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    Entries in Boris Gelfand (75)

    Sunday
    May202012

    Match On! Gelfand Wins Game 7, Leads 4-3

    After six less than scintillating draws, the 2012 World Chess Championship finally saw its first decisive result. Boris Gelfand defeated the champion, Viswanathan Anand, for the first time in a classical game since 1993(!), and has a 4-3 lead with five games to go.

    Gelfand varied from his earlier games with 6.c5, as expected by this commentator, and at least as importantly, met 6...Nbd7 with the rare 7.Qc2. Anand did not seem well-prepared for this line, and burned plenty of time trying to solve the problem of his bad light-squared bishop. He never managed to do this, and already felt quite frustrated by his position when he lashed out with 23...g5. This was a clear error, and soon Gelfand's position wasn't just comfortable; it was winning. Anand found some neat tricks at the very end to make it exciting, but Gelfand was up to the challenge and created his own mating net before Black could finish weaving his.

    Now the time for dull, bloodless draws is over. Will Anand manage to bounce back, as Garry Kasparov did against Anand himself back in 1995? There, in a 20-game title match, there were eight draws before Anand opened the first lead with a win in game 9. Kasparov promptly won games 10, 11, 13 and 14 on his way to a three point victory. So perhaps this loss will give Anand a feeling of freedom and a sense of increased motivation, and the match will come alive. Let's hope so!

    (Subscribers can expect my analysis and supplementary video later today. Those who would like to subscribe can do so, and will still receive the earlier materials, videos included.)

    Thursday
    May172012

    2012 World Championship, Game 5: Another Short, Dull Draw

    The game began promisingly with a couple of opening surprises. The champion, Viswanathan Anand, pulled his traditional favorite move 1.e4 out of his trusty (or is it rusty) arsenal, prepared to do battle against the Petroff or the Najdorf. Instead, Boris Gelfand offered the second surprise of the match, employing the Sveshnikov Sicilian. When all goes well for Black in that opening, the result is very frequently a position where White has very good control over the light squares, Black enjoys a similar grip on the dark squares, and there's absolutely nothing either player can do to the other.

    And that's what happened. Anand didn't put Gelfand's opening to much of a test, and after 27 moves and less than 100 minutes, the players called it a day. To be fair, there wasn't much left to be extracted from the position; that was done by previous decisions. In particular, Anand's 22.Bh3 allowed Gelfand full and easy equality; 22.Qc4 was the most testing try.

    The match remains tied at 2.5-2.5, and Gelfand will have two consecutive chances to make something happen with the white pieces. Let's hope that whether he succeeds or not, the players at least push each other to play a full game!

    For subscribers, the analysis and video will be sent out shortly. Those interested in subscribing can learn more, here.

    Tuesday
    May152012

    2012 World Championship, Game 4: A Peaceful Draw

    The World Championship is tied 2-2 heading into the second rest day after champion Viswanathan Anand again used the Chebanenko Slav to achieve a fairly comfortable draw with the black pieces. Boris Gelfand varied from game 2 when he chose 10.Qc2 rather than 10.Rc1, but it was Anand who played the first novelty with 16...Re8. Gelfand used plenty of time the rest of the way, trying to eke out a slight advantage, but Anand's accurate 23...Bc5 and 24...Bd4 kept him safe. Black continued to defend well, and with no targets for White in the rook and bishop vs. rook and knight ending the players called it a day.

    Game 5 will be Thursday; meanwhile, subscribers will receive my analysis and video summary later today.

    Monday
    May142012

    The 2012 World Championship Match: Game 3 A Hard-Fought Draw

    We're still waiting for one player or the other to draw first blood in the 2012 World Chess Championship, but we're getting closer! World Champion Viswanathan Anand certainly had the upper hand today against Boris Gelfand, and may have been winning - I'm still trying to determine this. What is clear is that he was close, and Gelfand had to sweat until very near the end.

    Anand met Gelfand's Gruenfeld - or at least, the threat of a Gruenfeld - with 3.f3, and after 3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Gelfand chose 8...e5. It's a major move, but it's less common than 8...Nc6 and might have come as a slight surprise to Anand. From there the players followed the main lines at every juncture through Black's 15th move, and then White played the rare 16.Ka1. White's score with the more usual 16.d6 was a 6-0 whitewash, but without any recent games featuring elite pairings.

    Anand's move also kept the burden on Black. Gelfand sacrificed a pawn for play, but it wasn't clear that his activity was enough to make up for the dangerous, extra, passed pawn on d6. White's last chance to perhaps get (or more precisely, keep) something substantial came on move 34. 34.d7 looked dangerous, and while there are various improvements for both sides in the line Gelfand offered at the post-game presser, I'm not yet sure that Black can survive. At a minimum, it was a lot more dangerous for Black than the move in the game, which was 34.Rc7. After 34...Re8 Anand played 35.Rh1, allowing Gelfand to force perpetual, so the draw was agreed a couple of moves later.

    For subscribers (non-subscribers can still sign up), the analysis and video will be sent later tonight. Stay tuned!

    Wednesday
    Apr112012

    Boris Gelfand, Altitude Trainer?

    For all Boris Gelfand's many virtues as a chess player and sportsman, being in great physical condition doesn't seem to be among them. Nevertheless, like many a world championship candidate before him, he has undertaken a serious regimen that includes conditioning, and this report (HT: Brian Karen) mentions one fascinating aspect of his preparation: altitude training!

    The thought is that training at altitude increases the concentration of red blood cells for at least a couple of weeks after the trainee returns to lower altitudes, with the reported benefit of increased mental alertness. (The match goes three weeks, so I suppose that if Gelfand doesn't have a lead after two weeks he'll be in trouble!)

    Any thoughts on this or related training tips?

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