|Anand World Champion|
|By GM Ian Rogers|
|September 30, 2007|
Even the efforts of two arbiters could not stop the crowd in the Sheraton convention center bursting into applause after Viswanathan Anand concluded his short draw against Peter Leko in the final round of the World Championship tournament in Mexico City.
Anand had just secured the FIDE world title for the second time, although it was clear that Anand valued this win more. "This time there is no rival claimant so obviously it is a fantastic feeling."
His compatriots in India keenly followed Anand's victory in 2000 -for the first time the tournament web site registered more than a million hits in a day.
In Chennai, Anand's old mentor Manuel Aaron, India's first International Master, explained in interviews how he had noticed the talent of Anand when he was just 8, although he admitted to never predicting that Anand would go on to become a Grandmaster or World Champion.
Anand was softly spoken but showed no false modesty after his final game was completed.
"I feel that here I played the best. You have to perform at the right moment - it's important that I peaked here. This tournament went like a dream."
Anand went on to thank the total support of his wife Aruna and of his second Peter Heine Nielsen.
Anand explained his strategy in his closing game as follows: "Yesterday I had to work really hard but today I just remembered Tal's saying that when your hand plays one way and your heart plays another, it never goes well. So I decided to be very solid and just go for the draw."Leko, who took only a few seconds to accept Anand's draw offer, congratulated the new World Champion and seemed almost as pleased as Anand with the Indian's victory.
"It was not about the game it was about the final outcome. For him the draw is like a victory. Vishy chose one of the most solid lines and I was Black.
"I have been very good friends with Vishy for 15 years and I wished always that Vishy becomes Champion so it was something special that we had the last game together and that I could be the first to congratulate him. I know how hard he was working for it all his life so he deserves it."
Leko was philosophical about his own mediocre result; "I was expecting to be in more of a fight for the title but I lacked some concentration and for my mistakes I was punished quite badly. My game yesterday was a nice memory but I remember much more my big blunders, which will haunt me for a while. I cannot say I played badly...I am quite happy to finish in the first half of the field."
After Anand had taken the crown, attention turned to the prospect of an Anand-Kramnik match for the Classical (Match) World Championship, which many believe Kramnik did not forfeit even though he failed to win in Mexico. (Gelfand disagreed - "Anand is clear World Champion and he clearly deserved it.")
First of all - will the Kramnik-Anand match take place? "Sure." said Anand. "I think it's just in the contract - I don't know if dates are already mentioned but that is the plan."
Kramnik was also already thinking about the upcoming contest, tentatively scheduled for Germany in the middle of 2008. "I think that [Anand and I] are the two best players in the world right now. It will be a chance finally to decide who is who, who is greater. I am really looking forward to it. I am confident that my chances are not worse."
Most players held an opinion about the match although Alexander Grischuk was the only player willing to stick his neck out and predict a winner. "Now that Anand has drastically improved his opening preparation and came quite close to Vladimir in this aspect, I would prefer his chances but it is very close."
"The chess public have been waiting for this match for a very, very long time," said Leko. "As a fan, everyone will enjoy this match very much."
When asked whether he could give advice to Kramnik so that he could regain the world title in his match against Anand, Levon Aronian replied, "Maybe he should eat more spinach."
The other three games in the final round were all highly entertaining.
Peter Svidler scored his first win of the tournament, although he wanted little praise for his effort, which involved a superb piece of opening preparation.
"All credit to [my second Alexander Motylev]. At some point I asked him to refute the Najdorf and he did!"
Svidler explained away his aggressive attitude in the final game: "There is no pressure whatever when you are on -2 before the last round so why not go for it?"
Grischuk was unhappy, not so much with the final loss but with the trend it represented. "My fifth loss with Black in a row - it's just so disgusting. My preparation here was terrible - 90% of my preparation was for variations which not only didn't occur in my games, they didn't occur in any games!"
Opening: Sicilian Defence
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 Bg7 10.h3 Ne5 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.exf5 Nbc6 13.Nd5 e6 14.fxe6 fxe6 15.Ne3 Qa5+ 16.c3 Nf3+!?
This radical idea was first played against Veselin Topalov's second Cheparinov, who later convinced Topalov to use it.
17.Qxf3 Bxc3+ 18.Kd1 Qa4+ 19.Nc2 Bxb2 20.Rc1!
"This is basically my game against Topalov from [the 2005 World Championship tournament in] San Luis," said Svidler. " 20.Rc1 is an important novelty which I believe was even mentioned in a couple of publications before, but it escaped Alex's notice."
"After 20.Rc1, over the board it is close to impossible to find any reasonable defense," said Grischuk.
In the earlier game Svidler had played 20.Qb3 and lost the roughly equal endgame, which followed.
