World Title Goes To Tie-Breaks

  • SonofPearl
  • on 5/28/12, 8:46 AM.

The final game of the world chess championship match between Vishy Anand and his challenger Boris Gelfand has ended in a draw, so the destiny of the title will be decided by tie-break games on Wednesday.

The opening followed the same path as game 10 until Anand varied with 5.d3, following up with 6.b3.  This took Gelfand by surprise, so Anand had won the home-preparation battle this time.

Anand was clearly still in his preparation when he quickly played the aggressive pawn sacrifice with 8.h4, aiming for compensation due to Gelfand's blocked light-squared bishop.

Gelfand was alert to the danger of staying passive, and after much thought returned the pawn with 10...c4 and then sacrificed a pawn of his own!

The challenger's compensation was a big centre, but Anand had the better chances to play for a win.  Gelfand's time was down to 16 minutes to make 19 moves so it looked like long-suffering fans would get an exciting finish.  Alas, Anand offered a draw after his 22nd move, much to the bemusement of many viewers, including Vladimir Kramnik in the commentary box (see quotes below).  Gelfand immediately accepted the draw offer.


Name  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts
Vishy Anand ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 6
Boris Gelfand ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 6



Boris Gelfand lost the home preparation battle this time

WCC Anand v Gelfand game 12 Boris Gelfand.jpg


Still in preparation after 8.h4, Anand looked confident

WCC Anand v Gelfand game 12 Vishy Anand 2.jpg


But Gelfand's choice of 10...c4 took the champion by surprise

WCC Anand v Gelfand game 12 Vishy Anand.jpg


The draw seemed premature - not for the first time in the match

WCC Anand v Gelfand game 12 handshake.jpg


Vladimir Kramnik was in the commentary box (quotes below)

WCC Anand v Gelfand game 12 Vladimir Kramnik 2.jpg

Vladimir Kramnik struggled to understand why Anand had offered a draw.  He felt that the only explanation was that Anand "...couldn't stand the pressure of the last game. One of the strangest decisions I ever saw...I don't see the slightest reason for white to offer a draw.  It's like watching an interesting movie and then your TV collapses! A very strange end to an interesting game".

At the press conference, Anand explained his draw offer: "Black's play is very easy. I didn't see any point in dragging it out".  Gelfand's comment about short games during the match was, "We are here to play the match...we are not here to entertain spectators".

Tomorrow is another rest day, so the tie-break starts at 12:00 local time on Wednesday (08:00 UTC).  There will be a 4-game rapid match tie-break at 25 minutes per game plus 10 second increment. Boris Gelfand will have the white pieces in the first game.

If scores are still level a 2-game blitz match will be played at 5 minutes plus 3 second increment.  If the deadlock is still not broken, there can be up to 5 of the these 2-game blitz matches before a sudden-death blitz game will decide the winner (5 minutes for white, 4 minutes for black, and a 3 second increment from move 61).

The prize fund is $2.55 million, with the winner receiving $1.53 million (60%), the loser $1.02 million (40%).

The full rules for the match can be found here (pdf).

Screenshots taken from the official coverage, which is available for replay at the match website.

Computer analysis from the official website.

11486 reads 86 comments
4 votes


  • 4 years ago


    I'm 78 and my highest rating 1876 came with the unrated prize of the San Gabriel  Valley Open 1969

    The 24 game format it seems to me was the fairest for comparing the strength of the 2 WCC competitors although 20 games would be equally good

    In boxing for a championship a draw allows retention of a title to the champion....

    Gelfand deserves credit for playing evenly with Anand who has a large advantage over him statistically

    Reporting of the match has been superb and commentary has been educational

    So far I'm having a good time

    All the best to everyone.

    Herby Rawley

  • 4 years ago


    all who think that there will be no true World Champion after this match:


    a slap on your face by Aronian.

  • 4 years ago


    FanofSomeone: Sofia rule is not applicablt for WC (2 players), technically.

  • 4 years ago


    FIDE should apply sofia rule in WC match.

  • 4 years ago


    Alright, you guys have pretty much convinced me that no change should be made.  There is no format which pleases every spectator, and there are complaints about ALL formats.  As for having matches determined by a certain number of wins, disregarding draws, remember that Kasparov's first bid at championship was cancelled because this exact idea, first to 6 wins, resulted in a 48 game no-decision match, called off by the president of FIDE despite protests from both competitors.  Karpov had not won any of the last 21 games of the match, despite needing only one more win to finish it.  At one point in the match, there were seventeen drawn games in a row, so people who complain about too many draws in championship matches seem to have a short memory.  This has ALWAYS been an issue.  In Alekhine v. Capablanca there was a stretch of 16 games with only one decisive game.  Draws are nothing new.

    I would *prefer* a set number of games, champ keeps the title after no decision, no tie-break format, but there are fair arguments to support other formats, and I'm not going to get bent out of shape about the fact that the competitors agreed to a set of rules different from my own personal ideal vision of what the championship should be like.

  • 4 years ago


    Being afraid to take risks and play games out has made this the most boring WCC in memory and I am almost 50 years old. I agree with B.F. in that a championship should be decided by the first to WIN a predetermined number of games. This match has been a real disappointment IMO. 

