Chess, art and Duchamp

Well, I know you are much more interested in the Fide World Cup, but I’m not going to write anything about that in today’s post. “Chess is art” is often said by many lovers of our sport/game/activity. Marcel Duchamp truly believed in that and when he was (almost) at the end of his life he presented himself as "a chess player within the realm of art".
Duchamp was a French artist, born in 1887, whose work and ideas had considerable influence on the development of post-World War II Western art. In 1918 Duchamp left his work on the Large Glass and the art scene, and went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for nine months, where he often played chess, and carved from wood the only chess set he himself made. He returned to Paris in 1919, where he lived until he returned to the United States in 1920. By the time he moved to Paris in 1923 he was no longer a practicing artist. Instead he played and studied chess, which he played for the rest of his life (he dead on October 2, 1968) to the near exclusion of all other activity. Duchamp's obsessive fascination with chess can be traced back much earlier to the themes of his major art pieces. The most immediately obvious of these is the chess position known as "trébuchet" (the trap), which gave its title to the Readymade of 1917: a coat rack with four hooks, which is nailed to the floor, hooks uppermost.
The screening of the film "Jeu d'echecs avec Marcel Duchamp" (“A game of chess with Marcel Duchamp”), a documentary by Jean-Marie Drot, was the main point of interest of an event – called “Scaccomatto” (“Checkmate”) - which took place right yesterday in Bergamo's Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (Bergamo is my home town). You can find the film on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SXyMAkZu1M (part 1 of 7) and it’s worth a look if you have some spare time in your week end. A double simul was given by two masters of Excelsior Chess Club, Paolo Mora and 15 y.o. Alessio Valsecchi, after the film: they played against (about) 30 opponents, but many more people watched the documentary (more than 150, I think). Does this mean that culture can help chess? I don’t know, but I hope events like that will be organized in Bergamo, in Italy and in the whole planet again :-)
And now here are some photos from the simul, a couple of famous photos with Duchamp playing chess (?!) and a couple of notable games played by the French artist.

Marcel Duchamp, a chess lover (photo by Max Ernst)

A... "naked" game: Eve Babitz
and Marcel Duchamp playing chess (Julian Wasser, 1963)

15 y.o. master Alessio Valsecchi in action

Excelsior club's [former?! :-)]
chess star: master Paolo Mora

Mora in action again

A panoramic view (more
or less...) of the simul

Koltanowski,Georges - Duchamp,Marcel [A50], Paris 1929
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 b6 5. f4 Bb7 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. Nf3 e5 8. d5 g6 9. 0–0 exf4 10. Bxf4 Bg7 11. e5 dxe5 12. Nxe5 0–0 13. Qd2 Nxd5 14. Nxd7 Nxf4 15. Nxf8 Bd4+ 0–1

Marshall,Frank James - Duchamp,Marcel [D55], Hamburg (Olympiads) 1930
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.Qc2 d5 7.e3 0–0 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 Bxd5 11.Bd3 h6 12.a3 c5 13.dxc5 Rc8 14.b4 bxc5 15.Rc1 Nd7 16.Ba6 Rc7 17.e4 Bb7 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.bxc5 Qxc5 20.0–0 Qxc2 21.Rxc2 Kf8 22.Rfc1 Ke7 23.Nd4 Ke8 24.f4 Rab8 25.e5 Nf8 26.Rc5 Rb1 27.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 28.Kf2 Rb7 29.Rc8+ Ke7 30.Ra8 Ng6 31.g3 Kd7 32.a4 Ne7 33.Nb5 Nc8 34.g4 Rxb5 35.axb5 Kc7 36.g5 hxg5 37.b6+ Kb7 38.Rxc8 Kxc8 0.5-0.5


World Cup: no surprises in round 1

The World Chess Cup has started in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) and the first round has come to an end right this afternoon. There were just a few unexpected winners in those matches where opponents had a difference of 100 or more rating points. Ivanchuk (winner of the Blitz World Cup some days earlier), Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Aronian, Ahirov, Svidler, Carlsen and Jakovenko won both games against their respective opponents, Adams, Grischuk, Kamksy, Wang Yue and Bacrot won 1.5-0.5, while Alekseev, Akopian, Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov got the better hand on tie-breaks. Among the Elo-favorites, Russian GM Konstantin Landa (rated 2676) left the World Cup in favor of Romanian GM Vladislav Nevednichy, as well as his compatriot Pavel Eljanov (2691), who made a draw in the first game and lost the second one to IM Hossain Enamulu (2514) from Bangladesh.
The match between Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS) and Fernando Peralta (ARG) was truly unique and dramatic. In the first game the South American had a completely won endgame (Knight and Bishop vs King), but overstepped the time limit and the game ended in a draw. The position of the second game looked quite unclear, when Peralta, again, ran out of time and lost.
Speaking about the second day of the first round, Chessdom.com site (www.chessdom.com - it worth a visit) writes that it was "marked by many interesting games... that the world could not see. Live games for the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk got stuck on the first moves and did not recover for hours". Really sad for such an important event, isn't it? Official site, by the way, is: http://www.ugra-chess.ru/eng/main_e.htm. You can also find results, games and news about the 2007 WCC on www.messaggeroscacchi.it, my Italian site (direct link: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/coppa07.html).
Meanwhile, the 2007 Italian chess championship is taking place in Martina Franca (Taranto). 15 y.o. prodigy Fabiano Caruana leads with a perfect score after round 4; Im Sabino Brunello and GM Carlos Garcia Palermo follow a point behind. Official site (with a very good coverage): http://www.torneionline.com/cia2007. Results and games on my Italian site at http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/italia/itach07.html.
And now here are some decisive moments and interesting games from Khanty-Mansiysk.

Ismagambetov,A. (2479) - Alekseev,E. (2716),
World Cup (1.1), 24.11.2007

The critical position. White wants to start an attack on the King side, Black on the Queen side. Who will arrive first?
19.g5 Ne8?
A serious mistake. After 19...Ng4 intending ...Nge5 Black has nothing to be afraid of.
The immediate 20.Nd5 looks even stronger.
Second weak move in a row. 20...Qb7 was the correct defence.
21.Nd5 Bf8 22.Bb6 Bb7
After 22...Rd7 23.Bb5 Bb7 24.Nxa5 White has a decisive advantage.
23.Bxd8 Qxd8 24.Bb5 Nc7 25.Bxc6 Bxc6 26.Nd4 Bb7 27.Nf5 Nxd5 28.exd5 Kh8 29.Qf2 Rc8 30.h4
White is an exchange up and Black has no compensation, since his Bishops are all but active pieces.
30...Rc5 31.Ne3 Rc7 32.h5 Bc8 33.Rdf1 a4 34.Nf5 b3 35.cxb3 axb3 36.Nd4?!
Not the best move. 36.axb3 was absolutely possible.
Black misses his last chance to continue fighting. After 36...Ba6 37.Re1 bxa2+ 38.Ka1 Bb7 White must win, but Black can play some more moves. Now it is all over.
37.Ka1 Kg8 38.g6 fxg6??
A really bad day for Alekseev. 38...f6 was a sad necessity.
39.hxg6 hxg6 40.Rh1 Qf6 41.Qh2 1–0
Black is going to lose his Queen, so he resigned.

El Gindy,E (2503) - Ponomariov,R (2705),
World Cup (1.1), 24.11.2007

Black is a pawn up, but his King is exposed and White can easily equalize...
56.d7+! Kxd7
A clever decision. 56...Kd8 is drawn as well: 57.Nd6 Qe6 58.Rd2 Kc7 59.Nb5+ Kd8 60.Nd6 etc.
57.Qd1+ Kc6 58.Qd6+ Kb5??
An incredible blunder for such an experienced player! After 58...Kb7 White has nothing more than a draw: 59.Qd7+ Kb8 (59...Ka6?? 60.Nd6 +-) 60.Qd5+ Kb7 etc. Now Black loses on the spot.
59.Qd7+ Ka5 60.Nd6 Qf1+
If 60...Qa6 then 61.Rc2 +-
61.Ka2 Ra8 62.Rc2 Qd3 63.Rc3
White misses a more brilliant way to finish the game: 63.Rxc5+! bxc5 64.Qc7+ Ka6 65.Qc6+ Ka5 66.Nb7#
63...Qe2 64.Rc4 1–0
Black can't avoid mate, so Pono resigned.

Rublevsky,S (2676) - Hera,I (2544) [B12], World Cup (1.1), 24.11.2007
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3 Nd7 6.Nf3 Bg6 7.Be2 Be7
The game Rublevsky - Morozevich, Dagomys 2007, continued 7...Nh6 8.0–0 Nf5 9.Bd2 h5 10.Rc1 Rc8 11.c4 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Be7 13.Ba5 Nb6 14.Nc5 Bxc5 15.dxc5 Qxd1 16.Rfxd1 Nd7 17.Bf1 Ne7 with good prospects for Black.
8.0–0 h5 9.Bd2 Nh6
In Meszaros - A.Vajda, Balatonlelle 2004, White obtained a clear advantage after 9...a6 10.c4 dxc4 11.Na5 Qc7?! 12.Nxc4 Nh6 13.Bg5!
10.c4 dxc4 11.Na5!
Now it becomes clear why Morozevich was in no hurry with development of the dark-squared bishop.
11...Rb8 12.Nxc4 Nf5
12...Nb6 13.Ba5 Be4 deserves attention.
13.Ba5 Nb6
13...b6 was an alternative to be considered, e.g.: 14.Bc3 0–0 15.Ne3 b5 with an unclear position.
14.Rc1 Qd5?!
Black doesn't feel the danger... Better was 14...0–0, with the possible continuation 15.Qb3 (15.Rc3!? intending Rb3) 15...Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Qxd4 17.Rfd1 Qc5 18.Nxb6 Qxe5!? 19.Nd7 Qxa5 20.Nxf8 Bxf8 21.Bd3 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 and Black has a good compensation for the exchange, although White has a slight advantage thanks to the possession of the d-file.
15.Bxb6 axb6 16.Nxb6 Qxa2?
A bad move. It wasn't too late to admit the mistake by playing 16...Qd8 17.Nc4 0–0 and White has an extra pawn, but Black can hold on.
Simple and brilliant.
After 17...exd5?? 18.Na4! there is no defence against Ra1. 17...Qa7 is probably the best defence, but White has a huge advantage after 18.Nd7! Ra8 (18...Kxd7 19.dxc6+ Ke8 20.Qd7+ Kf8 21.c7 +-; 18...Rd8 19.Ra1 +-) 19.dxe6 fxe6 20.Qb3! Kxd7 21.Rfd1+ Kc7 22.Qxe6with a crushing attack.
18.dxc6 Rd8?
This move loses on the spot, but Black couldn't survive anyway, e.g.: 18...bxc6 19.Qd7+ Kf8 20.Nc8! Qd8 (20...Bb4 21.Ra1 Qd5 22.Qc7 +-) 21.Qxc6 +-; or 18...0–0 19.Nd7 bxc6 20.Nxf8 Bxf8 21.Rxc6 Rxb2 22.Bd3 and White must win.
19.Qd7+! Rxd7
If 19...Kf8 then 20.c7 Rxd7 21.Nxd7+ Kg8 22.c8Q+ Kh7 23.Qxb7 +-
20.cxd7+ Kf8 21.Rc8+ Bd8 22.Rxd8+ Ke7 23.Rxh8 Qxb6 24.Bb5! 1–0

