Gelfand – Anand 2012, the participants

The World Chess Championship 2012between the defending World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the challenger from the Candidates Matches Boris Gelfand will take place in May 2012 in Moscow, Russia.

This is the biography of Viswanathan Anand, here is the biography of Boris Gelfand


Anand – Gelfand 2012 live games here

Viswanathan ANAND (India)


Born 11 December 1969 in Madras

FIDE World Champion 2000, World Champion since 2007

Rating on 1 January 2012 – 2799 (peak rating: 2817)


Early years. Anand was born on 11 December 1969 to a well-to-do family in Madras. His parents belonged to the highest caste in Hinduism: his father, Viswanathan, was an engineer, and later General Manager of the Southern Railway; his mother, Susheela, was a housewife. The future champion was given the name Anand at birth.


Indian people do not have family names, so in his own country he was known to everyone by his first name. But when Anand began to travel to Europe in the mid-1980s, he was “renamed”: his first name was taken as his surname, and people began to call him by his father’s first name, and then shortened it to “Vishy”. This form of address might have seemed crude and inappropriate to Anand, but he took a completely calm attitude towards it, and it soon became established in chess circles.

Anand learnt to play chess at the age of 6, at the instigation of his mother, and within a year he started going to the local chess club, named after Mikhail Tal. From his first acquaintance with the play of the eighth world champion he fell in love with Tal’s chess, and to this day Anand names him as his favourite chess player, along with Fischer. It very soon became clear that the Indian had a lot in common with his idol – the same talent for combinations and eagerness to take the initiative, and also incredibly fast thinking. Vishy did not waste time – he would spend not two hours but just 25–30 minutes on a serious game…

His parents strictly “rationed” Anand’s interest in chess. He only played if things were going well for him at school – they once stopped him playing for a whole month. Vishy never had a chess tutor: the main sources of his knowledge were books and magazines. He worked everything out for himself!

First successes. The breakthrough in Anand’s results occurred in 1983. He won the Indian Under-16 (9 wins out of 9) and Under-19 championships successively – and won a place in the country’s adult championships. After finishing in fourth place in these, the 14-year-old talent won a place in the Indian national team! Then, accompanied by his mum, he set off for his first Olympiad in Salonika. Anand played very successfully on board 4, with a result of +6=3-2, and his game against Hergott ended up in Chess Informant.

In 1985 Anand became an International Master, the youngest Asian player to hold this title. In 1986 he won the Indian adult championship, and in 1987, at his fourth attempt, he won the Under-20 World Championship, winning 10 out of 13. In “faraway Baguio” he beat Ivanchuk by half a point in an incredible race, and also defeated him in a head-to-head game. The other contenders were left trailing far behind. For this achievement the 18-year-old “chess prince” became a Grandmaster, the youngest at that time.

But according to Anand, the main thing for him was that at last people noticed him: “I didn’t need to waste loads of time playing in ordinary Indian tournaments where I could pump up my rating and wait for an invitation to some good tournaments…” He was immediately invited to a strong open competition in Lugano, and also to Brussels, where the young chess prince found himself acting as one of the commentators on the World Cup tournament.

While at this great chess forum, the young and sociable Anand managed to renew his acquaintance not only with the entire international elite but also, far more importantly for him at that point, with the organisers of the biggest international tournaments… Vishy immediately received an invitation to his first big round-robin tournament – in Wijk aan Zee!

It was after this tournament, in which Anand shared 1st-4th places with Nikolic, Ribli and Sax, people started to refer to him as one of the leaders of the new generation. And he himself felt that he had taken a qualitative leap forward in his chess development.

Challenger 1. In the middle of 1990 Anand’s rating went above 2600 for the first time, and as he set off for the inter-zonal match in Manila he was already one of the favourites. And he succeeded in justifying his supporters’ expectations! After a “bumpy” start Vishy finished the tournament in hurricane style – 3.5 out of 4, becoming a challenger at 19 years of age!

India was delighted and made every effort to get his 1/8 final match against Dreyev played in Madras. His rival was considered more experienced and stronger, but on the outside Vishy coped fairly easily with the pressure. His won the first game, and after a defeat in the third he achieved a hat trick and finished the match early, winning 4.5:1.5.

Immediately after this, Anand started his first Linares tournament. The Indian began with two victories – over Kamsky and Karpov – but then suffered one misfortune after another. After losing in devastating style to Ivanchuk with white, Anand fell to the lower half of the table… On seeing this game, Kasparov started talking about Vishy’s “glass jaw”: he’s a striking and talented player but he hasn’t learnt to “roll with the punches”.

In addition, when the experts discussed Anand’s style, they noted that he had two shortcomings: the lack of a “school”, which led to a not very convincing way of approaching the game, and being too hurried when taking important decisions. Of course, he wasn’t spending 30 minutes on a game as he had in his youth, but at times he was clearly hurrying, making second-class moves – and thereby spoiling games that he had played very well…

But in his quarter final match with Karpov, who before the start had looked like the favourite, Anand managed to improve his play. Mikhail Gurevich helped him to eliminate many of his shortcomings and taught him to work seriously on his openings without losing the inherent lightness of his game. And the ex-champion felt the full force of the new Vishy.

This match was probably a breakthrough for the future Anand. “At the beginning I was annoyed by the toss,” Vishy recalls. “But later I started to stick to the view that you can’t become a champion without meeting your most powerful rivals. You simply have to beat everyone you meet on the way!”

In the majority of games the Indian held the initiative, but his lack of match experience told. Anand did not win the third and fifth games, and instead the rivals exchanged blows in the fourth and sixth. In the seventh, Vishy attempted to “squeeze out” a victory, but instead he managed only to squeeze himself out. In the deciding eighth game Karpov proved to be fresher and bolder.

It has to be said that defeat in this match did not crush Anand. On the contrary, he drew the right conclusions, and this, he says, had an effect as early as the next cycle…

Challenger 2. The fact that Vishy was in good shape was shown by his two victories over Kasparov – at the tournaments in Tilburg and Reggio Emilia. In Italy the Indian for the first time left the whole international elite, including both world champions, trailing in his wake. In 1992 he shared victory at the Euwe (Amsterdam) and Alekhine (Moscow) memorials. But the landmark event for him was the “friendly” match against Vassily Ivanchuk in Linares.

They were both (with Gelfand) considered the heirs of the two “Ks”, but which of them would come out in front? Before the match in Linares Vassily’s shares were rated a little higher, but afterwards Anand’s “rate” went up… It was not only that the Indian won 5:3 (and might have won by more), but his game was more integrated and his palette was richer.

“This match proved to be an important point in my career, since it gave me a big boost in courage when I beat Ivanchuk,” Anand believes. “After all, he was the first really strong opponent that I defeated in a match. I took this as a good sign before the forthcoming world championship cycle…”

In 1993, as we know, the chess world divided into FIDE and the PCA, and Anand was faced with the prospect of playing in two world championship cycles at the same time. People even rushed to attribute words to the Indian – who was seen as one of the main favourites for both cycles – which he had not uttered, that there was no better way of uniting the crown than to win a match against both Kasparov and Karpov.

True, to play a match with the champion it was necessary to play an inter-zonal tournament and then Candidates’ matches. And at Biel 1993 (FIDE), Vishy nearly slipped up. In order to go through he had to win “+4”, and he finished with “+3”, but in the last round five (!) games in a row ended in the right way, and Anand got the last place to go through. In Groningen (PCA) there were no surprises: “+4” and sharing 1st-2nd places.

Anand went from victory to victory for the whole of the following year. At the beginning he soundly beat the “old men” Yusupov 4.5:2.5 (FIDE) and Romanishin 5:2 (PCA), but then unexpectedly lost to Kamsky. Their match took place in Sanghi Nagar, India, and after five games Vishy was leading 3.5:1.5. In order to get a match with Karpov, all he needed was to draw two of the three remaining games. Alas, Vishy did not manage to do this. The familiar surroundings of home played a nasty trick on him: at the time he literally did not know where to hide from the intrusive attention of his compatriots.

Anand lost the sixth and seventh games weakly, after which, as if hypnotised, he also lost both of the “rapid” games in the tie-break. In the concluding game Vishy surrendered on his seventeenth move, giving people an excuse, if one were needed, to chatter about his extreme vulnerability.

