With the scores tied 5.5-5.5 after 11 games, the Indian ace will be hoping for an encore of the last championship when he won the last game to win the title against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
That said, Gelfand has proven to be a far tougher nut to crack for Anand who defeated Russian Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 and Topalov in 2010 with consummate ease.
The challenger and the champion have shared just one victory each in 11 games thus far while the remaining nine games have ended in draws, often tame.
It’s time for Anand to deliver the goods. The Indian will have the advantage of playing white in the 12th and final game under normal time control and that gives him an obvious edge.
Should this game also end in a draw tiebreak games of shorter duration will be played to determine the winner.
Anand, one of the greatest player ever in the faster version, especially rapid chess, holds an edge there also. In case of a draw in the last game, the players will play four rapid games first and then, if necessary, five sets of two blitz games to decide the crown.
An Armageddon game is the last possibility but that is too far away.
Gelfand, if anything, is unfazed by Anand’s grand reputation in faster version and did not shy away from admitting it himself in the post-match chat after game 11.
“I would say that with all his results Vishy has proved that he is one of the best, or maybe the best at all-time controls. Look at his record – otherwise he wouldn’t have been world champion for so many years,” he said.
Something that might worry Anand is the confidence that Gelfand has portrayed. Topalov lost to Anand as white in the last game of the 2010 championship. The Bulgarian was simply trying too hard as white, obviously shying away from the rapid or blitz games.
In Gelfand’s case this is exactly opposite. Even with white in the penultimate game, the Israeli was content and objectively took a draw. In the eyes of the experts, this is also double the risk. If he survives the last game as black, there are rapid games to come.
The scuffle so far has oscillated between boring and absorbing. And Gelfand deserves credit for his deft planning for the match.
Even if the Israeli loses, he has proven himself to be a worthy challenger to the crown, something that the chess pundits dispelled at the start and made Anand an overwhelming favourite.
Team Anand will be hoping for those predictions to come true in the last game. Gelfand will hope to live another day with honours even.
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