The world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand is intriguingly poised with neither player showing signs of dominance. With the scores level after four games, it has so far appeared to be a battle of equals although Anand is over 60 Elo points ahead of his Israeli challenger.
In that sense, the scoreline is a setback for the world champion who is also known to be good beginner. But experts believe Anand has a few aces up his sleeve. “I expect him to come out with surprises in the next two set of games. I’m sure he will be plus one by the eighth game,” says Pravin Thipsay.
The Mumbai-based Grandmaster thinks Anand’s secret weapon could be e4 and he could come up trumps in the Sicilian Najdorf or Petroff openings. “So far he has played d4. He’s strong at e4 as well. He will use this at some stage. Gelfand has been a Sicilian Najdorf (an option to e4 opening) player for the last 30 years. He got results in the Petroff Defence (an offshoot of e4 opening) on occasions. Anand has good results in both Petroff and Najdorf,” Thipsay says, analysing the options before the Indian maestro. “When and where Anand plays e4 will be interesting to watch.”
The former national champion thinks Anand’s strategy could unravel in the next two or three games as he will not want to leave it till the end. “Anand has something in his mind which will be clear in the next two sets of games. Obviously, Anand will not want to leave it till the end. I’m sure Anand will try to take lead in the next four games. By Game 8, I’m hoping him to be plus one.”
Thipsay says there has not been a clear-cut trend so far in the match. “It has been a very well-fought theoretical battle without advantage or disadvantage for either player. The first two games were more or less equal. In Game 3, Anand had an edge but Gelfand played accurately and in Game 4, Gelfand was better but Anand came up with precise moves.”
The veteran GM says he is baffled by Anand’s strategy. “I’m still trying to figure out what the strategies have been. Anand will be comfortable when his opponent is tired. He has been hoping for an opponent who is elder to him. So Gelfand suits him as an opponent and yet he could not do much in Game 4. I was expecting something from Anand as Game 3 was long and Gelfand had to toil for a draw. He was tired and I hoped Anand would try something different. My judgment was wrong. Maybe he has deferred his plans by a few games,” Thipsay points out.
Thipsay admits Gelfand has prepared well. “If Anand has not taken the lead so far, it is because Gelfand has come up with good preparation. Qualitatively, he is quite a strong player. He is a product of the Soviet system in which the players are imparted nuances of the game. So, they have inbuilt advantage over others.”