And so he dropped out of the FIDE cycle. But in the PCA “world” he advanced to the very end – a match with Kasparov. Along the way he first overcame Adams, 5.5:1.5, and then took revenge on Kamsky for his “home” defeat. But he lost the first game in Las Palmas to Gata through inertia (he ran out of time in an overwhelming position). But later Anand was almost irreproachable, totally in control of the game. He won the third, ninth and eleventh games, finished the match 6.5:4.5 ahead of schedule and went through to the title match!

Anand played in the Tal Memorial (Riga) as a challenger. He came second after Kasparov and lost to him in a head-to-head game, but Vishy’s mood remained good. “My game was very convincing, and I felt on form!” Vishy recalled. “I had every reason to be in good spirits at the moment when I had only just started preparing for a world championship match…”

At the top. Unfortunately, the actual match against Kasparov did not work out for Anand. He probably over-prepared for this match – he effectively didn’t play anywhere for half a year – and he lost the lightness of play and freshness of perception that was so customary for him.

Also, according to Kasparov, the Indian’s trainers paid too much attention to his rival, organising the preparations in such a way as not to allow Kasparov to make any headway under any circumstances, completely forgetting to develop Anand’s own best qualities. “They imposed a way of playing on him that was not natural for him, they put him in a box where a priori he had no way of showing what he was capable of with his gift… It was as if Vishy had forgotten about his rich intuition and completely excluded risk from his game!”


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The penalty for his lack of experience – Anand for the first time put his own “team” together. He invited four Grandmasters that he knew well and with whom he had worked previously: Ubilava, Wolff, Speelman and Yusupov. In the “final straight” he also added Dvoretsky. At the end of the match the Indian was saying that if they got together with him again, the effectiveness of his team would be higher than in 1995.

The moral climate was not the best either. On the threshold of the “match of his life”, Anand was burdened with a rather difficult relationship with the PCA leadership. He was very hurt that the opinion of the title challenger was not being taken into account – they were simply presenting Vishy with a fact. First, that the match would be transferred from Cologne to New York. Then that the prize fund for the contest would be reduced to $1.35 million. He was also irritated by everyday worries, so that by the start of the match the Indian was very tense.

But anyway, he was ready enough for the big fight.

On which subject, the first eight games against Kasparov, who had far more match experience and generally beat the Indian in head-to-head games, were drawn! Vishy yielded nothing to his awesome rival, and several times even held the initiative… Most of the games ended within about 20 moves, when the opponents were exhausting the conflict in the game and a draw was beginning to look obvious.

But from the eighth game onwards they began having a real fight! It was Anand who gave the signal for battle to commence. His two brilliant replies in this game forced the champion to switch from playing for victory to seeking a draw… And in the ninth game Vishy moved ahead, breaking through Kasparov’s Scheveningen defence at the fifth attempt!

Alas… then they played the tenth game: here Garry used his amazing novelty, sacrificing a rook and winning by using his home analysis. And Vishy “snapped”, as he had already done a number of times before. The eleventh game would be the key one.

In what was an approximately even endgame Kasparov suddenly, and it seemed at the drop of a hat, “blundered away” an exchange! Anand lost his concentration and made the most obvious move, after which he lost the game and the match in literally two moves… His rival accomplished the whole thing at lightning speed. Left without two pawns, Vishy immediately stopped the clock.

In the twelfth, the challenger won half a point with black, but… in the thirteenth Anand again lost through a crude blunder – the game ended in 25 moves! Kasparov also beat his opponent in the fourteenth game, bringing his lead up to three points. The match was one-sided now…

“I think one of my main problems in the match against Kasparov was that I didn’t have the faintest idea what pressure I would have to withstand in a match like this,” said Anand on his sad exit from the match. “When I think back to the eleventh and thirteenth games, I don’t need a team of four ‘seconds’ to know where I slipped up in these matches – I simply made basic errors!”

But just as he did after his challenger’s match against Karpov, Anand gradually recovered and did not give up thinking about scaling the chess Olympus again.

The chess world split. Throughout 1996 Vishy “simply played chess” with gusto. The most surprising thing is that despite a lot of brilliant games and excellent results, he did not win first place in anything! But coming second in the Las Palmas six-way tournament between the world’s strongest chess players – Kasparov was first, and behind Vishy came Topalov, Kramnik, Ivanchuk and Karpov – was quite enough to confirm the Indian’s status. Vishy was right behind Garry, even though on the basis of his results for the year he was rated third, yielding second place to Kramnik. This “world scene” remained the same in 1997.

One good result for Vishy gave way to another! He won in Monte Carlo, Dos Hermanas, Leon, Frankfurt, Biel and Belgrade… However, the main event for him in 1997 was taking part in the FIDE World Knockout Championship in Groningen. “After winning the tournaments in Biel and Belgrade I set off for the championships in very good spirits!” said Anand, recalling that year.

Working his way consistently past Nikolic, Khalifman, Almasi, Shirov, Gelfand and Adams, Anand got through to the final, where a “fresh” Karpov was already waiting for him. The whole point was that FIDE wanted to put an end to the “two kings” regime and had decided to allow the two “Ks” straight into the semi-final. But while Kasparov declined this privilege and his $300,000m, Karpov was not prepared to pull any punches. Their final match started in Lausanne, Switzerland, literally a few days after the end of the intense 23-day marathon.

Anand was losing 2:3 after five games, but managed to win the sixth, where a victory was crucial for him, taking the match to a tie break. “I won’t say the game was particularly good, but… it shows something in my character: despite all the difficulties I was able to win it,” said Vishy with pride. “Previously I probably couldn’t have done this, but I have become stronger over the years, especially in critical situations!”

Alas, in the tie break a huge tiredness made itself felt. Anand managed to gain a dominant position but not only failed to win the game but even lost. His attempt to draw level a second time did not work, and Karpov successfully defended his title as champion.

“I regard Groningen as a huge success and in a way I believe that I have won the FIDE world championship,” said Anand, making his position clear. “The terms in the final were so unequal that… it’s difficult for me to regard it as part of the competition.” The mood among the chess-loving public was roughly the same. Karpov had the official title and the money, but all the glory went to Vishy Anand.

It’s no accident that at the end of the year the Indian was awarded a Chess Oscar!

In 1998 Anand received an Oscar statuette for the second time, having secured victory in five super-tournaments – Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Madrid, Frankfurt and Tilburg.

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In 1999 Kasparov had talks with Anand about a new world championship match. Having lost the support of Intel, the PCA could not stage a Candidates’ cycle, and Garry had no alternative but to accept challenges, as in the “pre-FIDE” days. However, this time the champion himself was looking for a challenger.

The Indian agreed to play, but, remembering the story of 1995, during the work on the documents he demanded that the sponsors that Kasparov had found in the USA provide guarantees and also a deposit in case the match fell through. The talks were resumed several times, then things would go quiet again, until finally they became deadlocked…

Anand missed the 1999 FIDE world championship in Las Vegas as a result. But the next time, when it was held in New Delhi, Vishy succeeded in becoming the champion!

Champion. It is interesting that in 1999 and 2000 the Indian was only winning “rapid” tournaments”. In classical chess things were different… “At the beginning of 1999 I was still swimming with the tide of almost uninterrupted success, which started after I beat Kramnik in Belgrade-97,” Vishy recalled. “However, sooner or later all good things have to come to an end.” The failures that ensued toughened Anand, making him seize every chance and get the maximum out of the situation.

Another factor in this was the six-week preparation for the match with Kasparov that did not take place. “I discovered something: the work you’ve done always brings you a reward in the end, although sometimes that can be definitely not in the game you’d like or in the tournament you’d hope for…” For Vishy, it was in New Delhi.

However, in 2000 he became the double champion, having won the World Blitz Chess Championship in Warsaw and then the World Cup in Shenyang. “I was very motivated in my approach to the FIDE championship in New Delhi. To play 21 games in such a strong competition without a single defeat says that I was in peak form!”

