Anand–Gelfand, Game 10: Another Day at the Office

by admin on May 24, 2012

The tenth game of the World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand ended in a relatively short, 25-move draw. However, in his comments GM Shipov does not seem as scornful as he sometimes does when the players settle for a bloodless draw. In this case the early queen trade arose naturally from the demands of the position. Although Anand had somewhat better chances, he didn’t take any undue risks and Gelfand came up with a very effective defense. Even Shipov seemed a bit surprised.

So basically it was just another day at the office for the two players. There were none of the dramatic changes of fortune that marked the 7th, 8th and 9th games. As a chess fan you have to expect that sometimes, with accurate play, the game will peter out into a draw.

I was personally interested in this game because I used to play the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian all the time as White, and I still trot it out now and then. But Gelfand’s idea seems to take a lot of the fun out of it, and White might need to consider other moves than 5. b3 in the future.

As always, Shipov’s comments can be found in the original Russian at, and this translation will eventually be posted there as well. Enjoy! — DM

And welcome again, esteemed viewers! The match going on in Moscow for the world championship is nearing its denouement, and I, grandmaster Sergey Shipov, will annotate the jubilee tenth game for you. According to my observations, the contestants have already started to get tired, and the quality of play has decreased a little, which actually has had a positive effect on the entertainment value of the games. Now in each game a decisive result is more than possible. Therefore I have changed my strategy in the contest to predict the results in the KC forum [a chat forum on the Crestbook website — DM], and I am betting on red… Anand has two White games left, and Gelfand has only one, so the champion has slightly better chances of winning in regulation time…

Unfortunately, I had no opportunities to personally attend the match, as I have been chained to my personal computer. But judging from the photos, virtually all the standard bearers of the chess world have been at the Tretyakov Gallery [the site of the match — DM] over the last few days: Karpov, Kasparov, and other outstanding players. Such events are an excellent chance to meet and interact with each other. We chessplayers are by nature a band of lone wolves. To make a long story short, we need to have world championships more often! But now, let’s get to work. I am expecting a Grunfeld Defense and a pitched battle.

(1) Anand,Viswanathan – Gelfand,Boris [B30]

World Championship Match (Game 10), 24.05.2012

[Shipov, Sergey (translated by Dana Mackenzie)]


Defying all the forecasts and expectations! Apparently Anand’s camp has prepared something tasty in the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defense.


Here it is.

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

No, the cake was poisoned much earlier. Anand chooses the Rossolimo Variation — named after a famous Italian-French-American grandmaster in the last century. In effect, White plays the Ruy Lopez in an unusual situation. First he develops, and only later attacks in the center.


Gelfand did not hesitate for long. It’s unlikely that he and his seconds seriously prepared for this variation. But since they prepared for the match from the ground up, decisions had to be made for all life events. On this move we’ll play this way, on that move we’ll play the other way. And today Boris is going to play one of those “others.” Black is preparing the move … Ng8-e7. [3…g6 is more popular at present.]


Beating him to the punch. White ruins his opponent’s pawn structure and from here will play blockading chess in the style of Nimzovich.

4…bxc6 5.b3

The bishop is going to b2, and after that e4-e5 is in the cards, and the b1 knight will make an entrance either on c4 or e4.


Position after 5. ... e5. White to move.

This is already a serious decision… Black places his pawn under attack, blockading the pawn on e4. As it turns out, this is not a novelty. [White would meet the more cautious 5…d6 with 6.e5 , with the idea 6…dxe5 7.Nxe5 Qd4 8.Nc4 Qxa1 9.Nc3 , and White will successfully trap the Black queen.]


Vishy accepts the challenge. Indeed, if he doesn’t take the pawn, then Black will play … d7-d6, achieving the desired pawn structure, in which he would be completely justified in playing … f7-f5 even with the knight still on g8.


Black will, of course, win the pawn back. One must look deeper… Boris is performing his part confidently and easily, in his usual manner. With his entire appearance he conveys to his opponent that he is ready for everything.


Logical. [7.d4 did not promise an advantage after 7…f6 8.Nf3 (8.Qh5+? g6 9.Nxg6 Qxe4+! and 10. … Qxg6) 8…Qxe4+ 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 (10.Nxd4 Qxg2) 10…Qxd4 11.Nxd4 Kf7 . In this endgame the two bishops will play their role.]


[Here the move 7…f6 no longer made any sense because of 8.Ng4! (8.Nc4 d5! is weaker for White) 8…Qxe4+ (8…d5 9.0–0!) 9.Ne3 The queens stay on the board and Black can look forward to an unpleasant middlegame.]


[On 8.Ng4 White had to consider the pinprick 8…f5! 9.Ne3 f4! followed by a queen capture on e4.]


