Home Page Chess Life Online 2007 September Anand Takes Sole Lead
|Anand Takes Sole Lead|
|By GM Ian Rogers/Macauley Peterson|
|September 21, 2007|
"Vishy" Anand took the lead at the World Championship on Thursday with an impressive win over Alexander Grischuk. The players have now completed one cycle of this double-round robin event. Anand leads by just a half point over Boris Gelfand, with "a couple of guys" (including World Champion Vladimir Kramnik) not far behind. Anand has turned in a performance rating of over 2900 en route to his 5 points from 7 games.
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The rest of the article is by GM Ian Rogers
Anand defeated rival Alexander Grischuk in what Anand described as a "very complicated game," moving half a point clear of Boris Gelfand who was held to a draw by Vladimir Kramnik.
The Anand-Grischuk game was influenced by Grischuk's time trouble. With eight minutes on the clock for 10 moves, Grischuk grew tired of defending passively and lashed out with 30...g5!?. After Anand's sharp response he took one step too far with 31...gxf4 (both 31...gxh4 and 31...h6 offer more chances of resistance) after which his f pawn became fatally weak.
Anand seemed not entirely convinced by his own play: "[Grischuk] made moves which were strategically very risky, like putting his bishop on g6 and knight on b - in fact these pieces hardly moved until the end of the game. I think the plan of swapping queens was good, because that takes a lot of pressure off me. Then it comes down to whether I can break through on the kingside. He reacted with 30...g5 which at the very least gives me an opening. Whether it was a mistake is difficult to say but in practical terms it was very good for me."
Gelfand failed to keep pace with his co-leader, though he could hardly have been too disappointed with a draw with Black against Kramnik.
"It was an extremely exciting game," said Gelfand. "For a long time I had not had such an exciting game am I am happy that I could take part in such a game."
Kramnik agreed; "The draw was a logical outcome to this game [though] at some point the game went out of control with both of us in time trouble."
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Ne5!?
11.d5 is the sharpest alternative but Kramnik should know the defects of the move, having neutralized the great attacker Shirov when playing with the Black pieces in 1990.
11...h5 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Qc1!?
The first new move, although the queen move is standard after 13.Be5 Rh6.
13...Rg8 14.Rd1 Bb4
A creative response by Gelfand; Black so rarely agrees to exchange his dark squared bishop in this sort of position that Kramnik probably did not take the move too seriously in his preparation. Certainly Kramnik now began thinking, for the first time in the game.
15.Qe3 Qe7 16.h3 h4 17.Bh2 Bxc3!? 18.bxc3 g4! 19.Kh1!?
The product of another long think by Kramnik.
"I have two conceptually different ways to play this position," explained the World Champion after the game. "I can play 19.hxg4 Nxg4 20.Bxg4 Rxg4 21.f3 with definitely some compensation for the pawn - probably [the position is] pretty equal.
"The other is to go for sharp lines with 19.Kh1. I wasn't anticipating 19...c5 and I was calculating all these sharp lines; that's why it took me so long to play 19.Kh1."
19...c5! 20.hxg4 cxd4!?
The computer analysts were crying out for 20...Nxe4! but Gelfand had multiple reasons for dismissing the move. "After 20...Nxe4 I have no opportunities; he plays 21.a4 and I have no counterplay. Or he plays 21.Kg1, or maybe 21.Bf3 is winning by force, no?"
Well not exactly; after 21.Bf3 21...Nf6 22.a4 Nxg4 23.Bxg4 Rxg4 24.f3 Rg8 25.axb5 Qg5 Black has nothing to fear, with a draw the most probable result.
Gelfand was also concerned about 21.Qxd4 but after 21...Nxe4 22.Bf3 Ng5! "it seems that I am holding."
21...e5 22.Rdd1 Nxg4 23.Bxg4 Rxg4 24.f3 Rg6 25.a4!
"I had a feeling I was better [around here]," said Kramnik , and the commentators agreed. Just as everyone was thinking that Kramnik was taking control, Gelfand came up with a fantastic idea to generate counterplay.
25...a6 26.axb5 axb5 27.Ra7 would have been awkward for Black.
26.axb5 a4 27.Qe2 Qc5 28.Rab1 Rd6
Gelfand was asked why he did not simply push his pawn to a2 here, replying "On a2 the pawn would be more vulnerable... On a3 the pawn will be alive and because of this I found counterplay.
"I thought it was time to play for the exchange of one pair of rooks [which would] simplify my task," continued Gelfand. "OK, the c pawn is lost..."
29.Rxd6 Qxd6 30.Qxc4 a3 31.Ra1 h3 32.Qe2 hxg2+ 33.Qxg2 0-0-0!!
A move that Kramnik had forgotten was legal. "I thought that 32.Qe2 was a very strong move because after 32...hxg2+ 33.Qxg2 the queen starts to attack and I thought I had a serious advantage. I completely forgot that Black can still [play] 0-0-0!
"After 0-0-0 I understood that it is probably time for me to try to escape."
34.Qa2 f5! 35.Qxa3 fxe4
"Probably Boris could be more ambitious at the end, but he was very short of time," explained Kramnik.