On his home ground Anand overcame Bologan, Lputjan, Macieja, Khalifman and Adams, and in the final, which took place in Tehran, Shirov – 3.5:0.5. “The consequences of my victory in the FIDE world championship were extraordinary,” recalled Vishy. “When I returned to Delhi, I was met at the airport by thousands of people, and I was accompanied by a cortege of vehicles on a trip round the city… There were flags flying everywhere on the streets, just as they do on a national holiday!” In Madras Anand was seated in a carriage, carried through the centre of the city and decorated on behalf of the government. A real “chess fever” broke out in India itself, like the one in the Soviet Union in 1925.

The champion himself, understanding that it would not be easy to win his third knockout tournament in a row right on cue in a year’s time, did not intend to rest on his laurels. “When I won the title I experienced a sense of profound satisfaction with what I had achieved at the chess board, and I was looking forward to whatever new challenges fate might bring!” And he didn’t have to wait long.

The following year, 2001, did not work out very successfully as a whole for Anand. Vishy did not win a single victory in classical tournaments, and in the FIDE Knockout Championship in Moscow he lost 1.5:2.5 to Ivanchuk in the semi-final and lost his champion’s title. And this defeat by his historic rival had a “domino effect” on the Indian. Having acquired a new champion (Ponomarev), FIDE ruled Anand out of the Prague Unity Agreements for 2002, and the Indian, who was contracted to FIDE, was not included on the list of challengers for a match with Kramnik in Dortmund.

Vishy took a philosophical view of this: “It doesn’t matter, I said to myself. The chess life is about more than competing for the world championship! You can play in ordinary tournaments and get satisfaction from that. You can be happy regardless of money and titles – and even of playing chess.” And by way of “compensation” Anand scored a victory in Prague (in the final Vishy beat Karpov), in the World Cup (in the final he beat the future FIDE champion Kasymzhanov), and in Mainz, where one of his rivals was Ponomarev.

What next? For two years Anand “went with the flow”, with a fairly intense tournament schedule. In 2003–2004 Vishy was first in Wijk aan Zee, was among the first in Monte Carlo and Dortmund, and was also the traditional winner of the “championship match” in Mainz. This was followed by “rapid” tournaments in Bastia, Cap d’Agde and Benidorm.

In 2005, when FIDE finally gave up the knockout and defined a new format for the world championship – a two-round tournament of the best eight – Anand returned to the fight for the crown. But the FIDE world championship in San Luis proved to be a magic moment for Topalov. He swept through the first round – 6.5 out of 7 – after which he calmly reached the finish with draws. Vishy was the only one who did not lose once to Veselin, but he had to make do with sharing 2nd-3rd place with Svidler – 8.5 out of 14.

His time had still not come! In 2006 he had his traditional victory at Wijk aan Zee and was unstoppable in rapid chess, and in 2007 he scored victories in Morelia/Linares… But Anand was mainly focusing on the world championships in Mexico. He spent more than a month preparing for this tournament, and straight away “took the bull by the horns”. After finishing the first round with a result of +3, thanks to his victories over Aronian, Svidler and Grishchuk, the Indian seized the lead and left no one in any doubt even for a second about his superiority over his rivals. The result was 9 out of 14 and a one-point lead over Gelfand and Kramnik. And… the champion’s title!

At the top. Unlike Topalov, who became champion without any “buts”, Anand, or rather FIDE, still “owed” something ever since the Prague days. According to the regulations, in order to become the fully fledged king, Vishy would still have to confirm his title – in a match with the “classic world champion” Kramnik, whom he had already surpassed in Mexico. Once again the Indian was a “hostage of the system”, but… there was nothing he could do about it, so he started preparing for the new challenge. Their match was due to take place in Bonn.

Anand took the news that again he had something to prove almost philosophically. “I thought, since I had been able to beat Kramnik so confidently in the tournament match, I would probably have a good chance against him in a head-to-head match too. I’m well prepared, I have permanent trainers… Why not, if this match is so necessary and if it’s the only way to get a respite?”

This time Anand studied the mistakes of his 1995 match… First, he got together a superb “team”: Nielsen, Kasymzhanov, Wojtaszek and Ganguly, who constantly plied him with novelties and important reinforcements. Second, he had a “strategic plan” for the match, which he succeeded in fully implementing. And third, he simply approached this contest in fine form and did not show the slightest weakness.

The decisive factor in the outcome of the match was Kramnik’s two “white” games, in which Anand made a risky choice. Vladimir set himself the objective of denying his opponent at any cost – but did not manage to do this in either the third or the fifth game… The Indian won two very important victories, and then added another – in the sixth game, after which the result of the match was a foregone conclusion.

Kramnik could only score a “consolation goal”, while Vishy only needed to win half a point in the three remaining games to retain the title. The story of his match with Kamsky was not repeated – Anand’s “jaw” was no longer “glass”…

This victory mollified the Indian – now he was first without any reservations and could do whatever he liked! Following Kasparov’s retirement from chess in 2005, the most worthy candidate had now become the world champion. “For many years in a row I have taken part in all the prestigious competitions and accepted any challenge, but now I’m going to be more careful about how I choose my tournaments,” he said after the match. “The title of world champion places obligations on me, but I don’t want them to define my life. I’ve done too much and I want to live for a bit for my own pleasure!”

In 2009–2010 his tournament motivation clearly declined. Anand did not take a single first place in either classical or rapid chess. He even ceded his first place in the ratings list first to Topalov and then to Carlsen.

But this did not prevent Vishy from defending his champion’s crown – in a tense contest with Topalov, even on his rival’s territory, in Sofia in 2010. But this time Anand had to summon up all his strength to prove his superiority…

Veselin was brilliantly prepared. Playing at home with his own supporters, he was clearly burning with a desire to regain the crown he had lost in a scandalous contest with Kramnik. He played the first game in grand style, but did not shake Vishy – the latter replied in the second, but mainly in a brilliant fourth game, which was a credit to this match.

After seizing the lead Vishy went through a difficult patch. Despite the fact that Vishy had two white games from the fifth to the seventh game, Veselin dictated his own terms, and in the eighth he levelled the score to 4:4… With only four games left to the finish, the will and determination of the players would decide everything. And their match experience. It turned out that Anand had more – he had been through duels with the greats!

Vishy was very close to victory in the ninth game: several times he came close to forcing a win, but he could not find a solution. He had to seek a draw in the tenth game, “in retaliation”. The next one ended in a calm draw. But in the twelfth Topalov lost his nerve! Anand, on the contrary, was cold and dispassionate: he used his rival’s indecisiveness to settle the game – and the whole match – with a direct attack.

What Kasparov had done to Anand in 1995, Anand himself did to Topalov 15 years later, and he didn’t even need to sacrifice a rook to do it! The title of world champion was in Vishy’s hands for a second time. And again it was deserved.

A new challenge? It is worth noting that as world champion Anand has not yet won a single super-tournament. Vishy is always at the top, taking 2nd-3rd places, but first place always goes to someone else. Aronian, Carlsen, Kramnik… But all the evidence suggests that this does not bother him too much, although from time to time it becomes the subject of discussion among his colleagues or on the pages of chess newspapers and magazines. Anand is the world champion, and that says it all, and he has won dozens of super-tournaments in his life.

In May 2011 Anand found out the name of the latest challenger to his throne. It is Boris Gelfand, with whom he competed back in their youth in the mid-1980s, after which they followed “parallel paths” for a long time… It is quite a pity that their match will take place only now, when they have both passed the 40-year mark and possible have passed their peak. However, it’s better to ask their rivals about being “past their peak” – these players have not managed to prevent Vishy and Boris meeting in a contest for the chess crown!

Anand – Gelfand 2012, the participants

The World Chess Championship 2012 between the defending World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the challenger from the Candidates Matches Boris Gelfand will take place in May 2012 in Moscow, Russia.

Here is the biography of Boris Gelfand, find the biography of Vishwanathan Anand here.

Anand – Gelfand 2012 live games here


Born 24 June 1968 in Minsk

Grandmaster, winner of the 2009 World Cup and of the 2011 Candidates’ Matches

Rating on 1 January 2012: 2739 (peak rating = 2762)

Early years. Boris entered the world on 24 June 1968 in Minsk, born into a family of engineers. His parents – Abram and Nella – had difficult backgrounds: they were both born not long before the Great Patriotic War, were both evacuated, and after the war they returned home to Minsk. The family was constantly moving from one construction site to another in Belorussia, Lithuania and Russia… The parents were accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle, and their sun picked this up from them.

