It was a game of almost unbearable tension. Anand switched to 1.e4, Vladimir Kramnik went for do-or-die complications, Anand obliged, and for a couple of hours nobody knew what would happen. In the end, Vishy Anand prevailed, got a slightly better position and Vladimir Kramnik offered a draw. Anand remains World Champion.
Viswanathan Anand has retained his world title by drawing Vladimir Kramnik in the 11th game of the World Championship match in Bonn, Germany. The final match score is 6½-4½ for Anand.
It was a task he had never managed to do before: beating Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces. And after his opponent switched to his long-life weapon 1.e4, Vladimir Kramnik couldn’t do it today either. At the press conference the Russian said it was a “difficult day” for him: “It was not easy to prepare for e4 and d4, trying to find forced wins for Black against all these moves.”
He was reasonably satisfied with reaching the Najdorf, because “at least we had a game - it was not easy to just get a game”. But he managed, although then Kramnik soon had to work on his own, because a few moves after Anand’s 6.Bg5 he was out of theory - he actually found 9…Qc5 behind the board.
Black’s seemingly anti-positional 12…exf5 was his only chance, Kramnik said, because “otherwise White simply gets very easy play”; he mentioned the standard moves Kb1 and g3 + Bh3, pressing on e6. “So I decided to mess things up.” However, Anand reacted very well, calculated very well, and forced a liquidation to an ending that White simply cannot lose. “Miracles happen, but very rare, unfortunately,” Kramnik finished his statement about the game.
After the game Anand said he was “happy, but at this point probably more relieved than happy. Obviously it’s really nice to just have the title. Vlady was really pushing me in the last few games. With White I was really hoping to have the world championship title in the evening but I wasn’t sure, you never know.”
With this official and undisputed World Championship, Anand has won every big event that has been organized during his career. In fact, he’s the first player to have won a world championship in three different formats. In the year 2000 Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship which was a knockout event, in 2007 he won the World Chess Championship which was a tournament of six players, and now he has won a World Championship match. If he didn’t yet belong to the list of great names starting with Steinitz, Lasker and Capablanca, he now sure does - nobody can deny it anymore. After all, today Anand has beaten the man who beat Kasparov.
Thanks to his 11 games in Bonn, Anand is also the new world’s number one on the live rating list (for the top ten see the column on the far right) - he shares a virtual rating of 2791 with Topalov but tops the list because of actually having played games in this period.
Today Anand, who will turn 39 on December 11, won the most important prize of his career. It all started in 1983 when he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship with a score of 9/9. He subsequently became the youngest Indian to win the IM title at the age of fifteen, in 1984. One year later he became champion of India and in 1987 he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, at the age of eighteen, he became India’s first Grandmaster.
Ever since he won the super tournament of Reggio Emilia in 1991, ahead of Kasparov and Karpov, Anand has been among the world’s elite. Among his colleagues he became known as the fastest player in the circuit and this was confirmed by him winning the unofficial world championship of rapid chess many times.
In the year 2000 Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship in Tehran after defeating Alexei Shirov in the final. In the same year Garry Kasparov lost his world title to Vladimir Kramnik in London.
In 2002 Ruslan Ponomariov took over the title of FIDE World Champion and in 1995 Anand finished shared second with Peter Svidler at the San Luis World Championship tournament, behind Veselin Topalov. One year later Topalov lost his title against Kramnik, in a match that decided the first undisputed World Championship since 1993.
In September 2007 Anand became World Champion again by winning the FIDE World Championship Tournament held in Mexico City. He finished on 9 / 14 which was a full point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. Kramnik had agreed to participate in this tournament after FIDE had given him the right, if he wouldn’t finish first, to automatically challenge the new World Champion.
This eventually resulted in the Anand-Kramnik match held in Bonn 14-29 October, that was dominated by the Indian from the start. After two reasonably quiet games he won twice with Black in games 3 and 5, and then scored another full point in game 6. In the final phase of the match Anand lost his concentration in a few games and even lost game 10, but by easily drawing the 11th game, he reached the unbeatable 6.5 points.
It was Anand’s strategy with the Black pieces that decided the match. It’s possible that the Indian didn’t expect to achieve too much with the White pieces against one of the most solid players in the circuit, and therefore decided to focus the attention on Black. His choice of the sharp Meran positions was a brilliant one and with it he delivered the first major blow in game three. Again under pressure, Kramnik blundered in game 5 and this second blow led to the Russian playing his weakest game, number six, where he lost an ending that he would have drawn in most other situations.
Being 3 points down in a 12-game match is another way of saying: it’s just hopeless. But it can only be admired how Kramnik managed to fight back in subsequent games - he finally started to feel confident, finally started to come up with theoretical novelties and simply… finally started to play on his normal level. But it was too late - Anand’s narrow escape in game 9 earned him a valuable half point and then for Kramnik it was clearly a mission impossible to score 3 out of 3 against this kind of player.
Anand’s victory was based on a combination of excellent preparation and playing almost flawlessly. A deserved champion who has deservedly entered the famous list of World Championship match winners.
Comments from Garry Kasparov
Game 11: "A difficult position for Kramnik to be in after 1.e4. Final games like this have their own logic, so you cannot compare it to his attempts to play the Sicilian in 2004. 12..f5 was suspect, not something I would have considered. That's what can happen when you are in openings that aren't yours. You want to play by instinct, but they are not used to these positions and this leads to poor decisions. After the Berlin and the Petroff, playing a Rauzer is a shock to the system. He looked very uncomfortable, but of course the match situation was close to impossible. The final position was unpleasant for Black, and this Kramnik understands."
Match in general: "It was a very well-played match by Vishy. Except for the loss of concentration in the tenth game he played consistently and managed to enforce his style. His choice to open with 1.d4 was excellent. He reached playable positions with life in them, so he could make Kramnik work at the board. Anand outprepared Kramnik completely. In this way it reminded me of my match with Kramnik in London 2000. Like I was then, Kramnik may have been very well prepared for this match, but we never saw it. I didn't expect the Berlin and ended up fighting on Kramnik's preferred terrain.
[In this match] Kramnik did not expect tough, sharp challenges with white, and this was the key for Anand. He kicked some sand in Kramnik's face and hit Kramnik's weakness: his conservative approach to the game itself. Suddenly Kramnik had to fight in these sharp positions and he wasn't able to do it. This result ends the illusion that Kramnik is a great match player. London was a unique occurrence and I still stand with Leonid Yudasin as the only players Kramnik has ever beaten in a match! Kramnik now has some work to do. His overly-defensive play seems to represent a general decline in strength.
A great result for Anand and for chess. Vishy deserved the win in every way and I'm very happy for him. It will not be easy for the younger generation to push him aside."
- Comments recorded by Mig Greengard in Chess Ninja