give me goose bumps," said Lev Khristoforov, 80, a long-time chess fan from Moscow. "This is very exciting." Gelfand, who emigrated from the former Soviet republic of Belarus to Israel in 1998, was supported throughout the match as if he were a local player.
In his post-match interview, Gelfand also thanked his Israeli supporters and said he hopes his performance will boost interest to chess in Israel, where it's relatively unpopular compared to the former Soviet Union. Russian tycoon and former chess player Andrei Filatov, estimated to be worth $1.3 billion by the Forbes magazine, is believed to have paid for renting the unusually lavish location for Wednesday's championship match.
Opinions differed on the quality of the match, with many spectators disappointed with the amount of draws, however the nerves, mental toughness and skill required nevertheless left most spectators with respect for the champion and admiration for the challenger.
Anand - Gelfand (2012 World Chess Championship Game 14)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. b3 e5 6. Nxe5 Qe7 7. d4 d6 8. Nxc6 Qxe4 9. Qe2 Qxe2 10. Kxe2 Bb7 11. Na5 Bxg2 12. Rg1 Bh3 13. dxc5 dxc5 14. Nc3 O-O-O 15. Bf4 Bd6 16. Bxd6 Rxd6 17. Rg5 Nf6 18. Rxc5 Kb8 19. Nc4 Re8 20. Ne3 Ng4 21. Ncd5 Nxe3 22. Nxe3 Bg4 23. f3 Bc8 24. Re1 Rh6 25. Rh1 Rhe6 26. Rc3 f5 27. Kd2 f4 28. Nd5 g5 29. Rd3 Re2 30. Kc1 Rf2 31. h4 Ree2 32. Rc3 Bb7 33. Rd1 gxh4 34. Nxf4 Re8 35. Rh1 Rc8 36. Rxc8 Bxc8 37. Rxh4 Bf5 38. Rh5 Bxc2 39. Rb5 Ka8 40. Nd5 a6 41. Ra5 Kb7 42. Nb4 Bg6 43. Nxa6 Rxf3 44. Nc5 Kb6 45. b4 Rf4 46. a3 Rg4 47. Kd2 h5 48. Nd7 Kb7 49. Ne5 Rg2 50. Kc3 Be8 51. Nd3 h4 52. Re5 Bg6 53. Nf4 Rg3 54. Kd4 Bc2 55. Rh5 Rxa3 56. Rxh4 Rg3 57. Nd5 Rg5 58. b5 Bf5 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 72. Ne6 Kc8 73. Nd4 Rf8 74. Nxf3 Rxf3 75. Kb6 Rb3 76. Rg8 Kd7 77. Rb8 1-0
E. "Doc" Smith is a former Rhode Island Amateur Chess Champion, winning titles at the U.S. Amateur Team Championships for Brown University as well as the Rhode Island Chess League Championships.