Macieja,B (2606) - Laznicka,V (2610) [C10], World cup (1.1), 24.11.2007
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 c5 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7 11.Qe2 cxd4 12.0–0–0 Bc5 13.Qe5 Be7 14.Nxd4 Qa4 15.Qc7 Rd8??
You can't say this is a novelty... this is just a blunder! In a previous game Black could easily equalize with 15...Qa6 16.Rhe1 Qb6 17.Qxb6 axb6 18.a3 0–0 19.f4 Nd5 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.f5 Nxf5 22.Nxf5 exf5 23.Re7 Rae8 24.Rxb7 Re2= (Paramonov-Kholmov, Minsk 2001).
16.Nf5! Rd7
After 16...exf5 17.Rxd8+ Bxd8 18.Re1+ (what else?) 18...Qe4 19.Rxe4+ fxe4 20.Qxb7 Black is hopeless.
17.Qc8+ Rd8
Alternatives were not better, e.g.: [17...Bd8 18.Nxg7+ Kf8 19.Bxf6 Qf4+ 20.Kb1 Qc7 (20...Qxf6 21.Nh5) 21.Qxc7 Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 Bxc7 23.Rd7 Bb6 24.Rxb7+-]
18.Nxg7+ 1–0
After 18...Kf8 19.Rxd8+ Black loses material, so Laznicka resigned.

Tkachiev,V (2661) - Balogh,C (2562) [D39], World Cup (1.2), 25.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Bxd7+
This is a very popular variation. 12.Qb3 is probably more common at this point.
12...Nxd7 13.0–0 a6 14.Rb1 Qc7 15.Qh5 Nc5 16.Rb4 Qe5 17.Qh4
After 17.Qxe5 fxe5 18.Nb3 Nxb3 19.axb3 0–0–0 20.f4 exf4 21.Rc4+ Kb8 22.Rxf4 Rd7 23.Rd4 Rc7 24.Rd3 Rg8 25.Kf2 a5 the endgame is about equal (Gulko-Salov, Linares 1990).
This is a new move. The game Gelfand - Jakovenko, Moscow 2007, continued 17...Qg5 18.Qh3 Qe5 19.Qh4 Qg5 20.Qh3 Qe5 21.Re1 Rd8 22.Qe3 Rg8 23.Nf3 Qc7 24.Rd4 Nd7 25.Red1 Ke7 26.g3 Ne5 and Black has a good counterplay.
18.Nf3! Qxc3 19.e5 f5
After 19...fxe5 20.Rc4 Qa5 21.Nxe5 White has very strong attack.
20.Rc4 Qa5 21.Ng5 Ne4
A natural move. After 21...Nd7 22.f4 h5 23.Rfc1 Black almost has no good moves.
22.Rxe4! fxe4 23.Qf4 Rf8
More precise was 23...Qc7, although after 24.Nxe4 h6 25.Nd6+ Kf8 26.Rc1 Qe7 27.Rc3 White will improve his position, while Black can just defend.
Stronger was 24.Nxe4 f5 25.Nd6+ Rxd6 26.exd6 Qd5 27.Rc1 and White must win.
24...Rh8 25.Ng5 Rf8?
The decisive mistake. Black had to play 25...Qc7 and after 26.Nxe4 b5 27.Nd6+ Kf8 28.h3 f5 he could put a stubborn defence.
26.Nxe4 Kd7 27.Rc1! Rc8 28.Nf6+ Ke7
After 28...Kd8 29.Qd4+ Qd5 30.Qb6+ Ke7 31.Rc7+ Black can't avoid mate.
Final blow.
This move loses on the spot, but after 29...Rxg8 30.Qf6+ Ke8 31.Rxc8+ Kd7 32.Rc1 Ke8 33.h3 White wins as well.
30.Qd4+ 1–0


Fide GP, a serious affair?!

The next Fide Grand Prix, to be held in 2008 and 2009, promises to be a serious affair. First of all because “players won’t be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents” (Sofia rule will be applied), and, second, since time control won’t be Fide’s “beloved” 90 minutes etc., but “120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then each player will be allotted 15 minutes after the second time control and an increment of 30 seconds per move will be allowed from move 61 onwards”.
The GP will consist of six tourneys, to be played in April, August and December: “These months have been selected to ensure there is no conflict with any other major event”. Twenty-one top world players “will be selected to compete in these tournaments”: each of them “will have 14 players playing over a schedule of 17 days”.
“The bidding process for the final selection of cities will commence in the second part of November 2007 and be finalized by January 2008”. “One players may be nominated by each host city and must be rated not less than 2550 in the last rating list prior to the final nomination or selection of players. If the host city does not have a player rated at least 2550 then the highest rated player from the Federation of the host city will be invited to play, subject to his rating not being lower than 2500”.
I hope an Italian city will host a tourney in future editions, but I know that 212,000 euros for a chess event (the “recommended” prize money) are not easy to be found in our country... You can read full details and regulations of the Fide GP at http://fide.com/official/handbook/pdf/dd10.pdf.
A couple of interesting competitions are going to start in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) and Martina Franca (Italy). The first of them is the 2007 World Chess Cup: round 1 will be played on November 24, Ivanchuk, Mamedyarov, Radjabov and Aronian are the leading players (official site: http://www.ugra-chess.ru/eng/main.html). The latter is the 2007 Italian championship, the strongest ever, with three GMs playing: Fabiano Caruana, Michele Godena and Carlos Garcia Palermo. Caruana is the Elo favorite, but defending champion Godena is a tough opponent for anyone. Round 1 on November 23 (official site: http://www.federscacchi.it/cia2007).
And now here are some interesting positions and games from the World blitz championship: the final stage of the event is a double round tourney with 20 players, which ends tomorrow in Moscow (Anand, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Leko, Morozevich, Mamedyarov and many other superGMs are among the participants).

Korotylev,A (2600) - Mamedyarov,S (2752), Moscow (r. 8) 21.11.2007
White had a promising position one move earlier, but he made a big mistake and now he is lost. Mamedyarov wins by playing a brilliant combination.
27... Ng4!! 28.d8Q
Obviously not 28.Qxg4 exf2+ 29.Rxf2 Re1+ and mate on next move.
28... exf2+ 29.Rxf2 Rh1+! 30.Kxh1 Rxe2 0–1
White resigned in view of 31.Rxf4 (31.Rxe2 Qf1#) 31... Re1+ 32.Rf1 Rxf1#

Kramnik,V (2785) - Anand,V (2801) [D13], Moscow (r. 11) 21.11.2007
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.d4 Nc6 6.Bf4 a6 7.Rc1 Bf5 8.e3 Rc8 9.Be2 e6 10.0–0 Be7 11.Qb3 Na5? (11... Qd7) 12.Qa4+ Nc6 13.Bxa6! Ra8
If 13... bxa6 then 14.Ne5 Qb6 15.Ne2 and White is clearly better.
14.Bxb7 Rxa4 15.Bxc6+ Kf8 16.Nxa4 Ne4? (16... Qa5) 17.Bb7 Nd6??
After 17... g5 Black can fight some more moves.
18.Bxd6 Qxd6 19.Rc6 Qd7 20.Rc8+ Bd8 21.Ne5 1–0
Black is defenceless, so Vishy resigned.

Ivanchuk,V (2787) - Carlsen,M (2714), Moscow (r. 13) 21.11.2007
A nice and decisive blow.
37... Kxe8 38.cxb6 f4 39.b7 fxg3+ 40.Kg2 1–0
Black can't prevent White from promoting his "b" pawn. Note that Chuky leads at the half way stage with 13.5/19, half a point clear of the defending champion Alexander Grischuk.


A new trophy for super-Vlad

He lost his world champion title just a few weeks ago, but Vladimir Kramnik looks to be at his best now. The Russian superGM has secured victory in the 2007 Tal Memorial, which takes place in Moscow until tomorrow, with a round to go: he has 6 points out of 8 and Alexei Shirov follows on 4.5 (official site of the event: http://russiachess.org/eng/). This result is especially good for Vlad's moral in view of his match against Vishy Anand next year; speaking about that, according to a press release published on Fide website (www.fide.com), "whilst GM Vladimir Kramnik had accepted the conditions for the World Championship Match in 2008 and had signed the contract, GM Anand had raised several points". Kirsan Ilymuzhinov "asked Deputy President, Giorgios Makropoulos, to conduct negotiations with UEP, GM Anand and GM Kramnik to enable the contract to be signed". It looks like the Indian GM doesn't want to play the role of good and nice boy any longer: can you blame him?
And now here are some news from Italy. The 2007/2008 edition of the "Torneo di Capodanno" ("New year's day tourney" - December 29-January 6) in Reggio Emilia will be one of the strongest ever: a 16th category event with many well known GMs, all og them coming from different countries Zoltan Almasi (HUN - 2691), Konstantin Landa (RUS - 2669), Pentala Harikrishna (IND - 2668), Vugar Gashimov (AZE - 2663), David Navara (CZE - 2656), Sergey Tivjakov (NED - 2643), Ni Hua (CHN - 2641), Viktor Korchnoj (SUI - 2610), Mihail Marin (ROM - 2551), Michele Godena (ITA - 2535). Croatian GM Miso Cebalo will comment games live for the audience (not the web audience :-) ), Almasi will give a simul for local players at the end of the competition. Official site should be http://www.ippogrifoscacchi.it/.
And now here is a crushing victory by Kramnik in Moscow...

