Rivals: Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik

by Johannes Fischer
9/9/2020 – Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik are friends, but they were also rivals. They played a World Championship match and about 150 games against each other, and for two decades both were among the three best players in the world. In the Indian sports program "The Finish Line" Anand now talks about his World Championship match 2008 against Kramnik. Anand shares insights about his surprising choice of 1.d4, about match strategy and he reveals why this was one of the most important matches of his career. | Photo: Alina l'Ami

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Vishy Anand about his World Championship match against Vladimir Kramnik 2008

Anand played his first World Championship match in 1995, in New York, against Garry Kasparov. The first eight games of the match ended in a draw, but then Anand won the ninth game and took a 1-0 lead. However, Kasparov immediately hit back and won the tenth, the eleventh, the thirteenth and the fourteenth game to win the match 10½:7½.

In 2000 Anand became FIDE World Champion and in 2007 – after the reunification of the Professional Chess Association and FIDE – he won the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. Anand finished one point ahead of Kramnik and became the 15th World Champion in chess history.

But to fully legitimize himself as World Champion in the tradition of Steinitz, Anand still had to win a match against Vladimir Kramnik, who had become the 14th World Champion by defeating Garry Kasparov in a legendary match in London 2000.

The World Championship match between Anand and Kramnik took place in Bonn in 2008. Anand won with 6½:4½ and surprised the experts by his choice of opening: Anand had always been a 1.e4 player, but against Kramnik he opened with 1.d4 and was surprisingly successful.

In his "Finish Line" interview with Saurav Ghosal Anand talks in detail about the 2008 World Championship match: he reveals how he came up with the idea of playing 1.d4, he talks about match strategy, and explains why this was one of the most important matches of his career.

The interview with Anand starts after about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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Johannes Fischer Johannes Fischer 9/9/2020 12:34
@guest1227491 Thanks for writing. The error was corrected.
genem genem 9/9/2020 11:38
The title that Steinitz founded in 1886 was by definition a Match title. The 2007 FIDE tournament could not, by definition, transfer the Match title away from Kramnik. Anand became the Match world champion in 2008.

The combination of Kirsan's threats against Kramnik, plus a probable understanding that Kramnik would still have a 1:1 Match against Anand, is the only reason Kramnik reluctantly agreed to defend his title against 7 other challengers simultaneously (utterly unprecedented).
guest1227491 guest1227491 9/9/2020 08:39
"In 2000 Anand became FIDE World Champion and in 2007 – after the reunification of the Professional Chess Association and FIDE – he won the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. Anand finished half a point ahead of Kramnik and became the 15th World Champion in chess history."

No, Anand finished 1 point ahead of Kramnik and Gelfand, with 9/14.
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