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Mexico Heats Up Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers   
September 15, 2007


Photo Cathy Rogers
If round one was excessively peaceful, the eight players in  the FIDE World Championship tournament in Mexico City more than compensated with some ultra-violence in the second round.


The harshest criticism was levelled at defending Champion Kramnik by veteran Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia for Vladimir Kramnik's decision to stop yesterday's game in a double-edged position. 

 Kramnik responded in the best possible way by winning the game of the day against Alexander Morozevich and bridled at questions querying his decision to make a draw in an unclear position in his first round game against Peter Svidler; "I am a World Champion - I am used to people writing [negative] things about me. If I play in a tournament, I want to win the tournament. I do the things that I think are right."

 Kramnik was more amiable when asked if he was always in control in his spectacular win over Morozevich. "In modern chess it is difficult to win keeping everything under control. I had a feeling that my sacrifice was good and I felt I was definitely better after 21.c7."

Morozevich praised Kramnik's sacrifice but was kicking himself for missing a chance to launch a counter-attack late in the game.





White: V.Kramnik
Black: A.Morozevich

Opening: Catalan


1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.d4 dxc4 5.Bg2 a6 6.Ne5 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nd5 8.0-0!?
The first new move, although Morozevich had already been on his own since 6.Ne5.
The real test of Kramnik's idea was 8...Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bxc3 although after 10.Rb1 Bxd4 11.Nxc4 White has considerable pressure for the two pawns. "Of course I looked at taking on c3 but I was out of theory, I saw some variations and decided that 8.0-0 was safer," said Morozevich.
9.Qc2 b5 10.Nxd5!?
Already preparing the following peice sacrifice. 10.a4 was the major alternative.
10...exd5 11.b3! c6 12.e4! f6 13.exd5!!
The point behind Kramnik's play. "I thought that the piece acrifrice gave me good play - it is objectively not clear but the position is difficult to play for Black, said Kramnik. "I couldn't see a clear [defence] for Black but probably a computer could find the right way - after all, Black is a piece up!"
13...fxe5 14.bxc4 exd4! 15.dxc6 Be6!
The correct defence, but to get this far had already cost Morozevich more than an hour and a half on the clock. "There were many alternatives on every move, for both players," explained Morozevich. 16.cxb5!
By now Kramnik, who had sacrificed the piece on feel as much as calculation was starting to use time on the clock as well. 16.c7 Qxc7 17.Bxa8 Qxc4! would already be good for Black.
16...d3 17.c7
"Now I knew I was better," said Kramnik, although many computer-assisted commentators were not so sure. 17...Qd4?! Another major decision which cost Morozevich 7 of his remaining 19 minutes on the clock. 17...dxc2 18.cxd8Q Rxd8 19.Bxa8 is at least slightly better for White since 19...Bc3 20.Bg5! keeps everything under control.
However 17...Qd6! was a serious alternative, leaving the position totally unclear. When asked about this move Morozevich plaintively replied "I considered this move but there were so many options and I was very short of time..."
18.Qa4! Nd7!
18...Qxa1 19.Qxb4 is hopeless for Black.
19.Be3 Qd6 20.Bxa8 Rxa8 21.Bf4?!
The obvious move, but 21.Rac1! was much stronger.
"A terrible move," bemaned Morozevich. As soon as he played 21...Qf8, using up 2 of his final four minutes to reach move 40, Morozevich saw 21...Qd5!! with the idea 22.Qxb4 Qf3 and Black turns the tables.
"After 21...Qd5 it is the same attack as the game except I have more pieces on the board," said Morozevich.
22.b6! Ne5
A final desperate try, since 22...Nxb6 23.Qc6 is also hopeless.
23.Bxe5 Qf3 24.Qd1! Qe4 25.b7 Rf8 26.c8Q Bd5 27.f3 1-0


Top seed Viswanathan Anand kept pace with Kramnik by scoring with Black against Levon Aronian.

Anand used a novelty, 17...c5, which he had prepared with his second Peter Heine Nielsen only four days earlier and was very satisfied with his play. "...Be5 was a very important move, after which his bishops are [out of play]," Anand said.

Aronian, who fell behind on the clock early and never recovered  was left shaking his head at a game where he seemed to have no chance. "Vishy played very well and I think I played very badly," the Armenian GM said. "I surprised Vishy with 5.Bg5 - I don't normally play that way. I had many lines to look at and I think even if I had chosen the right line to prepare I would not have looked at 17...c5. I knew that my Nd5 sacrifice was not good enough but I didn't see anything else. Also I overlooked ...Qe6! - I thought he would have to defend the h pawn."

Anand shrugged off questions about his big game against Kramnik tomorrow. "Every day you get a strong player. If I didn't get Kramnik tomorrow I would have to play him some other time. I wasn't lying when I said that this was a very strong tournament where you should play from day to day and not get ahead of yourself."

Peter Svidler was more than a little annoyed at not joining the leaders, after failing to convert a safe extra pawn in Leko's favourite Marshall opening.


"The Holy Grail eludes us again - the refutation of the Marshall doesn't exist," Svidler philosophised. "Qe2 is a rare move and Black can hold in a number of ways. I guess Peter missed 20.Ne4! when if he takes the pawn he loses the exchange. [If 20..Bxe4 21.fxe4 Rxe4 White plays 22.Bd1! IR] After that White is better in a number of ways. I was spoiled for choice and decided to find a forced win. However I missed that after 26.Qh3 the bishop on c7 is protected and Black can simply play 26...h5. Afetr that it should have been an easy draw, but in time trouble Peter gave me some chances."

Leko was relieved to have survived; "It is always unpleasant when you don't know how much your opponent hs prepared. I really wanted to play 17...Nf4!?, even though I knew he would have analysed this, but when we got to the position I found a good line for White. I was quite disappointed that ...Nf4 didn't work and then I blundered a quite simple thing [ 20.Ne4!]. After then the position looked bad for Black but it was not so easy to find something immediate - and it was clear that my opponent wanted to find something immediate!"

The quietest game of the day was Gelfand-Grischuk, which followed a blitz game the two had played in 2006 until Grischuk varied on move 10 with an old Romanishin line. "I needed to prevent his knight from coming to c3 but I couldn't achieve it," said Gelfand. "Then there were lots of tactical variations but they all led to a draw."


Gelfand also defended the first round draws, comparing chess with soccer. "In the Italian league with the best teams there are very few goals scored. The stronger the players the more resistant they are."

Grischuk added "In chess a draw is a probable result - it's a reality. With Sofia rules [no draw offers allowed] 99% of my games would be drawn anyway."