Curiously, Cheparinov had used the Rc1 idea successfully in the original game, although in the position after 18...Bxb2, without the queen check.
20...Bxc1 21.Qf6! Kd7 22.Kxc1 Qxa2 23.Bd3 Rac8 24.Rd1 d5 25.Bf5 Rhe8
"This position was still on the board at home," said Svidler. "When you play 28 moves that you know, you can't take too much credit."
26.Qf7+ Kd8 27.Re1 Qa3+
Desperation, but by now Grischuk, having thought for 20 minutes trying to find a saver here, had less than five minutes left on the clock. Svidler, being careful to check and double-check his analysis, had used almost an hour.
28.Nxa3 Ne5+ 29.Kd2 Nxf7 30.Bxe6 Rc6
30...Rxe6 31.Rxe6 is also hopeless - Black's pawns are no threat.
31.Bxf7 Rxe1 32.Kxe1 b5 33.Kd2 b4 34.Nc2 b3 35.Nd4 Rb6 36.Kc1 a5 37.Bxd5 a4 38.Be5 b2+ 39.Kb1 a3 40.Ba2 Rb7 41.Bd6 Rd7 42.Nb5 1-0
Gelfand and Morozevich fought out a draw where both players were living on the edge.
"I didn't remember anything about the 17...Bc5 move," said Morozevich. "The critical position is after 23.b4. Boris blundered and allowed 24.Ne6!! after which White is winning - but we both didn't spot it.
"I think after 32...Nd5 I should play 33.Bc5 [to keep my bishop, with] a safe position for White. Only a miracle meant that I was on time with counterplay to force Black to take a perpetual. I was very lucky.".
Gelfand agreed. "It was a complicated game - a Petroff Defence so maybe many journalists were cursing us. White missed a very beautiful possibility to get an advantage. I blitzed a move on move 41 and after this I didn't have chances."
Overall, Gelfand was happy with the results of his game-by-game strategy. "I tried to show in this tournament that it is chess ability not age that matters. Of course when you are 15 or 17 your head works better than when you are 40 but you are lacking other qualities. I wanted to show good chess and in most of the games I succeeded."
Kramnik moved up to a tie for second with Gelfand thanks to a crushing victory over Levon Aronian.
"It was an unexpectedly easy win for me, thanks to my good preparation today," said Kramnik. "I am not satisfied with my result but strangely enough I am satisfied by my play. I have to learn to finish games in better or winning positions I gained some rating points but in this tournament only the first place counts. My weapons were more aimed at match play - that's one of the reasons that I couldn't score so well here."
Aronian tried to put a positive spin on his mediocre result, but he failed to convince even himself. "From each strong tournament you learn something but the teaching process was a bit rough this time!"
Opening: Queen's Indian Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0-0 12.0-0 Rc8 13.e4 dxe4 14.Nxe4 b5 15.Re1
A trendy line, with which Aronian has had experience mostly on the White side.
15... bxc4 16.Bf1 Nb6 17.Rb1!
"I prepared what I believe is a very strong novelty," said Kramnik.
Previously 17.Nc5, as played by Aronian's second Sargissian, was considered the main line.
17...Nd5 18.Ba1! Bb4 19.Nc5!
"I thought that Vladimir wanted to sacrifice the exchange with 19.bxc4," said Aronian, "but 19.Nc5 is much stronger."
19...Bxe1 20.Qxe1 cxb3 21.Nxa6 bxa2 22.Rb2
"I don't know whether Black has anything better than to go for this position," said Kramnik. "This is where I stopped my analysis because I believed that White was better."
"Maybe it was the wrong decision to exchange the knights," said Kramnik, "because the knight on d5 is very strong. However the position is still incredibly unpleasant for Black."
"I was thinking to play 22...Re8 23.Rxa2 Re7," explained Aronian, "but then after 24.Rb2 I couldn't really find a possibility. Once I get the b file I can equalize but it just doesn't happen; White plays h4 and the position probably isn't playable."
23.Rxa2 Nxa6 24.Rxa6 Qd7
"I think Levon had intended 24...c5," said Kramnik, "but then 25.Qe5! is very strong. Still maybe it was the best chance."
"After 25...cxd4 26.Bxd4 f6 27.Qxe6+ Kh8 28.Be3 White has great winning chances," added Aronian, explaining why he rejected the line. "But of course it was my best chance."
"Now I don't really see how Black can hold all his weaknesses," said Kramnik.
25...f6 26.Qc5 Rf7 27.Bc3 Qb7 28.Qc4 Qd7 29.Bg2 Kh8 30.Bxc6 Qb7!?
"I was just hoping for tactical tricks," said Aronian, " but White's pieces are so well placed that nothing works."
31.Kg2 h6 32.d5 Qb8 33.dxe6 Re7 34.Bb4 Rec7 35.e7 1-0