Kramnik,V. (2785) - Alekseev,E. (2716) [A60], Moscow, 16.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 b5
After 5...d6 6.Nc3 we would get a Modern-Benoni.
This was Sosonko's favourite move in the '70s. Kramnik had previously played 6.Nd2 Nxd5 7.Bg2 Nc7 8.Bxa8 Nxa8 9.b4 c4 10.a4 Bxb4 11.Qc2 Bb7 12.Ngf3 a6 13.axb5 axb5 14.Qb2 Qf6 15.Qxb4 Qxa1 16.0–0 Qa6 and now the immediate 17.Ba3 would have been better than 17.Bb2 f6 18.Ba3 , played by Vlad (Kramnik-Aronian, Yerevan Rapid Match 2007). In both cases White has a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed material. Perhaps Alekseev found an improvement in the 6.Nd2 line, but Kramnik surprised him first.; White's most popular choice is 6.Bg2 and after 6...d6 White can choose between 7.e4 and 7.b4!? Nbd7 (7...Na6 8.bxc5 Nxc5 9.Nf3 g6 10.0–0 Bg7 11.Nd4 0–0 12.Nc3 a6 13.Nc6 Qc7 14.Be3 Bb7 15.Bd4 Rfe8 16.a4 bxa4 17.Bxc5 dxc5 18.Qxa4± Kasparov-Korchnoj, London 1983) 8.bxc5 dxc5 9.Nh3 Bd6 10.0–0 0–0 11.Bf4 Nb6 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.Nf4 Re8 14.a3 Bd7 15.h4 h6 16.Nd2 g5 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Nh3 Bxh3 19.Bxh3 Nbxd5–+ Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov, Batumi 2001.
The game Manor-Greenfeld, Rishon Le Zion 1996, continued 6...Bb7 7.Bg2 d6 8.a4 b4 9.Nd2 g6 10.Nc4 Ba6 11.Qc2 Bg7 12.Nf3 0–0 13.Nfd2 Nbd7 14.0–0 Nb6 15.Re1 Ng4 16.Ne3 Ne5 17.Bf1 c4 18.a5 Nbd7 19.Nexc4 Rc8 20.Qb3 Nc5 21.Qe3 Nxc4 22.Bxc4 Bxc4 23.Nxc4 Re8 24.Qf3 f5 25.Bf4 Nxe4=
7.Qe2 Qe7 8.Bg2 Nd6
Alekseev probably did not know (or remember) the old theory. Black should keep the knight on e4; the game Sosonko-Timman, Amsterdam 1980, continued 8...f5 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Qxe2+ 11.Nxe2 Na6 12.0–0 Rb8 13.Bf4 d6 14.Bd2 Be7 15.Nf4 Kf7 and Black is better.
9.Be3 b4?!
9...Na6 10.Nh3 g6= looks more precise.
10.Bxc5 Qxe2+ 11.Nxe2 Na6 12.Bxd6!?
A new move. White helps Black to develop, but Kramnik probably felt that knights would be superior to bishops in a position where Black has a lot of weak squares. The game Sosonko-Olafsson, Wijk aan Zee 1977, continued 12.Bd4 Nf5 13.0–0 Bc5 14.Bxc5 Nxc5 15.Nd2 Ba6 16.Rfc1?! (16.Nb3!?; 16.Rfe1) 16...Nd3 17.Rc2 0–0 18.Bh3 Rfe8 19.Nb3 Re5 20.Ned4 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 Rd8 22.d6 g6 and now after 23.Bf1 White would have a slight edge.
12...Bxd6 13.Nd2 Rb8
After 13...Bb7 14.Nc4 Bc5 15.Nf4 White is slightly better anyway.
14.Nc4 Be7 15.d6 Bf6 16.Nf4 Nc5 17.0–0 Ba6 18.Nd5
18.Rfe1+ was an interesting alternative, e.g.: 18...Ne6 (18...Kd8 19.Ne5 Rf8 20.Rac1 Rb5 21.Nh5 is good only for White) 19.Ne5 Rb6 20.Rad1 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Bxe5 22.fxe5 and Black's position is difficult.
Obviously not 18...Bxc4?! 19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Rfc1 0–0 21.Rxc4 Ne6 and White is clearly better.
19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Bd5
20.Rfd1!? is probably better, but after 20...Bxc4 21.Rdc1 Bxa2!? Black can hold on, e.g.: 22.Rxa2 (22.Rxc5 Be6 23.Rxa7 Rb6 24.Bd5 Rxd6 25.Bxe6 fxe6=) 22...Nd3 23.Rb1 (23.Rd1 b3 24.Rxa7 Nxb2 25.Rb1 Nc4 26.Bd5 Nxd6 27.Rxd7 Rbd8 28.Rxd8 Rxd8 29.Rxb3 looks drawish.) 23...Rb6 24.Rxa7 Rxd6 25.Rd1 Rc8 26.Ra8 Rxa8 27.Bxa8 Ra6 28.Rxd3 Rxa8 29.Rxd7 and White can try to convert his slight edge into a full point, but it is not as easy as it looks.
A serious mistake. This knight was very well-placed on c5. Black should have tried 20...Rfc8
21.Rfc1! Rfe8 22.Ne3! Rb6
After 22...Nxb2 23.Rc7 White is better as well.
23.Rc7 Rxd6?
23...Bb5 and 23...Rd8 were both better alternatives. Now Black is almost hopeless.
24.Rd1! Kh8 25.Nf5
White dominates.
25...Rb6 26.Bxf7 Nxb2?
The last mistake in a desperate position: after 26...Rd8 27.Rdxd7 Rxd7 28.Rxd7 Rb8 29.Rxa7 Bd3 30.Rxa4 Bxf5 White wins anyway, but not as fast as in the game.
Now White wins easily.
27...Re1+ 28.Kg2 Bf1+ 29.Kf3 Be2+ 30.Kf4 Rb8
If 30...Nd3+ then 31.Rxd3+-
31.Bc4 1–0


Karpov on the way out?

After a (quite) long absence from chess scene, Anatoly Karpov has recently made his come-back. His third place in Gorenje last June was not a bad result, if you consider that his previous tourney was Essent 2003. But his last place in the "Chess Champions League", which took place 1st-15th November 2007 in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain, is a bit disappointing: and this is not because he scored 3 points out of 10, but because of his play. Wasting good positions and making some really big mistakes is not what you can expect from a chess legend like him, a superGM who has won 161 tournaments and has played in every Fide World Championship match from 1978 to 1998.
Since 2005 Karpov has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia and he has lately been involved in several humanitarian causes: all those activities must have brought him miles far from chess and I wonder if he would be able to beat his old (and oldest) rival Viktor Korchnoj nowadays.
Speaking about the "Chess Champions League", Veselin Topalov won the tourney with a convincing 7/10; he lost only one game with Judit Polgar, after giving her a free piece as an early Christmas present (you are a real gentleman, Veselin!). Ruslan Ponomariov took second place on 5.5, losing his last two games against Topalov and Kasimdzhanov; Nisipeanu and Polgar shared third on 5, Kasimdzhanov was fifth on 4.5 and Karpov, as already written, sixth and last on 3. The aim behind the tournament was to get funds to build up and/or send equipment to a Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, one of the poorest regions in the Congo. Side events which aimed to raise this money included an auction: some of the best Spanish sportsmen donated some items to be sold and Topalov did the same, by donating the medal he got when he became World Junior Champion in Puerto Rico 1989. Official site of the event: http://www.ajedrez-hotelakua.com/.

Kasimdzhanov,R (2690) - Karpov,Ana (2670) [E37], Vitoria Gasteiz 13.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 c5 8.dxc5 Nc6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.e3
More common is 10.Nf3 Qa5+ (10...Bf5 11.b4 0–0 12.Bb2 b6 13.b5 bxc5 14.bxc6 Qa5+ 15.Nd2 Rab8 16.c7 Rb3 with complicated play, M. Gurevich-Franzoni, Luzern 1989) 11.Bd2 Qxc5 12.Qxc5 Nxc5 13.Be3 Nb3 14.Rd1 Be6 15.Rd3 Nba5 16.g3 0–0 17.Bg2 Rfd8 and the position looks about equal, S. Ivanov-Balashov, Elista 1995
Karpov either mixed up or didn't payheed to the minor alteration. 10...Bf5 is the strongest continuation: 11.Bd3 (11.Qd1 0–0 12.Nf3 Nxc5 13.b4 Qf6 14.Ra2 Ne4 15.Bb2 d4 16.exd4 Ng3 17.d5 Qe7+ 18.Be2 Nxh1 19.dxc6 Rfd8 20.Bd4 (Sula-Maksimovic, Kastoria 1996) and now after 20...bxc6 Black has a slight edge.) 11...Qg5 (11...Ne5 12.Nf3 Nxd3+ 13.Qxd3 Ng3 14.e4 Nxe4 15.0–0 0–0 16.Qd4= Kasimdzhanov - Asrian, Vandoeuvre 2007.) 12.f3!? (12.Kf1) 12...Qh4+ 13.Kf1 Ng3+ 14.hxg3 Bxd3+ 15.Qxd3 Qxh1 16.b4 (16.Qb5? 0–0–0 17.b4 d4 18.e4 f5 19.exf5? Rhe8 20.Bg5? d3–+ 21.Kf2 Re2+! 22.Nxe2 Qxa1 23.Bxd8? d2 0–1, Bromberger-Van den Doel, Bundesliga 2000) 16...0–0 17.Bb2 Rfe8 18.Kf2 Qh6 19.Ne2 with some compensation for the sacrificed exchange, Kasimdzhanov - Aronian, Mainz 2007.
With his light-squared bishopdesigned to enter the game White isn'tobliged to play 11.Bd2 Nxd2 12.Qxd2 Qxc5=
11...Nxb4 12.axb4 Qxa1 13.Bb5+ Kf8 14.Ne2 a5
14...a6 (or 14... Bf6) also came into consideration, although after 15.Ba4 a5 16.b5 Bf5 17.c6 bxc6 18.b6! the position looks really complicated.
15.f3 Nf6 16.0–0
16.c6!? had to be considered.
The first inaccuracy. Black had to play 16...axb4 and after 17.Bb2 Qa7 18.Ra1 Qb8 19.Ra4 White has some compensation, but he is not better.
17.e4! dxe4 18.Bf4
Now all White pieces are ready to attack the enemy King: Black's position is quite unpleasant.
18...Qf5 19.g4 Qg6 20.Qd2 Be6 21.Bb8!
A really elegant move!
A big mistake after which Karpov's position collapses soon. 21...Bd5 was the best alternative: after 22.Nf4 Qh6 23.Be5 (23.Bd6+ Kg8 24.Nxd5 Qxd2 25.Ne7+ Kf8 26.Ng6+=) 23...Bb3 24.Qd6+ Kg8 25.bxa5 Qg5 26.c6 bxc6 27.Bxc6 Ne8 28.Qc5 Rc8 29.a6 h5 White has the better chances, but Black can still fight; 21...Bd7 was weaker than ...Bd5, e.g.: 22.Nf4 Qh6 23.Bxd7 Nxd7 24.Bd6+ Kg8 25.Qd5 Nf6 26.Qxb7 Re8 27.bxa5 exf3 28.Qxf3 Qg5 29.a6 and passed pawns a and c are too strong.
Simple and winning. Black can't take the knight because of Qd8#.
22...Qh6 23.Nxe6+ Qxe6
23...fxe6 was not better: 24.fxe4+ Nf6 25.g5 Qh5 (25...Qg6 26.Qd8+ Kf7 27.Qd7+ Kf8 28.Bd6+ Kg8 29.Qxe6+ Qf7 30.Bc4+-) 26.Be2!+-
24.Bd6+ Kg8 25.Bc4 exf3 26.Bxd5
Game over: in addition to his dangerous initiative White gains material.
26...Qxg4+ 27.Kh1 axb4 28.Bxf3 Qc4 29.Qg2 h5 30.Bd5 Qg4 31.Bxf7+ Kh7 32.Qc2+ g6 33.Bxg6+ 1–0
Black resigned in view of 33... Qxg6 34.Rf7+ Kh6 35.Bf4+.


