- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2007

Indian GM Viswanathan Anand is the new chess champion of the world, scoring a convincing win in the FIDE title tournament, which wrapped up last weekend in Mexico City.

The affable Anand held an easy draw with Black in the 14th and final round against Hungary’s Peter Leko to secure a full-point victory over defending champion GM Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and surprise contender GM Boris Gelfand of Israel in the eight-grandmaster, double-round-robin event. Anand finished at an undefeated 9-5 and was only in any real trouble a couple of times in the grueling 2½-week event.

Under the funky settlement that helped unify the title, Kramnik automatically is entitled to a one-on-one matchup with Anand next year to try to reclaim his crown. Anand and Kramnik generally are acknowledged to be the world’s premier players since the retirement of Garry Kasparov, and it should be a very interesting bout.

The full scorecard: Anand 9-5; Gelfand, Kramnik 8-6; Leko 7-7; Peter Svidler (Russia) 6½-7½; Levon Aronian (Armenia), Alexander Morozevich (Russia) 6-8; Alexander Grischuk (Russia) 5½-8½.

Given the pre-tournament preparation and ingenuity of the players, such high-class events often serve as harbingers for major shifts in chess opening theory. Based on the play in Mexico City, the Queen’s Gambit Semi-Slav is about to be the “it” opening, while White faces major challenges getting anything more than a draw out of the Ruy Lopez Marshall Gambit or the dreaded Petroff’s.

And in a stunning shift in tastes, Anand’s critical Round 11 win over Morozevich was only the second Sicilian played in the tournament. The fighting defense favored by Kasparov and Bobby Fischer, once ubiquitous at the elite level, was played just four times in the 56 games of the event.

Actually, Morozevich’s Najdorf gives him a very playable game here, and the middle-game play revolves around the weakness of the Black d6-pawn versus the vulnerability of White’s f- and h-pawns. Anand was later critical of Black’s 20. Qe2 Nf4?! 21. Bxf4 Rxf4 22. Rd3, feeling that Morozevich should not have surrendered the useful knight so readily.

With 28. h3 Qh6 29. Rb3!, White displays the greater flexibility of his setup — while Black is totally focused on the king-side, White can open up another front against the vulnerable queen-side pawns. Both sides score breakthroughs after 32. Qg2 Rh5 33. Nxa6! Bh4 34. Rg4 Bf6 35. Qe2 Rxh3 36. Rxb5, and the game boils down to a question of whose passed pawns will dominate.

Ironically, Black’s pawns will prove more mobile, but White’s pawns will prove more valuable. With 41. Rg2 h4!? (risky, but 41…Qe6 42. Qa8 Qg8 43. Rh2 g6 44. b4 leaves White in charge) 42. Qxd6 Be7 43. Qxe5 Rxb8 44. Qxb8+ Kh7, Black nails his colors to the mast, putting his fate in the hands of his passed h-pawn.

But White shows he can let the pawn run so long as Black has to give up all his other assets in the bargain. After 49. e5 Bc5 50 Bc6 Kh6 (see diagram), Anand composes a clever finale with 51. Rc4! (English IM Malcolm Pein noted that 51. e7!? Bxe7 52. Nxe7 g5 53. c4 Kh5 54. Rg2 g4 is far messier) h3 52. Rxc5! h2 53. Ne3! Ra1+ 54. Kxa1 h1=Q+ 55. Ka2 (White’s rook, knight and passed e-pawn would be more than ample compensation for the new queen in the long run, but the game never reaches the long run) Qe4 56. Re5!, protecting the knight and the pawn and inviting 56…Qxe5 57. Ng4+, forking king and queen. Morozevich resigned instead.

Anand’s victory stirs memories of another unlikely South Asian superstar, Sultan Khan, one of the most amazing players in the history of the game. Born in what today is Pakistan in 1906, Khan, the servant of a Indian maharajah, compiled an amazing record during a four-year sojourn with his employer in England starting in 1929.

The unknown Khan won the British championship three times, defeated the great Savielly Tartakover in a match and is one of very few players ever to have defeated Cuban world champion Jose Raoul Capablanca. He returned to the subcontinent in 1933 and never played at the elite level again.

Khan’s smooth, harmonious style was on full display in a 1932 win over English master William Winter. White goes pawn-grubbing in this English and Khan duly punishes him with some beautifully coordinated piece play.

There are no brilliant combinations, and the queens come off early, but Black’s rook, knight and bishop dominate in the end. After 20…Bh6+ 21. Kf2 Rd1 22. Bg2 Rd3! 23. Nc1 Rd2+ 24. Ne2 Nd4 25. Re1, White is completely tied up, and one piquant nudge pushes him over the edge: 25…Rxb2 26. Kf1 Nc2!, and the White rook’s only refuge on the back rank fails him after 27. Rd1 Ne3+; Winter resigned.

FIDE World Chess Championship, Mexico City, October 2007


1. e4c529. Rb3b5

2. Nf3d630. Nb4Rh5

3. d4cxd431. Qf1Rh4

4. Nxd4Nf632. Qg2Rh5

5. Nc3a633. Nxa6Bh4

6. f3e534. Rg4Bf6

7. Nb3Be635. Qe2Rxh3

8. Be3Nbd736. Rxb5Bd8

9. g4Nb637 Rb8Qf6

10. g5Nh538 Nb4Rxf3

11. Qd2Rc839. Nd5Qf7

12. 0-0-0Be740. Qa6h5

13. Rg10-041. Rg2h4

14. Kb1Qc742. Qxd6Be7

15. Qf2Nc443. Qxe5Rxb8

16. Bxc4Bxc444. Qxb8+Kh7

17. Nd5Bxd545. Qc7Bf8

18. Rxd5f546. Qxf7Rxf7

19. gxf6Rxf647. Rg4Rf1+

20. Qe2Nf448. Ka2Rh1

21. Bxf4Rxf449. e5Bc5

22. Rd3Qd750. e6Kh6

23. Nc1Rcf851. Rc4h3

24. a3Kh852. Rxc5h2

25. Na2Qh353. Ne3Ra1+

26. Rg3Qh554. Kxa1h1=Q+

27. Qg2Rh455. Ka2Qe4

28. h3Qh656. Re5Black


London, 1932


1. c4c514. Qxd7Bxb5

2. Nf3Nc615. cxb5Nb4

3. d4cxd416. Qxd8Rfxd8

4. Nxd4g617. Rxd8+Rxd8

5. e4Bg718. a3Nc2+

6. Be3Nf619. Kf2Nxe3

7. f30-020. Kxe3Bh6+

8. Nb3Nh521. Kf2Rd1

9. Nc3e522. Bg2Rd3

10. Nb5b623. Nc1Rd2+

11. Qd2Ba624. Ne2Nd4

12. Rd1Nf425. Re1Rxb2

13. g3Ne626. Kf1Nc2

White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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