The Gelfands were a typical intellectual family in the then USSR: chess was as much an integral part of their culture as the cinema, the theatre or books. It is therefore not surprising that when Boris was four years old his father bought his son his first book about chess: Journey to the Chess Kingdom, by Averbakh and Beilin.

“I decided that we would look at one diagram per day,” Abram recalled. “That way we’d be able to get through the book in a year!” The pair of them worked on chess every day, and the son became increasingly immersed in the world of the 64 squares. During the week Boris could not wait for his father to come home so that they could start a new lesson… And within a few months he had already started to work on his chess independently. “At first I had thought that Boris would lose interest in chess, but I soon discovered that he had already got to the end of our book and was trying to re-enact some of Grandmasters’ games!”

Gelfand’s first trainer was the well-known teacher Eduard Zelkind. Boris was not yet seven when he joined his group. At first Zelkind did not want to take the lad, but he got the measure of his chess talent when Boris pointed out the winning move in Bronstein’s famous game against a computer. It became clear to Zelkind that Gelfand had not only memorised the moves but could also feel what was happening on the chess board…

Boris studied with Zelkind for five years. The boy proved himself as a player in the combination style, but also made substantial progress in studying endings and game technique. In 1979 Tamara Goleva, a talented teacher and strong player, took Boris under her wing. She became a second mother to him and was very fond of him. “We never worried about Boris when he set off for another tournament with Tamara,” Abram recalled at the time. And their work together was undoubtedly beneficial. Then Albert Kapengut appeared in Gelfand’s life.

The favourite pupil of Boleslavsky, a strong player, theoretician and method trainer, he gave Boris systematic knowledge about chess, taught him to work on it independently and instilled in him the habit of generating new ideas. In the apt phrase of Razuvaev, Gelfand became “Boleslavsky’s chess grandson”. Their creative collaboration began in 1980 and continued for nearly 12 years… Gelfand was given access to the trainer’s huge library and was able to ask Kapengut any question about chess.

Another formative stage in Boris’s chess was his participation in 1980-1983 in sessions of the “Petrosian School” – Gelfand went to three two-week sessions, where he not only attended lectures by teachers but also spent time with the former world champion himself. “That was something special! To have the opportunity to spend time with a great player, just like that,” Boris recalled with delight. “I remember Petrosian saying to me that I shouldn’t make a single move without having an idea: ‘Even when you’re playing blitz, always think!’ That idea played an enormous role in the subsequent development of my way of playing…”

First successes. The fact that in 1979 the USSR championships took place in Minsk also played an important role in Gelfand’s development. It was won by the 54-year-old Geller – Efim Petrovich beat the young Yusupov and Kasparov in a fierce contest. The 11-year-old Gelfand was the most attentive spectator in the room: he did not miss a single game and got the autographs of all 18 participants, as well as that of Flohr, the head judge. On seeing the boy’s obsession, Kapengut’s wife said: “Soon people will be asking for your autograph too!”

The next few years were fairly successful for Gelfand. He proved himself to be one of the strongest young chess players in the USSR, winning prizes in many individual and team tournaments. Then in 1983 came his breakthrough.

In that year Gelfand, like Kasparov five years earlier, “wangled” his way into the Sokolsky Memorial in Minsk – and caused another sensation! Boris finished the tournament ahead of two Grandmasters without losing a single game, and immediately fulfilled the requirements to be a master, although bureaucratic delays meant he did not become one until 1985.

In the same year, 1983, the 15-year-old Gelfand played in the Belorussian adult championship for the first time. He won it in both 1984 and 1985!

In 1985 Gelfand played in the USSR Junior Championship for the first time. In a fierce battle for first place he came in ahead of another rising star – Vassily Ivanchuk – by half a point. Two years later in Arnhem he outperformed him in the European Under-21 Championship, after going through a tough selection before it. Vassily managed to beat him in a head-to-head meeting, but this did not trouble Boris: he won the other 11 games, and when his hold on first place was no longer threatened he “gifted” his opponents one draw. It was an unconditional victory.

A year later, in 1988, in Arnhem again, Gelfand repeated his achievement and became twice (joint) Champion of Europe. Before this he shared first place in the USSR Junior Championship and the Under-20 World Championship in Adelaide. Boris also played brilliantly in the first league, earning his place in the USSR adult championship.

Take-off. By 1989 the whole chess world had started talking about Gelfand! Successes came one after another, and his rating rose rapidly… Boris was still not 20 when after adding 66 points at once he rapidly broke into the top 10 with a rating of 2673! He then consolidated these figures with more brilliant successes.

Thus Gelfand made it onto the winners’ podium at the USSR championship at his first attempt – he shared third place in Odessa (the champion was Rafael Vaganian). This success won him a place in the USSR national team – and together with this young and ambitious team he was victorious in the European championship. A year later he was playing for the USSR team at the Olympiad in Novi Sad. In his career to date Gelfand has played in nine Tournaments of Nations, heading first the Belorussian team and then Israel.

But the main event for Boris in 1989 was the grand GMA Candidates Tournament in Palma de Mallorca. One hundred and fifty Grandmasters started: it was probably the most impressive Swiss-system tournament in the history of chess. And it had a single winner! Gelfand won six of the first seven games. His victims included Dlugi, Adams and King… His final result – 7.5 out of 9 – was reminiscent of his triumphant junior victories, which had left not the slightest doubt about his superiority.

Such a brilliant success simply could not go unnoticed, and at the end of the tournament Gelfand received an invitation to two super-tournaments, in Tilburg and Linares.

In the first tournament, in Linares in 1990, the novice had to play Kasparov himself. And Boris passed the test of his first meeting with the world champion. A very fierce struggle to the last move held the spectators in huge tension – and despite the fact that this game ended in a draw it was acknowledged as the best in the tournament.

After this “warm-up”, Kasparov and Gelfand both won four games in a row, virtually removing any question about who would be contending for first place… In 1989 another Linares debutant, Ivanchuk, had also started the tournament with a game against Garry – he won it, and then the whole tournament. Alas, Gelfand did not manage to repeat Vassily’s feat – he finished half a point behind Kasparov, despite his six victories!

Having passed this “exam” brilliantly, Gelfand was numbered among the world’s leading players. And after he – together with Ivanchuk! – shared victory in the inter-zonal in Manila, people began talking about the Belorussian as a possible challenger for the chess throne.

Unfortunately, Gelfand’s first “move” for the crown came to an abrupt halt at the quarter-final stage. As it had, incidentally, for Anand with Ivanchuk. After a difficult victory over Predrag Nikolic – 4:4 in normal time and 1.5:0.5 in the rapid playoff – Boris lost to Nigel Short 3:5. But in this cycle no one could stop the British player, and Nigel got as far as Kasparov!

Gelfand did not intend to make a tragedy out of this defeat, the first in his rapidly developing career. Boris gave his opponent his due for his exceptional pressure in the white game and his ability to attune himself to victory – and got ready for another assault on Olympus in two years’ time. He was just 22.

But it turned out that after losing his match against Short, Boris had an indirect hand – Karpov, Timman and Kasparov also “connived” in this – in splitting the world of chess. In 1993 Garry and Nigel played a match for the crown outside FIDE’s jurisdiction, and the chess world entered an era of dual power. This situation could not have made Gelfand happy. For him, the world of chess had always seemed like a pyramid, at the top of which should be the world champion, and his main aim was to get to the top.

But in 1993, when FIDE and the PCA began to run two cycles in parallel, there were suddenly two of these peaks. And Boris was just about the only one who did not try to “kill two birds with one stone”. He decided to concentrate on the FIDE line.

Challenger 1. However, before celebrating success in an inter-zonal tournament for a second time in 1993, Gelfand achieved a lot. In 1991 he won brilliantly in Belgrade, and in 1992 he shared second place with Kasparov in Reggio Emilia, won at Wijk aan Zee, and won the Alekhine Memorial towards the end of the year… This success in Moscow was one of the most brilliant triumphal pages in the Grandmaster’s career.

