The match conditions called for twelve games to be played with classical time control. If a player scored at least 6½ points, he would be declared the winner and the match ended. By the end of the twelve games, however, the match was tied at 6 points each, so four rapid games were played in order to produce a result. Anand won the rapid-game playoff with a win in the second game and draws in the other three games.
The process for selecting the challenger has undergone a number of changes. A major change was announced on 25 November 2008, when it was announced that a two-player Challenger Match would be replaced with an eight-player Candidates Tournament. The change was criticised by a number of players and commentators, as well as by the Association of Chess Professionals. In June 2009, FIDE indicated that the format would be in the form of matches.
Originally, the intended venue for the candidate matches was Baku, but Levon Aronian announced that he would not play in Azerbaijan and matches involving him were to be held in a different country. The venue was changed to Kazan, Russia in July 2010, but the Azerbaijan nominee Shakhriyar Mamedyarov still remained in the tournament despite the tournament not being held in Azerbaijan.
In November 2010, then world No. 2 Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Candidates' Tournament citing the selection process as not sufficiently modern and fair. He was replaced by Alexander Grischuk.
According to FIDE, the loser of the World Chess Championship 2010 (Veselin Topalov) was seeded no. 1 and the rest were seeded according to FIDE rating as of January 2010. FIDE confirmed the matches on 7 February 2011. Games of the matches were played in Kazan, Russia, from 5–25 May 2011. Tiebreaks were conducted using game in 25 minutes rapid play followed by blitz play and then armageddon games as necessary.
The 2012 FIDE World Chess Championship was held in Moscow, Russia.
The Executive Board gave during its congress in fall 2009 in Halkidiki an option to London, United Kingdom to organise the World Chess Championship for 2012. They had until 15 February 2010 to exercise the option which had to include the offer of a prize fund similar to that for the World Chess Championship 2010 match. The London Chess Classic organising body "Chess Promotions Limited" confirmed that London were in negotiations to hold the World Chess Championships in 2012. However, after FIDE failed to agree to the terms of the contract within the time frame agreed upon, the option expired on 28 January 2011, and Chess Promotions Limited withdrew their bid to organise the event in London, citing the lack of time left to successfully organise the event.
As a result FIDE opened an application procedure for the hosting of the World Chess Championship match to be played from 10 April 2012 to 31 May 2012. Organisations interested in bidding to host the event had until 31 July 2011, 13:00 GMT to submit their documents including a bid fee.
On 28 June 2011, it was announced that Moscow had submitted a bid to host the 2012 World Chess Championship.
On 13 July, the Tamil Nadu state government announced a bid of Rs 20 crore (Approx. $4.5 million) for the match to be held in Chennai, India. Chennai is the home city of the World Champion Viswanathan Anand. It was reported on 14 July that Minsk, Belarus was also interested in hosting this event.
In an interview with the Russian newspaper "Kommersant", dated 29 July, Boris Gelfand expressed his concern about the offer made by Chennai. Gelfand said the offer from Moscow was the only transparent one, he was not sure of the existence of financial guarantees by the Indian side. The Chennai offer was in Tamil language and he claimed it had not been translated in English. In the past, matches, including those of Kasparov against Ponomaryov and against Kasimdzanov were cancelled due to lack of financial guarantees.
On 2 August, FIDE announced that it received bids from the Russian chess federation (Moscow) and a second one from the All India chess federation (Chennai). Both were well above the minimum required prize fund. FIDE announced they would contact the bidders and players, and declare the winner of the bid by 10 August 2011.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE's president, told the Russian newspaper "Sport Express" that the financial offer was not the only criterion. Other factors, including the possibility of the propagation of the "chess in school" programme, and popularisation of chess in a particular region will also be considered. He would also take into account the views of the champion and the challenger.
On 8 August 2011, FIDE announced that the Russian Chess Federation had won the bid and will host the match in Moscow in May 2012. The prize fund will be 2.55 million US dollars.Skolkovo, the Innovation project near Moscow, was named as a possible venue.
On 20 February 2012 an agreement between the Russian Chess Federation and the Tretyakov Gallery was signed to stage there the World Championship Match.Andrey Filatov, the sponsor of the match, believes that bringing chess and art together can open a new page in chess history.
