Anand-Gelfand 2012: Game 11

Game 11 of the 2012 World Chess Championship match between Anand and Gelfand was nearly decided by the clock. Inexplicably, Boris Gelfand became uncomfortable with the position and used 40 minutes of his time to choose a relatively routine move early in the game. Gelfand is truly lucky that his clock management  issue in game 11 did not end up becoming the deciding factor in the  world championship match. Many of Anand’s fans, however, are left wondering about what would have happened had Anand not thrown his opponent a life raft on move 24.

My analysis of Anand-Gelfand 2012 game 11 is below: (Try copying the text and pasting it into your favorite chess program for easier reading.)

[Event “Anand-Gelfand World Chess Championship”]

[Site “Moscow, Russia”]

[Date “2012.05.26”]

[Round “11”]

[White “Boris Gelfand”]

[Black “Viswanathan Anand”]

[Result “1/2-1/2”]

[ECO “E55”]

[Opening “Nimzo-Indian”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 {Anand is going to play the Nimzo-Indian Defence again. It seems that he grew tired of defending in his early a6 Semi-Slav.} 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 {As in game 9, Boris chooses the Rubinstein method of meeting the Nimzo-Indian. .} O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 {All of this is a replay of game 9.} 7. O-O dxc4 8. Bxc4 Bd7 {Viswanathan Anand employs a rare move here and Boris Gelfand seems very flustered.} 9. a3 {48 minutes later, the visibly frustrated Boris Gelfand plays a3. To be perfectly blunt, Gelfand needs to improve his gamesmanship. I see absolutely no reason why deciding between a3 or Qe2 here should put a player in severe time trouble. A position like this is less about calculating and more about choosing a plan. Gelfand’s epic indecisiveness put him at a distinct disadvantage. Should a position occur that does need deep calculation later, Boris will not have time to handle it properly. Furthermore, his painful facial expressions and long thinking time tells Anand that he is now in the driver’s seat and that Gelfand is not comfortable in this position.} Ba5 10. Qe2 {In the end, I don’t think it really matters much as to which order Gelfand played his moves in. Starting with the more forcing a3 seems to make sense as it leaves Anand less wiggle room. I just don’t understand why Boris Gelfand would put himself behind the “8 ball” because of the time difference.} Bc6 {This plan was introduced and played regularly by Ratmir D. Kholmov in the mid 1960’s.} 11. Rd1 {Michael Aigner once told me, “if you don’t know what to do, try placing your rook in the same file as your opponent’s queen.” It’s solid advice.} Bxc3 {Viswanathan Anand introduces a novelty to this game. Anand has always liked his knights but I was more than a little surprised to see him trade-off his bishop here.} 12. bxc3 Nbd7 {I am totally shocked by this move. Everyone who knows anything must have been expecting Anand to play Ba4 here. Viswanathan is really thinking “outside the box.” Getting back to Ba4… If Anand had played Ba4 then once Gelfand moves his rook he can play Nc6.} 13. Bd3 Qa5 {I had been considering Be4 here. Clearly Anand feels comfortable in this position because he played the moves as if he only had half-an-hour to live.} 14. c4 {It was either this or Bd2.} cxd4 15. exd4 Qh5 {Not to be underestimated is the value of a queen on an open rank.} 16. Bf4 {I spent some time studying the possibility of Ng5 here. After Anand takes Gelfand’s queen then Gelfand takes back with his bishop. Anand looses his open rank queen and Gelfand has the bishop pair for the end game.} Rac8 17. Ne5 {This is similar to the plan I mentioned on move 16.} Qxe2 18. Bxe2 Nxe5 19. Bxe5 Rfd8 {Boris Gelfand must have been happy to see simplification as he was really getting low on time.} 20. a4 {I understand the logic of moving the isolated pawn forward to cramp black’s queen side pawns, however I do not like allowing Anand to play Ne4.} Ne4 21. Rd3 f6 {At this point, Gelfand is down to just 30 minutes while Anand still has over an hour.} 22. Bf4 Be8 {This is a very drawish endgame for these two champions under normal conditions. Boris Gelfand’s misapplied time usage put him in a very dangerous position.} 23. Rb3 Rxd4 24. Be3 Rd7 {I can not believe Anand offered Gelfand a draw here. Boris Gelfand was down to 13 minutes on his clock and Anand still had over an hour. If, somehow, Anand does not end up retaining the world title, chess analysts will definitely be questioning this sportsman like decision for decades to come. As a fan of chess, I would have loved to see Anand try to swindle a win from his opponent under time pressure.} 1/2-1/2

Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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