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1. e4 for Anand and we have a Sicilian!

Once again, we have the Rossolimo. 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 Ne7 6. b3 Anand tries something different with 5. d3. Since Anand could not get much with 5. b3, he mixed things up a little. And once Gelfand committed to 5. Ne7 and e5 no longer works because the Queen can’t go to e7 to get back the pawn, Anand then played b3. Very tricky. Anand completely caught Gelfand off guard. All of a sudden after only 5-6 moves, Gelfand is in deep thinking mode. He knows Anand has something up in his sleeve. This is a huge psychological battle.

GM L’Ami: I would love to see 6…d6 7.e5!? dxe5 8.Nxe5 Qd4 9.Nc4 Qxa1 10.Bb2 Qxa2 11.Nc3 Qa6 12.Nd6+

Finally after a long deliberation, Gelfand played 6…d6. The problem is I am sure that team Anand expected this logical response.

As I expected, Anand responded immediately with 7. e5 Ng6 8. h4. It is clear that Anand is going all out for the win. More importantly, it is a brilliant plan psychologically, even more so than the effect of it on the board itself. Gelfand deserves a medal if he can calmly get through this alive in the biggest and most pressured game of his career.

8…Nxe5 9. Nxe5 dxe5 10. Nd2 Anand cranks out these moves faster than Franchitti winning the Indy 500 for the 3rd time. Gelfand is significantly behind on time. He’s caught in a shocker. This is the game he prepared 40 yrs for. Can he survive all the elements? Black is up a pawn for now but the structure is bad. He has 2 bishops with no space to roam. He would gladly give back the pawn for space.

This is why chess is great. Strategy, psychology, nerve, and so many other factors come into play. I’ve been here before and it’s not fun 🙂 I spent a long time before my world championship match to train physically and mentally, not counting the countless hours preparing on the board. Sometimes you only get one shot for the title and you have to live with the result, good or bad, for the rest of your life. It is not easy. That is why I can cut these guys some slacks. You can’t know what it feels like unless you experienced it. Easier observing 🙂 I also know both these guys very well for 2-3 decades. They are as diligent as you can get in a professional chess player. This is why I can’t take sides. They are my friends.

Hope you enjoy my commentary. I try not give tedious lines. You can do that at home. I just want to share what I see and feel having been through it.

Finally, Gelfand played 10…c4. May not be the best but he believes Anand will be off book after this. Giving up the pawn for space.

I think Gelfand took the right chance as Anand is thinking now about how to take the pawn. This is clearly not the move team Anand prepared for. Gelfand was trying to figure out a way to deviate from Anand’s preparation. Now it’s mano a mano and not Gelfand vs team Anand.

This shows another side of chess psychology, especially on the world stage. My game versus Chiburdanidze in Calvia Olympiad 2004 was the same, all psychology.

Even if 10…c4 wasn’t the best move, it’s a huge psychological lift for Gelfand knowing that Anand was thinking and out of preparation.

11. Nxc4 and now 11…Ba6 is a must. Gelfand needs to get rid of that silly Bishop. He needs to hold in this game, especially being way down on time, and not try to be a hero.

11…Ba6 as expected. White may be slightly better on the board and ahead on the clock but more importantly, it is equal now mentally and psychologically.

Gelfand gave back the pawn and is now sacrificing one himself 12. Qf3 Qd5 if 13. Qxd5 cxd5 14. Nxe5 f6 15. Nf3 e5. The idea is to have the bishop pair & after he plays d4, he can begin to pound on the backward c2 pawn. He wants to eliminate complications.

13. Qxd5 cxd5 14. Nxe5 f6 15. Nf3 just as I predicted. Now Gelfand should be able to hold this game. The clock shouldn’t be a factor after the Queens are off the board.

15…e5 After giving away a few pawns, the Bishop pair is now powerful.

16. 0-0 White is slightly better but black can at least breathe now. 16…Kf7 makes sense now to get out of the e file.

16…Kf7 as expected. I have to say that I’m surprised to see Anand exchanging Queens. I thought he may try to keep the pressure on the board. Now if 17. c4 then Bb7. Black is fine and has compensation for the pawn.

17. c4 Be7 18. Be3 Bb7 Gelfand should be fine in spite of being a pawn down.

19. cxd5 Bxd5 20. Rfc1 a5 Another fine option would be Rhc8

21. Bc5 Svidler and Smirin say exchanging all minor pieces now for the rook ending isn’t an obvious draw. White can still play for a win. I agree. However, 21…Rhd8 putting the pressure on the d3 pawn will give black counterplay. White will have nothing if Gelfand disciplines himself and not go crazy.

21…Rhd8 as expected. Now white has very little with the d3 problem.

22. Bxe7 1/2 Anand offered the draw and Gelfand accepted. Kramnik said he doesn’t see the slightest reason for white to offer a draw. Anand really has some chance to win.

Playoff rules:

3.7.1.a If the scores are level after the regular twelve (12) games, after a new drawing of colors, four (4) tie-break games shall be played. The games shall be played using the electronic clock starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.

3.7.2 If the scores are level after the games in Article 3.7.1a, then, after a new drawing of colors, a match of 2 games shall be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment after each move. In case of a level score, another 2-game match will be played to determine a winner. If still there is no winner after 5 such matches (total 10 games), one sudden-death game will be played as described below in Article 3.7.3.

3.7.3 If the score is still level after five matches as described in Article 3.7.2, the players shall play a one sudden death game. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds from move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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