The Almost-There Moment for Viswanathan Anand

The Indian Grandmaster was beaten by the clock at the World Chess Championship

V Krishnaswamy
Published: 15, May 2012

V Krishnaswamy, a senior journalist has more than 30 years of experience of covering five Olympics, seven Asian Games, five Commonwealth, scores of World Championships and Majors in different sports, including chess and golf. He is also the author of the recently published “Sachin – Hundred hundreds Now”

Nothing is more disappointing than coming within hand-shaking distance of a win and then having to return empty-handed. Psychological pluses and creativity sound great and make even greater copy for the journalists, but when it comes to a player, no matter what the sport, nothing beats the winning feeling. The ‘oh-so-close’ feeling is usually a disappointing one, making one toss and turn in the bed in the night with the feeling of emptiness.

Vishy Anand must have experienced that on Monday night in Moscow’s posh Kremlin Hotel, where he is putting up during the World Chess Championships match. As the cliché goes, he came within a whisker of registering the first win in the ongoing match, which most experts agree could well have been the back-breaker for Boris Gelfand.

Gelfand, who was 0-for-10 years, when it came to Gruenfeld for an opening, was now 2-for-2 with black in the World Championships. Anand was no longer surprised. His team of seconds had probably worked overtime to counter it and they came out with 3.f3, which if nothing, should have surprised Gelfand in turn. But the Minsk-born Israeli was upto the task and replied quickly. The game went by fast and on expected lines for quite sometime.

Anand may have delivered the move of the day with his 25. Rh4, but the surprise of surprises was that the Lightning Kid was suddenly short on time! He was almost half an hour behind Gelfand, not really the fastest of players. One hand to double check the clock!

Maybe that struggle with the clock and the need to keep a watch on any Gelfand preparatory surprises, came in the way of Anand finding that killer punch (read winning move), only to discover it too late. Alas, the fist, which came so close to chin had to be put back in the pocket without connecting.

The moment had passed and the result that could have been 1-0 stayed 0.5-0.5


Five minutes after the start of Game 3, there was a lot of commotion outside the Hall at the Tretyakov Gallery. Stepping outside one was hit by an amazing sight – that of a big bunch of kids being brought to the venue.

This was part of a children’s programme launched by Russian Chess Federation, as part of the FIDE World Championships Match.

Over the next three weeks more than 200-300 children will be brought to the venue in batches to see the matches and these kids are coming from as far as the Far East and the Siberian Federal District. The programme has been set up in partnership with the State Tretyakov Gallery.

It is not just another promotional activity. With some of the biggest names in Russian chess are visiting the venue each day, these young players will get to meet Grandmasters, chess mentors and coaches and will also be introduced to members of the Russian national teams and also meet some former world chess champions.

Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Peter Svidler will hold classes and analyse World Championship games at the “Chess Corner” set up for the duration of the Championships in the inner courtyard of the Engineering Building at the Tretyakov Gallery.

Little wonder then that Russia or the erstwhile states of the Soviet Union produce so many superstars in chess.

  • S. Srinivasan

    It may be true that Anand typically gains an advantage by this stage of a World Championship which he hasn't done this time, but here is the difference. Vladimir Kramnik and Vesselin Topalov can both be described as tenacious, the latter even aggressive, and you have no other option but to go on the counter attack. Boris Gelfand is dull and boring, at least in this round. So Anand may be taking his time to size up the opponent. He can turn things around even in the 12th game or tie-break as we learnt last year. I am just hoping that Anand retains his focus and doesn't let exhaustion or ennui get the better of him this time.

    on May 17, 2012
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