Position after 8. ... d5. White to move.

A novelty! I am amazed by the speed with which the opponents are moving the pieces across the board. It reminds me exactly of my battles in Internet bullet chess with a minute on each side… Boris and Vishy are for now simply repeating their home analysis. Without theatrical pauses and the pretense of deep thought. [The previously-played line 8…Qxe4+ is weaker. After 9.Ne3 Nf6 (9…Qg6!? 10.0–0 Be7 is worthy of consideration) 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Nc3 Qg6 12.Qf3 Bd7 13.0–0–0 0–0–0 in the game E. Shaposhnikov – D. Bocharov, Kazan 2001, White in my opinion was a little bit too hasty with the break 14.d4 (14.Ne4 is more interesting) 14…d5! 15.Kb1 f5 16.Ne2 Rg8 17.Nf4 Qf6 18.c3 Bd6 — Black has achieved a playable position, but nevertheless went down to defeat.]


The best. [Only White would be at risk in the variation 9.Ne5 f6 10.Nxc6 (10.Qh5+ g6! 11.Nxg6 Qxe4+ is still bad for White) 10…Qxe4+ 11.Kf1 a5!? and the knight on c6 is in danger of not returning from battle.]


Black has to play energetically and concretely. If he allows White to castle short, then the game will cross the threshold into the style of the 19th century.

10.Nc4 Qxe4+

To trade queens or not?


A strategy of solidity. Boris has paused to think a little… no, he is thinking seriously! Evidently, somewhere around this point he and his colleagues pronounced a verdict like, after all, Black can’t be worse here. After all, the bishop on b2 has limited scope. The black pawns are static but solid. He has the two bishops — nothing to cry about. But now all of a sudden Gelfand has to continue the analysis. Right over the board. [If 11.Kf1 White would have to play a long time without the rook on h1. Which is annoying. The game might continue 11…Be6 12.d3 Qd5 13.Nbd2 Nf6 14.Qf3 Be7 15.Re1 0–0 and everything is fine for Black. He will insist on trading queens precisely on the square d5. For this reason, the variation Vishy chose in the game looks more logical. He trades queens in advance, in order to achieve a pleasant structure for the endgame.]


The correct choice. [In the event of 11…Bf5 White would sacrifice a pawn for development with 12.Qxe4+ Bxe4 13.0–0 Bxc2 (13…0–0–0 is no sweeter after 14.Ne5 Bd5 15.c4!) 14.Re1+ Kd8 and then would immediately win it back — 15.Ne5 Bg6 16.Nxc6+ Kc7 17.Ne5 Re8 18.Na3 , maintaining an initiative that is no joke.]


Position after 12. Kxe2. Black to move.

From the opening to the endgame at a full gallop! That’s the way it often is in contemporary theory. How many times have we seen the Berlin endgame alone… I hope that this endgame will be a little bit more interesting. At any rate, it will be a painting on a blank canvas. Without preparatory sketches, without theory and templates.


The bishop is heading for d5, to act as cement. To unify and fortify the pawn bricks.


The knight on b1 is prepared to enter the world via d2. The pawn structure has dried and become cast in stone. Black has certain formal weaknesses, for example on c5 and c6, but it is extremely difficult to put pressure on them. Speaking objectively, the position is roughly equal. It’s another matter entirely that there is still plenty of fight left. The course of the game will show us whose style is better suited to the pawn landscape that has arisen. Each chess player has his own peculiarities. One person loves dynamical play with unclear complications, another likes a static structure with clear plans. And even super-grandmasters, who in our time have a universal inclination, nevertheless have their own preferences and antipathies. In positions of one type they play ver-r-y strongly, and in another type they simply play strongly. There is a significant difference. Before the match it seemed to me that in a dry positional battle, in unhurried pulling of the reins, I would have to give the nod to Anand over Gelfand. Now let’s see if this assessment was correct… [The nervous 13.c3 does not promise anything good in view of 13…0–0–0!]

13…Nf6 The challenger has started to play slowly and deliberately. He is groping for the best setup for his pieces. He is trying to think of some kind of active plan. Maybe he has come up with the idea of redirecting his knight to b4 via d5? The clock shows 1:43 – 1:20.

14.Nbd2 0–0–0

The Black king has been ordered over to the queenside. If necessary, he will personally support the weak pawns. The downside of such a division of labor for the monarch is the weakness of the pawn at f7 (I immediately started having dark fantasies of bringing the knights to e5 and g5), as well as the vague prospect of an opening of the queenside (for example, with a2-a3 and b3-b4). In all likelihood this is a mirage. Or more precisely, several mirages.


