Moscow: The Moscow mind game has taken an interesting turn.
After Boris Gelfand surprised everyone with a win on Sunday, Viswanathan Anand was back in the hunt with a record-breaking 17-move win, a day later.
Now, with scores tied at 4-4, the ongoing World Chess Championship match is set for an intriguing finish. More than preparation and form, it will boil down to steely nerves and concentration.
But considering that Anand was billed as an overwhelming favourite to win the title, Gelfand has produced a creditable performance. There’s no doubt about that. Quite rightly he had boasted before the tournament: “Ratings are over-rated”.
The first six games were dull and drab. Hungarian Grandmaster Peter Leko though justified the way the duo went about their jobs.
“In a World Championship, behind every successful draw, there may be 100 hours of hardwork by the team of the player who played with black pieces”, observed Leko.
In case the match ends in a tie after 12 games of classical chess, Anand will have better chances in tie-breaks with faster time controls. Curiously, former world champion Anatoly Karpov has remarked that he considers both players equal in rapid chess. He considers Anand better than Gelfand only in blitz chess.
Most of the chess observers don’t feel that way, though. Even while having a lean patch in the later months of 2011, Anand won the Corsica Masters rapid tournament in October 2011, while he crushed Alexei Shirov 4.5–1.5 in the Leon Masters rapid challenge in June 2011.
That was the main reason why Topalov went for the broke with white pieces and lost his final game against Anand in the 2010 World Championship.
Gelfand’s win in the seventh game was a triumph of his strategy with White pieces, while Anand’s win in the eighth game was a result of his boldness and risk-taking ability rewarded by his opponent’s big-time blunder.
For Anand and Gelfand, the victories were result of the opponent breaking down under pressure rather than results of tough struggles.
In the seventh game, Anand’s uneven handling of a position with a bad bishop resulted in Gelfand easily increasing the pressure on passive black pieces. And that turned out to be decisive.
Seen in the context of the earlier games, when Gelfand obtained a position he aimed for, Anand himself cracked under pressure, and Gelfand only had to cash in on his opportunities.
Anand replicated the same strategy to exact his revenge in the eighth game, by steering the game towards dynamics. In an open position from a razor sharp opening, his king’s walk from e1 to c2 is probably unheard of in competitions of this standard.