This was one of the tournaments in which Gelfand succeeded in literally everything, and his brilliant creative game reached its apogee! Boris won three brilliant victories over Karpov, Anand and Salov, and only an “unnecessary” defeat by Shirov denied him an “outright” victory. Various publications got so carried away in their delight at Gelfand’s play that they named him the direct heir of Alekhine.


However, not much can compare with an outright first place at the inter-zonal in Biel in 1993. Before Boris, Bronstein had managed to win two inter-zonals – at Saltsjobaden in 1948 and Gothenburg in 1955 – but no one had won two in a row. Gelfand confidently scored “+5”, and the key game in his overall success was the one against Anand, whom he defeated in the eighth round (as he had also done, incidentally, three years earlier, at the inter-zonal in Manila). Having become the challenger, Gelfand did not go to the PCA candidates tournament in Groningen.

The fact that Gelfand’s approach to this cycle was totally serious was shown by the result of his very first match with the “twice challenger” Adams. Boris was superior to him in all aspects of the game and did not give Michael a single chance, winning 5:3. After failing to win in Linares (eleventh place) and a victorious Dos Hermanas he went away for more than two months to prepare for a contest against the 19-year-old Kramnik.

To this day Boris considers this match victory – 4.5:3.5 – one of his most important. Despite his youth, Vladimir was already among the five leading players in the world, and there was no doubt that more successes awaited him.

Together with his assistants Alexander Huzman, Mark Kogan and Valery Atlas, Gelfand succeeded in discovering the shortcomings in his opponent’s play – and in hitting the key areas of his opening analyses. The situation was “complicated” by the fact that Boris and Vladimir were good friends and had worked together on their chess more than once.

The match as a whole was dictated by Gelfand. He put on pressure with white, and Kramnik found himself with effectively no opening – and was forced to shift the emphasis of the battle to the middlegame. Vladimir did take the lead after winning a victory in the fascinating third game, but the score was immediately levelled in the fourth. Then after a series of draws Gelfand finished off his opponent by winning the final, eighth, game of the match – 4.5:3.5.

Gelfand finished 1994 with a victory in the rapid knockout tournament in Cap d’Agde, in the final of which he beat his opponent in the candidates’ match, Anatoly Karpov, 4:2!

At that moment his victory in the FIDE cycle seemed entirely realistic. Anatoly, true, had a score of 3:1 in non-draw matches with Boris, having beaten him with both white and black, but… “that was before” – and Gelfand set off for Sanghi Nagar not only confident of victory but also with a clear idea of how he could achieve it.

At the start Karpov was having serious problems: having saved himself in the first game, he could do nothing in the second and fell apart in the third. But… feeling that the match wasn’t going in the right direction, the FIDE champion mobilised all his inner reserves and managed to regain control. In his trademark subtle style he got the better of Gelfand in the fourth and sixth games and, after changing his opening, confidently secured a draw with black in the fifth.

The key game of the match was the seventh. Here Boris, who had missed several chances as play progressed, opted for the “wrong” endgame! He traded knights instead of taking the bishop and securing an easy draw. Anatoly converted his advantage into a victory in exemplary style. This defeat really took the wind out of Gelfand’s sails. The battle was over – 3:6.

This contest, or rather the chance that Boris lost in it, would “reverberate” in his life for a long time to come. At that time, at 27 he was at the height of his creative force and opportunities… After the match in Sanghi Nagar it was said that Gelfand had been in a hurry to lay out all his trump cards in front of Karpov, and that Karpov, with his huge match experience, had known exactly how to adapt to him. Boris was not flexible enough.

One of the elite. Fortunately the collapse of the challenger’s hopes did not obstruct Gelfand’s further career. In the same year, 1995, Boris found himself among the winners in Dos Hermanas and Biel, and in Belgrade he shared 1st-2nd place with Kramnik, with “+5” each!

In the next two years a cornucopia of invitations to major tournaments came the Belorussian’s way, and he probably overestimated his physical capacity. But what could he do? The world championship cycle had collapsed, and all that was left was “simply playing”…

And Gelfand, a player who approached his every game, almost his every move, with trepidation, was suddenly forced to play every third day. In the next two years he played an inconceivable 183 “classical” games, not to mention rapid chess and blitz chess. Boris travelled all over the world without a breathing-space… Wijk aan Zee, Amsterdam, Dos Hermanas, Madrid, Novgorod, Dortmund, Vienna, Yerevan, Tilburg and Groningen, plus appearances in leagues in 1996. Linares, Dos Hermanas, Novgorod, Dortmund, Biel, Polanica-Zdroj, Belgrade and again Groningen, and the first FIDE knockout world championship in 1997. Anyone would “break” under such an exhausting schedule of appearances.

It goes without saying that Gelfand simply had no time to think about high places – he had to get ready for the next game! It is surprising that he managed to maintain his rating, staying on the edge of the top 10. When asked about unimportant results at that time he would simply throw up his hands: “I simply don’t have the energy, because I’m playing too much…” His emotional tiredness led to a loss of technique and to frequent errors in games that were not going badly. He was caught in a vicious circle.

Before this, Boris had more than once declined invitations to tournaments, wishing to focus on preparing for candidates’ matches. After FIDE gave them up, deciding to determine the champion in a knockout tournament, he had nothing to save his strength for. And he did not have any. But Gelfand got ready for his first knockout in Groningen.

Boris had some very difficult contests – all three went to a tie-break: Lautier, Tkachev and Dreev. But in the quarter-final he was up against Anand. After a rapid draw in the first game, there was no threat to Boris in the second, but his nervous tension had an effect. While in a good position he blundered away an exchange; he tried to give up a piece for two pawns but did not hold out for long. Anand went through to the semi-final against Adams. The Indian took “revenge” for two defeats in the inter-zonals, each of which had been almost fatal for him. And Gelfand was again two steps away from the throne…

A new life. On his return home Gelfand decided to start a “new life”. He had been nurturing plans to move to Israel for a long time… But he did this only in 1998, when he moved to Rishon LeZion – a small town to the south of Tel Aviv.

Brussels – Boris shared his free time approximately evenly between this city and Minsk – thus did not become his home. But Rishon LeZion – a small town to the south of Tel Aviv – did, and immediately became a centre of chess activities.

Having changed his “chess citizenship”, Gelfand faded into the background for a while: the organisers of big tournaments stopped noticing him. As a result Boris began to sit at the chessboard much less frequently.

But his rare appearances were more “fruitful”. A win in Polanica-Zdroj with a one point lead over Shirov in 1998, and another at the first super-tournament in Tel Aviv and Malmo in 1999. And then in the FIDE knockout world championship in Las Vegas Boris lost “by tradition” to the future world champion Alexander Khalifman in the qualifying round for the last 32…

In April 1999 Gelfand, who was never shy about expressing his opinion, spoke for the first time on matters other than chess. In a column in the large-circulation German paper Die Welt the Israeli Grandmaster went against public opinion and expressed sharp condemnation of the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia.

“For us chess players, these towns – Bugojno, Niksic, Banja Luka, Pula and Belgrade – are not simply points on a map. They are the places where our good friends and real supporters of chess live!” Boris wrote. For nowhere in Europe took as much interest in chess as the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Gelfand was not trying to throw down a challenge to anyone; he simply regarded it as his duty to express his position.

These bold and frank statements by Gelfand, who had taken an active stance against the bombing of Yugoslavia, were taken at face value by the public.

At the end of 2000 people began to talk about Gelfand’s “return” to the chess Olympus… Boris got as far as the semi-final of the World Cup in Shenyang, losing only to Anand, and that in the blitz chess. And for a second time he won the Rubinstein Memorial brilliantly.

Things did not work out for him in the knockout championship in New Delhi, it is true: he only got through two rounds, losing to the future finalist Alexei Shirov 1.5:2.5… But a year later in Moscow he “made amends” and got as far as the quarter-final. Gelfand managed to overcome Cabrera, Dominguez, Delchev and Azmaiparashvili. He was halted only by Svidler.