The champion is playing simply, without doubts, practically with his hands alone. His development scheme was evident from the beginning. The king goes to f1, the rook begins to work, the knight can quickly anchor itself at e5. One of the two. In bullet chess I would be able to sac the exchange at e6, and then salivate over the pleasant pawn structure and the many outposts for the knights. But in a serious game, of course, I would refrain.


A modest, restrained decision. [In all likelihood, Gelfand calculated the variation 15…Nd5 16.Kf1 Nb4 17.a3! Nxc2? 18.Rxe6! (here the idee fixe works out) 18…fxe6 19.Rc1 with a win for White — and was horrified!]


And so! All joking aside, the White rook is casting a carnivorous gaze at the Black bishops. But the first step, probably, is to move the knight from d2 to f3. It would probably do no harm to play a2-a3, to at least make the opponent worry about the break b3-b4 and at the same time prevent the Black knight from reaching b4.


Black has posted his pieces nicely in the center. But what will he do after this? Unfortunately there is not an incredible hulk of plans. In other words, from the practical point of view White’s chances are better. It is simpler for him to play. By the way, in the future it might be possible to think about a creeping, unhurried advance of the pawns on the kingside. Here it would be important not to overdo it and give Black’s bishops targets for counterattack.


Mulling over all the possibilities, I nevertheless did not foresee Anand’s decision. There is no immediate threat apparent in White’s bishop move. It will not be simple to attack the c5 pawn a second time. On e4 the knight would be traded, and the rook to e5… Well, that’s a thought. At any rate, it’s a way to activate the rook at a1.


An instinctive desire to protect one’s near and dear ones from danger. The knight is heading for b4, in order to throw his body over the little one… It is unlikely that Boris will be attracted by putting the knight on the decorative square c3. Only as a way to gobble the pawn at a2 — but for the moment that is not realistic. The thing that worries me is that the White knight in various variations can stand without hindrance on e4. Suppose we imagine a picture where the rook is on e6, and the knight on e4, then it will be bad news for the pawn on c5… Even if the advance of the rook to e5 doesn’t work, it’s possible to choose the unhurried strengthening moves 18. Ne4 Nb4 19. Re2 with the intention of doubling the rooks in the center. A trade of the a2 and c5 pawns, of course, would not make Black happy. [The first thing to figure out here is what is White threatening? If, let’s say, 17…h6!? all I see is a repetition of position or a dubious exchange sacrifice: 18.Re5 Ng4 19.Rh5 Nf6 20.Rxc5!? Bxc5 21.Bxc5 and… And, well, White has decent compensation — he has a strong initiative on the dark squares.]


After long consideration, Vishy decides against planting his rook on e5. There were no obvious reasons not to… [18.Re5 would probably be followed by 18…Nb4 19.Bxb4 cxb4 20.Ne4 and it’s extremely difficult to weigh the pluses and minuses for each side. For example, 20…Kb8! (20…Bd5? 21.Ned6+; 20…Rd5? 21.Rxd5 and 22. Ned6+) 21.Re1 Rd5 22.f4 Rxe5 23.fxe5 Kc7 24.Kf2 and here I will refrain from making any evaluation. It’s a battle!]


Position after 18. ... Nb4. White to move.

The only way to save the pawn. You suggest trading on b4? It’s quite possible. It’s sad, of course, to part with the bishop, leaving the opponent with the bishop pair… By the way, that prospect involuntarily brings to mind yesterday’s game. Of course, in today’s static pawn structure the knights are much more fit for battle than they were in yesterday’s structure. But it could still be a psychological negative for Vishy. You can’t just turn off your memory as if it were an electrical appliance.


A very literate move. The second rook is going to e1, after which it will be possible to take active measures. By the way, there is also a possibility of transferring the bishop, which has limited prospects on a3, to f4 via c1. In other words, ignore the knight on b4. Boris, with good reason, is not rushing his answer. There are some things to think about. The time is 1:18 – 0:55. By the way, that is one aspect of mastery for a chess player: knowing when it is worth delving deeply into a position and when it is possible to quickly play the most obvious move. It’s important to have a good sense for the most critical moments in the game. It is one thing that distinguishes world champions from other outstanding players. [After 19.Bxb4 cxb4 20.a3 is unsatisfactory because of 20…Bxc4! 21.bxc4 bxa3 22.c5 f5 23.Nd6+ Bxd6 24.cxd6 Rxe1+ 25.Kxe1 a5 26.Rxa3 Re8+ 27.Kd2 Re5 and White is in danger of remaining a pawn down.]