An (almost) immortal blitz game

Two really strong events are taking place in Moscow (Russia) and Vitoria Gasteiz (Spain). The Russian capital is the venue for the 2007 Tal Memorial (http://www.russiachess.org/), the Spanish town hosts the "Chess Champions League - Playing for a better world" (http://www.ajedrez-hotelakua.com/), a tournament that aims to get funds to build up or send equipment to a Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, one of the poorest regions in Congo. Vladimir Kramnik plays the first, Veselin Topalov the latter: as usual, after their match in Elista last year and the so called "Toilet-gate", the two superGMs are happy if they do not have to play each other. Only one exception this year: the Wijk aan Zee supertourney last January. And next year? They are both awaited to play in Wijk aan Zee, again, but the first Fide Grand Prix will probably force them to meet more times. We'll see... Meanwhile, Kramnik shares the lead in Moscow with Mamedyarov and Carlsen after round 3 (they are all on 2 points); Topalov is placed second on 5/8 in Spain with two rounds to go: he will play Ponomariov, who leads the field on 5.5, right tomorrow.
And now let's come to the title of this post. In the past days I played some blitz (3 mins) games on Playchess server. On November 5, I found what I thought to be a really brilliant combination against a 14 years old boy from Uzbekistan. I hoped it could be remembered as "My immortal blitz game", but I was worng: I almost wasted a totally won position because of my craving for playing brilliant moves. So, here is the "pearl"...

Mione, D. (2254) - R. R. (2120) [C55], Playchess.com, 5.11.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.0–0 Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.d4 exd4
6...Bb6 is more accurate.
7.cxd4 Bb6 8.h3 h6 9.Re1 0–0 10.Nc3 a6 11.Bf4
Now White has more space to manoeuvre his pieces.
A new move, and definitely not a good one, if the idea is Ne7-g6. 11...Ba5 is the main line here.
12.Qd2 Ng6?
A losing move. 12...Be6 was the correct way to prepare Ne7-g6.
That's obvious!
13...Be6 , again, had to be played.
14.Qxh6 Nh8
14...d5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Ng5! Qxg5 17.Qxg5 Ndf4 18.Rad1 was simply decisive in White's favor.
15.e5 was probably even stronger: after 15...Nh7 16.Nd5 (intending Nf6+ and Black is hopeless) 16...Ng6 17.Nxb6 cxb6 18.Qxg6+ Kh8 19.Bxf7+- White wins easily.
15...Nh7 was a bit better, although after 16.Nh4 Qg5 17.Rg3 Qxg3 18.fxg3 Bxd4+ 19.Kh2 Bg7 20.Qd2 White is winning anyway.
Correct, but 16.Ne5!! was even more brilliant.
16...Bxc4 17.Rg3??
Awful! I thought the text move was brilliant, then I analyzed the position with a strong chess software... and I found that Black has an easy way to escape. 17.e5! was the best continuation: 17...dxe5 18.dxe5 Bd3 19.exf6 Qxf6 20.Qxf6 Bxe3 21.fxe3+- and White has a huge advantage.
17...Ng6 18.e5 dxe5 19.dxe5 Bxf2+?
The first mistake. After 19...Re8 has excellent winning (!) chances, e.g.: 20.Rd1 (20.Nxf7 Bxf7 (20...Bxf2+ is weaker: 21.Kh1 Bxf7 22.Rxg6+ Bxg6 23.Qxg6+ Kh8 24.exf6 Qd7 25.f7 Re6 26.Qh5+ Kg7 27.Qg4+ Kxf7 28.Rf1 is unclear) 21.Rxg6+ Bxg6 22.Qxg6+ Kh8 23.exf6 Qd7–+) 20...Qe7 21.exf6 Qxf6 22.Nge4 Qg7 23.Qg5 Bd4 and White has not enough compensation for the piece.
And not 20.Kxf2 Qd4+ 21.Re3 Nxe5–+ followed by ...Neg4+.
That is the exact continuation I calculated when I played 17.Rg3??. I was lucky, because my young opponent saw it too :-) White has no more than a draw after 20...Re8 (20...Bxg3?? 21.exf6 and then mate) 21.exf6 Qxf6 22.Rf3 Qg7 23.Qxg7+ Kxg7 24.Rxf2=
21.Ne6+! Bxg3 22.Qg7# 1–0
The end. Nice mate, but unfortunately I can't consider this as "my immortal blitz game".


Chuky's drama in Heraklio

No. I can't believe the player who played on top board for Ukraine in the 2007 European team championship, held in Heraklio (Crete - Greece) in October 28 to November 6, was the same Vassily Ivanchuk who convincingly won a huge number of games and strong tourneys in the first seven months of the present year. The same Ivanchuk who is (was?!) the second highest rated player of the world, with an impressive 2787 rating. He can't be our "Super-Chuky"! Why not? Well, just give a look to the games played by that (presumed) Ivanchuk in Greece: he was outplayed by Bacrot in only 24 moves with White pieces, he wasted a better position (being an exchange up!) against Mamedyarov, again on White side, he lost an equal endgame (until move 37, at least) with Michael Adams. So? Well, he finished with a poor 3/7 score and a 2623 performance, losing 16 points. In view of the 2007 Fide World Cup, this is not a good result for Chuky. Come on Vassily, you can do it!
About the European team championship, Russia won both the male and female sections, Armenia took silver and bronze respectively, Azerbaijan was third in the Men event and Poland second in the Women's. Italy was placed 28th, not a bad result if you consider that our guys were the 29th strongest team :-) Official site of the competition: http://www.greekchess.com/euro2007. My thanks to the www.chessdom.com staff (Goran Urosevic above all) for sending me a lot of photos from the event. You can find them on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it, in the "Ultime notizie" ("Last news") section.
A couple of (quite) strong tourneys has just finished in Italy. Russian GM Oleg Korneev scored 7.5/9 and won the 8th Hotel Petra Festival, held in Rome in October 29 to November 4. His compatriot and Elo-favourite GM Vladimir Burmakin and Serbian GM Miroljub Lazic took second and third place respectively on 6.5. 140 players, official site: www.arrocco.net.
Ukrainian GM Georgy Timoshenko took clear first in the 2007 "Autunno veneziano" festival, held in Venice in November 1-4. He scored 5 points out of 6 and edged out by half a point Croatian IMs Marin Bosiocic and Milan Mrdja, GM Sergey Kasparov (BLR), FM Davor Ramesa (CRO) and young Italian master Alessandro Bonafede from Treviso, who will compete in the next Italian championship, to be held in Martina Franca (Taranto) in November 23 to December 4. That will be an 8 category event, with a 2435 rating average. Official site of "Autunno veneziano" festival: www.veneziascacchi.com.
And now here is a dramatic game played (and lost) by Chuky in Crete...

Ivanchuk,V (2787) - Mamedyarov,S (2752) [D97], Crete 4.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Qb3 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bg7 6.e4 0–0 7.Be2 c6 8.Nf3 b5 9.Qb3 Qa5 10.Bd2 b4 11.Na4 Nxe4 12.Bxb4
A well known variation. Now both 12...Qc7 and 12...Qd8 are played.
12...Qc7 13.0–0 Be6 14.Qc2 Nd6 15.Rfd1 a5 16.Ba3 Bd5 17.Nc3 Na6 18.Rac1 Qb8?
Not a smart move indeed. 18...Be6 gives Black an (about) equal game.
19.Ne5 Nb4
If 19...Re8 then 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Nc6 and White is clearly better.
20.Bxb4 axb4 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Nd7 Qc8 23.Nxf8 Qxc2 24.Rxc2 Kxf8 25.b3 Ne4
The critical position: White is an exchange up and Black has a very little compensation. You shouldn't believe Chuky can lose this game, but he did!
26.Rd3 e6 27.Kf1 Bf6 28.g4 Ra3 29.f4 Nc3
Well, let's say White's task is not as easy as it looks after his last moves: Black's knight is really strong now.
30.Rdd2 Kg7 31.Kg2 Bh4
After 31...Nxe2 32.Rxe2 Bxd4 33.Rc7 White can be satisfied with his position.
32.Kf1 Bd8 33.Kg2 Bh4 34.Kf1
I guess Chuky was trying to reach the first time control, but he has wasted a lot of his positional advantage and now Black has good drawing (but not winning!) chances.
A serious inaccuracy. 34...Be7 is much better.
35.Rb2 Ra8 36.Rbc2 Ra3 37.Rb2 Kf8 38.Rbc2 Be7 39.Kg2 Kg7 40.Rb2?
40.g5 intending h4 gives White some more chances to get an advantage.
40...h6 41.Rbc2?!
The immediate 41.Kf3 looks more precise.
41...Bd6 42.Kf3??
Not now! 42.f5 is probably the only way to save the day, e.g.: 42...exf5 43.gxf5 Bf4 44.Rd3 Nxa2 45.fxg6 fxg6 46.Bf3 Nc3 and Black has full compensation for the exchange, but White would be able to draw the game without too many troubles.
42...g5 43.fxg5 hxg5 44.Bd3 f6 45.Rf2 e5
Unbelievable. Now it is Black who is trying to get more than a draw!
46.Bf5 e4+ 47.Kg2 Bf4 was unpleasant as well.
46...fxe5 47.Bf5 e4+ 48.Kg2 Bf4 49.h4 Kf6??
Both players are playing quite bad: 49...d4 looks much better, although after 50.Rxc3 bxc3 51.Bxe4 Be3 52.Re2 gxh4 53.Kh3 White can fight for a draw (but Black must be winning).
Now White is back in the game.
50...Kg7 51.Rxf4! gxf4 52.g5 was even worst for Black.
51.h6 d4 52.h7 Ra8 53.a3??
No, Chuky, no! What's wrong with you? 53.Rfe2!! was not easy to be found even for a strong GM, but you are the #2 player in the world! After 53.Rfe2 Black has not many alternatives: 53...e3! [a) 53...Be3 54.a3! Nxe2 55.Rxe2 bxa3 56.Ra2 Rh8 (56...Bc1?? 57.Rc2 Bb2?? 58.Bc8+-; 56...d3 57.Rxa3 Rh8 58.Ra5+ Kd4 59.Ra4+ Kc3 60.Rxe4 Bd4 61.Kf1±) 57.Rxa3 Bd2 58.Ra6 Kd5 59.Ra7 Bc3 60.Rd7+ Ke5 61.Re7+ Kf6 62.Rxe4±; b) 53...Nxe2 54.Bc8+-; c) 53...d3 54.Rxc3 bxc3 (54...dxe2 55.Bc8!+-) 55.Rxe4+ Kd5 56.Rc4 Rxa2+ 57.Kf3 Be5 58.Bxd3+-] 54.Re1 Kf6 55.Rh1 Kg7 56.Bd3 and White can hardly lose such an endgame. After the text move, on the contrary, Black wins on the spot. Poor Chuky!
53...d3 54.axb4 dxc2 55.Rxc2 Kd4 56.b5 e3 57.b6
57.Kf3 e2 58.Rxe2 Nxe2 59.Kxe2 Be5 was hopeless as well.
57...e2 58.b7 Rh8 0–1
And White resigns. You shouldn't say that two of the top super-GMs in the world has played this (end)game...


