The 12th and final game of the world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand ended in a draw, leaving the match tied at 6-6. There will be tiebreakers, starting Wednesday.
First, a mini-match of four tiebreakers will be played at rapid controls (25 minutes+ 10 seconds increment per move). If that doesn’t lead to a decision, up to five paired sets of blitz games with alternate colours could be played at 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment. However, if there is still no decision after five pairs of blitz games, an Armageddon game would be played, with white having more time and black having draw odds.
Anand will be somewhat favoured, given a significantly superior record to Gelfand in short games. However, with stakes as high as the world title and 60 per cent of the $2.55-million purse, nerves could play a part.
In the final game of normal time, Anand tried the Rossolimo Variation against Gelfand’s Sicilian Defence for the second time. The defending champion came up with an early pawn sacrifice to weaken black's structure. Gelfand responded immediately with a counter-sacrifice and forced the exchange of queens.
The flurry of exchanges left white with an extra pawn but black had free play with the bishop pair. By move 22, white had a very small, absolutely risk-free advantage in an endgame. The position was almost guaranteed drawn. But Anand chose not to test Gelfand’s technical skill and offered a draw anyway. Commentators and spectators were a little puzzled at the early conclusion.
The diagram WHITE TO PLAY, (Anand Vs Gelfand, Game 12, World Chps, 2012). White forces acceptance of a pawn sacrifice with 8.h4 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Nd2 c4! Gelfand returns the pawn to open up his bishops. 11.Nxc4 Ba6 12.Qf3 Qd5! This sacrifice eliminates queens and reduces cozmplications. 13.Qxd5 cxd5 14.Nxe5 f6 15.Nf3 e5. It’s about equal – black's space and easy bishop play compensates for the extra white pawn.
The game ended abruptly after 16.0–0 Kf7 17.c4 Be7 18.Be3 Bb7 19.cxd5 Bxd5 20.Rfc1 a5 21.Bc5! Rhd8 22.Bxe7 (½–½). It is drawish after 22. – Kxe7 23. Nd2 but white can surely play on with zero risk.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player