With the opening ceremony of the Anand – Gelfand World Championship match due to take place tomorrow I thought I’d offer some thoughts as to what we might expect. First of all I should say that I think it’s going to be a really tough match and I’m unconvinced by those who make Vishwanathan Anand a clear favourite. The score between these two in serious long play games stands at +6, -5 and =24 in Anand’s favour, which really isn’t very much. Jose Raul Capablanca was a much bigger favourite against Alexander Alekhine before he lost to him.
Anand’s best trump card might be his edge at rapid chess as if the score is tied after 12 games some rapid play tie break games will take place. His score against Gelfand at 30 minutes per player per game is 8 wins to 1 with 19 draws, which looks quite convincing.
The tie break time limit is 25 minutes per player with a 10 second increment after each move, which is slightly more relaxed than a total of 30 minutes per game. Yet if the match comes down to such a tie break the biggest factor may well be an ability to withstand the nervous tension with the quality of the games being likely to be poor.
How do I think the games will go? Well probably not as expected! Both players have wide opening repertoires and will be preparing very seriously with some heavy duty hardware. One thing that interests me is in whether Boris Gelfand might play the King’s Indian, his former speciality, should Anand use 1.d4. I think it could be an interesting choice, especially as Anand has little experience against this opening and lost against it to Hikaru Nakamura.