Moscow(PTI): Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand showed immense resilience to beat challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel in a tense rapid chess tie-breaker to win the World Championship crown for the fifth time and fourth in a row here today.
Anand won the second game and drew the other three to win the title at the State Tretyakov Gallery here. Luck played a major part in the final game, favouring the Indian chess wizard when it mattered the most.
After a 6-6 deadlock in the 12 Classical games, the rapid finale ended 2.5-1.5 in Anand’s favour making him the world chess champion five times in all and four times in a row since 2007.
The victory also meant that the ‘King of Chess’ will keep the crown till 2014, when the next World Championship will be held.
It was high tension drama that almost made the Moscow weather look like an Indian summer inside the Tretyakov Gallery. Heated discussions on the chess board, tipsy-turvy games and above all the intensity of the battle made everyone forget that the champion and the challenger had been playing 12-classical games over the past three weeks.
The hallmark of Anand’s success was his speed. Often, Gelfand was seen down to his last few seconds when Anand still had a few minutes left on his clock.
Gelfand played white in game one and got nothing out of the opening. In fact, an inaccuracy by the Israel gave Anand a huge advantage as the game progressed out of a Semi-Slav defense but it was Anand’s chance to go wrong if the battle had to unfold the way it did.
Anand made a return error, and Gelfand, instead of looking for his chances in a tactical position, found himself short of time. Soon it was time to restore parity where the Israeli found solace in. The game was drawn quickly thereafter.
The 42-year-old Indian ace played white in the second game and won an absorbing battle that saw fortunes fluctuating many a times. Anand was clearly better out of the Rosslimo Sicilian when some optically safer solutions landed him in some problems.
Gelfand took his chances when he could have objectively drawn and Anand was soon back in the game. The ensuing endgame was also completely drawn, but the Speed king pressed on as Gelfand ran short of time and eventually blundered.
In what was practically his last chance for survival, Gelfand fumbled again in the third game. Attaining a winning position fairly quickly this time, the Israeli again saw his clock ticking away. Striking where it hurts, Anand confidently went in to a two-pawn less endgame, this time showing that the position was completely drawn.
Anand yet again employed the Rosslimo as white with its solid reputation in the fourth game, exchanged the queens early and the position was already equal. Gelfand had the Bishop pair to boost off but there were no targets for him to attack as white had no weaknesses.
Black of Gelfand stood slightly better for a long time but that’s where it ended. The position was never improved beyond that as Anand neutralized the initiative. The draw was what the champion needed and he achieved it after 56 moves.
“It was incredibly tensed. Well, when I woke up this morning, I knew it would end one way or the other but didn’t know how it will go. It was so even that didn’t know how the tie-breaker will turn,” Anand said after the game.
“I am too tensed to be happy but really relieved”, he said.
This was Anand’s fifth World Championships title and fourth crown in a row. The Indian chess wizard bagged his first world title in 2000 before winning three in a row in 2007, 2008 and 2010. He has been the world champion since 2007.
Anand will pocket approximately USD 1.4 million — 55 per cent of the total prize fund of USD 2.55 million — while Gelfand will get the remaining amount.
The Indian ace won the 2007 crown in a tournament format among eight players. In 2008 and 2010, he beat Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria respectively after the format changed to championship match between the defending champion and a challenger.