Just two days back, chess legend Garry Kasparov claimed World Champion Viswanathan Anand has "lost motivation" and is "sliding downhill".
On Sunday, Anand seemed to have given his detractors another stick to beat him with as he played poorly to lose the seventh game of his World Chess Championship match to Boris Gelfand in Moscow. The 42-year-old Indian defending champion played passively, which allowed Gelfand to register his first win against Anand in a classical game for 19 years.
After six draws, Anand was strangely error-prone in the seventh game and handed the initiative to Gelfand, who now leads 4-3 in the 12-game match in which the player reaching 6.5 points first will win the title. With five games remaining, Anand will have to strike back as early as possible. Gelfand now can afford to sit tight and look for draws in the remaining games as each missed chance will mount the pressure on Anand. One win is all Anand needs to keep alive his chances.
With Gelfand playing with white pieces on Sunday, Anand opted for the Slav Defence again and tried to create complications to keep the position alive with some not so routine moves. Gelfand, on the other hand, appeared more than content to keep his position solid and steer towards a draw.
Anand made his first error on the 23rd turn with a pawn advance on the king side which gave Gelfand a slight advantage. In trying to recover, he made a tactical mistake on the 25th turn that put Gelfand firmly in the saddle. The Israeli forced the exchange of queens and soon had his rook in an attacking position.
Anand's bishop was hopelessly tied down and though he desperately tried for some counterplay by sacrificing his bishop, Gelfand, sensing victory, kept up the attack with his rook and two knights threatening checkmate. Anand resigned on the 38th turn in a hopeless position.