Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand suffered a jolt in his title defence as he lost to his Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand in the seventh game of the World Chess Championship in Moscow.
It turned out to be a disastrous day for Anand and he now trails 3.0-4.0 in the 12-game match with five games still to go.
The momentum now shifts in favour of Gelfand who started as an underdog coming into the match. The defeat came after Garry Kasparov's comments after the sixth game that Anand has lost motivation.
To Gelfand's credit, he got the advantage for the first time in the match and he was able to convert it into a full point. Anand was not able to do so in game three when he had his best chance thus far.
Playing his second white in a row, Gelfand went for another deviation in the Slav-meran by Anand and finally his efforts paid off. The opening gave white a small advantage and it would have remained so had Anand not gone for unwarranted complications in the middle game.
As it happened, Gelfand got a firm control of the only open file in the game, posting both his rooks there. It was time to be extremely careful but Anand, who had thus far remained rock-solid as black, could not really cope with the pressure and went for an erroneous plan.
Gelfand seized the initiative by eliminating one rook and according to analytical machines the way out for Anand was to play very precise moves. That however did not happen.
"I don't know when I realised that it was gone, but the position was bad anyway," Anand said at the post-match conference.
For the first time in the match, Anand appeared vulnerable and it remains to be seen how the Indian ace takes up on the new situation.
Out of five remaining games, Anand has three whites and his main chances remain with the favourable colour. When asked what would be the strategy now the reigning champion curtly replied, "I don't think I should be revealing that."
Gelfand's 21st move gave him a long-term advantage and two moves later, Anand made a big error by pushing his king pawn. The Israeli soon exchanged queens and white's position to keep improving with well coordinated pieces.
Anand's bid for final counterplay also did not materialise.
Matching the Indian move-for-move in a winning position, Gelfand knew this was one chance he could not miss. The finish was spectacular as Gelfand knitted a check-mate web around Anand's king. The game lasted 38 moves.