The match format was the best of 12 games. Players scored one point for a win and half a point for a draw. The match ended once either player scored a minimum of 6½ points. Time control was 120 minutes, with 60 minutes added after move 40, 15 minutes added after move 60, and 30 additional seconds per move starting from move 61.
In case of a tie at the end of 12 games, there would be a series of tie breaks:
Colors would be drawn and four rapid games would be played. The time control for these games would be 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move.
If the score was tied after the four rapid tie break games, colors would be drawn and two blitz games (5 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move) would be played. If the score was tied after two blitz games, another two-game blitz match would be played, under the same terms. The process would repeat, if necessary, until five blitz matches have been played.
If the score was tied after ten blitz games, a single sudden-death "Armageddon game" would determine the champion. The winner of a draw of lots would get to choose the colour to play, with white given 5 minutes and Black 4 minutes. Beginning with move 61, a three-second increment would be added following each move. If the game was drawn, then the player of the Black pieces would be declared champion.
In a post-game press conference, Gelfand confirmed the media speculation that he had additional seconds, who were not revealed. After the match Gelfand revealed that the other seconds were Evgeny Tomashevsky and Mikhail Roiz. Gelfand also said that Garry Kasparov had offered him to be his second for the match and help in preparation but Gelfand refused, saying "I was really shocked. ... For me it was unthinkable to receive help from somebody who has access to secrets of my colleagues."
Previous head-to-head record
Before the 2012 match Anand and Gelfand played 35 games against each other at classical time control with Anand winning 6 games and Gelfand winning 5 games. Gelfand had scored his last win in 1993.
Game 1: In this position, Anand played 15. Bg5, allowing Gelfand to equalize the position. Better was 15. Bf4, which puts additional pressure on Black and creates some theoretical chances to play for a win.
Gelfand started his first game with White in the match by playing 1.d4 and the game went on to Slav Defence. The position in the game followed the game played between Kasparov and Gelfand in Linares in 1991 where Gelfand lost, but in this game the challenger opted a different line. Anand played several accurate moves to set up a good position for neutralising White's active pieces. After 19 moves were played Gelfand decided to exchange his knight for a bishop by 20.Nxf5 to avoid a presence of opposite coloured bishops, but the position afterwards appeared to be with no weaknesses and a well placed knight for Black. The game saw no progress on both sides and Gelfand offered a draw. At the press-conference he described the line he chose as "a slight symbolic edge".
Game 3: In this position, Gelfand played 23 ...Rfc5?! instead of simpler 23 ...Nb6 followed by Rd5 and Rc6 to round up the d6 pawn.
The game opened with a Grünfeld Defence (as in the game 1), but Anand deviated very early by playing 3.f3 instead of 3.Nc3. Following the opening moves White gained an edge and was pawn up, but Anand ran into time trouble, having to play 7 moves per minute to reach the time control at move 40 and having missed the winning continuation in the double-rook ending.
At move 20 White chose to capture correctly with 20.Nxf6, rather than 20.Rxd2 after which the continuation 20...Nxe4 21.fxe4 Bxd4 22.Rxd4 Rf2 23.e5 Bb5 gives Black strong counterplay. In the next moves the game continued with 20...Rxf6! 21.Rxd2 Rf5 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.d6 (see diagram) and then 23 ...Rfc5?!. At the press-conference Gelfand said: "I understood the position was dangerous. I underestimated a few moves. I thought that 23...Rfc5 could win back the pawn, but I underestimated 24.Rd1 and here I had to fight for the draw. I was quite on edge for some time during the game." The game was drawn after 37 moves, as White could not find a line to play for a win. After the game Anand concisely said: "I came closer today."
Anand started the game by switching the opening move to 1.e4 perhaps to sharpen the play, but Gelfand continued with Sicilian Sveshnikov instead of Sicilian Najdorf or Petroff Defence and the position arriving left the World Champion unprepared. The game reached a standard position after the theoretical moves in the opening, with a bind in the centre for White and a backward d6 pawn and weak d6 square for Black that is compensated with his activity. In the next moves Gelfand successfully equalised the position and left his opponent with minor chances. The game ended in a draw after 27 moves were played.
