A 'hat-trick' is what reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand is aiming for when he takes on Challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel in the 12 Game World Chess Championship Match which kick starts on Friday night at Moscow, Russia. The NIIT MindChampion, Anand is gunning for a record fifth title overall, after winning it for the first time in 2000 at New Delhi/Tehran and following it up with his second title in 2007 at Mexico in the Tournament format.
Anand is also hoping to complete a 'hat-trick' of Classical World titles, having won the title for the first time in 2008 at Bonn, Germany (which incidentally was his third title) against Vladimir Kramnik which he later defended successfully in 2010 at Sofia, Bulgaria against Veselin Topalov.
The World championship will comprise of 12 Games and the player reaching 6.5 points would be crowned the World Champion. A 6-6 tie will take the Championship to Rapid tie-break of four Rapid Games of 25 minutes each.
The time control for each game is: 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61 has been made.
Further ties will be resolved by Blitz games and then by Sudden Death. The venue is the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia. The inauguration is scheduled for 10th May and the closing ceremony on 30th May.
42-year-old Anand starts as an overwhelming favourite against 43-year-old Gelfand. The Indian ace has so far scored six victories over Gelfand in Classical Chess while Gelfand has registered five while a whopping 24 encounters have ended in draws. However it was in 1993, almost two decades back that Gelfand scored his fifth and last victory over Anand, a fact which could weigh him down psychologically.
Anand with an Elo rating of 2791 is currently ranked fourth in the world while Gelfand rated 2727 is ranked 22nd, an all time low in a chess career spanning 25 years. Anand's highest rating 2817 was achieved in 2011 while Gelfand's highest rating was 2761 in 2010.
Commenting on the venue, Anand said, "Moscow as a venue is always special. It is like playing in the heart of chessland. I am sure the event will be very well organised and I hope that spectators get to enjoy the games."
Despite being tagged the favourite, Anand is not taking Gelfand lightly.
"As an opponent, he is a player who is very principled in his chess understanding. He is very well versed in theory and I would say he is one of the best theoreticians in chess. He has a very classic understanding of chess. In our first 4 encounters he defeated me. In 1996, I was able to defeat him in Wijk Aan zee and Biel," he said.
Gelfand, meanwhile, has prepared well enough for the clash.
"I invested all my energy in order to be as well prepared as possible for the duel. It is the absolute highlight of my chess career."
Chess greats Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viktor Korchnoi and Yuri Averbakh, the composer Vladimir Dashkevich, the pianist Nikolai Lugansky and other prominent chess players and cultural figures have agreed to be guests of honour at the match.