Anand won a QGD-Lasker (playing black) against Topalov, in round 12
of the World Chess Championship 2010
Before it all began in Sofia, Bulgaria- the home turf of Topalov, the challenger, there were doubts whether an aging Anand would retain his world chess crown. Topalov surely wanted to exploit the age factor (and the fatigue of the road journey due to the volcanic ash flight delays) as he pushed Anand to play on in some games which were all but drawn. He was severely criticized as it is impolite to continue a game which would logically end up as a draw, unless your opponent blunders.
But soon this approach paid off. Anand blundered a game (playing black) with an opposite bishop ending, which on another day would have ended as a draw. He placed his king in manner in which Topalov could gain a pawn and push to win (a pawn advantage in chess endings will win only if your king vs opponents king meets certain alignment criteria).
If that was not all, Anand let Topalov off the hook in Round 9 playing white. This was again unbalanced with 2 rooks vs Queen (for Topalov). Anand had succesfully kept his opponent Queen tied up to support a central knight, while his rooks were mobile on the back rank. He somehow let Topalov's king escape the back rank and eventually let Toppy's queen perpetual check his king. Topalov earned a draw from what should have been a clear loss. Many GMs said that this can have a devastating effect, when the scores were in balance and you created winning chances with white, only to end up as a draw.
GM Nigel Short- on chessgames.com- was so disappointed with Anand that he classified him as a 'middle-aged flabby Indian' (it was not a personal attack on Anand, and clearly wanted him to win- as he later summed Anand's victory as a win for the veterans, as he too is one).
So coming into the 11th Round, Anand had his last chance with white. He played 1.c4 - an English opening- which is way off his natural attacking style. It did seem (to spectators like me) that in the middle game he might have had tactical exchanges which could leave him with some advantage- but as WGM Natalia Pogonina clarified, that 1.c4 by nature leads to a postional struggle with very little chance for aggression. 1.d4 is closed compared to 1.e4, but can involve sharp lines as the game progresses- but it was evident that 1.c4 was going to be a long and winding affair. It was amazing that Anand's e-pawn moved only in the endgame!
This championship was getting to all the flabby middle aged to spectators as well!
In the last 12th round- Anand played black. As expected Topalov stuck to 1.d4 but Anand deviated from the Slav/Catalan lines played earlier and played a QGD Lasker variation- which can lead to passive play. And it indeed looked like it and an early draw would be agreed. But the middlegame was a bit tricky and with lots of space, isolated pawns, and all minor/major pieces being mobile- it somehow looked like a position which Anand can get to, in rapid games. Toppy got cute with his f/g pawns and with Anand's bishop on the a8-h1 diagonal- he marched his e, f pawns to crack open the weakness of his King's castle. Anand ran through this extended 'drawn' game- this time Topalov fell a victim to his methods.
I am glad it is over folks, because Anand, flabby or otherwise, will always be able to handle it. For me, flabby (or othewise?) this is worth two years of chess education in two weeks. I better get back to what I had left off, before this tournament... was it work... or IPL... my iPad app... I forgot..