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Anand Pulls Away Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers/Macauley Peterson   
September 26, 2007
text and analysis by GM Ian Rogers, video by Macauley Peterson

Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand is virtually assured of winning the World Championship tournament in Mexico City after defeating Alexander Morozevich while main rivals apparently gave up the chase by taking short draws.


Anand was the only winner in the 11th round, and he now leads his nearest rival, Boris Gelfand, by a point and a half with only three games remaining.

Not that defending World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was willing to concede that the tournament was over yet. "It was an additional rest day, which was very helpful and I am looking forward to my last three games. You shouldn't take this short draw today in the wrong way - I didn't give up on the tournament. I have two more Whites and I will try to press hard. I will still fight. I don't think the situation is hopeless.
"I understand that 99% of the public see Vishy already as the winner but I think it is not so clear. I understand that my chances are not high but as long as I have chances I will fight."
 
However Kramnik's actions spoke louder than his words. To take a draw in only 13 moves and 31 minutes against an opponent who had lost three of his previous four games was hardly the action of a man trying hard to win the World Championship.
 


"I felt a bit embarrassed to agree a draw in 13 moves," admitted Kramnik,"but in such a position I don't have any objective way to play for a win. I have to play ...f6 and after exf6 Rxf6, White will put rooks on the e line. I will exchange bishops on f5, we will exchange rooks and it will just be a boring draw. I felt it would be somewhat insulting to reject a draw because my opponent is very strong.
"I respect logic in chess. I don't feel that I have to rape the position - to try to win by any means. If you play some risky business most probably you will just lose like a chicken and curse yourself."
 
In contrast, Anand passed up two separate opportunities to repeat moves against Morozevich and his pawn grabbing on the queenside eventually proved successful. When Anand arrived at the post-game press conference he was greeted with a spontaneous round of applause - some sort of recognition that the Indian would soon be crowned the new World Champion.
 


Opening: Sicilian Defense
 
1.e4 c5

Another change from Morozevich after his reasonably successful outing with the Caro-Kann against Svidler yesterday.
2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7!?
Popular a few years ago, but now the main line is 8...Be7. However Anand is a great exponent with both colors in the 8...Be7 lines - a spectacular win over Karjakin with Black comes to mind - so it is understandable that Morozevich looks for something a little less analyzed.
9.g4 Nb6 10.g5 Nh5 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Rg1 0-0 14.Kb1 Qc7 15.Qf2 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Bxc4 17.Nd5!
In earlier games White had tried to reach the d5-square through indirect methods such as 17.Na4 b5 18.Nb6 Rb8 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.Rxd5 , as in Leko-Svidler 2004. However Anand doesn't worry about trying to prove that ...b5 is a weakness or knocking the rook away from c8 and just plays simple chess.
17...Bxd5 18.Rxd5 f5 19.gxf6