Crete, Black to move and win

Many interesting games have been played so far in Crete (Greece), where the 2007 European team championship is under way until November 6. I present here three of the most amazing ones of round 5: Black got the upper hand in all of them. In the first one, Bacrot surprised super-Chuky with a novelty on move 14; the Ukrainian GM was probably not in his best shape to fight a tough battle, so he offered a draw two moves later, but Etienne declined and won before move 30. You can find the game fully annotated on Bacrot's own web site, http://www.chess22.fr/, a must see for all chess enthusiasts. In the second, also played in the Ukraine-France match (2-2 the final result), young Sergey Karjakin easily got a strong initiative against European champion Vladislav Tkachiev and eventually outplayed him with a piece sacrifice. In the third and last game, Czech GM David Navara sacrificed his Queen for two minor pieces and developed a crushing attack against his opponent's king. You will find many brilliant moves as well as a lot of mistakes in all games...
Speaking about the event, Russia is the sole leader of the Men's event with a stunning 12/12 score, while Poland and Russia share the first place on 10/12 (both unbeaten) in the female section with 3 rounds to go. Official site: http://www.greekchess.com/euro2007/.
And now here are the annotated games...

Ivanchuk,V. (2787) - Bacrot,E. (2695) [D15], Crete 1.11.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 7.Bd2 Nhf6 8.Qc2 g6 9.g3
"A recent idea that has posed some theoretical problems for Black" (Bacrot). More common is 9.Bf4 Bg7 10.e3 or 10.h3
9...e5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.e6
"The most critical. If I remember correctly, Miton played 11.Na4 against me in the Spanish Team Championship in June" (Bacrot).
11...Nxc5! 12.exf7+ Kxf7 13.e4 Bg7 14.Bg2?!
Better is 14.h3 Nf6 15.Ng5+ Kg8 16.Be3 Qa5=
"This is one of the novelties that I had prepared for my match against Kamsky. Finally my homework came in useful. Instead 14...Re8 was played in Sargissian-Laznicka, 2007" (Bacrot).
15.Bxc3 dxe4!?
Now 15...Re8 may be even better.
"This move was accompanied by a draw offer. This showed that he didn't know my 14th move. I struggled to remember my preparation exactly, but I knew that I wasn't risking anything so I naturally decided to continue" (Bacrot).
16...Nd3+ 17.Kf1 exf3 18.Bxf3 Ngxf2 19.Qb3+ Ke7 20.Bg7
"A natural move but not the best. Finding the correct line at the board is far from easy: 20.Qa3+! c5 21.Re1+! Nxe1 22.Qxc5+ Qd6 23.Bf6+ Ke6 24.Qxd6+ Kxd6 25.Kxf2 Nxf3 26.Kxf3 Be6 27.Rd1+ Kc6 28.Rc1+ Kb5 29.Ke4 Bxa2 30.Rc7= " (Bacrot).
20...Bh3+ 21.Bg2?!
"The exchange of bishops helps my attack. Best is 21.Kg1 Qd7 22.Bh6 Re8 23.Bg5+ Kf8 24.Bh6+ drawing, just as I had prepared at home" (Bacrot).
21...Qd7 22.Bxh3 Qxh3+ 23.Kg1 Qf5 24.Qxb7+??
This move loses immediately. White had to play 24.Re1+ with surviving chances, although after 24...Nxe1 25.Qxb7+ Kd6 (25...Ke6 26.Qxc6+ Kf7 27.Qb7+ Ke6 28.Qc6+=) 26.Qb4+ (26.Qxa8 Nh3#) 26...Kd5! (26...Kd7 27.Qb7+ Kd6 28.Qb4+=) 27.Qd4+ Ke6 28.Qc4+ Kd7 29.Qd4+ Kc7 30.Qxf2 Qe4 31.Qf4+ Qxf4 32.gxf4 Nd3 Black is better.
24...Kd6 25.Qb6?
Losing on the spot, but 25.h4 Qf3–+ was winning for Black anyway.
25...Qf3 26.Qd4+ Kc7 27.Be5+ Kc8 0–1
White can't avoid mate, so he resigned.

Tkachiev,V. (2661) - Karjakin,S. (2694) [D45] , Crete 1.11.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Bd2 e6 6.Qc2 Nbd7 7.Nc3 c5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Be2
Probably not a new move, but 9.g3 b5 10.Bg2 Bb7 11.0–0 Rc8= (M. Gurevich-Morozevich, Wijk aan Zee 2002) is more common.
9...Be7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rfd1 b5 12.Ne5
Interesting (and probably more precise) is 12.e4!?
12...Qc7!? has also to be taken into consideration.
You could think this is a strong move, but it will turn out to be a loss of time. Better is 13.exd4 Bb7 14.Bf4=
13...Qe8 14.exd4 Bd6 15.a3
15.Re1 Nb6 16.Bxb5? is not as good as it looks; after 16...Be6 17.Na4 (17.Ba4 Rc8) 17...axb5 18.Nxb6 Ra6 19.Ba5 Bc7 White loses material.
15...Nb6 16.Nb4 Bb7 17.Nd3 Ne4 18.Bf4 Bxf4 19.Nxf4 Rc8 20.Bf3 Na4
Black is more than fine in this position.
21.Nfxd5? doesn't work: 21...Bxd5 22.Bxe4 Nxc3 23.Bxh7+ Kh8 24.bxc3 g6 25.Bxg6 fxg6 and White's three pawns are not enough compensation for the piece. 21.Rd3!? was an interesting alternative to the text move.
21...Qd7 22.Rab1 Ng5
22...f5 or 22... Rfe8 look stronger.
23.Qd3 Nb6 24.h4 Nxf3+ 25.Qxf3 Nc4 26.Nc1
Too slow. 26.h5 h6 27.Ng3 looks more precise.
26...Qe7 27.Qg3 Nd2 28.Ra1 Ne4 29.Nxe4 dxe4 30.Nb3 Bd5 31.Nc5 Rc6 32.Qe5 Qd8 33.Nb7?
A bad mistake. After 33.Re1 Rh6 34.g3 f5 Black is slightly better, but White can hold on.
Easy! White can't take the piece or he will lose very soon...
The losing move: I guess Tkachiev was in time trouble. After 34.Nd6 e3! 35.Rf1 (35.fxe3 Bxg2 36.Qxg7+ Kxg7 37.Nf5+ Kh8 38.Nxh4 Be4–+) 35...Rc2 36.Qxe3 Qg4 37.Qh3 Qxh3 38.gxh3 Rc6 39.Nf5 Rg6+ 40.Ng3 f5–+ Black has a crushing attack; but 34.g3 holds on, e.g.: 34...Qg4 35.Nd6 Rd8 36.Nf5 f6 37.Qe7 Rcc8 38.Ne3 Qd7 and Black has good winning chances, but White is still alive.
34...Rh6 35.Kf1 Rf6 36.f3
After 36.Rd2 e3 37.g3 Qxg3 38.Qg2 Qxg2+ 39.Kxg2 exd2–+ White is hopeless as well.
36...exf3 37.gxf3 Qh2! 38.Qe4 Rg6 39.Qe3 Rg2 0–1
White can't avoid ...Qh1+ and mate, so he resigned.

Cheparinov,I. (2670) - Navara,D. (2656) [C88], Crete 1.11.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8
It should sound strange, but this looks to be a new move. 11...Rae8 is the common line.
After 12.Ng5 Black can play 12...Nd8 intending ...Ne6.
12...b4 13.Ne2 d5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Ng3 Bf8 16.Bd2 a5 17.Ba2 Nd4?
A bit too optimistic. After 17...Rad8 Black is fine.
18.Nxe5 Qd6 19.Nf3?
White gives back the favour. After 19.Qg4! Rxe5 (19...Nxc2 20.Nf5+-) 20.Qxd4 Rae8 21.Rxe5 Qxe5 22.Qxe5 Rxe5 23.Ne4 Black is a pawn down without any compensation.
19...Rxe1+ 20.Bxe1 Nf4
Now Black has a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed pawn.
21.Nxd4 Qxd4 22.Qg4 Re8
Taking back the pawn was just bad: 22...Bxg2? 23.Nf5 Nxh3+ 24.Qxh3! Qxf2+ 25.Bxf2 Bxh3 26.Ng3 and White can play for a win.; 22...Qxb2?? 23.Qxf4 Qxa1?? 24.Qxf7+ Kh8 25.Qg8#
23.Nf5 h5
Only move.
Not the best choice. After 24.Nxd4 hxg4 25.hxg4 Nxg2 26.Bd2 Bc5 27.c3= Black is fine, but White is not losing.
24...Kh7 25.Qf5+ Kxh6 26.Bd2 Bd6
26...g5!? was an interesting alternative: after 27.h4 f6 28.Bg8 Re7 29.Be3 Qe5 30.hxg5+ fxg5 31.Qxf8+ Qg7 32.Qxg7+ Rxg7 33.Bc4 Nxg2 34.Bc5 Kg6 Black has some winning chances.
27.Bxf7 Qxf2+
A beautiful (and virtually forced) Queen sacrifice.
28.Kxf2 Re2+ 29.Kg1 Rxg2+?
Better was 29...Rxd2 30.Re1 g6 31.Re6 Rxg2+ 32.Kf1 Rg3 and White is in deep trouble. But this line was not easy to be calculated.
30.Kf1 Rxd2 31.Bg8??
Losing on the spot. 31.h4 is the only way to survive (and get a draw), e.g.: 31...Bg2+ (31...Rh2 32.Qg5+ Kh7 33.Qd8 Rh1+ 34.Kf2 Rh2+ (34...Bc5+ 35.d4+-) 35.Kf1 Rh1+=) 32.Ke1 Re2+ 33.Kd1 Bf3 34.Qg5+ Kh7 35.Qf5+ Kh8 36.Kc1 Re1+ (36...Bg4 37.Qxa5 Re1+ 38.Kd2 Re2+=) 37.Kd2 Re2+ (37...Rxa1?? 38.Qc8+ Kh7 39.Qg8+ Kh6 40.Qh8#) 38.Kc1 Re1+=
31...Bg2+ 32.Ke1 Re2+ 33.Kd1 Bf3
Black pieces are all ready to assault White king.
34.Qh7+ Kg5 35.Ra2?
Now Black forces mate, but 35.Qxg7+ Kh4 36.Kc1 Re1+ 37.Kd2 Rxa1–+ is also hopeless for White.
35...Rh2+ 36.Ke1 Nxd3+ 0–1
Now Black mates in two moves: 37.Qxd3 Bg3+ 38.Kf1 Rh1#. So White resigned.

