Gone are the days of the match Kasparov-Deep Blue, or Kaparov-Karpov, which attracted so much attention from the media and the public in general. People were following the results, commenting on the games and people knew at least who was playing.
Today, the world championship 2012 is being held and very few people have heard about it. I actually hoped that the lack of media coverage was due to the mess that happened between 1993 and 2006 with two "world champion" titles, and very little consideration to any of them. I really thought the media would come back after a while when the title was reunified in 2006. But, because of much controversy (cheating allegations in 2006, tournament format change in 2007, volcano erupting in Iceland making the journey impossible for one candidate in 2010 and the controversy that followed to decide wether this should be a forfeit or if the match should be postponed), the title was always seen as doubtful by chess fans (at least some of them). The world championship 2012 is finally THE event we were waiting for: an undisputed, reunified, without-controversy* match between the reigning world champion Anand and the winner of the qualification tournament Gelfand.
Viswanathan Anand, Indian, is the reigning world champion and the favourite of the match. Charismatic, being successful in both classic games (long games) and in blitz (short games, increasingly popular), having defended his title several times, Anand has a lot of fans among chess amateurs.
On the other side of the board, we have Boris Gelfand, Israeli, who had to fight hard to get qualified to this world championship, defeating players like Polgar, Karjakin, Ponomariov, Mamedyarov, Kamsky and Grischuk. His playing style is not making him really popular. Taking little to no risk, Gelfand likes to play solid positions and pressure his opponent little by little until this opponent makes a mistake or the game is agreed to be a draw. It is a perfectly legal way to play but lacks the fireworks chess enthusiasts are willing to see.
Credit: Photo adapted from two photos from Stefan64 (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
(Photo showing Anand on the left and Gelfand on the right)
The first 6 games of this match ended up in relatively short draws, with little happening. Especially Gelfand showed he did not want to take risks, and, being well-prepared, managed to neutralise any attacks Anand could have, before those were even started.
But there it came, finally. The first decisive game. The first victory, the first defeat. Game 7. Anand, maybe willing to play actively tried an offensive (23... g5) that weakened his position. I am no chess expert, so I won't say this is the only mistake or the decisive one but I can say that from this moment Gelfand kept pressuring on this part of the board and eventually managed to launch a decisive attack on Anand's king. Also, Anand used a lot of time thinking in the early phase of the game. This may have shown he was not really comfortable with his position.
Don't get me wrong, I am not happy that Anand lost. What makes me feel happy is that now that the score is not even anymore, Anand will have to win to get back to the score. That means he will need to take some risks, to attack, to give his best and not to simply play 15 already well-known moves and play passively from there until move 30 where a draw is agreed. We will see some amazing attacks in the remaining games and this is exciting.
For info, the match format is a best of 12 games and, as you can deduce from this article, 7 games have been played so far, with the first 6 games being draws. The match started on 10 May and is expected to end on 30 May.
* actually even this event is not completely controversy-free as two very strong players (Adams and Carlsen) withdrew because of some organisation changes in the qualification tournament.
PS: the world championship was eventually won by Anand in the tie breaks.