Home Page Chess Life Online 2007 September Aronian Wins
|By GM Ian Rogers|
|September 16, 2007|
The two leaders of the World Championship tournament in Mexico, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand left their games disappointed on Sunday after allowing winning positions to slip away to draws.
Playing on Mexico's National Day - which saw a three hour military parade snake past the tournament venue in the Centro Historico of Mexico City - only Levon Aronian could convert his advantage, leaving first and last in the tournament still separated by only a point.
Kramnik gained half an hour with his quiet 11.a3 move and another half an hour with the dangerous-looking 13.Qc7. By move 20 Grischuk was down to 14 minutes on the clock and Kramnik began to take control.
"At some point my position started to get better and better," said Kramnik, "and sometime around move 37 I was completely winning. The question is how many wins did I miss? 5, or maybe 7. So of course it is a big disappointment for me that I did not win this game."
A relieved Grischuk explained his slow play as follows: "I was really afraid that I would lose my rook on b2 - that's why I spent so much time. [Then] my position was completely playable but at some point I started to play really badly. Then I was lost, even after the time control, but somehow I survived."
Anand was equally harsh on himself - "It's a shame what I did today."
Anand, like Kramnik, outprepared his opponent and was soon ahead on the board and on the clock. "After 23.Nd5 Bb7 I was a little worse and after a few more unfortunate moves I was completely lost," said Morozevich. "I thought that after 23.a4 Nf4 I would lose a piece but of course I have 24.g3. I really need to play a4."
"[In the end] it was not my achievement that I made a draw," Morozevich continued and Anand could only nod in agreement. "After 30...Rc7 it's just winning [for Black]...it's pretty bad technique not to win this [endgame]."
Anand consoled himself with saying "+1 is not such a bad score," but he knew he had missed a big chance to consolidate his position in the tournament.
The Mexican press continued their theme of questioning the players about short draws. This time it was Morozevich who was asked, given that he is "such a creative player" why he does not ask FIDE for Sofia rules (no draw offers) to be implemented in top tournaments. "Sometimes I like to take short draws myself," Morozevich replied. "If [people like me] spend time worrying about regulations, who would play the games?"
Aronian was rewarded for taking risks in his game agains Leko, described by the Hungarian as "a nightmare."
In a perfectly ordinary position Leko carelessly played 27...Bd8 and had no way back after 28.e5!
Mexico City 2007
1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.a3 Be7 7.e4 0-0 8.Nf3!?
A strange square for the knight after which Black is able to set up a hedgehog-style position without disturbance.
8...d6 9.Be2 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Bf4 Ne5! 12.Nd2 Ng6 13.Bg3 Rc8
13...d5 is playable for Black, but Leko, like a true hedgehog player, saw no need to clarify the position too quickly.
14.Re1 a6 15.Rc1 Qc7 16.b4 Qb8 17.Bf1 Rfd8 18.Qe2 Nd7 19.Qe3 h6 20.Nf3
That f3 square again - White would prefer not to play f4 unless absolutely necessary. Black's position is now perfectly satisfactory but Leko was already down to less than half an hour to reach move 40.
"I spent all my time trying to work out what my opponent wanted," said Leko. "There was no need to think so long since he didn't want anything special. [But my clock was the reason] I went for a repetition."
20...Ba8 21.Red1 Nde5 22.Nd2 Ng4 23.Qe2 N4e5 24.f4!?
"Since my tournament was not going so well I felt obliged to fight, especially with the White pieces; that's why I played 24.f4," explained Aronian.
24...Nd7 25.Nf3 Bf6 26.Qe3 Re8 27.Be1 Bd8?
"Levon wanted to fight and that's why he played 24.f4 but it gave me a wonderful psoition. If I had played 27...Be7 followed by ...Nf6 I think it is much more easy to play for Black," explained Leko. "It's like a dream position. White will have to play h3 or g3 but then ...d5 will be hanging in the air."
"When I played 27...Bd8 I forgot that after 28...Bc7 White does not have to take on d6 but plays 29.Ne4! ," said Leko. "Then I have to play 29...Bxe4 (if 29...d5 just 30.Nc3) 30.Qxe4 and now I play something like 30...Ndf8 but after 31.Bc3 my pieces are basically dead.";
Leko suggested that he could try 28...b5 but then 29.Rxd6 seems crushing for White.
"I realised the move I wanted to play [...Bc7] was bad," Leko said, " but the piece sacrifice was the worst possible choice."
29.Rxd7 exf4 30.Qe2 e5 31.Ne4 Be7 32.c5!
Black's only counterplay lies in playing ...f5 and ...e4, but Aronian makes sure that his e4 knight will always have an attractive square on d6 to go to if pushed.
32...bxc5 33.bxc5 Bc6 34.Rdd1 Bb5 35.Qb2 Qa7 36.Bxb5 axb5 37.Bf2!
Now the knight cannot be prevented from reaching d6 and the game is effectively over.
37...Qa8 38.Nd6 e4 39.Nxe8 Rxe8 40.Nd4 Bf6 41.c6 e3 42.Be1 f3 43.gxf3 Nf4 44.Bg3 Ne6 45.Qb4 1-0
"Maybe the long game yesterday didn't help," said the Hungarian when asked if his 100 move defensive effort yesterday had exhausted him. "Even so, I shouldn't have had that [lapse] in concentration."
Gelfand held his third Petroff's Defence in four rounds with ease against Svidler.
"The head-banging against the Petroff wall continues," said a disappointed Svidler after the game, "with the same result as always. After the slightest inaccuracy you have nothing. After16 ...Qd7 I should have played 17.Qd3 keeping queens on the board and at least then the game continues. With queens off the board Black doesn't even have to play accurately."
At the post-game press conference Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia made the mistake of suggesting that if so many Petroff games were being seen and being boring, perhaps it was time to turn to Fischer Random/ Chess 960, where the pieces on the first rank are shuffled before the start of the game.
Svidler, who had already taken issue with the press conference MC for translating 'head-banging' as 'a discussion', was not amused - "There is a time and a place for Chess 960 and it's not here!"
The players will have a rest day on Monday and many questions remain:
Can anyone survive Kramnik's preparation with White? Can anyone beat Anand's preparation with Black? Will the players stop saying "It's a really tough tournament - every game is important." at the press conferences?
However at least one question has been answered: those who suspected that Kramnik might not play hard in order to avoid a rematch with Veselin Topalov have already been proven wrong. As the man himself said, "I want to win the tournament. I am not thinking about who I play next - I am concentrated fully on this."
Ian Rogers is soon leaving Mexico City, so multimedia journalist Macauley Peterson will be taking over as CLO correspondent.