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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

17 move win puts Vishwanathan Anand back on stage

Far away from the din of ‘Indian Problem League’ – another creditable win for that famous person, who once said - “After I got married, my game results improved,” – a comment that he was glad to  spend some time with his son and to play with him.

It is the defending  champion Viswanathan Anand who struck back with vengeance and scored the much-needed equaliser against Boris Gelfand in the eighth game of the World Chess Championship.  It was a great win, coming as it did in 17 moves and turned out to be the shortest match in the recent world championship history.  That  win helped Anand level the scores at 4-4 and much to contrary expectations, the Indian ace has made a big comeback in the 12-games match.  Reports quote of a blunder by Gelfland on move 14, when he simply brought his queen forward to attack a white pawn and subsequently the white rook, forgetting that the rook was taboo, as his queen was getting trapped.

To ordinary people like us, following the extra-ordinary Champion, Chess is a game which wise people play – the 64 squares and rules are not too hard to comprehend but to play and win is too difficult..

It is not a big league of players involved – in fact only two – the  current world champion Viswanathan Anand of India and Boris Gelfand of Israel, winner of the Candidates tournament.  It is the World Chess Championship 2012  being played in the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia and will determine the World Chess Champion. The match is held under the auspices of FIDE, the World Chess Federation. The prize fund is 2.55 million US Dollars.

For those of not following other games, Anand is defending the title that he has been holding since 2007.  In 2010, he defended the title successfully against Veselin Topalov. The  present challenger is Gelfand, who won the tournament of eight-player Candidate Matches.  The process for selecting the challenger has undergone a number of changes. A major change was announced on 25 November 2008, when it was announced that a two-player Challenger Match would be replaced with an eight-player Candidates' Tournament. In November 2010, then world No. 2 Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Candidates' Tournament citing the selection process as not sufficiently modern and fair.

Before finalizing the venue as Moscow, an option was given to London.  In 2011, TN State Govt announced its bid of Rs. 20 crore for hosting the match;  Belarus was also in the race.  Surprisingly, the contender Boris Gelfland had expressed his concern about the offer made by Chennai alleging that he was not sure of the existence of financial guarantees by the Indian side and further stating that the Chennai offer was in Tamil language !!

The match format is the best of 12 games. Players scored one point for a win and half a point for a draw. The match will end once either player scored a minimum of 6½ points.Time control is 120 minutes, with 60 minutes added after move 40, 15 minutes added after move 60, and 30 additional seconds per move starting from move 61. In case of a tie at the end of 12 games, there will be a series of tie breaks.  There will be 4 rapid games of 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move.  If still tied, there will be 2 blitz games of 5 minutes + 10 seconds per move.  If still tied, another 2 blitz games.  If the score is tied after ten blitz games, a single sudden-death "Armageddon game" will determine the champion. The winner of a draw of lots gets to choose the colour to play, with white given 5 minutes and Black 4 minutes.

This tournament has a very long history with the first championship awarded in 1886.  To summarise or to recall the past may not present any interesting picture for the people having the taste of T20 culture.  In 1972 Reykajavik hosted  one of the most colourful matches when Soviet Champion Boris Spassky confronted U.S. chess genius Robert James Fischer.  The American grandmaster failed to arrive in Iceland on time and kept making new demands.  After  increased stakes and political persuasions, the match did  take place. After winning game 21, Robert Fischer became the eleventh World Champion (with a score of 12.5-8.5).

After the match, and going by the demands of Fischer, FIDE changed the rules introducing the unlimited match instead of the 24-game battle.  In 1975  Anatoly Karpov became the twelfth World Chess Champion by forfeit of Fischer.  Then came the battles of Anatoly Karpov and Kasparov.  In 1998 Viswanathan Anand won the qualifying knockout tournament but then lost to Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne by 3-5 (3-3 in classical chess and 0-2 in rapid chess). In 1999 Alexander Khalifman of Russia became FIDE World Champion, but in 2000 the title went to Anand.

In recent times, after the reunification of the chess world, it was decided to hold a world championship tournament with the top eight Grandmasters taking part: Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Boris Gelfand, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian and Alexander Grishchuk. The tournament, held in Mexico City in 2007, was won by Viswanathan Anand, who scored 9 points out of 14 with no losses, overtaking Kramnik and Gelfand by one point.   In 2010, it was Topalov who challenged Anand; the final score was 6.5-5.5 and Anand remained the champion.

Now at Moscow, Viswanathan Anand is defending  his title against Israeli Grandmaster Boris Gelfand in a match of titans of the most recent times.  After 8 matches, Vishy is 4-4 in the 12 match game.  Wishing Vishwanathan Anand success.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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