A serious step. For me, unexpected. The point is that Gelfand is a man of action. It’s hard for him to stand in place and defend patiently. It’s much more pleasant to undertake some kind of plan, even a risky one. And so, Black gives up the proverbial advantage of the two bishops. What does he get for it? Apparently the idea is to continue with … f7-f5, and because of the weakness of the c2 pawn White cannot answer Ne4-d2. That is, besides the theoretical schematic considerations (which favor White) one must also look at the concrete advantages that Black can get by playing his trump cards. After … f7-f5 White either has to move his knight to the unpromising (especially after … g7-g6) outpost on g3, or he will have to trade on b4, unwillingly curing Black’s pawn structure.


If White takes with the d-pawn he risks allowing the blow … d4-d3.


That’s the way it is. Black cannot afford to delay.


The lesser of two evils. After [21.Ng3?! g6 Black’s position is already a bit more pleasant.]


At this moment Gelfand proposed a draw — apparently a way of taking delayed revenge for Anand’s not entirely appropriate draw offer yesterday. As if to say that if you, Vishy, can propose a draw from a position of weakness, then so can I. [Of course, 21…fxe4 was unsatisfactory because of 22.Ba5 exd3 23.cxd3 Rd7 24.Rae1 with a huge advantage for White.]


The champion did not think long. The offer is declined. The battle continues.


Position after 22. ... Bd6. White to move.

The structure has changed rather significantly. The White knight is active, and the pawn at d4 is weak. But if Black can create complications across the whole width of the front, then his bishop can play a starring role.

23.Rxe8 Rxe8 24.Nb3

How to solve the problem of the pawn on d4? On … c6-c5 you have to reckon with the break a2-a3.


The challenger calmly closes the center. After a2-a3, on the one hand, White’s rook becomes active, but on the other hand Black gets an outside passed pawn. In other words, the attempt by White to play for a win comes with a certain strategic risk.


Final position, after 25. a3.

Anand played this move… and offered a draw! Apparently he realized that his prospects were not as radiant as they appeared from afar. Gelfand did not take offense and did not refuse the offer in return — it’s a DRAW! The game ended up being short, but it was tense and atypical in appearance. The contestants dug up an interesting direction in the opening and achieved a nonstandard structure, in which White had a bit of an initiative. The trading operations that the challenger initiated on the 19th move turned out to be highly successful. He was able to rid his position of its flawed pawn structure and completely equalize the game. The small psychological duel over the draw offer was just a day at the office. There is no point in ascribing any great meaning to it.And so the score remains even: 5-5. We have only two more games remaining, followed by a tiebreak. In effect, the big world championship match has now shortened to the format of a match in the knockout system, in which both of these grandmasters have historically excelled. Both Boris and Vishy have won knockout tournaments. Now they have to figure out which of them is better…Thanks to all of my audience for your attention. Tomorrow we will take a break, and the eleventh game will take place the day after tomorrow. And I, grandmaster Sergey Shipov, will once again be at my post. I wish you all the best!


Download PGN here.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

RuralRob May 25, 2012 at 8:14 am

“The incredible hulk of plans”?

Was Shipov actually referencing a Marvel superhero? Doesn’t seem like his style.


admin May 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

Busted! He actually wrote a word that I was not quite familiar with — “gromadyo,” a variant of “gromada” which means “bulk, mass.” I think that the non-standard ending may be an intensifier (“incredible bulk”) but definitely puts it in the realm of slang. Google Translate suggested “hulk” (without the “incredible”), and I decided (probably against my better judgement) to translate it as “incredible hulk” as a little joke for my American readers…


Shogi May 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Interesting post, but totally uninteresting game. I think that a new rule should be introduced where if either Anand or Gelfand offers a draw the other player gets to slap the other in the face. If they agree to a draw before move 40 a particularly mean looking GM or spectator should get to slap them both in the face.


Shogi May 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Seriously though, why wasn’t some kind of “no draw before move x” in the match rules. Surely the sponsors can’t be happy with some of these short snooze-fest games.


admin May 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

The championship match in 2010 did have some anti-draw rules (for example, draws could only be offered through the arbiter) and they earned a few snarky comments from our GM Shipov at the time. I just think there isn’t a lot you can do about it when you have two solid positional players who are playing it safe.


mishanp May 25, 2012 at 11:49 pm

There weren’t actually any anti-draw rules in 2010, but Topalov/Danailov decided to introduce them “unilaterally”. I was actually in the playing hall for the first draw (Game 3) and it was pure comedy. Topalov couldn’t bring himself to offer a draw and called over the arbiter, who didn’t want to get involved as it wasn’t his business. It ended in a minor scandal as the players didn’t shake hands in the confusion.

But yes, Shipov was against imposing the rules then: And he still is now:

It seems – from the regulations for the upcoming qualifying cycle and what some officials (e.g. Emil Sutovsky) have said – that this is going to be the last World Championship without anti-draw rules of some sort. I agree though, Dana, that by itself that’s no guarantee of more action.


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