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Monday, May 28, 2012

Gelfand: Vishy is not just an excellent speed chess player – he’s an excellent player in all time controls!

At the press conference after Game 11, the challenger explained why he had spent almost 40 minutes pondering the opening. “What can I say? We were playing a rare system, and you hardly ever see 8...Bd7. I knew it was an important moment – White had to decide what to do next. I had many options... I came up with a basic plan and started to play a lot quicker. The first critical moment arose at the 16th move. I spent a lot of time on this move as well because I knew that White had quite a few options once again. I needed to get my pawn to a5 somehow and play Ne5. I started by moving the knight. Perhaps 17.a4 would have been a more accurate move.”

Assessing the resulting endgame, both players came to the conclusion that the position was sharp and fairly specific. “If I had been able to get my pawns to a5 and f3, then White would have had a clear advantage. But Black managed to get the knight to e4 and the position became unclear, because it then had the tactical threat of capturing on a4. For example: 21.Ra3 f6 22.Bf4 Bxa4 23.Rxa4 Nc3 24.Bg4 f5!” the Israeli grandmaster commented.

Viswanathan Anand expressed his confidence that Black maintained a dynamic balance throughout the game and did not risk losing the game. The World Champion also noted that he hadn’t taken into account the fact that his opponent didn’t have much time left, and played for position.

“I started these tactical operations because, in general, if White can put, as Boris said, a bishop on e3, a pawn on a5 and a pawn on f3, then Black will have to suffer for the whole game. So, with my tactical operations, I was trying to liberate myself. That was simply what the position calls for, because [with move 14...cx4] I have to neutralise the bishops. In the final position, the reason I offered a draw after 24...Rd7 is that if he plays 25.Bxa7, then I thought I would play 25...Rd2! and then get my bishop to c6 and I’m very solid there.”

When asked his reasoning behind the exchange on c3, the World Champion said that the position was a difficult one with a great number of subtleties that need to be taken into account with at every move. First he retreated the bishop, then he played c3 – there was nothing mystical about the move...

Boris was then asked his opinion on the general view that Viswanathan Anand is one of the best speed chess players of this generation, an assessment with which the challenger agrees: “Vishy is not just an excellent speed chess player – he’s an excellent player in all time controls! You only have to look at his record to understand that. If it wasn’t the case, then I doubt he would have been able to hold on to the title for so long.”

Boris Gelfand also talked about the interest the match has garnered around the world, the likes of which have never been seen before. The challenger expressed his surprise at the number of people visiting the match’s official website.

Viswanathan Anand was then asked if he had prepared for a tie-break, to which the champion replied there had been no special preparation, although he had, of course, played some speed and blitz games.

“I don’t think that Boris or I need any special preparation in order to feel confident. If we go to speed games, then it will be clear...”

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