Anand-Gelfand World Championship match starts in a week from today

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

In exactly one week from today the 2012 World Championship match starts, between title holder Viswanathan Anand of India and challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel. The two will play a match of 12 games, unless someone scores a decisive 6.5 points at an earlier stage. In case of a tie, there will be a rapid / blitz playoff to decide. We bring you all the info.


Reigning World Champion is 42-year-old Viswanathan Anand of India, currently the #4 in the world with an Elo rating of 2791. He was born 11 December 1969 in Mayiladuthurai, a small town in Tamil Nadu, India in a Tamil family. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Chennai, erstwhile Madras, where he grew up. 

He played his first World Championship match in 1995 for the PCA, and lost to Garry Kasparov. Between 2000 and 2002 Anand held the FIDE World Champion title and later became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 by winning the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. He then defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 in Bonn, Germany and also in 2010 against Veselin Topalov in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Anand won numerous tournaments in his career, including Wijk aan Zee (1988, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005 joint with Veselin Topalov), Reggio Emilia (1992), Alekhine Memorial (Moscow, 1992), the PCA Interzonal (Groningen, 1993), Biel (1997) and Linares (1998, 2007, 2008).

Challenger is 43-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel, currently the #20 in the world with an Elo rating of 2727. He was born in Minsk, Belarus (then Belarussian SSR) on 24 June 1968. In 1998, he emigrated to Israel and settled in Rishon LeZion, where he became Israel's top ranking chess player.

Gelfand has qualified several times for Candidates Tournaments for the World Chess Championship. In 1993 he won the interzonal tournament in Biel and reached the quarter-finals of the Candidates matches. Three years later he reached the semi-final and in 1997 he was a semi-finalist in the FIDE knockout tournament. He also played in the 8-player 2002 Dortmund Tournament, which was the Candidates for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004, but failed to reach the semi-finals.

In 2007 Gelfand managed to qualify for the World Championship tournament in Mexico City. There he surprised most observers by finishing joint second with reigning world champion Vladimir Kramnik (third after tie breaks); the tournament and the World Championship was won by Viswanathan Anand.

In 2009 Gelfand won the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia and thus qualified for the Candidates matches held in May 2011 in Kazan, Russia. Seeded fourth, the Israeli beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) in the quarterfinals, Gata Kamsky (USA) in the semis and Alexander Grischuk (Russia) in the final, qualifying for the 2012 World Championship match against Anand.

Gelfand has won numerous tournaments in his career, including Wijk aan Zee (1992), Biel (1993), Dos Hermanas (1994), Belgrade (1995), Tilburg (1996), Malmö (1999), and Pamplona (2004).


The match will be held in the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the famous art gallery in Moscow, Russia. It is known as the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world. The gallery's history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a collection, which might later grow into a museum of national art. In 1985, the Tretyakov Gallery was administratively merged with a gallery of contemporary art, housed in a large modern building along the Garden Ring, immediately south of the Crimean Bridge. The collection contains more than 130,000 exhibits.


DayDateMatch eventTimeCommentary
Day 110 MayOpening ceremony19.00/20.00 
Day 211 MayGame 115.00Nigel Short
Day 312 MayGame 215.00Nigel Short
Day 413 MayRest day  
Day 514 MayGame 315.00Jan Timman
Day 615 MayGame 415.00Jan Timman
Day 716 MayRest day  
Day 817 MayGame 515.00Joel Lautier
Day 918 MayGame 615.00Peter Svidler
Day 1019 MayRest day  
Day 1120 MayGame 715.00Peter Leko
Day 1221 MayGame 815.00Peter Leko
Day 1322 MayRest day  
Day 1423 MayGame 915.00Peter Svidler
Day 1524 MayGame 1015.00Peter Svidler
Day 1625 MayRest day  
Day 1726 MayGame 1115.00Vladimir Kramnik
Day 1827 MayRest day  
Day 1928 MayGame 1215.00Peter Svidler
Day 2029 MayRest day  
Day 2130 MayTie break12.00 


The official document with the regulations can be downloaded here in PDF (including the official rules of chess!) but we'll summarize the most important aspects. To start with, the draw for colors will be conducted during the opening ceremony on May 10th. The colors shall be reversed after game 6. (The player getting white in game 1 shall play game 7 with black).