  • 4 years ago


    What happened to the good ole days of chess? 

    Where did the Candidates tournaments, and candidate matches go?

    Fischers idea of the first to 10 wins is a bit extreme, but the old format of the first to 6 wins was ideal (IMO) 

    Even a match of 24 games, with the champion keeping his title in case of a tie was better than what we have now.

    A world titile being decided by blitz chess is rediculous, and further hinders chess being mainstream. 

    Knockout matches are a joke

    And Gelfand is correct when he said they are not here to entertain. 

    Draws are not boring, they are part of chess. 

  • 4 years ago


    @zenious I disagree. It is more then enough that FIDE uses ratings for qualification. I don't like that, if the world champion is the one with higher rating why to have WCC in the first place? And it is no so simple anyway. On the other hand the suggestion I posted i simple, elegant, fair and encourages fighting chess. That is only my opinion though.

  • 4 years ago


    some diff views on W C 12 . still it should be like a wc,fischer spassky ,kasparov karpov were guys who inspired so many to learn chess,but that was a diff era iguess.well the present seris other than anands miniature win,has been pretty dull.wishing for some fireworks in the rapids.all the best may the better guy win.

  • 4 years ago


    Who on Earth thinks the winner of this match is the best chess player in the world?  No one!  That's why this match is a joke.  WCC should be first to x wins period.  They can draw all they want but it won't end the match. 

  • 4 years ago


    @bagpiper. This is exactly what i say. Now we have the ELO rating. Why not to use it, at least for tie breaks?

  • 4 years ago


    @zenious that wouldn't exactly work in the context of some WCCs. Bronstein-Botvinnik, for example, where Bronstein was, in many ways, Botvinnik's superior even though the ELO system was not in use.

  • 4 years ago


    Maybe the solution is more simple. At least 16 games and in the case of even score after that the player with the better elo rating grab (or retain) the title.

  • 4 years ago


    Good Match, strong chess played by both. I think that the world champion being ok with a draw makes the games less dynamic, however perhaps both the players prefer being able to draw.

  • 4 years ago


    In comments on I saw very interesting idea: If the match is tied, the champion retains the title BUT in the next cycle he must play with others in candidates tournament. Then Top 2 players of the tournament play WCC match. If this match is tied then the winner of the tournament is WCC.

    If champion or chalanger wins in the first cycle, everything remains the same as it is now. I really like this idea a lot.

  • 4 years ago




    It doesn't MEAN anything though. They do not have an obligation to play the game a certain way. Of course they're unwilling to take risks if they think it'll make them lose the WC. Assuming that Anand is a better Rapid/Blitz player, are you HONESTLY suggesting that it isn't in his best interest to take as many draws as possible in the Classical games, then win at the format in which he actually has an advantage? Hypothetical, but it does not invalidate my point.


    At the end of the day, the winner, and by extension, the Champion, is the player who wins the match. Its not really any of your business how they choose to do that, nor is it your place to tell them how they ought to do it. 

  • 4 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    WestfHollywood: "There was nothing wrong with the old classical format. 24 real games and if the match is drawn the champion keeps his title. There's nothing wrong with blitz chess in of itself, but it should not decide a world championship (unless of course it is the blitz world championship)."

    Agreed.  It just seems, as in classical times, that to be the champion, you must beat the champion... if, within certain limits, the challenger can only manage an even score, the champion should retain the title.  A future challenger must win decisively.  

    Of course, in any format, there is always something for the spectator to grumble about.  If the game were such that a draw favored the champion, then spectators would complain about overly cautious play by the champ, when they'd prefer a game where both players have an incentive to win.  So, under any set of agreed upon rules, the players will select to play the kind of game favored by the format.  That can include a strategy in which the champion angles for an advantage in rapid time controls, rather than push for an elusive win in an otherwise drawish game.

  • 4 years ago


    Bobby Fischer said also that nobody can tell him when a game is a draw and when it's not. This continuous rant about how fighting and faboulous were the players in the older times makes me think about what Hemingway wrote about corrida of the old times in "Death in the afternoon".

    Still I don't agree with the format of rapid playoff. To me if the match is drawn the champion retains the title.

  • 4 years ago


    If this is your once in a lifetime chance at the highest title in your area of endeavor, would you not play to win it?  Would you rather sacrifice (some of) your chances for the sake of "entertaining spectators"?  Most wouldn't.  Gelfand wouldn't, also -- which is why he's still in the match.

    To be fair, he offered the remarks that most people commented on in a very different context.  He was asked a question about why they didn't play on even if they knew it was going to be a draw -- for the sake of showing to the spectators who couldn't tell.  His answer was explaining that there are people whose job it is to show to the masses why and how a given position can be led simply to the logical drawn outcome -- they are GM commentators with a skill at demonstrating eloquently to other people.  In that context, the remark makes a lot of sense (he gets paid for playing the games, other GMs get paid for commenting them, no need to mix up the two here) -- without any sensationalism attached to it, as many would attempt by taking it out of context.

Back to Top

Post your reply: