Anand on the World Championship in Moscow (Part three)

7/26/2012 – He had played twelve classical chess games and the score was tied at 6:6. Now it was time for rapid chess – and blitz and Armageddon if necessary. How do you switch from one mode to the other, how do you prepare and how can your seconds help you? In this revealing interview Viswanathan Anand describes his thoughts and feelings during the decisive tiebreak games.

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Interview with World Champion Viswanathan Anand

By Jaideep Unudurti

Part one and Part two of this indepth interview

Did you see the tie-breaks as a completely different match?

I think you cannot separate the two, because it’s clear, the openings are continuing and even after game 12 we knew that we would probably continue a lot of the discussion and preparation for the match, but just at a faster tempo that’s all
You mentioned before the tie-breaks that the rhythm of the contest would now change. Did you do anything to get into this new tempo? Well, I tried to play a few practice games with Rustam. But in general I found this was tiring me more, so in the end I didn’t bother. I thought, I’ll go there, sit there and feel it again. We played some blitz games but again blitz is not rapid. If you start playing fast in rapid – a rapid is many blitz games in itself. And if you think about it, if my opponent gave me a winning position in a blitz game, I would take it and try to win it. So even if my opponent used up 20 minutes to get a winning position, he still has a blitz game left with a winning position. That’s what it is. It’s not a rapid game with less time. And there are many other games contained in it as well. There is the ten minute game, the 15 minute game, all are contained within the rapid game.

So it’s a big mistake to think, well it’s a rapid game, so all hell breaks loose. It doesn’t work like that. And still the players have to retain some degree of control. But compared to the classical, it is of course much less. So the main thing is to try and remember in a rapid game, that you still have to play a good game of chess, you have to focus and that even opening preparation is still important, you have to get in good ideas, know your stuff and then wait for your chances. The only thing I could relate to was, let’s say Monaco or Corsica or Botvinnik and so on and try to think like that. I think, by the time you get into blitz, it’s just pure nerves. But not earlier.

As you said, it all comes down to nerves. Was there anything you did to keep yourself calm? [These questions were asked just after tie-breaks concluded.]

No, in fact when I woke up today I just felt, it could go either way and strangely enough I found that thought very calming. The idea was, it’s really not in my hands, but I’m going to give it my best shot, which is actually very negative, if you think you might lose or something. But somehow I managed to recover.

What did you do during the breaks between the tie-break games? GMs Nielsen and Kasimdzhanov were allowed to confer with you.

Peter would keep some summary ready of what I was supposed to do and I would quite quickly try to absorb this. There is only so much you can absorb in ten minutes, basically if you find yourself in a very complicated situation that we have looked at, then at least I should know some key moves.

In rapid game one, he played b3, Bb2 and you played Qf6 very quickly. In those kinds of positions you seemed much more at home. There were wild tactics, but you seemed to be comfortable.

[Event "WCh 2012"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2012.05.30"] [Round "1"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2799"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2012.05.11"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. e4 exd4 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. exd5 h6 13. b3 Ne5 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 15. Re1 Re8 16. Bb2 Bd7 17. Qd2 Qf6 18. g3 Rac8 19. a4 Qf3 20. Be4 Qxb3 21. Reb1 Bxg3 22. Ra3 Qb6 23. Bxd4 Bxh2+ 24. Kxh2 Qd6+ 25. Rg3 Rxe4 26. Bxg7 Kh7 27. Rxb7 Rg8 28. Qxh6+ Qxh6+ 29. Bxh6 Rxg3 30. Kxg3 Bc8 31. Rc7 Kxh6 32. Rxc8 Rxa4 1/2-1/2

Full analysis of the game is available here.


Anand playing 6.Nxe5 in game two of the tiebreak


Boris Gelfand about to play Pd7-d6 on his seventh move...


... and pondering his tenth move, Bc8-b7, in this decisive game

Perhaps but I would still say, that was typical. It was a very complex position and there were a lot of subtleties. And I am familiar with the subtleties, but still at the board you just can’t play it fast. These things are so subtle that with every white move it is a different response, and you have to keep on remembering what, and you have to remember the key principles at work, let’s say when he does this, this is the reason I do this move, when he does this, this is the reason I do this move. So there were a lot of subtleties there. He went Bb2 so I had to go Qb6 and the bishop comes to e5 and then the bishop goes to b7. And I have many plans. One is Qf6, the other plan is Qd6 and the third one is attacking the b4 pawn. Not to make it sound ridiculously difficult but it is still like a classical game in many ways. Rapid is closer to classical than it is to blitz.