Gelfand scored the first win of the match. Commentators considered 23...g5? to be the critical mistake, allowing Gelfand to get a winning position with 24 Qc7 Qxc7 25 Rxc7. Anand sacrificed his bishop for counterplay but it was not enough. In the final position, black can queen his pawn but cannot stop the threat of Ng6+ followed by Rg7 mate.
Game 8: Anand played 17. Qf2!, which trapped Gelfand's queen, resulting in immediate resignation from Black.
Anand started the game with the same play as in the third game, but Gelfand early deviated by playing 3 ...c5 instead of 3 ...d5, which was seen in the game 3. The game was followed with 4.d5 d6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Ne2 0-0 7.Nec3 Nh5. Gelfand tried to provoke g4 by playing 7 ...Nh5, but Anand did not opt for that line. But after few moves the Black bishop occupied the f5 square and let White the opportunity to play 12.g4 with a fork on the Black's bishop and knight. The game continued with 12 ...Re8+ 13.Kd1 Bxb1 14.Rxb1. Gelfand made a serious error on move 14, overlooking Anand's 17 Qf2, which trapped Gelfand's queen. This idea was also missed by grandmaster commentators Peter Leko and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who preferred Black's position until Anand played 17 Qf2. Gelfand could have saved his queen by sacrificing his knight with 17...Nc6, but his position was still lost.
At only 17 moves, this was the shortest decisive game in World Championship history.
Game 9: Anand provoked Gelfand to play 19.c5?!, and subsequently exchange a rook, bishop and a pawn for Black's queen.
For the first time in the match Nimzo-Indian Defence was played. Gelfand obtained a slight edge in the opening by having a position with a bishop pair and hanging central pawns against two knights and a healthy pawn structure on the opposite side. Gelfand chose a concrete line in the middlegame that was criticized by several Grandmasters and exchanged a rook, bishop and pawn for the Anand's queen. However, Anand found a way to make a fortress and defended the game that was drawn after 49 moves as the longest game since the start of the match.
Black played 15 ...Bxf3, which was evaluated to be a strange and unnecessary move, according to Peter Svidler. In the following moves White got a better position with a bishop pair and a mobile center. But, Black played 18 ...Qd6!? and provoked White to play 19.c5?!. The move was criticised in the press room and moves like 19.a3, proposed by Smirin or 19.h3, proposed by Grischuk and Shipov were probably better. The game entered an endgame with a queen for White and a rook, knight and a pawn for black. White was trying to play on the a7 pawn and to attack on the kingside, but Black appeared to have found the right evaluation in the end. He played 40 ...Ne4! before the time control, and the game was drawn after move 49.
Game 11: At this point, Gelfand decided not to take a risk and enter the exchange of queens with 17. Ne5 instead of 17. Nd2 e5! and some complications in the position.
The game started in a Nimzo-Indian Defence as in the game 9. First surprise of the game was at move 8, when Anand played 8 ...Bd7, a developing move with idea to bring the knight on the c6 square in the future. The instigator of this move was David Bronstein, but it was popular and played mostly during the middle of the 20th century.
At move 17 (see diagram), Gelfand decided not to take a risk by playing 17.Ne5 instead of the more ambitious 17.Nd2 followed with 17 ...e5! and some complications. The position that arrived after the exchange of queens was slightly better for White, but with a huge safety for Black. Both players agreed to a draw after 24 moves were played.
Anand retained the world title by defeating Gelfand in the rapid round. He was able to put time pressure on Gelfand in all four games. In the second game with white, Anand played his moves so fast that Gelfand was forced to make moves with very few seconds to spare.
Game 13, Gelfand-Anand, ½–½
Position after 21. Reb1
Game 13: Anand, playing black played 21. ... Bxg3 but 22. Ra3! was a strong reply.
Game 15: Here, Gelfand played 26. Rxb8, relinquishing most of the advantage he had built over the course of the game, and allowed Anand back to the game. Had he played 26. Nxe4!, he would have had a winning position.
The procedures for choosing the challenger and host underwent a number of changes and controversies. A timeline is shown below:
February 2007 – FIDE initially announces that the challenger will be the winner of the Chess World Cup ("Proposal A"). This leads to protests from a number leading grandmasters, so this proposal is soon scrapped.
