Viswanathan Anand held his nerve and focus better than his opponent, Veselin Topalov, to win the 12th and final game to retain his World Championships title. The 40-year-old Indian beat the local man from Bulgaria in the closing game with black pieces on Tuesday to emerge a 6.5-5.5 winner and seal his place as a dominant player of his era.
Anand first won the world title in 2000 and held it till 2002 when the chess world was still split. He became the undisputed World champion in 2007 and then retained the title in 2008 when he beat Vladimir Kramnik. This time around, he beat Topalov to cement his place among one of the game's all-time greats.
Anand, who travelled more than 40 hours by road to reach the venue as flights in Europe were suspended due to the volcanic ash from Iceland, lost the first game. He, however, quickly hit back with wins in the second and third game.
Anand held his lead past the midway stage, before Topalov caught up with him in the eighth game to equalise. In game nine, Anand had his chances but failed to find the crucial win. Then again in game 11, both players had a nail-biting clash before sending the match into the 12th and final game.
The game began with Topalov having the advantage of white pieces, but Anand, who is considered one of the most aggressive players in world chess, held his own and found the winning route with black pieces as his opponent blundered in crucial stages.
The game started with a Queen's Gambit Declined Lasker Variation, a solid but not very commonly used at this level. This variation saw a lot of exchanges but with Topalov going for a win, the game became very sharp. However with 32...fxe4, Topalov blundered horribly and from thereon he was on a slide.
There was a time when Anand seemed to have let the Bulgarian back in the game, but in the endgame, the Indian once again held supreme. The line used by Anand with black was not the most popular one, but clearly the Indian wanted to have it as a surprise weapon and also because it is a reasonably safe opening for black and difficult for white to force a win.