CHENNAI: After the shortest decisive game in the history of the championship, the Moscow World chess title contest provided the longest game of the match when World champion Viswanathan Anand fought grimly for 49 moves to get a draw against Boris Gelfand of Israel on Wednesday. The longest game before this in the match was Anand’s loss in 38 moves in the seventh game and the shortest, of course, was his 17-move win in Game 8.
Anand showed his defensive skills again to keep the match tied at 4.5-4.5 after nine games. He will have white in Game 10 on Thursday. From a purely theoretical opening, the game took a turn for the better for Gelfand as Anand played some strange moves but the Israeli was perhaps not convinced that the position was ripe for him to go for the kill. Simplifying the position with a series of exchanges, Anand built up a fortress by move 40 to save a game that looked lost for him at one stage.
“My position was worse as he had two bishops for my knights,” commented Anand after the game. “My chances hinged on the fortress that I was going to choose. In fact, I had many options and I think I chose the right one.”
Anand shelved the Slav after his mishap in the seventh game. The Nimzo-Indian was back and the book was followed in the first 10 moves. Gelfand deviated from the main line with a queen move followed by another interesting idea that would block black’s plan of playing a useful queen move.
Anand spent close to 20 minutes for his 12th move and forced some exchanges that put him in a slightly backward position. The World champion, a strong player of the bishops, would now have the knight pair against the bishops of his opponent.
Though, Gelfand was saddled with an isolated pawn in the centre, after Anand’s exchanges, the pawn became a good weapon to be used for a future break. White looked much better when the bishop on the kingside took a threatening square and the commentators immediately saw a bleak future in the game for Anand.
But the positive outlook for Gelfand lasted only three moves as they quickly went on the defensive when the Israeli pushed his queen-bishop pawn and simplified the position further. Now it looked as though Anand had found a way out of trouble and the clock also showed him ahead of his rival for the first time as Gelfand thought hard for these moves.
What followed was an exciting exchange in which Anand gave his queen for rook and bishop and with that black seemed to have defended the position pretty well. Of course, Gelfand still kept a slight advantage and had to target the pawn in the seventh rank. Anand’s rook and knight put up solid resistance to force the deadlock.
Gelfand-Anand (Game 9) Nimzo-Indian defence 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Qe2 Nbd7 12.Rac1 Rc8 13.Bd3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qc7 15.c4 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Rfe8 17.Rfd1 h6 18.Bh4 Qd6 19.c5 bxc5 20.dxc5 Rxc5 21.Bh7+ Kxh7 22.Rxd6 Rxc1+ 23.Rd1 Rec8 24.h3 Ne5 25.Qe2 Ng6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 28.Kh2 Rc7 29.Qb2 Kg7 30.a4 Ne7 31.a5 Nd5 32.a6 Kh7 33.Qd4 f5 34.f4 Rd7 35.Kg3 Kg6 36.Qh8 Nf6 37.Qb8 h5 38.Kh4 Kh6 39.Qb2 Kg6 40.Qc3 Ne4 41.Qc8 Nf6 42.Qb8 Re7 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 fxg4 45.Qe5 Ng8 46.Qg5+ Kh7 47.Qxg4 f6 48.Qg2 Kh8 49.Qe4 Kg7 0.5-0.5