Gelfand actually used all but his last 30 seconds on this move, correctly rejecting 35...Qd3!? 36.Qc5+ Kd7 when White can defend with 37.Qf2 fxe4 38.Bxe5 when a draw is again probable but Black would not yet have reached the time control.
36.Qxd6 Rxd6 37.fxe4 Bxe4+ 38.Kg1 Bd3! 39.Bxe5 Rg6+ 40.Kf2 Bxb5 ½-½
Svidler and Aronian played what was apparently a non-descript draw, with Svidler's exchange Ruy Lopez failing to put any pressure on Aronian.
"I have never played the Exchange Spanish before in my life," admitted Svidler. "The position that I got was very nice but you should never think in positions like this - you should play with your hand. After 16...Nh6 White should play 17.g4 immediately or 17.Nh5 and then g4. After then the Black knight will come to e5 and I will have to play b3. Then he can exchange a queenside pawn, although I will still have some pressure. But I felt that after the exchange of dark squared bishop I should get a lot, so I was trying to find a way not to play b3, to control everything. So the idea of 17.Kf2 was to meet 17...Nf7 with 18.Nd5 Ne5 19.Ne3, protecting the c4-square. Unfortunately after 17.Kf2 f5! I think the position immediately becomes equal. I was a bit disgusted with 17.Kf2 and with myself and so I decided to call it quits for the day."
Aronian has been looking unwell in recent days and he coughed his way through the press conference. "[The tournament] is not going my way for now. I hope that the start of the next cycle will change things a bit."
Morozevich and Leko fought each other to a standstill in a balanced game where it was hard to say who was playing for a win.
"12.Ba4+ is a very strong move," said Leko. "Suddenly to castle long [for me] looks extremely dangerous. There was a lot of manoeuvring but it very difficult for either side to create some plan but the feeling is that it was equal."
Morozevich disagreed "We got an interesting position from the opening - some sort of reversed symmetry. I was not very precise and afterwards he easily outplayed me. He made a mistake when he decided to exchange rooks in the time trouble. After 38.Ne3 he should play 38...g6 and ...f5 and it's really hard for White to play."
Half Time in Mexico
The World Championship has reached the half way mark so it is time for a report card on the eight Grandmasters fighting for the title.The players themselves are typically coy on the subject. When Gelfand was asked to sum up the first half of the tournament from his point of view, he refused to look back: "It's a long tournament and I don't have any expectations. Tomorrow is a new game."
Kramnik had a similar attitude: "There are 7 rounds to go. I will just try to be play good chess, interesting chess."
Viswanathan Anand 5/7
After a scare in the first round, Anand has been cruising along comfortably. His run home will not be easy, with Black against Gelfand and Kramnik to come in rounds 8 and 10 but to date in this tournament playing Black against 1.d4 has been an enjoyable task for Anand, who has beaten Aronian and narrowly missed beating Morozevich with his favored Semi-Slav.
Boris Gelfand 4.5/7
The surprise packet of the tournament, rock-solid with Black and looking more and more comfortable with White. Had Gelfand not foregone winning opportunities against Anand and Leko in the first cycle he would be in pole position. Now the question remains: can the oldest player in the tournament maintain the pace in a 14 round event? With White against both Anand and Kramnik to come, anything is possible.
Vladimir Kramnik 4/7
Kramnik has had some fun with White but will have to show that he is capable of playing for a win with Black if he is to challenge for first.
A Kramnik in top form would never have allowed Grischuk to escape with a draw in round 4. At some times in this tournament it has seemed that Kramnik has favored beauty over sporting success, and this may cost him at the end.
Alexander Grischuk 3.5/7
A revelation. Grischuk has been known for his great attacking chess but has only rarely shown it against competition of this level. However poor time management has cost Grischuk dearly, with the result that he has spoiled two winning attacks, against Aronian and Svidler. His weak defense of a tenable endgame against Anand in the seventh round does not augur well for the second half but as the youngest player in the field, should be full of beans in the final rounds.
Peter Leko 3/7
Solid as always but apparently lacking the cutting edge necessary to put pressure on this field. Good saves against Gelfand and Svidler were undone by a pathetic collapse against Aronian.
Levon Aronian 3/7
One of the pre-tournament favorites, but has apparently been ill for the past few rounds. Unlucky to be hit by a big Anand opening novelty Aronian was then gifted a point by Leko and a half point by Grischuk. The Armenian has shown little to indicate that he could challenge in the second half.
Alexander Morozevich 2.5/7
One split second probably made the difference between Morozevich suffering at the tail of the field and challenging for the world title. Had Morozevich noticed 21...Qd5!! before, rather than a moment after, his hand left the queen on f8, the Russian might well have beaten Kramnik in round 2 and set himself up for a great tournament. Morozevich recovered brilliantly in the second half of San Luis 2005 but, as here, was already too far behind the leaders to play for the top prizes.
Peter Svidler 2.5/7
Svidler seems to be suffering from a chronic lack of self-confidence and being comprehensively outplayed by Morozevich and Grischuk has not helped matters. It's along way back from here.