MOSCOW: 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. 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.
ROAD TO GLORY
2000-2001 New Delhi-Iran:
Won for the first time winning in knockout format. Starting with 128 players, Anand marched his way ahead in New Delhi to set up the finale with Alexey Shirov of Spain. It was a six-games final that lasted only till the fourth. Anand won three and drew one at Tehran in Iran to be crowned the world champion.
2007 Mexico City (Mexico):
Pitted against the best in the world in a match tournament spread over 14-games between eight players, Anand was in his elements and won this event in style. This also gave him the right to play the next world championship in a match format against the seemingly invincible Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.
2008 Bonn (Germany):
The World championship was back to a match format, something which the chess world had been craving for a long time. Anand started as the underdog against Kramnik but the entire world saw a grand transformation in the Indian. It was a 12-games match that ended after 11. Anand won three, lost one and drew the remaining seven to reach 6.5 points. The transformation was in preparation.
2010 Sofia (Bulgaria):
It was eruption of an Icelandic volcano that disrupted all flights across Europe. Anand had to undertake a 30-hours journey by road to reach Sofia. He asked for three days extension but was granted only one day. He was playing against all odds against the lion - Veselin Topalov – in his own den. Anand started with a first round loss but won the title winning the last game with black pieces.
The toughest title clash for Anand ended in the tiebreaker. Boris Gelfand was written off much before the match started. Anand was an overwhelming favourite but the Israeli gave it all he had. He even came close to winning one of the rapid tiebreak games, hard to predict what might have happened had he won that simple position.