June 2007 – FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announces a structure culminating in a two-player Challenger Match:
The first stage is the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010, a grand prix series of tournaments between twenty-one élite players, beginning in April 2008.
March 2008 – The line-up for the Grand Prix is announced. The top four rated players in the world at the time (Kramnik, Anand, Topalov, Morozevich) are not in the tournament; other eligible players not participating are Alexei Shirov and Judit Polgár. The Week in Chess reports that Kramnik and Topalov are not participating because the event had insufficient prize money.
April–May 2008 – First Grand Prix tournament takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan.
July–August 2008 – Second Grand Prix tournament takes place in Sochi, Russia.
23 November 2008 – Qatar, who was scheduled to hold the third Grand Prix beginning on 13 December, withdraws as a host nation, and is replaced by Elista, Russia.
25 November 2008 – Ilyumzhinov announces the new structure (the eight-player Candidates Tournament described above, instead of a two-player Challenger Match).
26 November 2008 – The changes are ratified the next day at the FIDE Congress.
5 December 2008 – Magnus Carlsen withdraws from the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010 in protest at the changes partway through the cycle. He argues that the Grand Prix players have been disadvantaged, as the winner now qualifies for an eight-player tournament instead of a two-player Challenger Match.
6 December 2008 – Levon Aronian issues an open letter of protest, but does not withdraw from the Grand Prix.
11 December 2008 – Michael Adams withdraws from the Grand Prix for similar reasons to Carlsen.
15 December 2008 – Ilyumzhinov announces that both events will take place (the two-player Challenger Match and the eight-player Candidates Tournament), with a final decision on the structure in March 2009.
11 February 2009 – Universal Event Promotion (UEP), the company which organised the World Chess Championship 2008 match, submits a bid to host the Candidates Tournament as a series of matches.
9 March 2009 – FIDE accepts UEP's bid, confirming that an eight-player Candidates Tournament will take place. No mention is made of the Challenger Match. There is also a slight change to the qualification for the Candidates' tournament: two players (rather than one) are to be taken from the ratings list, and the winner of the World Chess Cup 2009 qualifies, but the runner-up does not.
22 June 2009 – FIDE announces regulations for the eight-player Candidates Tournament, indicating it will be organised as a series of short matches.
October 2009 – it is reported that the Candidates matches will be organised by Azerbaijan, but that the matches involving Armenia's Levon Aronian will be played elsewhere; and that the matches will be played at the end of 2010 and start of 2011.
20 October 2009 – The FIDE Executive Board gave an option to London to organise the event and announced that it would only open the bidding procedure if London would not take the option.
20 April 2010 – London confirms holding an option to organise the 2012 World Chess Championship.
26 July 2010 – The FIDE Presidential Board in Tromso, Norway decides to move the Candidates matches from Azerbaijan to Kazan, Russia, with Mamedyarov's position intact. If Topalov refuses to play in Kazan, Alexander Grischuk, the third-place finisher in the FIDE Grand Prix, will take his place.
28 July 2010 – After learning of FIDE's intention of replacing him with Grischuk should he refuse to play, Topalov backs off of his previous statement refusing to play in Russia, and indicates that he will participate in Kazan.
29 July 2010 – Topalov (through his manager) indicates that he would still refuse to play a match against any Russian in Kazan; this could not theoretically happen until the Candidates final, since Kramnik and Grischuk are the only Russians in the Candidates tournament and play in the lower half of the bracket, while Topalov plays in the upper bracket; at the time of this statement, Kramnik was the only Russian in the field.
5 November 2010 – Magnus Carlsen decides not to take part in the planned Candidate Matches.
10 November 2010 – FIDE announces that Grischuk will replace Carlsen. Any other withdrawals will be replaced by Dmitry Jakovenko, the fourth-place finisher in the FIDE Grand Prix.
3 February 2011 – London withdraws its 2012 World Championship bid.
28 June 2011 – Moscow confirms bidding to host the 2012 World Championship.
13 July 2011 – Chennai bids to host the 2012 World Championship.
9 August 2011 – Skolkovo near Moscow chosen as 2012 World Championship venue.