And now here is the solution to the test of my last post.
Rajlich (2411) - Bosboom-Lanchava (2379), Crete 30.10.2007
White to play and win
22.Rh7+ 1–0 (22... Kxh7 23. Qf7+ followed by Rh1)


Luck and missed opportunities in Greece

A lot of interesting games were played in the first 3 rounds of the 2007 European team championship. I show here a couple of them: to be more precise, their crucial positions. In the first one, Azeri super GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov almost wasted a winning position after a brilliant Rook sacrifice, but his opponent, Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen, couldn’t find the correct defence and lost anyway. In the second one, Azeri wIM Nargiz Umudova was not as lucky as her compatriot: her position was really good after move 24, but she made a couple of terrible mistakes on moves 25 and 27. Luck often favours the brave. But not always.

Mamedyarov, S (2752) - Nielsen, P.H. (2626), Crete 30.10.2007
Black has just played a weak move (28...Rd2?) a couple of moves before the position you can see in the diagram. Now White has an easy way to achieve a won position by playing the simple 30. Bxe6 (intending Nf5+): after 30... Qd8 (30... Rxf2 31. Kxf2 Qf4+ 32. Nf3 fxe6 33. Rg4 +-) 31. Nf5+ Kg8 32. Nh6+ Kg7 33. Nxf7 there is not much Black can do to avoid a loss. Mamedyarov probably felt he had more and played the brilliant 30. Rxe6!!, but after 30... fxe6 31.Nxe6+ Kf7 he lost the way and gave the wrong check: 32.Nf4+?? - the correct move was 32.Nc7+ Ke7 (32...Kg7 33.Qe5 Rd1+ 34.Kh2 Rd7 35.Ne6+ Kf7 36.Nc5++-) 33.Re3+ Ne4 (33...Kd7 34.Qxf6 Rd1+ 35.Bf1 Qf8 36.Qb6 Bc6 37.Ne6+-) 34.Qe5+ Kd8 35.Rf3 and White wins -. Nielsen immediately gave the favour back by playing 32...Bd5?? (after 32...Ke7 33.Re3+ Be4 34. Nd3 Qd6 35. Qe1 Ra2 36. f3 Qd4 - intending ... Ra1 - 37. Kh2 Qd6+ 38. Kh1 Qd4 White must take the draw by repetition and play 39. Kh2) and the Azeri player won on the spot: 33.Nxd5 Nxd5 34.Rf3+ Kg8 35.Qe1 Rd4 36.Bxd5+ 1–0 (36... Rxd5 37. Qe6+ is without hope for Black).

Papadopoulou, V. (2218) - Umudova, N. (2188), Crete 30.10.2007
Black has reached a promising position and now 25...Re8 would give her good winning chances, since White has to play the sad 26. Rxd4 and after 26.... Rxd4 27. Qxb7 a5 Black is an exchange up and her pieces are very well placed. Unfortunately Umudova played the weak 25... Qxg3?; the game continued 26. Rxd4 (simple and strong) 26... Nxf3+ 27. Rxf3 Rxf3?? (horrible: 27... Qxf3 28. gxf3 Rxd4 29. Qxb7 Re8 was the only way to keep on fighting) 28. fxg3 1-0. Black probably calculated only 28. Qxg3 Rxg3 29. fxg3 and White is a pawn up, but she has not won yet.

And now here are the solutions to yesterday's tests.

Beliavsky (2646) - Efimov (2446), Crete 28.10.2007
White to play and win
24.Nxg6! Kxg6 25.e5+ f5 26.e6 Rff8 27.Nxf5 1–0

Berend (2344) - Nevednichy (2531), Crete 29.10.2007
Black to play and win
28... Rxb2+! 29.Kxb2 Qc2+ 30.Ka1 Ra8 31.a4 b3 32.Rd2 b2+ 33.Ka2 b1Q+ 0–1

And here is a new test for you.

Rajlich (2411) - Bosboom-Lanchava (2379), Crete 30.10.2007
White to play and win


Crete: the battle has started

The battle of Crete has started. 39 teams in the main section and 29 in the female group will fight until November 6 to take first place in the 2007 European team championship. Many top GMs (2700+) are playing: Ivanchuk, Topalov, Morozevich, Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Aronian, Shirov, Svidler, Adams, Alekseev, Grischuk, Carlsen, Akopian and Jakovenko. Daily reports on the official site (http://www.greekchess.com/euro2007/index.html) are wirtten by the Chessdom team (www.chessdom.com): thanks to Goran Urosevic & co. you can find some fresh photos of the Italian team in the "Last news" section of Messaggero Scacchi (http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/dblog/storico.asp?s=News). It's a bit early to say who can win the title, but I think Russia has the best chances after beating Armenia (Olympic champion) in round 2; defending champion is Holland, but they play without "king" Loek and it looks quite difficult they will win for the second time in a row.
Meanwhile some interesting tourneys has just finished around the world. Hikaru Nakamura from Usa won the Casino de Barcelona tournament with 7/9, a point clear of Cuban GM Lenier Dominguez (official site: http://www.escacs.cat/ciutat07/). British champion and Elo favorite GM Jacob Aagaard won the 29th Arco di Trento international festival (October 20-28): Aagaard took first place on tie break over Bulgarian master Tervel Serafimov, Australian IM Aleksandar Wohl and Russian GM Igor Naumkin, after they all scored 7 points out of 9. 150 players from 17 countries took part in the event (3 GMs, 4 IMs and 8 FMs among them). Official site: http://www.arcoworldchess.com/. Vladislav Tkachiev confirmed his supremacy in the Old Continent by winning the European blitz champ with 25.5/32 (consisting of 16 double rounds in effect), a point clear of Laurent Fressinet, who was in turn half a point further clear of Anatoly Karpov. If you don't remember, Tkachiev won the continental champ last April. Further details: http://www.echecs.asso.fr/.
And now here is a nice game from Crete and two tests to prove your chess skill...

Jobava,Ba. (2644) - Steingrimsson,H. (2533) [B43], Crete 28.10.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.Be2 b5 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bb7 7.0–0 Qc7 8.Re1 Nf6?!
8...Nc6 is more common (and probably more precise).
9.Bf3 d6 10.a4 bxa4
10...b4 is not so good as it looks: 11.Na2 a5 (11...e5 12.Nf5 g6 13.Bg5 Nbd7 14.Nh6 a5 15.c3 Qb6 16.cxb4 axb4 17.Rc1 is just a bit better.) 12.Nb5 Qd7?? (12...Qc8 is the only way to survive: after 13.c3 Nc6 14.Qxd6 Bxd6 15.Nxd6+ Kd7 16.Nxc8 Rhxc8± White is a pawn up, but Black can hold on.) 13.e5 Nd5 14.exd6 Bxd6 15.Bxd5 Bxd5 16.Qxd5 Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Qxd5 18.Nc7+ Kd7 19.Nxd5 exd5 20.Bf4+- Abraham-Renner, Koerbecke 2000.
11.Nd5 exd5
11...Nxd5 is probably even worse, as White doesn't lose material and has a strong initiative anyway; the game Dhar Barua-Sareen, Goodricke open 2000, continued 12.exd5 e5 13.Rxa4 Be7 14.Nf5 0–0 15.Be4 g6 16.Qf3 Bf6?? (16...f6 17.Re3 Bd8 gives Black a little chance to survive, although after 18.Qh3 White has probably a winning position anyway.) 17.Nh6+ Kg7 18.Ng4 Be7 19.Bh6+ Kh8 20.Bxf8 Bxf8 21.Bxg6 hxg6? 22.Qh3+ Kg8 23.Nf6+ 1–0 (23... Kg7 24. Ne8+).
12.exd5+ Kd8 13.Rxa4 Nxd5?
A serious mistake. After 13...Nbd7 14.Nc6+ Bxc6 15.dxc6 Nc5 16.Rb4 Rb8 17.Bd2 Rxb4 18.Bxb4 White is better, but Black is still alive, although he must be very careful; the game Najdoski-Solak, Internet 2002, soon ended after 18...Kc8?! (18...Ne6) 19.Qa1 (19.Bc3!) 19...Qb6?? (19...d5) 20.Ba5 Qa7 21.Bg4+ Ne6 22.Rxe6 fxe6 23.Bxe6+ Kb8 24.c7++-
Now White wins easily.
14...Nf6 looks more stubborn, although after 15.Bxb7 Qxb7 16.Rc4 Black is in deep trouble anyway.
15.Bxd5 Bxg5
15...Bxd5 16.Bxe7+ Kc8 17.Nf5+-
16.Rc4 Qb6?
After 16...Bxd5 17.Rxc7 Kxc7 18.Nb5+ axb5 19.Qxd5 Re8 20.Rb1 Nc6 21.Qxg5 Black is losing anyway, but he can hold on a few more moves.
17.Nf5 was even stronger, e.g.: 17...Ra7 (17...Bc8 18.Nxd6! Qxd6 19.Bb7 Qxd1 20.Rxc8+ Kd7 21.Rxd1++-) 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.Nxd6 Rc7 20.Nxf7+ Kc8 21.Qg4+ Nd7 22.Nxh8+-
17...Bf6 18.Ne6+ Ke7 19.Nxg7+ Kf8
19...Be5 would only prolong the agony a few moves: 20.Nf5+ Kf8 21.Qg4!+- intending Rxe5 etc.
20.Re8+ Kxg7 21.Qg4+ 1–0
Black can't avoid mate: 21... Kxf7 22. Qh5+ Kg7 23. Rg4+ etc.

