WCC match Kramnik – Anand starts in Bonn

The Hindu about the World Chess Championship

Experts are predicting a close match when Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand defends his world chess championship title in a 12 game match starting this week against grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

The two players are evenly matched and for many years have jostled each other for second and third place on the ratings list behind chess great Garry Kasparov, who retired in 2005. They were tied atop the list at the beginning of the year before recent subpar performances have dropped Anand, 38, to fifth and Kramnik, 33, to sixth on the list released October 1.

American grandmaster Yasser Seirawan said he expects “a very exciting and tense match.”

“I don’t see either player walking away with it,” he said.

The matches begin on Tuesday and are scheduled through October 31. If tied after 12 games, November 2 is set aside for a series of rapid and, if necessary, blitz games to decide the winner.

The two first faced each other in 1989, and in games against one another Kramnik has six wins, Anand five and 42 draws in games played at normal time-controls. With rapid and blitz games included, Anand has a slight edge with 65.5 points in 127 games played.

Kramnik had held the undisputed title since 2006, and one of the two rival titles since 2000, when he defeated Kasparov in a match. Kasparov had broken away from the World Chess Federation, or FIDE, in 1993, and the title remained divided until Kramnik defeated FIDE champion Vesselin Topalov.

Anand took the title away from Kramnik at a tournament in Mexico City a year ago.

Still, American grandmaster Larry Christiansen gives Kramnik a slight edge because “Kramnik’s forte is match play, whereas Anand is more aggressive; his forte is tournaments.’

Indeed, Kramnik has a reputation as a solid positional player who is almost impossible to beat, while Anand is consider a more tactical and attacking player.

Seirawan is quick to point out, however, that “while Anand is much more comfortable in sharp, complicated positions and Kramnik prefers staid, quiet, and strategic play, both players are extremely good in all phases of the game.” He compared the difference between them to the difference between a kayak and a canoe.

Historically, world championship matches have been much longer than 12 games and often lasted many months. From 1951 to 1972, matches were regularly 24 games and many regard this as the traditional length. Seirawan calls a 24-game match “the truest test of a player’s skill.”

The short length of the Bonn match leaves little time to recover from a loss, and Christiansen predicts a lot a draws as a result, with perhaps only one to three decisive games.

The winner of this match will have to defend his title against the winner of a match between Topalov and American Gata Kamsky to be played before the end of the year.

Report: The Hindu