- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

Favorite Viswanathan Anand of India holds the lead, but dark-horse Israeli GM Boris Gelfand is putting on the heat as the FIDE world championship tournament hit the mid-point in Mexico City this week.

Defending champion Vladimir Kramnik is looking strong and is alone in third place, just a point behind Anand in the eight-grandmaster, double-round-robin event. The tournament concludes a week from tomorrow.

Anand defeated Russian Alexander Grischuk in Thursday’s Round 7 to take a half-point lead on Gelfand, who drew a complicated game with Kramnik. Anand is an impressive plus-three with a 5-2 score, followed by Gelfand at 4½-2½. The rest of the leader board: Kramnik 4-3; Grischuk 3½-3½; Peter Leko (Hungary), Levon Aronian (Armenia) 3-4; Peter Svidler (Russia),Alexander Morozevich (Russia) 2½-4½.

Anand and Kramnik scored their first wins in Round 2, both employing some powerful home cooking with opening novelties that flustered their opponents.

Playing Black in a well-trodden Semi-Slav QGD line against Aronian, Anand gets the jump on his opponent with 16. Bg3 Nd7 17. f3 c5!? (Qb6 was the usual move here), an idea Anand’s team hatched just a few days before. “Sometimes if you can surprise your opponent it is worth almost as much as making a lot of good moves because he has to deal with a lot of problems over the board,” Anand later told an Indian journalist.

Already unhappy with his game after 18. dxc5 Qe7 19. Kh1 a6 20. a4, White tries 21. Nd5?!, a tactical idea that has worked in other games in this line. But Black counters with 21…exd5 22. exd5 Be5!, when 23. Bxe5? Qxh4+ 24. Kg1 Nxe5 25. dxc6 g3 leads to mate.

Aronian’s 23. f4 isn’t satisfactory either, as now Black exploits the hole in the White center with 23…Bg7 24. dxc6 Nxc5 25. Rd5 Ne4! 26. Be1 Qe6!, giving up the h-pawn but luring the White rook to a most unpleasant spot.

Black wins the exchange on 31. Re5 Qf7 32. Rg5 Nxg5 33. fxg5 Rxc6, and White’s two bishops, hemmed in by the Black pawns, offer no compensation. Anand energetically wraps things up with 37…Re3 38. Qg2 Bxc3 39. bxc3 f4 40 Qa8+ Kg7 41. Qa6 fxg3+, and White resigns because the ending after 42. Kg1 Qf7 43. Qh6+ Kg8 44. Qf6 (to block the deadly check at f2) Qxf6 45. gxf6 Rxc3 is hopeless.

Kramnik’s win over Morozevich packs a lot of drama into a relatively brief number of moves.

In a Catalan line he knows intimately, Kramnik tempts his opponent first with 7. Nc3 Nd5 8. 0-0!, when Black avoids the inky depths of 8…Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Rb1 Qxd4 11. Qa4+ b5 12. Qa3 Qxe5 13. Bf4 Qf6 14. Bxa8, and then with 11. b3 c6 12. e4! (see diagram), preparing to offer a piece just a dozen moves into the contest.

This time Morozevich bites with 12…f6!? (a brave decision, but one for which the champ had prepared thoroughly; 12…dxe4 13. Bxe4 Qxd4 14. Bxh7+ Kh8 15. Bf4 also looks uncomfortable for Black) 13. exd5 fxe5 14. bxc4 exd4 (e4 15. Bxe4 Bh3 16. Rd1 Bg4 17. Be3 Bxd1 18. Rxd1 leaves Black with huge problems, despite his material edge) 15. dxc6.

White has only a pawn for his piece, but his dominating bishop on g2 and the disorganized state of Black’s game almost guarantee that Kramnik will soon erase the deficit. Equally important, Morozevich has fallen far behind on time just as the game enters its critical phase.

Black slips almost immediately with 16. cxb5 d3? (Ra7 was tougher) 17. c7! Qd4 (dxc2 18. cxd8=Q Rxd8 19. Bxa8 Bh3 20. Bg2) 18. Qa4! Nd7 (Qxa1 19. Qxb4 and Black’s position remains on en prise) 19. Be3 Qd6 (Nc5 20. Bxd4 Nxa4 21. Bxa8 Rxa8 22. b6 and the pawns decide) 20. Bxa8 Rxa8.

But Kramnik makes his first inaccuracy of the game now, missing the decisive 21. Rac1! Rc8 22. b6! Nxb6 23. Bxb6 Qxb6 24. Rc6, winning material. Instead, White’s 21. Bf4?! could have been met by 21…Qd5! (inviting 22. Qxb4?? Qf3! 23. Qd4 Bd5 and Black wins) 22. Rac1! Bc5 23. Qxa6 with a very unclear position.

But the time-pressed Morozevich played 21…Qf8?, and folds quickly after 22. b6! Ne5 (Nxb6 23. Qc6 Bh3 24. Qxb6 Bxf1 25. Rxf1 Rc8 26. Qxa6 d2 27. Qe6+ Kh8 28. Qd7 h6 29. Rd1 Ba5 30. Be5 Ra8 31. Bxg7+ Qxg7 32. c8=Q+ wins) 23. Bxe5 Qf3 24. Qd1!, ending any Black ideas of mate on the light squares.

By 25. b7 Rf8 (Bd5 26. bxa8=Q+ Bxa8 27. c8=Q+ Bf8 28. Qe6+ Kh8 29. f3 stops the mate) 26. c8=Q Bd5 27. f3 forces Black’s submission. It is interesting how White’s pawns made it through a picket fence of Black queen-side pawns so easily in such a short space of time.

More on Mexico City next week.

FIDE World Chess Championship Tournament, Mexico City, September 2007


1. d4Nf622. exd5Be5

2. c4e623. f4Bg7

3. Nf3d524. dxc6Nxc5

4. Nc3c625. Rd5Ne4

5. Bg5h626. Be1Qe6

6. Bh4dxc427. Rxh5f5

7. e4g528. Kh2Rac8

8. Bg3b529. Bb4Rfe8

9. Ne5h530. axb5axb5

10. h4g431. Re1Qf7

11. Be2Bb732. Rg5Nxg5

12. 0-0Nbd733. fxg5Rxc6

13. Qc2Nxe534. Bf1Rxe1

14. Bxe5Bg735. Bxe1Re6

15. Rad10-036. Bc3Qc7+

16. Bg3Nd737. g3Re3

17. f3c538. Qg2Bxc3

18. dxc5Qe739. bxc3f4

19. Kh1a640. Qa8+Kg7

20. a4Bc641. Qa6fxg3+

21. Nd5exd5White resigns

FIDE World Chess Championship Tournament, Mexico City, September 2007


1. Nf3Nf615. dxc6Be6

2. c4e616. cxb5d3

3. g3d517. c7Qd4

4. d4cxd418. Qa4Nd7

5. Bg2a619. Be3Qd6

6. Ne5Bb4+20. Bxa8Rxa8

7. Nc3Nd521. Bf4Qf8

8. 0-00-022. b6Ne5

9. Qc2b523. Bxe5Qf3

10. Nxd5exd524. Qd1Qe4

11. b3c625. b7Rf8

12. e4f626. c8=QBd5

13. exd5fxe527. f3Black

14. bxc4exd4resigns

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

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