Impressions of the World Championship in Moscow

by ChessBase
5/22/2012 – It's another free day, and after the drama of games seven and eight, time to catch our collective breaths. We have been providing you with a lot of information – games, analysis, videos. Here as a change is a personal view of what it is like to attend such an event. IM Venkatachalam Saravanan, who hails from Anand's home town of Chennai, has sent us a report. Guess who impressed him the most.

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The World Chess Championship 2012 is being staged in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, between the current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India and the winner of the Candidates tournament Boris Gelfand of Israel. The match is over twelve games and lasts from May 11 to 30. The prize fund is US $2.55 million, the winner getting $1.53 million (60%), the loser $1.02 million (40%).

Impressions of the World Championship in Moscow

By IM Venkatachalam Saravanan

You have arrived at the press center an hour before the start of the game. You make small talk, you get your stuff out, plug in the connections, switch on the notebook and settle down. As the time for the game approaches, about fifteen minutes before the start, you go and wait for the players to arrive, at the entrance to the State Tretyakov Gallery.

First Vishy arrives in a black Mercedes Benz

A fan of casual clothes, the World Champion is wearing a blue shirt and a pullover, with his sponsor’s logo, NIIT, on it. As he crosses the entrance he receives a small pat on the back – a gesture of good luck from his wife Aruna.

Then Boris arrives on foot, surrounded by enthusiastic supporters. They are all walking towards you so fast you are unable to compose your photograph. For a moment, you dread the Consiglioris and Caporegimes (a la Godfather) and scurry out of the way. And then comes a fantastic moment, as he receives high-voltage high-fives from all his supporters, before entering the building. The gesture is heartening.

Next, you hurry to the auditorium to take your pictures where it all happens. Or doesn’t. After six games of the World Championship many of my colleagues in the press centre felt that, apart from some excitement in the first game and a full-fledged fight in the third, nothing much had been actually happening, really. Oh boy – the seventh and eighth games took the Mickey out of them…

Of course, for a chess fan, the place is as good as it can get. As you turn back to leave the hall and take a last look, and it sinks in to you: the World Chess Championship, a sure piece of history, is being acted out in front of your eyes.

You return to the media room, where the action can be followed at close quarters

And it is full of experts and personalities, who come in all their shapes and sizes

One who made a big impression on me was Shifu Mark Dvoretsky, whom I interviewed for Tamil TV. The station Puthiya Thalaimurai (translation: "New Generation") has its own team at Moscow, covering the event actively – probably, the only Tamil channel to do it ever.

It was quite nostalgic to see the legendary Albert Kapengut (above with GM Maxim Dlugy), who was the trainer of Gelfand during his formative years. He had especially tense moments during the third game, when his former ward was under real pressure.

Nigel Short remained … well truly Nigel Short (seen above chatting with Robert Fontaine). I especially couldn’t help smiling when he commented – on the live official broadcast, which was being heard by one and all – on a column written by “the esteemed writer Raymond Keene”. The man’s great fun –if you are on the right side of his humour!

And of course there was the legendary Jan Timman, with his characteristic charm.
He was probably the most sought after expert commentator in the press centre.

Another charmer is Sergey Karjakin, the youngest GM in history

And then there was the day Vishy went back to 1.e4, and Boris played the Sveshnikov. And lo! In walks The Man, Evgeny Sveshnikov himself!! Spooky. Makes you wonder whatever would happen if these guys played the Alekhine?

This is the oldest living grandmaster, Yuri Averbakh. Can you see the wisdom sparkling
in his eyes? I saw many of those pawn endings and rook endings there…

Peter Svidler had no time to talk, he was so engrossed in the game – of cricket!

Today people are awaiting a special guest in a special press conference. You run to take your place and wait, talk to your neighbour, try to see around the photographers and reporters settling down. Then, after half an hour, there is the buzz, and He enters. You watch, mesmerized. After all, He was the player of your generation!

When Garry Kasparov walks to the conference hall you realise something – this is the first time that you are coming face to face with him, in real life. As he starts talking, taking questions, you sit watching him, observing him…

He smiles spontaneously; he makes firm gestures with his hands as he describes his points; he spreads his fingers, he putts them mildly on the table to drive home his argument; he does a keyboard gesture on the table to describe searching the Internet.

As the translator is doing his bit during the answers, he keeps nodding at the questioner with a “do you see?!” expression – impatient for the translation to finish. When the affable Mark Glukhovsky asks him if he wants his water to be poured in a glass, he nods a very mild “no”. And when he is aroused on a topic of his passion, he stares down the person or the whole crowd with the intensity of his eyes. It was, simply, one of the greatest shows on earth…

Even if you are not in total agreement with some of the kind things he has to say about the World Chess Championship and about Vishy Anand, you still have to give it to the man. He comes to the State Tretyakov Gallery, and has harsh words for Vladimir Putin. He comes to the FIDE World Chess Championship and definitely had harsh words for Kirsan Ilyumzhinov – who is very much present at the very venue! The whole of audience listens to him in complete silence, and admiration…

But soon the business of watching the game and making your story – I do have an everyday report at The Telegraph India – takes precedence over everything. You shift your thoughts away, concentrating on the chess. But again, when you are about to leave...

... you find Him on the ground floor café, giving a simultaneous exhibition. He’s
enjoying himself, even chatting and smiling with the ten-year-olds!

But with the same intensity of play, the shake of the head, the gestures, the eyes,
the quirks of the face, the smile…

Then you are reminded of the very first chess book you read from cover to cover, as a teenager. Many times over: “The Test of Time”. Brilliantly written. Especially those Meran Botvinnik Games. A specific caption from that book, below a young Kasparov’s engaging image, concentrated over the chessboard, with those sparkling eyes. The words of that caption keep running through your mind, again and again: Restless, he seeks the storm.

Abour the author: V. Saravanan

His full name is Venkatachalam Saravanan and is an International Master currently rated 2401. He is 40 and lives in Chennai, Tamilnadu India. He has been playing tournament chess since 1984, but this took a break in 2011, as his son Nandan was born in October 2011. The last tournament he won was the First Saturday GM in December 2010, which was also the last he participated in. His mother tongue is Tamil, though he can reasonably understand and speak Hindi too, the native common language of India. And of course English.

"Chess has given me a great number of friendships, which I cherish and take time to nurture," says Saravanan (that in the Tamil tradition is the name you address him by – Venkatachalam is his father's name). "Apart from chess I have a deep love for literature (Tamil and English) and music (Pop, Tamil/Hindi contemporary), and playing Badminton. I love travelling – especially those road trips in South India. I would like to try my hand at writing and reporting on chess."

Photos by V. Saravanan, Anastasya Karlovich, Alexey Yushenkov


 Vishy Anand
 Boris Gelfand  

Remaining schedule

Days of play, with live commentators on Note that the games start at 15:00h local time = 13:00 CEST, 07 a.m. New York or here in your location.

Tues May 22 Rest day  
Wed May 23 Game 9 Daniel King
Thur May 24 Game 10 Yannick Pelletier
Fri May 25 Rest day  
Sat May 26 Game 11 Daniel King
Sun May 27 Rest day  
Mon May 28 Game 12 Sam Collins
Tues May 29 Rest day  
Wed May 30 Tiebreaks  
Thurs May 31 Closing  


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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