And now it is your turn! I will give solutions in my next post.

Beliavsky (2646) - Efimov (2446), Crete 28.10.2007
White to play and win

Berend (2344) - Nevednichy (2531), Crete 29.10.2007
Black to play and win


Waiting for European team champ

What a great performance! Israeli GM Viktor Mikhalevski dominated the 4th Calvia International open, which ended yesterday in the Spanish city. He won his first seven games and made short draws in the last two, with a 2783 performance and a 8/9 final score. Not bad indeed... Canadian GM Kevin Spraggett finished in sole second place on 7, without any loss like the winner; Italian GM Michele Godena shared third place on 6.5 with a very good 2640 performance. Official site: http://www.calviafestival.com.
Godena will be a member of the Italian team which takes part to the European team chess championship, to be played in Crete (Greece) in October 27 to November 7. The remaining team members will be 15 y.o. GM Fabiano Caruana, IM Sabino Brunello, IM Carlo D'Amore and IM Federico Manca. The average rating of our top four boards is 2524, which means this is the strongest Italian team ever seen in an International competition. About 40 countries have confirmed their participation. The participants will include 7 of the World Top-10 GMs: Ivanchuk (UKR 2787, No. 2 in the world), Topalov (BUL 2769, No. 4), Morozevich (RUS 2755, No. 5-6), Mamedyarov (AZE 2752, No. 7), Radjabov (AZE 2742, No. 8), Aronian (ARM 2741, No. 9), Shirov (ESP 2739, No. 10). The Women's event will also feature world stars such as GMs Alexandra Kosteniuk, Maia Chiburdanidze, Tatiana Kosintseva, Antoaneta Stefanova, Elisabeth Paehtz and Almira Skripchenko. Official site of the event: http://www.euroteams2007.org.
Last but not least, a strong category 15 event is taking place in Barcelona, Spain. American GM Hikaru Nakamura leads on 5 points after 7 rounds, followed by Cuban GM Lenier Dominguez on 4.5, Spanish IM Josep Oms Pallise, Azeri GM Vugar Gashimov and Polish GM Michal Krasenkow on 4. Nakamura started with 3.5/4 and then 5/6, then he lost his only game so far against Oms Pallise in round 7. Official site: http://www.escacs.cat/ciutat07.
And now here is a brilliant win by Nakamura himself in Barcelona...

Krasenkow,M (2668) - Nakamura,H (2648) [A14], Barcelona 19.10.2007
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.b3 a5 7.Nc3 c6 8.d4 Nbd7
8...b6 is the main alternetive. The game Lautier-Kramnik, Cannes 1993, continued 9.Bb2 Ba6 10.Nd2 Ra7 11.Qc2 Rd7 12.e3 c5 13.Rfd1 cxd4 14.exd4 Nc6 15.Nb5 Nb4 16.Qb1 Bb7 17.a3 Na6 18.Qd3 Qa8 19.Qe2 Nc7 20.a4 Rc8 21.Rac1 Nxb5 22.axb5 Rdc7 and Black got the initiative and eventually won.
9.Bb2 is also playable; the game Dizdar-Drasko, Belgrade 1988, soon ended in a draw after 9...b6 10.Nd2 Ba6 11.e4 Rc8 12.Re1 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.Bxe5 dxc4 16.Nxc4 Bxc4 17.bxc4 Rxc4 18.Qe2 Qc8 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.e5 Rc2 21.Qe4 1/2–1/2.
9...Re8 10.Rd1 has also been played in a few games.
The most active choice. After 10.Rd1 Ba6 11.Nd2 b5 12.e3 Qc7 Black can easily equalize (Donchenko-Paramonov, Chigorin Mem. 2000).
10...Ba6 11.Nd2
11.e5 is more common and probably more precise. After 11...Ne8 12.Ne2 b5 13.c5 b4 14.a4 bxa3?! 15.Rxa3 White got an edge in the game Timman-Karner, Tallinn 1973.
This looks to be a new move. After 11...Rc8 12.Re1?! c5 13.dxc5 d4! 14.Na4 Nxc5 15.Nxc5 Bxc5 16.Qd3 e5 17.Bh3 Rb8 Black got a slight advantage in the game Renet-Bronstein, Oviedo 1992.
12.exd5 cxd4 13.Nb5 exd5
The best choice, but 13...Bxb5!? is an alternative to be considered. After 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.Bxa8 Qxa8 16.cxb5 Ne5 Black has a good compensation in return for the sacrificed exchange.
14.Nxd4 Rc8 15.Re1?!
This looks to be an inaccuracy. 15.Nf5 had to be considered.
Now Black puts a lot of pressure on the c4 pawn. White must be really very careful...
16.Bb2 Re8 17.Qd1
After 17.Rad1 Bc5 18.Rxe8+ Qxe8 19.Bc3 Nb6 Black has a strong initiative anyway.
17...bxc4 18.bxc4 Qb6 19.Rb1 dxc4 20.Nc6?
Hard to believe it, this is the decisive mistake... White had to play 20.Bc3 and after 20...Qc5 21.Qa4 Nd5 22.Bxa5 N7f6 Black had the better chances, but the game is not finished yet.
20...Rxc6 21.Bxf6?
Weak, but after 21.Rxe7 Rxe7 22.Bxf6 Nxf6 23.Rxb6 Rxb6 Black wins easily anyway.
A brilliant and very nice blow!
22.Kxf2 Bc5+ 23.Kf3
23.Bd4 Bxd4+ 24.Kf3 Rf6+ 25.Kg4 Ne5+ 26.Kg5 Bc8 27.Be4 Rf2 is losing as well.
23...Rxf6+ 24.Kg4 Ne5+ 25.Kg5
25.Rxe5 Bc8+ 26.Rf5 Bxf5+ 27.Kh4 Rh6+ 28.Kg5 Bc8 is not better for White.
25...Rg6+ 26.Kh5 f6
White can't avoid mate or huge material losses.
The only way to avoid mate was 27.Bd5+ Kh8 28.Kh4 Rh6+ 29.Qh5 , but after 29...g5+ 30.Kh3 Rxh5+ 31.Kg2 Rd8 White can resign.
27...Rxe5+ 28.Kh4 Bc8 0–1
Now White is loss: 29.Bd5+ Rxd5 30.g4 Rd3! 31.Qf3 Rxf3 32.Nxf3 Rxg4+ 33.Kh3 Rg5+ 34.Kh4 Bf2#. A beautiful combination by Nakamura!


Veselin, Vishy, Fabiano and more

Veselin Topalov couldn't recover from his bad start in Bilbao and was finally placed only fifth with 9 points out of 30 (players had 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw), with a poor 2585 performance. Well, you can say this was just a rapid blindfold tourney, but I think that if a top level GM can't prove his strengh in such a competition, it will be hard for him to prove it elsewhere. The event was astonishingly dominated by Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi: he scored 21 points with 6 wins, 3 draws and only 1 loss, with a 2903 performance! Sergey Karjakin from Ukraine was second on 17, Magnus Carlsen from Norway took third place on 16. Official site: http://www.ajedrezbilbao.com/.
Meanwhile, a strong "classical" event (a double round robin tourney) has just finished in Hoogeveen (Holland). Azeri GM and Elo favourite Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won with 4.5 points out of 6, Dutch idol Loek Van Wely took second place by beating former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov from Ukraine in the last and decisive round and finished on 4 (Pono was third on 3.5). Armenian young star Zaven Andriasian, 2006 Junior World Champion, lost all his games: a very bad result that can only be explained with an awful preparation or a really bad form or some kind of illness. We hope the first or second option. Official site: http://www.essentchess.nl/.
We receive (from Ian "globetrotter" Rogers) and publish a photo by R. Ramu of Vishy Anand on his return to his home city of Chennai after winning in Mexico. Vishy waves the Indian tricolour flag as photographers jump to their feet at the start of the 5 km chariot ride. Just click on it to enlarge. Thank you very much Ian and Mr. Ramu!

Least but not last, we are pleased to inform you that Italian 15 y.o. GM Fabiano Caruana will take part to the 2007 Italian championship (to be played in Martina Franca in November 23 to December 4) and the Wijk aan Zee C group (in January 2008) with the sponsorship of "Torre & Cavallo Scacco!", a very well known Italian monthly chess magazine edited by IM Roberto Messa. "This economic contribution (3,000 euros) wants to be a sign of gratitude to a young man who is doing something wonderful with complete dedication and passion", Roberto writes in a press release (I hope my translation is not too bad). "Above all, it wants to be an example for other agencies or private firms that will assist in collecting the baton and help Fabiano Caruana in a more significant and lasting way, in order to achieve the highest goals, for which the best coaches are needed and all conditions that his family has managed to ensure him so far". Furthermore: "Next year Fabiano will be registered for the new "Torre & Cavallo Scacco!" Chess School, which will be located at the Municipal Library of Sarezzo (Brescia), where the National Library of Chess is established since 1996". Well, this looks to be a new era for Italian chess... You can read the full press release (in Italian) at http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=107. If you want to enter the "Torre & Cavallo Scacco!" Chess School just write an e-mail to info@messaggeroscacchi.it.
And now here is a position from a bullet game (1') I played yesterday :-) With only a few seconds on his clock, White could find a nice way not to lose on time... Can you find it too?

White to move

Post your solution (do not use chess programs: it is easy!) and you'll receive my congratulations :-).


Topalov: blindfold or blind?

Hi all! This is just a short post about Topalov's performance in Bilbao. Don't misunderstand me: I usually like Veselin's style and games, but sometimes he plays really awful moves... Take, for example, the above mentioned tourney. After four rounds he shares the fifth and last place with Judit Polgar and he has already lost two games, both of them due to unbelievable blunders. Yes, that's a blindfold tourney, but a superGM can't play like a weak blind player, anyway...
Here are the topic moments of Topalov's games...

Polgar J. (2708) - Topalov, V (2769), Bilbao 16.10.2007 (round 2)
Black to move. This is a "quiet" position after 14 moves of a Spanish opening; after 14...Bd7 Black is ok, e.g.: 15.Qd3 Re8 16.h3 exd4 17.cxd4 Qf6 etc. Black can even play 14...exd4 15.cxd4 Nb4, but the former world champion played the horrible...
...and resigned after the obvious
15.Nxg4 1-0 (15.Bxc6 is also winning). Astonishing...

The day after (today), again with Black pieces, Veselin had a good position against young Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna. Here it is...