Boris lost to him in a protracted blitz series and once again spoke out on the subject of the imbalance between the significance of the championship title and the actual knockout format. His statements were quickly taken up by the press, and by other players too, as a result of which FIDE soon abandoned the knockout in favour of the classical world championship cycle format with a match for the crown. Meanwhile the knockout tournament received, to general satisfaction, the status of the World Cup, one of the candidates’ stages in the world championship…


In 2002 Gelfand made an attempt to get selected for a world championship match with Kramnik. But the candidates’ tournament in Dortmund did not work out for Boris – he could not get through from his group into the play-off, losing to Topalov and Shirov.

There was another reason for Gelfand’s failure, apart from chess problems – three explosions by suicide bombers that occurred literally one block from his house in Rishon LeZion on the very eve of the tournament. This threw Boris into disarray. Not even an invitation from Boris Postovsky, the legendary captain of the Burevestnik sports society and the Russian national team in the 1990s, to join his team could help revive his fighting spirit.

But if Gelfand had only himself to blame for the failure of his 2002 campaign, the fact that he did not get into the 2004 world championship was due only to FIDE, which chose Libya as the venue for the tournament. It is well known that citizens of Israel are forbidden to travel to this country. Two dozen players at that time fell foul of this, which caused a storm of indignation in the world of chess. “A shameful act, in the opinion of many chess players, spectators and organisers,” said Boris, speaking frankly in interviews… “One can only imagine where we’ll end up if the situation in the world of chess remains this stable in the years to come!” And indeed, the chess world had seen nothing like this since 1976, when the USSR and company boycotted the Olympiad in Haifa.

Challenger 2. In 2002-2006 Gelfand experienced successful performances alternating with not very successful ones, brilliant bursts of creativity with periods of creative drought. With his rating and track record he was always a welcome guest in second-rank tournaments. But the only tournament with the prefix “super” that remained on his credit side was Amber, although time after time Boris achieved nothing special in it: neither in the rapid games nor in the blindfold games – he invariably finished in the lower half of the table.

“Between 1998 and 2006 I played in perhaps five or six ‘classical’ super-tournaments, and that’s in eight years!” said a perplexed Gelfand. “My rating was always between number six and 16. Nowadays a player with that kind of rating would play more tournaments in two years than I did during that whole period! A conspiracy? An objective situation in the world…”

In 2005 Gelfand took part in the first World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. He got as far as the quarter-final, where he was beaten 4:2 by Grischuk (it is interesting that several years before this, when the 17-year-old Grischuk was a semi-finalist in the FIDE knockout in New Delhi, Boris did a few training sessions with him at the request of his trainer Anatoly Bykhovsky). But despite being knocked out of the World Cup, Gelfand was included in the 16 candidates who were due to compete for four places in the 2007 round robin world championship a year later in Elista. The prospect of once again having to fight for the champion’s title was more than a serious irritant for Gelfand.

And he confidently earned the right to travel to Mexico City. First he beat Rustam Kasimdzhanov: six draws in normal time and total superiority for Gelfand in the tie-break – 2.5:0.5. Then Kamsky was defeated too: Boris needed only five main games to beat Gata, and he won two with black – 3.5:1.5…

Three months later the 39-year-old Gelfand was… the “main discovery” of the world championship in Mexico! Boris was incredibly prepared in the opening. He played Petrov’s Defence as black and the Catalan opening as white; it was simply some kind of Kramnik personified. But the main thing was that he was full of energy, with a big stock of new ideas. He had not displayed such force and desire to play for victory in every game in tournaments for several years.

However, in the first round with black against Anand he did not have enough of this attitude, otherwise Gelfand would have taken the pawn that Vishy left vulnerable, and… who knows how the whole tournament would have turned out? But the Indian held his ground, finishing the first round with five points out of seven. Boris had half a point less – two “white” victories over Aronian and Morozevich; and with all his main opponents Boris secured confident draws with black.

Unfortunately the “fairy tale” ended in the ninth round, in a game with Grischuk. The latter, who had finished the first round with a 50% result, was beaten outright in the second, with only a single victory. And that was against Gelfand… After that, Vishy could not be caught, even despite the fact that Boris achieved a determined victory over Aronian. Gelfand could not even get an outright second place, because of Kramnik, who rolled on to the finish.

Nevertheless, the experts unanimously noted that at nearly 40 years of age Gelfand had literally found his “second wind”. However, Boris was only displaying it in competitions connected with the fight for the title of world champion. In “ordinary” round robin tournaments he lacked stability, and he played in them with variable success.

On the one hand there were blatant failures in Wijk aan Zee and Sochi in 2008, and some very average results in Nalchik and Biel in 2009. And on the other hand there were brilliant results in Bazna and Jermuk, and steady and confident play in the Tal memorials.

Breakthrough. Even a brilliant victory in the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk did not change this “picture of the world”. Gelfand was able to move through this tournament, which lasted three weeks, in top gear! On the way to the final he got past Obodchuk, Amonatov, Polgar, Vachier-Lagrave, Yakovenko and Karyakin. Half the matches went to a tie-break, and Boris effectively did not have a single day off. And a titanic struggle with Ponomarev still awaited Gelfand in the final. The main games ended in draws, and then the “fireworks” started. Twice Boris was just one step away from victory, and twice Ruslan fought back in the last game. But… Gelfand still finished 7:5!

It would have been most unfair if victory had slipped from his grasp – the Israeli Grandmaster had invested all his strength in this tournament, and even a bit more… His young seconds were “dying” under the pressure, but their boss turned out every day as if for his last fight, as if it were nothing special, and he could not get enough of it, just kept playing and playing. As Alexander Huzman, who had served as his second for 20 years, put it: “After all, none of the elite players loves chess as Boris does…”

Even Gelfand himself, turning over his past successes in his mind, could not decide which of them had been the most impressive. Two victories in the inter-zonals, Mexico in 2007, Belgrade in 1995, Moscow in 1992… “I’m not about to put my victory in Khanty-Mansiysk on a par with my previous achievements. It was something special!”

After his victory in the World Cup Boris was again invited to Linares, after a 13-year interval. In addition, Gelfand played in tournaments in Astrakhan and Bazna, and then performed brilliantly for the team of “veterans” in a cross-generation match in Amsterdam.

But the main challenge for Boris in 2011 was the candidates’ matches! This time he did not go to the match tournament but straight to a duel for the crown with Vishy Anand…

Before the battle started in Kazan, there was a lot of talk about the mismatch between the importance of this event and its format: the matches were too short, and they were to be played one after another, and there was too much rapid and blitz chess. Even Magnus Carlsen, who was number one in the world ratings, had declined to take part, believing that it was impossible to decide who was strongest in this way.

The majority of matches turned into a real lottery, with the main events happening at the flag fall. Gelfand took a philosophical view of the format: in the words of the poem, “We don’t choose our times, we just live and die”! We have no choice – we have to play…

His first opponent was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and the key game in their match was the third. Here his opponent attacked fiercely, but Boris put up an effective defence. When the smoke of battle cleared it turned out that the Baku player had an extra rook, and the Israeli had six potential queens. The other three games ended in draws – 2.5:1.5.

In the next match against Gata Kamsky all the main events came in the tie-break. Here too Gelfand could have resolved all issues in his own favour in the main time – again with black in the third game – but in the zeitnot he wrongly retreated his queen. A draw.

The result of this match seemed to trouble Boris: he eased off his attack in the fourth game and played uncertainly in the rapid chess. But if Gata “excused” him in the first game, in the third Gelfand, playing white, was left without a piece by the sixteenth move! He had just one slim chance left to save the match – to win the last game, playing black.

As this game proceeded, Kamsky had more than one chance to put the outcome of the match beyond doubt, but he hesitated and retreated, while… it was not obvious that Gelfand would win. In the blitz chess there was no contest – Boris won both games and secured himself a place in the final.

Awaiting him there was Alexander Grischuk, who had seen off his two most dangerous opponents – Aronian and Kramnik – before this in tie-breaks. In Kazan the Muscovite played without white, securing quick draws, and was ready to withstand a siege with black. He was very close to losing, but his brilliant playing qualities enabled him to “hold the balance”.

The final match also followed the same scenario. It seemed it would be impossible to avoid a tie-break after five drawn games, but Gelfand managed to go all out in the sixth, which was really “the game of his life”. It seemed as though white had gained nothing in the opening and black was already beginning active operations against its “weak king”, when suddenly it became clear that… it simply had no moves! Grischuk perished quickly in a futile search for a counterplay.