After game one did you ask your seconds whether you could have won?

A little bit. I mean, I asked them. They said, actually the position was very difficult and neither of us had missed anything big. So he had not missed anything in the defence and I had not missed anything better or nothing very crystal clear and we started to revise what I was supposed to do for game two.

And then came game two with the opening surprise...

[Event "WCh 2012"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2012.05.30"] [Round "2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B30"] [WhiteElo "2799"] [BlackElo "2739"] [PlyCount "153"] [EventDate "2012.05.11"] 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

Full analysis of the game is available here.

This was Surya’s big idea. He had found some great ideas there. So we prepared the Rossolimo well and that was our big upside. We were waiting for that. But even there Boris managed to surprise me. He played something we hadn’t predicted, I think, …Bd6 and then he veered off. So I won this c5 pawn as planned. But then he played …Re8, Ng4 and especially Bc8 was a brilliant move. Because that bishop is doing nothing here I had missed the move. It goes all the way back and then basically he is trying to play f5, g5. f4 and try and kick the king around. When that happened, the preparation advantage I had was over. But I was a pawn up, and there was a lot of stuff going on. When the dust cleared, I thought I had winning chances with my rook on c3 and this other rook on the h-file. But in fact I found I was forced to swap one rook and we reached an ending which can be drawn or won. It is very close. I think, it’s pretty nice that I managed to keep some play in that position. I slowly walked out with my king, put my knight on c5, won the a-pawn. And then, when we got to this b-pawn and knight versus rook and bishop, I thought I still have chances. Because he is short of time and it is a very unpleasant position to play over the board. First of all, there are a lot of combinations – the king can go to a5 and the knight can come to c5. The king is immune from checks and Black is getting pushed back. Or the other combination, the king is on c5 and knight on c4. So there are lots of ways to block the rook and keep pushing back. It is not easy for Black, and as it happened he walked into this fork. When I saw it I was very happy. I go Ne6-d4, take the thing and just win the endgame.

You were comfortably placed, before he got back into the game. Did you feel upset that you weren’t doing as well?

I was, but I had the feeling that he had reacted well, for instance I simply missed Bc8, that’s an amazing move, because suddenly f5, g5, e4 happen. But I thought, there I reacted well… Rh4, Rh1 I thought, that bit I did well. Having said that, I am not sure, I spoilt a bigger advantage somewhere. But you know, in this rapid game to invest that much of time to control everything simply means you’ll have less of it for something else. So I don’t regret it too much.

At one point he was down to two seconds. Were you watching the clock?

Very much. Normally I don’t pay attention to that because even when people have one or two minutes – the thing about a 25 minute game, it is many, many time controls in one. If you think about it, the 15 minute time-control fits into the 25, then the 10 minute one, then the 5-minute one, then bullet. All of them fit into the 25, so in a 25-minute game it’s a big mistake to start playing fast as if its blitz. Because it isn’t. Even if he runs down to five minutes, but he has a better position, he has just got a better position in a blitz game. You really have to be conscious of that. But when your opponent gets below 15 seconds then it is impossible not to be mesmerized by it.

Was that a motivation to play on?

Of course, I understood, the position is very unpleasant to play. I didn’t think his task was trivial at all, and of course he needs much more time to defend that, so I thought I had very good chances and when this fork worked it was brilliant.

After all the tension, were you surprised how it came about?

Well, in this match any win seems to come as a surprise (laughs). It was just so difficult to get anything.

Would you say his clock handling was the critical factor?

Yes, but I don’t know if it was so much handling as the fact that Boris actually had to fight my preparation. So that is where he used up his time – trying to fight my preparation – and that gave me an advantage in time, even if it may not have got me an advantage on the board. Even the second game I wouldn’t say was decisive. Because game three still could have changed things.