The only other game that had reached this position had continued 19.Qg2? and punishment was almost immediate: 19...fxe4 20.fxe4 Nf4 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Nc1 ?? Rg4!! 0-1
19...Rxf6
The tactical point behind Anand's play lies in the fact that after 19...Nxf6 White has 20.Qg2 and then 21.Rd3.
20.Qe2
"My opening led to a simplified position where the question becomes whether White can [eventually] bring his knight to d5," said Anand. 20...Nf4?
This makes White's life far too easy -"Black should have waited a bit longer with 20...Nf4," said Anand. After 20...Rcf8 White must guard the f pawn with a move such as 21.Nd2 after which White's knight is a long, long way from the key d5 square, so Black should be fine.
21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Rd3
"Now my rook can defend the f pawn in a natural way," explained Anand.
22...Qd7 23.Nc1! Rcf8 24.a3!
Now Black can do nothing to prevent Na2-c3-d5.
24...Kh8 25.Na2 Qh3 26.Rg3 Qh5 27.Qg2 Rh4 28.h3 Qh6 29.Rb3!
Anand wants everything - a weak Black queenside as well as the d5 square. "[Morozevich] missed 29.Rb3, clearly," said Anand. "Probably now I am objectively winning but at the board you see all sorts of ghosts..."
"I just forgot about this Rb3 move and I already thought I was losing," agreed Morozevich.
29...b5 30.Nb4 Rh5 31.Qf1 Rh4 32.Qg2 Rh5 33.Nxa6!
Given the tournament situation a draw by repetition must have been tempting, but after long consideration Anand decides that the reward is worth the risk. "I wasn't very happy ditching the h pawn but I didn't see any other way to make progress," said Anand.
33...Bh4 34.Rg4 Bf6 35.Qe2! Rxh3 36.Rxb5 Bd8?!
36...Be7 offers more resistance, e.g. 37.Rb7 Qe6 38.Rb3 Rfxf3! 39.Rxf3 Rh1+ 40.Rf1 Rxf1+ 41.Qxf1 Qxg4 and Black is still fighting.
37.Rb8! Qf6 38.Nb4 Rxf3 39.Nd5 Qf7 40.Qa6!
"I [hadn't been] completely sure my position was better any more," said Anand, " because without the f pawn his h and g pawns are incredibly strong. But surprisingly it turns out that [this move] is not only a shot for counterplay but maybe White is better."
40...h5 41.Rg2 h4
It is all or nothing now for Morozevich, since 41...Qe6 can be met by 42.Qa8 "I was just trying to create some practical chances, that why I did not consider some normal options for Black," admitted Morozevich.
42.Qxd6 Be7 43.Qxe5 Rxb8 44.Qxb8+ Kh7 45.Qc7 Bf8 46.Qxf7 Rxf7 47.Rg4 Rf1+ 48.Ka2 Rh1 49.e5! Bc5 50.e6 Kh6 51.Rc4!
51.e7 Bxe7 52.Nxe7 g5 should not be enough for Black but at least the connected pawns give Black some counterplay.
Anand's method, agreeing to let Black queen, is far clearer.
51...h3 52.Rxc5! h2 53.Ne3!
"The key move," said Anand. "My first idea was 53.Nf4 but after 53...g6, [the win] has slipped away." (In fact after 54.Re5 , White still wins.)
 53...Ra1+ 54.Kxa1 h1Q+ 55.Ka2 Qe4
55...Kg6 56.Nd5 Qh8 57.Rc8! leads to similar pretty lines, all winning for White.
56.Re5!! 1-0
 
 
Gelfand tried for three hours to make something of his game against tailender Peter Svidler before agreeing to a draw.



Yet even here it was surprising that Gelfand offered a draw after 22 moves since his opponent had to make 19 moves in just 21 minutes to reach the time control.

Objectively Svidler had been doing fine since 14...Qd6! (although both players believed that Black's task would be even easier if he had prevented d5 through 16....Rd8) but with the chance for the world title on the line - almost certainly Gelfand's last chance - one might have expected a bit more from the Israeli GM. "I had the advantage and I missed it," said Gelfand. "I offered a draw to see if Black was trying to win, which would give me chances to win also. But if Black plays natural moves like ...Bc4-f7, White can do nothing. And since Black has the easy plan ...Nc4 and ...Rb8, I must be accurate."
Svidler, who had spent most of his time analyzing the sharp 22...Bc4 23.Nc5 f5, suddenly started to appreciate the positive sides of his position and regret his decision to stop the game; "The more I think about the ...Bc4-f7 plan, the more I regret my decision not to play on. If [the draw agreement] was a mistake, it was a mistake on my part, not Boris'."
 
Peter Leko and Levon Aronian maintained their 50% scores with an eventful 56-move draw.



The game began by following a 2005 Leko-Aronian game but then Aronian forgot that Kramnik had played 20...Rd8 instead of his 20...Rc8. "I missed that White could follow with 23.Bc7 and 24.e4, after which I am lucky to survive," admitted Aronian.

Unsettled, Aronian missed 24...Bf6 (and if 25.Nd6, Qe7), which was playable for Black, and allowed Leko to acquire a passed d pawn.
White then had a large advantage but let it slip with 28.a3, instead of 28.Rc6 b4 29.Qd3 and Black has no time to try to trap the a5 bishop.
(Leko was spending his time on fantasy variations such as 28.Rc6 b4 29.Rxd6!? Rxd6 30.Bc7 Rbd8 31.Bxd6 Rxd6 32.Qxb4 Rxd5 33.Qb7!!? but unfortunately 34...Rd8 destroyed his dreams.)

Leko's 35.b5!? looked good but accurate defense from Aronian (35...Qd7!) neutralized any danger and even won a pawn. "However I was so surprised to have an extra pawn and more time that I could not [think clearly]," said a sheepish Aronian.
Soon thereafter Leko recovered the pawn the Hungarian tried for another 20 moves to make something out of nothing, without causing any problems for Aronian. 
 
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