In this 12-game match the time control for each game shall be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game. If the scores are level after the regular twelve games, after a new drawing of colors, four tie-break rapid games shall be played. The games shall be played with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds. If the scores are still level, a match of two games shall be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment. If the score is level after a maximum of five such blitz matches, the players shall play a one sudden death game. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the  player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds from move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

Prize fund

The prize fund of the match is 2.55 million dollars, 60% of which will go to the winner and 40% to the loser. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.


The main sponsor is Andrei Filatov, shareholder of the N-Trans Group of Companies and a student friend of Boris Gelfand. N-Trans is Russia's largest privately owned group that provides services in transportation and infrastructure, including rail freight transportation and port asset management.

Filatov has strong ties with chess: he is USSR Candidate Master of Sport in chess and in 1993, he received a sports teaching and chess coaching degree from the Academy of Physical Education and Sport of the Republic of Belarus.

He actively participates in social assistance programs and is engaged in philanthropic activities. For instance, Filatov has financed the restoration of the tombstone and monument to the legendary Russian-born chess player Alexander Alekhine in Paris. Today, in an interview Filatov revealed that sponsoring the Anand-Gelfand match won't be all; he is also intending to be involved in a French-Russian event to commemorate Alekhine. (Here's an interesting interview in English with Filatov.)

Businessman Gennadi Timoschenko as well as Novatek and the Ladoga Charity Foundation will also sponsor the match.


Last summer there were only two bids for the Anand-Gelfand match, and Filatov's Moscow bid for hosting the match defeated Chennai's bid. In the aforementioned interview, Filatov said about this:

Actually the competition could have been bigger. But due to the FIDE President playing Gaddafi before the bombing of Libya a huge number of potential competitors simply didn't bid...

Side events

Several tournaments will be held during the match in Moscow, which will bring together chess veterans including renowned grandmasters, former World and European Champions. These tournaments will be supported by the Ladoga Foundation, which made a care program for the senior generation a strategic focus of its activities.

Young chess players from all over Russia will be able to attend the match in Moscow. The Russian Chess Federation, together with the State Tretyakov Gallery, is currently working on the program for their stay in the capital, which will include not only workshops and multi-board chess games with famous grandmasters, but also guided tours of the Tretyakov Gallery and lectures on the history of art.

Live online coverage

Live online Russian- and English-language video coverage of the match will be provided on the official website. Chess fans from all over the world will be able to watch the games online, commented by leading chess experts, while the studio will host well-known grandmasters, public figures, authors and musicians. During the webcast, viewers will also have the opportunity to learn about the history and exhibitions of the State Tretyakov Gallery.

Today the list of commentators was revealed on the website of the Russian Chess Federation. The host for the Russian language commentary will be GM Ilya Smirin (Israel), and his guests will be Sergei Rublevsky, Dmitry Jakovenko, Viorel Bologan, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik. The host for the English language commentary will be editor-in-chief of New In Chess Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, and his guests will be: 

May 11-12 Nigel Short
May 14-15 Jan Timman
May 17 Joel Lautier
May 18, 23-24, 28 Peter Svidler
May 20-21 Peter Leko
May 26 Vladimir Kramnik 

(See also the schedule above).

The guests of honor will be world champions Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, long-term contender for the championship title Viktor Korchnoi, the oldest living grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, composer Vladimir Dashkevich, pianist Nikolai Lugansky and other prominent players, and cultural figures.


We'll be in Moscow during the whole match to provide on-the-spot reports, photos and videos. You won't miss a thing!


Generally the reigning champion is considered to be the favorite, but by how much? What do you think?

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