Gelfand won the match 3.5:2.5 and won the right to a match for the crown!

“I’ve always had great respect for the title of world champion,” said Boris after his victory. “So when the cycle effectively collapsed in the mid-1990s, I found it emotionally more difficult to train and to prepare properly for tournaments… I lacked the motivation. As soon as the normal cycle was resumed, my results immediately improved! In 2007 in Mexico I shared second place with Kramnik, then I won in Khanty-Mansiysk in the World Cup, and now I’ve won the candidates’ cycle too!”

Anatoly Karpov Joins Kings vs. Queens Field

Tournament to concide with the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame

SL logo

SAINT LOUIS, August 11, 2011 — Former World Champion Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov will join the Kings team in the upcoming Kings vs. Queens tournament, scheduled to be held in Saint Louis September 9-16.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is hosting the tournament to coincide with the grand opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame, which will open to the public on September 9 in Saint Louis. Kings vs. Queens: A Battle of the Sexes will feature some of the top chess players in the world in a 5-on-5 team event.

“The addition of Anatoly Karpov to this already impressive field will only serve to heighten the intensity of this battle,” said Tony Rich, the executive director of the CCSCSL. “It will be an honor to welcome Karpov to the club.”

The Queens field is headlined by the strongest female player in chess history, GM Judit Polgar. US #1 and Rapid specialist GM Hikaru Nakamura will lead the Kings into battle.

The players, including FIDE ratings and the federation each represents, are as follows:


GM Judit Polgar (2699) – Hungary

GM Kateryna Lahno (2536) – Ukraine

IM Anna Zatonskih (2522) – U.S.

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (2497) – Russia

IM Irina Krush (2486) – U.S.


GM Hikaru Nakamura (2770) – U.S.

GM Anatoly Karpov (2617) – Russia

GM Ben Finegold (2488) – U.S.

IM Jacek Stopa (2474) – Poland

IM Marc Arnold (2445) – U.S.


The average team rating of the Queens is 2548 FIDE and the King’s average rating is 2559 FIDE. This will be a Scheveningen-paired tournament, in which each of the five team members will play each of the opposing team members twice: once in a Fischer Random (Chess 960) game with a time control of G/25 + 10-second increment and once in a rapid game with a time control of G/25 with a 5-second increment.

The Opening Ceremony for the tournament will take place on September 9, and the first round will begin at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 10.

The winning team of the event will win $20,000, divided equally between each member of that team. In addition, individual prizes will be awarded based on final standings and are are as follows:

1st: $5,500

2nd: $5,000

3rd: $4,500

4th: $4,000

5th: $3,500

6th: $3,000

7th: $2,500

8th: $2,000

9th: $1,500

10th: $1,000

Individual prizes total $32,500 and, when coupled with the team prize, the total prize fund for this event is $52,500.

Karpov replaces GM Timur Gareyev on board two for the Kings. IM Martha Fierro of Ecuador will serve as an alternate for the queens.

GM Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade will provide live commentary of the event, which will be open to the public. The event also will be broadcast live via the CCSCSL’s Livestream web channel:

Leinier Dominguez confirmed for the the 2011 SPICE Cup

The 2011 SPICE Cup A group will take place on October 15-25

The best Cuban player and former World Blitz Championship, GM Leinier Dominguez Perez (2719), has confirmed his participation in the 2011 SPICE Cup A Group. Dominguez is currently playing at the prestigious Baku Open.

Also confirmed so far are Aeroflot Open double winner GM Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) 2715, the 2010 SPICE Cup winner GM Alexander Onischuk (USA) 2675 and GM Georg Meier (GER) 2656, who is actually moving to the USA to attend the University.

The 2011 SPICE Cup A group will take place on October 15-25, 2011. It will once again be held on the beautiful campus of Texas Tech University.

More information

Leinier Dominguez sq

Leinier Dominguez Perez

WCC 2012 in Chennai, India?

Chennai is a possible venue for Anand – Gelfand

Anand world champion

As the World Chess Championship 2012 bids deadline approaches, and with Russia bidding strong for the Anand – Gelfand match, the defending World Champion Viswanathan Anand voiced one more time his desire to have the event in India.

“I will be very happy to represent India before a home crowd in Chennai which is bidding to host the World Chess event. Though spectators play no role in cheering up the players but certainly their presence is required,” Anand told reporters. “If Chennai hosts the World Chess, it will be a great boost to the sport across the country,” he added for the Times Of India.

The bids deadline is July 31st and more interest, including from Boris Gelfand’s home country Israel, is expected in the next days.

AAI Grandmaster Chess Tournament

Fabiano Caruana takes draw in final round to win the trophy

New Delhi, July 2: Fabiano Caruana took no chances and played a solid 30-move draw against Wesley So of the Philippines to take the title at the inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Tournament on Saturday. India’s Krishnan Sasikiran finished sole second, one point behind the winner.

The World Junior No. 1 Caruana of Italy emerged winner with seven points in the double round-robin Category 17 tournament. His only loss in the 10-round event came in the ninth round against Viktor Laznicka.

Sasikiran finished sole second with six points as he drew his final round against Women’s World champion Hou Yifan of China in Ruy Lopez Breyer where the Indian had black pieces.

In the third game of the day, Indian National champion Parimarjan Negi split the point with Viktor Laznicka of the Czech Republic from a 42-move Caro-Kann, which the Czech player admitted he knew nothing about.

Caruana trophy

Fabiano Caruana, winner of the AAI Grandmaster​s Chess tournament receives his trophy from Mr. VP Agrawal, Chairman of the Airport Authority of India

AAI r10 All players

All players with Shri. V P Agrawal, Chairman Airports Authority of India

So the tournament that began with three decisive results two weeks ago ended with three draws on the final day. Replay the games with computer analysis.

The winner Caruana received the trophy from Mr. V P Agrawal, Chairman of the Airport Authority of India, and also the first prize of $ 8,000. Sasikiran’s winnings were $ 6,000 for the tournament. The third to sixth finishers received $ 4,000, $ 3,000, $ 2,000 and $ 1,500.

Caruana played d4 on the opening move, making it clear that he was not going to take any risks. He duly got his draw from a Catalan. “I thought I would play for a win if there was a way, but yes I was not going to take risks. I certainly did not want two losses. Except for that loss in ninth round (to Viktor Laznicka) it was a good tournament for me,” he said with a smile. “Overall it was a fine tournament and I enjoyed and it is always good to win a title.”

AAI r10 Fabiano Caruana 1

Fabiano Caruana with winners trophy

AAI r10 Fabiano Caruana 2

Fabiano Caruana receiving the prize

Mr. V P Agrawal, said, “It was great seeing six young Grandmasters battle it out for the last two weeks. I am sure many of these players will scale even greater heights in their career and this tournament will stand out in their memory. My congratulations to Fabiano Caruana, who lived up to his top seeding.”

Sasikiran was quite content with the latter part of the tournament. “After the two losses I had at the start of the tournament, I felt it was good recovery with four wins and four draws and no more losses,” he said. “In the final round I thought if I got a clear advantage I would try and go for a win. But it turned out to be a draw, which is fine.”

On the tournament overall, Sasi added, “I was playing a tournament at this level (Category 17) after a very long time. I enjoyed it but I would have liked to score a little more. I did have chances in some of the other games, but I suppose it is alright. Now I need to prepare and take some rest before the World Team Championships.”

AAI r10 GM Sasikiran receiving trophy

GM Sasikiran receiving his runner up trophy

Viktor Laznicka re-iterated what he said earlier. “I was quite happy with the first part of the event, but the second half saw some poor play and I was very disappointed. Maybe the win over Caruana was the only high point for me in the second half,” said the Czech player.

Parimarjan Negi was somewhat disappointed with the tournament. “An even score or a plus one was my target, but it did not happen like that for me. It was a combination of small factors but hopefully I will quickly make up for this. Overall it was great to have a Category 17 event like this as it is very good for us Indians to have such events at home,” said Negi.

