What can you learn from the 2012 World Chess Championship match between Anand and Gelfand?

Comments: 18

I recently watched a chess documentary called “Album 61”. It is about the Anand-Gelfand World Chess Championship 2012 match and focuses on the development, preparation and situations of Gelfand during the match.
anand vs gelfand

I really enjoyed watching it. The filming was nice, deep and emotional. That’s why I thought that I could share some information (the most important ideas in the film) about it with you. So let’s get started. 🙂




The film gets its name “Album 61” because Gelfand’s father used to collect pictures about his son’s development and make albums.

The World Chess Championship is a juicy battle, rife with passion, power and money. Boris Gelfand has spent his entire life getting ready for this moment; he was raised to become a champion since the age of six.

Fact time: did you know that the potential number of unique chess games is much greater than the number of atoms in the universe? The number of atoms is estimated to be about 10^79, while the number of unique chess games is 10^120!




As I often say, preparation is the key! Gelfand had a team of four GMs who helped him prepare. They learned Anand’s games and looked for his weak points. For the World Championship match, Boris prepared twice as much as normal.

Anand, too, had his team and prepared in equal measure for the match.


Psychological aspects


Yes, after all, we’re human and do feel pressure. Chess players feel nervous before and/or during a game. This has serious implications for our results.

During a game between Anand and Gelfand, the commentator says that he is not able to read the facial expressions of the two players.


This shows how strong both players are, psychologically. They don’t give a chance for their opponent to read their mind and facial expressions.




I’ve already published a book for you on this topic. It is called Champion Psychology – A Book for Future Chess Champions, where I discuss typical psychological problems and how to overcome them.

Words from great players:


“Psychology is the most important factor in chess” – Alexander Alekhine

“You must not let your opponent know how you feel” – Alexander Kotov

“Any experienced player knows how a change in the character of the play influences your psychological mood” – Garry Kasparov

Yes, there will be some periods of ups and downs in the rhythm of life. However, this will not hinder the champ.


Mental stress


It is nice to see that the film turned the world chess championship into a nerve-racking drama.

“Above all, chess is a battle. It is very stressful. It’s not about memory or math. You have to do everything you can to win“ – Tournament Commentator

Yes, even one of the greatest players ever, Garry Kasparov, said that chess is mental torture. When it comes to strong and important events like the World Championship, you require about ten hours of sleep per day.

Moreover, it is surprising to see what former world champion, Vladimir Kramnik, says about stress.

vladimir kramnik

“When I played against Kasparov, I lost 10 Kg during the competition” – Kramnik

He then says that he was not on a diet but still lost weight due to stress.


Gelfand very much had the habit of leaving the board after making a move, often during the World Championship games. Gelfand’s coach says that he calculates moves and thinks while he walks.

Kasparov says that doing so on a regular basis or more frequently is not so good. It is just for the sake of relaxation or maybe to ‘outdo’ your opponent psychologically.


Tournament games


The main event consisted of twelve games and the first six were drawn. There was a breakthrough in the seventh game, where Gelfand outplayed Anand.

Gelfand – Anand WC 2012 Game-7

anand vs gelfand

White to play

What do you think is the best continuation for White here? After calculating, continue reading below.

But the Indian Tiger made an immediate comeback in the eighth by defeating Gelfand in just seventeen moves!

Anand – Gelfand WC 2012 Game-8

anand vs gelfand

White to play

After calculating all possible variations, you may watch the video lessons we published and check the whole game:

Finally, Anand defeated Gelfand in the tie-break (with time control of 25 minutes each + 10 seconds per move), which Vishy is very good at. Ironically, Gelfand didn’t have much time to go for a walk after making a move in this situation. 🙂

Becoming a grandmaster or a world champion is not that easy! It’s all about your hard work, preparation, passion, thinking skills, and understanding of the game.

Tip from the Grandmaster: “If you don’t make an effort, nothing will happen. The effort is more important than the idea” – Gelfand


The impact of parental ambition


One of the most important factors behind those who become champions is support and motivation from their parents. How the child has been brought up really impacts on its performance and growth.

For example, Carlsen’s parents took him around the world to play chess for a year when he was just twelve years old.
boris gelfand

He did so much for me. He spent his whole life thinking about me and caring. I’m less of a perfectionist than him” Gelfand himself says about his father.

As we can see, the importance of parents in guiding their children to progress in chess is REALLY huge. I cover this topic quite extensively in my new book, A Promoted Pawn: My Chess Journey. I’ll also talk about parents of chess prodigies and my own parents. 🙂
designTalking about my forthcoming book, today I’ll reveal one more bit of ‘hot news’ about it. I’ve published the teaser video on the book for you! 🙂 You can watch it below:

 [youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4thDXLmQkA”]

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please share this amazing information with your chess friends. Also, feel free to write your comments about it below. 
Comments: 18

Comments 5

  1. Hi GM Smirnov, in the 4th video you say that you need to make a plan during the opening, but in your courses you say that we should not care too much about planning in the opening, what is the difference? thank you

  2. Hi GM Smirnov, in the 4th video you say that you need to make a plan during the opening, but in your courses you say that we should not care too much about planning in the opening, what is the difference? thank you

  3. dear igor smirnov i had already watched this movie and i liked it so much i watched it 2 times and collect as many information i could about both world class players.it is just fantastic thankyu so much for this review from your side mr igor.

  4. also thankyu for this teaser this is just fantastic.i know that there are inifinite number of possiblities in chess kasparov said in an interview that when 4 moves are made in a chess board there comes 1024 possibilities in chess and i always thought of that how human is able to select and eliminate the possibilites on the board.

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