Commentary by Chess Coach William Stewar (Excerpts cited from ChessBase.com)
Original article on the 2012 World Chess Championship available on William’s website
Chessbase News recently released Part 3 of an interview with 2012 World Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand, reflecting on his recent success at the Candidates Tournament in Kazan and probing the challenger’s thoughts about the 2012 WC Match. Specifically, I found the concrete logic of his approach to the thought process in chess very interesting. He briefly explained some of the psychological factors in his preparation for the Finals match with Grischuk, as well as his positional approach to finding the powerful novelty in the 6th and decisive game – 13. b3!? I was surprised when he played this move, as it is extremely counter-intuitive due to the impending a4 advance by black.
Interview with the Challenger
You played 13.b3, provoking a4 for Black…
We were looking at this line some time ago, maybe in December. It’s a critical position. d5 was the most popular line so we came up with this b3 move against it, which looks pretty strange as it allows the a5-a4 idea. But then we noticed that the pawn on h3 limits the black bishop which is blocking the e pawn (which is blocking the rook). So if the bishop cannot move Black can never play e5, while if White manages to play e4 at some moment, White’s advantage would be serious. So I was happy to see this position appear in the game…
After a long think Grischuk played 16…Ra5. Were you aware of this move?
That’s a good question. During the game I had the illusion that we looked at it – that is what I told Grischuk immediately after the game. But then I spoke with Maxim Rodshtein, my second, and he couldn’t recall it, and later searched for it in my notes and couldn’t find any trace of it. Perhaps we analyzed such a move in a similar position. But for now I can tell you for sure that I didn’t analyze the exact position before the game.
So then you found Nh4 over the board…
I considered the position pretty equal, but then I found this Nh4 concept, which I’m proud of. Grischuk himself praised it – he was really shocked. Probably he could have played better, but he played natural moves.
I was following the game with Deep Junior and prior to 24.Qe2 the game looked complicated and double edged – there was also the idea of f5 for White…
Yes, a few moves later I saw 24.Qe2 immediately – but I thought that e4 is also strong, so I hesitated. I felt that after Qe2 Black’s position is busted. I was surprised by Grischuk’s Rb5 reply, because I was sure he would play f5, for which I was planning h5 with an attack. But I wasn’t sure how it will develop from there…
Challenging the World Title (Will’s take)
Boris Gelfand is not afraid to take on Viswanathan Anand for the title of World Chess Champion. While many critics have declared preference for a younger, more energetic challenger (ex. Carlsen) – the pragmatic Gelfand is not phased. And deservedly so, as he skillfully overcame opponents in the candidates matches (Mamedyarov, Kamsky, Grischuk) to earn the right to challenge Anand. I find it very interesting that Gelfand is so publicly apathetic towards his home country Israel hosting the WC Match, as Anand has declared he would love to play the match in India. These two players are fairly similar in many aspects: their respective styles of play are pragmatic, intuitive, and aggressive while backed by concrete tactical preparation; their respective approaches to the game are prudent, calm, and objective. The deciding factor in the 2012 World Championship Match could very well be – a Battle of Nerves.
Concerning your upcoming World Championship match against Anand. Many believe Anand was very happy with the Kazan outcome. What do you think?
Probably true, because it was his only chance to be the younger player in the match… Generally, I think that the result is a good message for chess. Of course the public may disagree, preferring a younger challenger like Carlsen or Nakamura. But the result means that you could be in your forties and still play for the world championships title! So my qualification sends a positive message to the younger players: even if they fail to qualify, there is always hope and they should never give up their ambitions.
How do you assess your chances against Anand?
Vishy and I played a lot in the 90’s. I must say that in the first half I had a big advantage, while in the second half he prevailed. If my memory doesn’t fail me it is +1 for him out of the 34 classical games we played, which is by no means a big advantage. During the last decade we played no more than six or seven games, so to be able to play twelve games in one month against such a player will be very interesting… I think that my chances are decent. This opponent is of course extraordinarily strong, but I showed that I can play matches well against the strongest opponents.
Is there any news about the venue for the match?
No news yet. I had a few calls, some people took interest already. I don’t believe there will be dozens of bids, but there is more than a month ahead to submit them (bids need to be in end of July) and we shall see….
Is there a chance that the match will take place in Israel?
I hope so – I really don’t know the situation…
Would you prefer to play in Israel?
I’m not sure. I will certainly get more support here but on the other hand it would add to the pressure.
What are your plans for the time until the match begins?
In one year a lot of things can change in our field. I will play the Tal Memorial and hopefully another tournament. Also, I see this year as an opportunity to improve my chess. I plan to work intensively on my game. I always wanted to do it, and now it is certainly a very good opportunity to finally put the plan into action.