Israel super-GM Boris Gelfand wins the tournament
Analysis by Chess Coach William Stewart

Is the World’s #13 ready to take on the world’s #1?

Congratulations to Boris Gelfand on winning the 2011 Candidates Match Tournament. He wasn’t most people’s top pick but we shall wait and see if he proves to be a formidable opponent against Vishy Anand for the title of world champion. A recent poll on Susan’s blog shows 86% of respondents think that Anand will be able to defend his title while 14% think Gelfand will win (I voted for Anand as well). Gelfand should not be counted out, however; he’s a tough opponent and in a year full of upsets in the chess world, we shouldn’t be surprised to see another.
Quarterfinals and Semifinals Recap

Gelfand began his march to victory in the Quarterfinals against Azerbaijani super-GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, winning brilliantly in the third match game by sacrificing a rook to defend a complicated position. In the Semifinals, Gelfand faced the determined GM Gata Kamsky. The Israeli was on the brink of defeat, as the American only needed a draw in their 4th match game to move on to the finals. Gelfand displayed amazing determination, won the 4th game, and proceeded to destroy Kamsky in the tiebreaker playoffs. For full coverage of the quarterfinals please check out my article on the 2011 Candidates Matches – quarterfinals, as well as the 2011 World Candidates Matches – semifinals,which includes an in-depth analyses along with videos and PGNs of my favorite games.

Image courtesy of FIDE.com

The Finals – Never ending draws and a final victory by Gelfand

I hit my head against the table more than once during the semi-finals and the finals27-year old Russian Super-GM Alexander Grischuk was in great shape heading into the finals, as he had recently toppled heavyweights Teimour Radjabov and Vladimir Kramnik. Normally a very aggressive and tactical player, Grischuk mixed it up this year by employing a more patient strategy. Gelfand tried to press hard in their first 5 match games, however Grischuk had no problem maintaining the balance. In the 6th and final regulation game of their finals match, Gelfand was pleased to face a defense he knows extremely well – The Grunfeld. He surprised Grischuk with the novelty 14. Rb1!?, forcing his opponent into a deep thought that cost him valuable time in the opening. Grischuk sought counterplay in the form of an interesting rook lift to attack the white king (16. …Ra5 and 17. …Rh5). Gelfand proved this idea to be flawed, as he combined active piece play with a dynamic pawn center to achieve decisive pressure. After extreme complications, the Russian GM resigned in the face of an overwhelming attack. Grischuk, a player of the highest class, extended a sincere congratulations to the 2012 World Championship Contender – Boris Gelfand.

2012 World Championship – Drama and Dollars

The Who, What, and Why have been answered – but Where and When? London organizer Chess Promotions Ltd. backed out in a February 3rd Press Release, stating that FIDE was unable to agree to their terms and conditions in a timely fashion. Chess Promotions Ltd. paid a € 50,000 deposit to enter negotiations with FIDE, and expressed sincere regret that London will not be hosting the 2012 World Championship Match. FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer responded in an open letter, claiming that:

“It is clear, and was obvious to me and expressed specifically by you, that the withdrawal of GM Carlsen from the WC cycle meant that the sponsor was no longer interested in sponsoring the match”.

Interesting developments – who knows who’s wrong or right here – and who cares? I’m hoping that FIDE can pull it together so the 2012 WC Match takes place in… 2012!

What are the costs for such a serious chess match?

Hosting a World Candidates match implies a very high level of responsibility and financial cost. FIDE expects the host country to replicate the 2010 match stipulations in Sofia, Bulgaria which offered an after-tax prize fund of 2 million euros. Establishing a reliable venue and accommodations for the players is easier said than done, with regard to the extensive and necessary counter-cheating measures. Before the WC Candidates Matches, FIDE stated expectations for the winner’s host country to bid for the 2012 WC Match. However, Israel has declared no such intention. To my knowledge, the only country that has publicly announced a bid to host the match is India – certainly agreeable for current world champion Anand who non-suprisingly said:

“I would love to play in India, I hope something like that happens sooner rather than later.”

Chess Drama Always has a way of rearing it's ugly head, but I think the millions of dollars needed will be raised.

Millions of dollars need to be raised and the city where it will be held is still not clear.

The current FIDE deadline for accepting host applications is June 30, 2011. I’m excited to see Anand and Gelfand fight it out, as their respective styles dictate extremely tactical and aggressive play. Despite all the tournaments that have been cancelled or delayed this year, I’m quite sure that the 2012 world championship will take place in 2012. Despite the many draws, the tournament provided many upsets and great games and it was a pleasure for me to cover it for you, my dear readers. Thank you for reading!

By Will Stewart (USCF 2256, FIDE 2234). Original Article here

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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