[Event "WCh 2012"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2012.05.30"] [Round "3"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2799"] [PlyCount "118"] [EventDate "2012.05.11"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. Bd3 Nbd7 9. O-O Bd6 10. h3 O-O 11. Qc2 Qe7 12. Rd1 Rac8 13. c5 Bb8 14. f4 Ne8 15. b4 g5 16. Rb1 f5 17. b5 gxf4 18. exf4 Nef6 19. bxc6 bxc6 20. Ba6 Rc7 21. Be3 Ne4 22. Rb2 g5 23. Rdb1 gxf4 24. Bxf4 e5 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Rxb8 Ng6 27. Nxe4 fxe4 28. Qf2 Qg7 29. Kh2 Rcf7 30. Qg3 Nf4 31. R8b3 Qxg3+ 32. Rxg3+ Kh7 33. Rd1 Ne6 34. Be2 Rf2 35. Bg4 Nf4 36. Rb1 Rf7 37. Rb8 Rxa2 38. Rc8 e3 39. Rxe3 Rxg2+ 40. Kh1 Rd2 41. Rxc6 Ne6 42. Rf3 Rxf3 43. Bxf3 Nxd4 44. Rc7+ Kh6 45. Bxd5 Rc2 46. Be4 Rc3 47. Kg2 Kg5 48. Kh2 Nf3+ 49. Bxf3 Rxf3 50. Rxa7 Rc3 51. Rc7 Kf4 52. Rc8 Ke5 53. c6 Kd6 54. h4 Ra3 55. Kg2 Re3 56. h5 Re5 57. h6 Rh5 58. Rh8 Kxc6 59. Rh7 Kd6 1/2-1/2

Full analysis of the game is available here.

[Event "WCh Rapid Tiebreak"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2012.05.30"] [Round "4"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2799"] [BlackElo "2739"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "2012.05.11"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 Ngf6 5. e5 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Bd2 Nxc3 8. Bxd7+ Bxd7 9. Bxc3 Qa6 10. exd6 exd6 11. Qe2+ Qxe2+ 12. Kxe2 f6 13. b3 Bb5+ 14. Kd2 Bc6 15. Rad1 Kf7 16. Kc1 Be7 17. d5 Bd7 18. Bb2 b5 19. Nd2 a5 20. Rhe1 Rhe8 21. Re3 f5 22. Rde1 g5 23. c4 b4 24. g3 Bf8 25. Rxe8 Bxe8 26. Nf3 Kg6 27. Re6+ Kh5 28. h3 Bf7 29. Rf6 Bg6 30. Re6 Re8 31. Bf6 g4 32. hxg4+ Kxg4 33. Nh2+ Kh3 34. Nf3 f4 35. gxf4 Kg4 36. Ng5 Ra8 37. Re3 Kf5 38. Bb2 a4 39. Ne6 Bh6 40. Rh3 Bxf4+ 41. Nxf4 Kxf4 42. Bf6 Ra7 43. Re3 Be4 44. Bh4 axb3 45. Bg3+ Kf5 46. axb3 Ra1+ 47. Kd2 Ra2+ 48. Ke1 Ra6 49. f3 Bb1 50. Kd2 h5 51. Kc1 h4 52. Bxh4 Kf4 53. Bg5+ Kxg5 54. Kxb1 Kf4 55. Re6 Kxf3 56. Kb2 1/2-1/2

Full analysis of the game is available here.

Game four could have still changed things. This was a match which just never ended till it ended. I mean, it was only after I put the rook on e6 in game four that I really knew it was over. I thought: this one I can’t mess up. I mean, I’m going to play the king on b2 for eternity. I don’t even have to think anymore and that clinched it for me.

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich and Alexei Yushenkov


Previous interview with Jaydeep Unudurti

Anand on the World Championship in Moscow (Part two)
18.07.2012 – Immediately after his successful match defence against challenger Boris Gelfand, World Champion Viswanathan Anand spoke to his old friend Jaideep Unudurti. The Indian journalist conducted an interview that was too long and detailed for the newspaper Indian Express, which published only parts of it. Jaideep has given it to us in its entirety. Today we bring you part two.

Anand on the World Championship in Moscow (Part 1)
14.07.2012 – Just six weeks ago Viswanathan Anand successfully defended his World Championship title in Moscow, against Israeli GM Boris Gelfand. Immediately after the final Anand spoke to an old friend, journalist Jaideep Unudurti. The interview was too long (and profound) for his newspaper, which carried only parts of it. Jaideep has given us the rest, which we bring you in three parts. Don't miss this!

The Delhi Interview with Viswanathan Anand – Part two
11.06.2010 – In December 2009 Jaideep Unudurti conducted an indepth interview with Viswanathan Anand. Some of it was published in Mint – a collaboration between the Hindustan Times and the Wall Street Journal – but a lot fell on the cutting room floor. Thankfully Jaideep saved the entire interview, which provides deep insights into the personality of the current World Champion. Here's part two.
The Delhi Interview with Viswanathan Anand – Part one
08.06.2010 – Back in December 2009 Mint – a collaboration between the Hindustan Times and the Wall Street Journal – commissioned their journalist Jaideep Unudurti to do an indepth interview with World Champion Vishy Anand. The discussion lasted for an hour, and only a small section landed in the journal. Jaideep has thankfully transcribed the entire contents, which we will publish in three sections.

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