It seemed to me that Gelfand had the upper hand in opening preparation in the classical portion, especially earlier in the match. However, Anand did well to contain the surprises. The tide was kind of turned near the end of the match in opening choices. Anand got good positions but Gelfand did well to hold.
Things became very different in the playoff. Anand’s preparation and opening choices improved. He also has more experience as he played a number of these matches before. With the exception of the 3rd game where Gelfand had a winning position but failed to convert, Anand had good positions and he was way up on time most of the time. It looked to me that it was a completely different Anand in the playoff. He was faster and more energized.
I think Gelfand’s biggest mistake was not having an additional second in his team, someone who has won a World Championship match. The playoff has a lot to do with nerve and mental toughness. Gelfand needed someone who had been through the trenches and know how to manage the uneven emotions.
Let’s not forget that Anand did not succeed when he was younger and less experienced. Now he is a seasoned and respected World Champion. Anand knew how to do his job. He was there to defend his title and he succeeded. It may not have been pretty or colorful but the bottom line is he did it.
Congratulations to Anand for defending his title again!