World Championship G1 – a fighting draw sets the tone

by ChessBase
5/11/2012 – In the most anticipated match of the year, the World Championship got under way with Vishy Anand against challenger Boris Gelfand. It was neither the cataclysmic opener of his match against Topalov in 2010 nor a dull draw, though draw it was. The game was a fascinating Grünfeld, which has been summarised for us by IM Malcolm Pein. Full report with pictures and commentary.

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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%).

Round one report

By IM Malcolm Pein

In game one of the 2010 WCC final, Anand played the Gruenfeld against Topalov and after 24 moves he could resign. In 2012, Anand had to face the Gruenfeld in the first game and after 24 moves, the challenger Boris Gelfand had secured a draw with black and will be the slightly happier of the two. Gelfand would have been satisfied with a draw before the game and psychologically speaking, he struck a small blow by springing a surprise and answering 1.d4 with the Gruenfeld Defence.

The d-pawn! Anand tells FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov which move to make...

... and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov ceremoniously starts the first game with 1.d4

Boris usually plays Slav, Semi Slav, Queen's Gambit or Nimzo/Queen's Indian and so he immediately demonstrated that he has plenty of ideas. The Gruenfeld is considered a bit risky at the very top level. Kasparov lost a few times with it, but Anand has not faced it often, so it was a shrewd choice. As they say in the financial markets there was a 'flight to safety' as Anand opted for 8.Bb5+ which has a reputation of being a harmless line but one which requires a little accuracy from Black. On move nine, Anand decided to play aggressively and avoid 9.0-0 which he has played before but which can lead to dull equality. 9.d5!? was almost a novelty but I thought it had been played before. I couldn't place it but then, in the darker recesses of my (very unreliable) memory I remembered losing a game against GM Gyozo Forintos at the Benedictine International in Manchester 30 years ago. But ChessBase is a wonderful thing sometimes and it turns out that was with 9.0-0 0-0 10.d5 Qa5 11.Rb1. So I can't claim ownership of that move, but the way it turned out, it wouldn't be much of a claim.

Press photographers bustling around the stage at the start of game one Anand-Gelfand

Vishy Anand watches as Boris Gelfand goes for the Gruenfeld with 2...g6 and...

3...d5. This must have come as a bit of a surprise for the World Champion.

Gelfand comfortably navigated the complications and when Anand went in for a long think after 13...Qa5 the silicon collective, otherwise known as 'Let's Check' had decided Black was more than okay. Anand had sacrificed a pawn and by the time he retrieved it, Gelfand had safely castled. Then it was just a question of whether Black had something tangible, as he was in possession of the bishop pair and a potentially strong passed 'a' pawn. 22...Bd7 was more ambitious but as the players said after the game, Black had no real advantage. One shouldn't pay too much attention to a computer assessment of +0.1-0.2.

Commentary on game one by Daniel King

Commentary on game one by Andrew Martin

Video stream of round one (from the official World Championship site)

Once again the Russian organisers are providing unprecedented coverage,
with a HD video stream of the action and commentary by visiting grandmasters.

Pictures by Anastasya Karlovich and Alexey Yushenkov


 Vishy Anand
 Boris Gelfand  


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.

Thur May 10 Opening  
Fri May 11 Game 1 Daniel King
Sat May 12 Game 2 Lawrence Trent
Sun May 13 Rest day  
Mon May 14 Game 3 Yannick Pelletier
Tues May 15 Game 4 Daniel King
Wed May 16 Rest day  
Thur May 17> Game 5 Daniel King
Fri May 18 Game 6 Loek van Wely
Sat May 19 Rest day  
Sun May 20 Game 7 Lawrence Trent
Mon May 21 Game 8 Oliver Reeh
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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