After almost three weeks and 12 tense games, Israel’s Boris Gelfand and defending-champion Viswanathan Anand face off one final time on Wednesday to decide the World Chess Championship in Moscow.
Despite entering the showdown as a clear underdog, the 44-year-old Israeli has proven that he is more than worthy to be playing to become just the 16th undisputed world champion since 1886.
The Rishon Lezion resident, who moved to Israel from Minsk in 1998, refused to allow Anand, who has been world champion since 2007, to boss the match, with the challenger and the champion sharing just one victory each in the 12-game series.
As a result, the crown and over $1.5 million in prize money will be determined on Wednesday in a rapid chess tiebreaker.
To start with, there will be four rapid games, with the time control coming down to 25 minutes for each player and a 10 seconds increment per move.
If the score is still tied after the four rapid tiebreakers, colors will be drawn and two blitz games (5 minutes plus 10 seconds per move) will be held.
Two more blitz games will follow if there’s still no winner, and the process will be repeated, if necessary, until five blitz matches have been played.
Should there still be nothing to separate the players after 10 blitz games, a single sudden-death “Armageddon game” will determine the champion.
While the showdown between Gelfand and Anand has so far been deemed as dull by many experts, the tiebreakers will likely see real drama.
Much of the criticism has been directed at the fact that not only have 10 of the 12 games ended in draws, but that seven of those ties finished after less than 30 moves, with the players reaching a stalemate fairly quickly. Only 351 moves have been played in total in the 12-classical games.
“We are playing for the crown and not only to entertain, besides there are many highly qualified commentators who can explain it to the uninformed spectators,” Gelfand said after Monday’s draw.
Despite Gelfand’s impressive showing to date, Anand will still be the firm favorite on Wednesday.
The Indian is regarded as one of the greatest ever at rapid chess, and has a significant head-to-head advantage over Gelfand in such matches.
Gelfand and Anand have played 28 times in rapid chess and the Israeli has only won once, losing eight times and drawing the remaining.
In seven blitz games, Anand has won three times and the rest were drawn.