Anand wins shootout to keep world chess crown
Anand wins shootout to keep world chess crown
Dubbed the “Battle of the Armageddon” in chess circles, the tiebreak saw the two chess titans clash in four nail-biting speed chess games that lasted over four hours and left both players emotionally exhausted.
Three of the games ended in draws but a mistake by Gelfand in the endgame of game two as his allotted 25 minutes ran out proved decisive. Anand, known as the “Tiger of Madras,” won that game and then doughtily resisted attempts by the Israeli to break through.
“It was incredibly tense,” a drained Anand told reporters after the match. “I think that right now, the only feeling you have is relief. I am really too tense to be happy, but there is relief.”
“Today, it is difficult to claim anything. I would simply say that my nerves held on better. I simply hung on for dear life.”
With the players knowing one mistake could cost the championships, the match was marked by the almost unbearable tension of past great clashes like the epic world title match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in 1984-85.
The series had been staged at the Tretyakov art gallery in Moscow, the first time the Russian capital has hosted the world chess championships since the Kasparov-Karpov game that was called off due to fears for their health.
Anand will take $1.4 million and Gelfand $1.15 million from a $2.55 million total prize fund, under rules that saw an evening-out of the prize money if the match went to a tiebreak.
The thrilling tiebreak was worthy of a tournament whose history also includes the historic 1972 clash in Reykjavik at the height of the Cold War between Bobby Fischer of the US and Soviet great Boris Spassky.
The Minsk-born Israeli had chances in all four tiebreak games to put pressure on Anand and at times showed magnificently resourceful defense against the Indian’s attacks.
Anand, dressed in his usual blue shirt, sat rooted to his chair as the more expressive Gelfand ran his hands through his hair and took long walks away from the board to think out his positions.
As tension mounted, Gelfand indulged in his favorite stress-busting habit of repeatedly rotating one of the taken bishop pieces in his right hand.
But he did not find a way to break down the Anand defense and seeing no chance of the victory he needed in the final fourth game Gelfand offered the draw which gave Anand the tiebreak by 2.5 points-to-1.5 and the title.
After four-and-a-half hours of extreme tension, the two men shook hands and immediately left the stage.
“Boris had his chances in each of the four tie-break games,” commented Russian grandmaster Peter Svidler.
“Today has been a magnificent struggle, not without mistakes, but a lot of fight was shown by both players,” he added.
Gelfand used up most of his allotted time in each of the games, leaving him under huge pressure as he made the endgame moves with just seconds remaining.
“I think the decisive factor was that fact I did not use my time so wisely,” he said. “My strategy was simple — to take it one game at a time, create the most problems and make the best moves.”
The two masters displayed titanic control of the board in the regular 12-game series earlier this month but it ended level with just a win apiece and 10 draws.
Anand lost game seven but then levelled the scores by coming back to win game eight. He revealed yesterday that he could not “remember such a bad day as after game seven. I mean I could not sleep.”
FROM: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Absent from the world championship process has been the world No. 1 , the 21-year-old Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen who dropped out in the qualifying rounds as he did not agree with the format.
FROM: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss
- Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
- Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.
MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
“I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
“The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
“This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.”
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
“Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.