Chess 29may12The World Chess Championship reached a critical stage this week with the best of twelve series between Boris Gelfand and defending champion Viswanathan Anand tied at 6-6, taking the contest to a tie-breaker on Wednesday.

Central to the tied score was a move made by Gelfand, his tenth as black, which took him 40 minutes to make. It proved crucial to the Israeli.”If I hadn’t been thinking for a long time and made a move quickly, maybe, it would be already impossible to do anything on the next move,” said Gelfand, as reported on the News Track India website.

One of the appealing aspects of Mind Sports are these moments of intense focus, which while often agonising for the player – Gelfand was pictured with his face scrunched up – offer delightful segments of analysis for the spectator, be it a chess match of a hand of poker, which can later be analysed at length. In the post-mortem, Anand, World Chess Champion since 2008, admitted that Gelfand had played “very well.”

While chess grandmasters are permitted lengthy periods in which to make their move, in poker when the clock is ticking and the blinds ready to go up, the pressure is on to act before other players call the floor. If they do thinking time is cut to one minute before a tournament director can declare a hand dead.

Yet good players know when the circumstances require serious thought and tend to allow players as much time as they need to make crucial decisions that can be the difference between survival and elimination.

Gelfand and Anand shook hands on the game, after Anand’s 22nd move, watched by 400 spectators in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and many more watching on screens outside.

The four-match tiebreak presents the possibility of yet another draw, at which point the Armageddon phase comes to effect, a match in which each player has only a few minutes to act. White receives five minutes while black receives four, although in the event of a draw black is declared the winner.

At stake will be $1.5 million to the winner, with $1 million to the runner-up.