AAI r10 Negi signing

GM Parimarjan Negi signing the photograph with all players

Wesley So hoped he would be able to make amends on his next trip to India. “I enjoyed my visit, but I wish I could have played better. Maybe next time, but the tournament was very well conducted,” he said.

Hou Yifan, the Women’s World champion was happy with all the arrangements but was disappointed with her own results, which saw her finish last.

The ceremonial opening moves for the final round were made by Mr. V P Agrawal, Chairman of the Airport Authority of India.

AAI r10 The team of officials

The team of officials

Final standings after the tenth round:

7 points – Fabiano Caruana (Italy)

6 – Krishnan Sasikiran (India)

5.5 – Viktor Laznicka (Czech rep)

5 – Wesley So (Philippines)

3.5 – Parimarjan Negi (India)

3 – Hou Yifan (China)

Results of the tenth and final round: F Caruana drew with W So; H Yifan drew with K Sasikiran; Negi P drew with V Laznicka

Official website

Hou Yifan ready for AAI Grandmasters chess

Double round robin from 21st June to 2nd July 2011 in New Delhi

New Delhi, June 6: The reigning women’s world champion Hou Yifan of China is all geared up for the upcoming inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Tournament in New Delhi beginning on June 21. The 17-year-old, who last year became the youngest-ever world champion in either men or women’s section, will become the first women’s reigning champion to play in India since Maya Chiburdanidze played in India the early 1980s.

With less than two weeks to go, preparations for the inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Tournament are in full swing. Even as the venue at the AAI Officers’ Institute near Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi is being renovated into a world-class venue, the six players are busy preparing for the event in their respective home countries.

Apart from Hou Yifan, the other participants will be World Junior No.1 GM Fabiano Caruana of Italy, Philippines’ No. 1 GM Wesley So, Czech Republic No. 2 GM Viktor Laznicka, India No. 2 GM Krishnan Sasikiran and the reigning Indian National Champion GM Parimarjan Negi.

Apart from all facilities, the tournament will offer total prize money worth US $ 24,500. The winner takes $ 8,000, while the runner-up will receive $ 6,000. The purse for the next four finishers will be $ 4,000, $ 3,000, $ 2,000 and $ 1,500.

“The game was given to the world by India and we also have the world champion from India in Viswanathan Anand. So it is only logical that the AAI supports an endeavour which showcases India’s ancient game and young talent from around the world,” said Mr. V P Agrawal, Chairman Airports Authority of India.

Hou, who interestingly will be challenged by India’s Koneru Humpy for the world title later this year, is using the AAI Grandmasters tournament as part of her preparations. She has already played in numerous events this year with mixed results.

Hou Yifan was recognized as the Best Sportswoman in China a sport that is not included in the normal Olympic programme.

Hou Yifan

An early qualifier for the World Cup 2011 to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia in August, Hou recently won the first-ever Chinese Female Professional chess tournament held in Wuxi, Jiangsu in China in April with a highly impressive score of 9/11.

Hou Yifan, however, had a somewhat disappointing result in Asian Individual, where playing in the Open section, she ended 33rd in Mashhad, Iran. The event was won by India’s Pentala Harikrisha.

Three of the players in the tournament included Krishnan Sasikiran (sixth), Parimarjan Negi (ninth) and Wesley So (12th). This trio will be up against Hou Yifan once again in the AAI Grandmasters tournament.

Earlier this month, playing in a very strong Open tournament in Danzhou, Hainan in China, Hou Yifan was out of form and finished last among 10 participants.

Hou Yifan hails from Xinghua, a small prestigious town, which is famous for holding top level Chinese individual chess tournaments for the past three years. The town has two women grandmasters, eight national champions and over 10,000 playing youngsters live here. Besides, many talented chess players are trained for Chinese Chess National Team. Local authorities have made efforts to organize chess activity and training classes in primary schools to promote chess in the town and region.

According to Susan Polgar, one of the strongest-ever women’s players, but now retired, Hou Yifan is preparing for her match against Humpy and all these Open events are part of her larger plan.

Big time chess returns to India for the first time since the mid-1980s when Delhi hosted a string of Grandmaster tournaments. Indians, including Viswanathan Anand benefited from those a lot.

The AAI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament organized by the Airports Authority of India is the highest-ever rated tournament for more than three decades in India.

The AAI, which is a leading Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, as part of its Centenary Celebration of Civil Aviation in India, is organizing the “AAI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament 2011″.

“We have been supporting various games and young sportspersons, including chess. Parimarjan Negi, the current National champion, and who has broken many records and Dronavalli Harika among women are supported by AAI. Negi, incidentally will also feature in AAI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament,” added Mr. Agrawal.

“It will be a treat for chess lovers in Delhi and all over the country. We will have all modern facilities and use the event to promote the game in India by inviting youngsters to watch and learn,” said Mr. Bharat Singh Chauhan, President, Delhi Chess Association, which is also supporting the event.

“To have a Category 17 event in India has always been Delhi Chess Association’s dream. And now that Delhi also has its first-ever national champion in Parimarjan Negi, it is only logical that we have the tournament in Delhi. The Airports Authority of India, who have been generous supporters of the game, as also other sports, need to be congratulated for making a tournament like this come to life.”

This will be India’s first ever Category 17 chess tournament with a unique group of six grandmasters playing in a double round robin event from June 21 to July 2, 2011.

For more details visit:

Video interview with Vishwanathan Anand

Anand confirms participation for Bilbao, Tal Memorial, and London Chess Classic 2011

Viswanathan Anand gave an extensive video interview for Vijay Kumar right after the final game of Leon 2011. Among the topics discussed were the possibility of the World Championship 2012 to be in India, the challenger Boris Gelfand and his run during the Candidates, the tournament formats, and more.

Anand expressed regret that traditional tournaments like Linares and Mtel Masters are missing from the calendar, but confirmed participation for Bilbao, Tal Memorial 2011, and London Chess Classic 2011. Vishy Anand did not support the idea of the Bilbao system (football scoring 3-1-0) as it “punishes hard fought draws at the expense of easy wins”.

Enjoy the video for the final games of Leon and the full interview with Anand.

OSG Baden-Baden signs GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov

Former world champion to replace GM Georg Meier

The German club champion OSG Baden-Baden announces a major new addition as Rustam Kasimdzhanov will strengthen the squad from the season 2011/12. Former World Champion will replace German national player Georg Meier, who is moving to USA to attend the University. Meier remains faithful to the club, but he is not in position to travel back and forth to play on weekends throughout the year.

Kasimdzhanov became World Champion after winning the knockout tournament in 2004 in Tripoli. He held the title for a year, until the tournament in San Luis in 2005.

Kasimdzhanov is a welcome addition to the existing squad. He is Viswanathan Anand’s trusted second and has greatly contributed to Vishy’s victories in the World Championship matches in 2008 in Bonn and in 2010 in Sofia.


Rustam Kasimdzhanov

Most recently, Kasimdzhanov won the Rapid Championship of the 16th Asian Games which were held in November in Guangzhou, China.

Currently, the Uzbek national is rated 2685 and officially number 51 of the world rankings. Kasimdzhanov lives with his family for many years in Germany and speaks fluent German. The OSG Baden-Baden is looking forward to having him in the team. News by Sven Noppes.

Anatoly Karpov entering automotive industry

People’s car Mishka ready for mass production

Karpov Valjevo

Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov has for many years been engaged in the creation of people’s car “Mishka”, which should cost less than 200 thousand rubles, and considers this to be his most ambitious project.

Karpov, the founder of the company OAO “Mishka-Tula-Moscow”, said in an interview with “Delovoi Peterburg” that the people’s car “can already go into mass production.”

Karpov also highlighted that the company isn’t asking for state subsidies, as is common in the automotive industry, but they still have to provide enough working capital to start.

Mishka would weight 650kg and be able to run at max speed of 170 km-per-hour. The car would consume 5.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers and carry load up to 400 kg.

12 such cars were already produced and are currently in use. “We have a director who is driving this car for a long time, and he already passed around 40,000 km.” – Karpov added.

Karpov emphasized that Mishka would be twice cheaper than e-mobile, Russia’s first budget hybrid car. The pre-order for e-mobile started on 16th May and there are already 51,188 initial bids for the purchase.