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Anand has the edge with white in FINAL game.

VISWANATHAN Anand has been here before. Not just at the World Chess Championships title match, but also in the crunch situation of a final game -- this time 12th -- needing to decide the title. In fact, he has even gone beyond that into the rapids in a tie- breaker.

But don't count out the Minsk- born Israeli Boris Gelfand, once seen as a successor to Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in the 1990s, who is now bidding for his maiden World Championships title. He has proved the pundits wrong on many occasions, including the last Candidates tournament.

Both players have shown great preparation, Gelfand in particular.

But the belief is that Anand, who had Gelfand thinking for inordinately long in the 11th game, could unleash some big surprise in the final game, where he will have white pieces.

Should the final game be drawn, the title will be decided by bestof- four rapid games and in case of a further tie, it will be Blitz and finally Armageddon -- where Black will have four minutes to White's five, but will need only a draw to win.

The feeling, by and large, is that Anand will have the edge in the 12th game as white and then again in the shorter formats as he is acknowledged as the best in the world.

Even Gelfand said so after the 11th game. " 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." Modest indeed in part of Gelfand, but a couple of days back Grandmaster Peter Svidler warned: " Vishy is good at rapids and blitz, but Boris is no slouch." That is indeed true, for he came through in the Candidates semifinals, beating Kamsky in Blitz after they were tied in classical and rapids. So he does have the nerve and wherewithal to handle the best.

Many years ago, back in 1994, Kamsky beat Anand in the tiebreaker in Sanghi Nagar in India.

Anand has refused to be drawn into any discussions on rapids. On this match he said: " I am going to get ready for the next game and take it one step at a time. ( 2010) was a tough struggle and so is this. I am trying not to get ahead of myself but with the scoreline you can see the similarity." He played a few rapids and blitz as a routine matter, but still confessed that it ( tie- breaker) did cross his mind.

" But ( should that arise) we have a rest day before it ( tie- breaker)." Two 40- year- olds in a world title match may have not found favour with Garry Kasparov, but it can hardly be the fault of Anand or Gelfand that Magnus Carlsen, the current World No. 1, chose not to play in the Candidates, where Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov lost and Gelfand emerged as the challenger to Anand.

Gelfand, a rank outsider in many eyes, has time and again showed that life indeed begins at 40 -- though in Anand's case it has simply continued from the 20s -- and he was quite comfortable through the Candidates.

In this match, while Anand has shown that he is solid, the seventh game left him gasping for breath as the stats- hating Gelfand beat him for the first time in 19 years. Anand also missed a chance to win the third game, but was aided by Gelfand blundering in the eighth.


Should Anand win the world title on Monday, he would at 42 become the oldest player since Mikhail Botvinnik in 1963 to be the undisputed world chess champion.

Should Gelfand. 43, win, the record will be his.

Botvinnik was 52 at the end of his third stint as world champion when he was beaten by Tigran Petrosian, then 34. Petrosian stayed as world champion till 1969 when he was 40.

Anatoly Karpov was 42 when he became FIDE champion ( as different from undisputed world champion) and stayed so till 1999 when he was 48.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:May 28, 2012
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