Harikrishna, P. (2668) - Topalov, V. (2769), Bilbao 17.10.2007 (round 4)
Black to move. After 42...Qf7 White has nothing better than a draw (if he doesn't want to lose), e.g.: 43.Rxe5! fxe5 44.Bxe5 Kf8 45.Bxd4! Nb3 46.Qh8+ Ke7 47.Qe5+ Kd7 48.Qxb5+ R8c6 49.Qb7+ Rc7 50.Qb5+ Kc8 51.Bc3! with an equal position (!) according to Rybka. I wouldn't be surprised if White hadn't played 43.Rxe5! after 42...Qf7, getting a worst position after 43.Qg2 e4! 44.dxe4 d3 or 43.f3 Qb7 44.Rf2 Nb3. But Topalov made his first mistake by playing the immediate
and after
43.Rxc2 Rxc2 44.Qd5+ Qf7 45.Qxb5
is White who has winning chances, although after 45...Nc1 46.Kh2! Kf8! Black can hold on. The Bulgarian GM was probably a bit tired and played
Pentala was obviously happy to take the knight...
46.bxc5 1-0
...and Topalov resigned.
It is difficult to explain so many (big) mistakes by a top GM, even in blindfold games... What's wrong with you, Veselin? Wake up from your (chess) nightmare, please! Official site of the Bilbao tournament: http://www.ajedrezbilbao.com/.


Return to competition...

Hi again! Yes, I'm still alive :-) (lucky me!). Three long weeks have passed since my last post and, well, I guess you know Vishy Anand is the new world champion and the top rated player of the planet; I think the Indian superGM deserves the title as well as the #1 place in the rating list, with 2801 points. You probably know that Linex Magic from Merida (Spain) won the European Club Championship, too, and that a strong blindfold tourney is underway in Bilbao, Spain, with Veselin Topalov, Magnus Carlsen, Bu Xiangzhi, Sergey Karjakin, Pentala Harikrishna and Judit Polgar. Speaking about the Hungarian superGM, she gave a simul ten days ago in Positano, Italy: she won 26 games, drew two and lost two. The Italian U14 female champion Roberta Messina was one of the winners: her game is really spectacular and deserves a look. You will find it with full annotations by IM Daniel Contin in the next issue of "Torre & Cavallo Scacco". Meanwhile you can watch it here...

Polgar,J. (2708) - Messina,R. (1840) [B81], Positano 6.10.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4 e5 8.Nf5 g6 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.gxf6 d4 12.Bc4 Bxf5 13.Qf3 Qd7 14.0–0–0 Nc6 15.Nd5 Bg4 16.Qg3 Bxd1 17.Rxd1 Bc5 18.b4 Ba7 19.Bg5 0–0–0 20.Ne7+ Kb8 21.Bxf7 Nxb4 22.Qxe5+ Ka8 23.Bb3 d3 24.c3 Nxa2+ 25.Bxa2 Qa4 26.Rd2 Qa3+ 27.Kb1 Bb8 28.Qe3 Qxc3 29.Nd5 Rxd5 30.Bxd5 Be5 31.Qxd3 Qa1+ 32.Kc2 Rc8+ 33.Bc4 Qa4+ 34.Kc1 Rxc4+ 35.Rc2 Qa1+ 36.Kd2 Rd4 37.Rc8+ Bb8 38.Bf4 Rxd3+ 39.Kxd3 Qf1+ 40.Ke4 Qe2+ 41.Kf5 Qb5+ 42.Ke6 Qb3+ 43.Ke7 Qb4+ 44.Ke8 Qxf4 45.f7 Qe5+ 0–1

The main reason for which I haven't written for such a long period is that I had to prepare... for my first tourney after three years :-) If you also consider that September, October and November are the toughest months at my work place, a little newspaper in Bergamo (too many sport games of every kind, even along the week)... well, I'm not Superman :-) I need some rest, from time to time! Speaking about the tourney, it was an 8 player round robin event in Corsico, near Milan, with an average rating of 2247. I can be more than satisfied with my result, 4.5 points out of 7 with two wins and five draws (I was placed second), but I didn't play many interesting games and I was already tired after the first battle of the second and last week-end of the tourney (which took place on October 6, 7, 13 and 14). FM and Elo favorite Michelangelo Scalcione from Bologna took the first place with 5 points: I played against him the most interesting game of my tourney, although many mistakes have been made by both of us. Full results of the event can be found at http://www.corsicoscacchi.com/torgen_torneo.php. Now here is the above mentioned game...

Mione,Dario (2254) - Scalcione,Michelangelo (2357) [C41], Corsico 13.10.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d4 Nbd7 6.dxe5
6.0–0 is the main choice here. The text move prepares the following sacrifice.
6...dxe5 7.Bxf7+!?
This is obviously a psycological choice. Scalcione is a great expert of the Philidor defence and I wanted to surprise him from the very beginning. This is the only target I've reached in this game :-(
7...Kxf7 8.Ng5+ Kg6
Well, this can't be considered a bad move, but it is risky compared to the "positional" alternative, 8...Kg8. After 8...Kg8 9.Ne6 Qe8 10.Nxc7 Qg6 11.Nxa8 Qxg2 12.Rf1 Nc5 13.Qe2 Bh3 14.Be3 Qxf1+ 15.Qxf1 Bxf1 16.Kxf1 Kf7 17.Nc7 Ncxe4 18.Nxe4 Nxe4 19.Nd5 Rc8 20.Nxe7 Kxe7 21.c3 b6 22.Ke2 the endgame is about equal. I was well prepared on the above mentioned variation, but I was ready to meet 8...Kg6 as well, which allowed me to play the opening very quickly (until move 18), while my opponent spent a lot oftime.
White tries to mate his opponent's king with f4-f5 :-) Black is forced to take the pawn.
9...exf4 10.Ne6 Qg8
Now theory says 11.Nxc7, but I think the text move, a novelty I had prepared for this game, is stronger...
Now Black has to be really precise... The main treat is 12.Nxe7+ and Black can't take on "e6" because of 12.Nxf4+ Kf7 13.Nxe6 Kxe6 14.Qd3 and White is simply better (Black king should be very bad placed).
The most precise move, which my opponent found after a very long thought. Taking the knight on "d5" is possible, but not safe: after 11...Nxd5 12.Qxd5 Nf6 13.Nxf4+ Kh6 14.Ne6+ Kg6 White can choose between 15.Nf4+ with a draw by repetition or 15.Qg5+ Kf7 16.Nxc7 with huge complications (I think I would repeat moves :-) ).
12.Nexc7 Bxc7!
A brave (and good) choice. After 12...Nxd5 13.Qg4+ White has a very promising position.
Here is my full pregame analysis:
a) 13...Kh6 14.Ne6!! Bb4+ 15.c3 Qxe6 (15...Be7 16.h4 Qxe6 17.Qxe6+ N7f6 18.Qe5 Kg6 19.exd5 Re8 20.Qg5+ Kf7 21.0–0 Bc5+ 22.Kh2+-) 16.Qxe6+ N7f6 17.Qe5 Re8 18.Bxf4+ Kg6 19.Qg5+ Kf7 20.Be5 h6 21.Qg3 Bc5 22.0–0–0 Nh5 23.Qf3+ Ndf6 24.Bxf6 Nxf6 25.Qf4 Rxe4 26.Qc7+ Be7 27.Rhe1 Rxe1 28.Rxe1 Nd5 29.Rf1+ Nf6 30.a4+- and Black has no good moves;
b) 13...Kf7?? 14.Qe6+ Kf8 15.Qe8#;
c) 13...Kf6 14.Nxd5+ Kf7 15.Bxf4 Nf6 (15...Bxf4 16.Qxf4+ Nf6 17.Qc7+ Bd7 18.Nxf6+-) 16.Qh4 Qd8 (16...Bxf4 17.Qxf4 Qd8 18.0–0–0+-) 17.Rf1!
c1) 17...Be7 18.Bg5 Be6 (18...Kg6 19.g4 h5 20.gxh5+ Kh7 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.Rxf6+-; 18...Qd6 19.0–0–0 Qe5 20.Nxe7 Qxe7 21.e5 Qxe5 22.Rde1+-) 19.0–0–0 Bxd5 20.Rxd5 Qc7 21.e5 Rac8 22.Qe4 Qc4 23.Qxc4 Rxc4 24.exf6+-;
c2) 17...Nxd5 18.Bxd6+ Ke6 19.Qg3!! Nf6 (19...Qxd6 20.Qg4+ Ke5 21.Qxg7+ Kxe4 22.0–0–0) 20.0–0–0+-;
c3) 17...Be6 18.Bxd6 Bxd5 (18...Qxd6 19.Rxf6++-) 19.e5 Qa5+ 20.Bb4 Qb6 21.0–0–0 Qe3+ 22.Rd2 Qxe5 23.Bc3 Qe6 24.Bxf6 gxf6 25.Rxd5! Qxd5 26.Qxf6+ Kg8 27.Rf4 Qh5 28.Qe6+ Kg7 29.Rg4++-;
c4) 17...Bb4+ 18.c3 Be7 19.Bg5 Kg6 20.g4 h5 (20...h6 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.0–0–0 Qe8 23.e5 Bd8 24.exf6+-) 21.gxh5+ Kh7 22.h6! Nxd5 23.Rf7 Rg8 24.hxg7+ Kg6 25.Bxe7 Qb6 26.Rf3! Qg1+ 27.Kd2 Qg2+ 28.Rf2 Qg4 29.exd5 Qxh4 30.Bxh4+-;
12...Rb8 is just bad: 13.Bxf4 Bxf4 14.Ne7+ Kf7 15.Nxg8 Bxc7 16.Qd4! Ba5+ 17.b4 Bxb4+ 18.Qxb4 Rxg8 19.Qb3+ Kg6 20.0–0 and Black king is naked (and White treats 21.e5). You can check all these variations with your favorite chess program: it should be really instructive :-)

13.Ne7+ Kf7 14.Nxg8 Rxg8 15.Qd3 Ba5+?!
15...Nc5 is stronger. After 16.Qc4+ Ne6 17.0–0 (what else?) 17...g5 18.Bd2 Bd7 Black has full compensation for the sacrificed material and he can even start thinking how to win. To be honest, I would prefer to play on Black side in such a position :-)
16.Bd2 Bxd2+?
My opponent had spent a lot of time to calculate the previous 7 moves and now he makes a big positional mistake. After 16...Nc5! 17.Qc4+ Be6 18.Qe2 (18.Qxc5? Bxd2+ 19.Kxd2?? Nxe4+–+) 18...Bxd2+ (18...Bg4 19.Qc4+ Be6 is an easy way to get a draw, but Black can fight for the initiative) 19.Qxd2 g5 20.e5 Rgd8 21.Qb4 Nfe4 chances are about equal, although White can be more satisfied than the above mentioned variation on move 15.
17.Qxd2 Re8 18.0–0–0
18.0–0 had also to be taken into consideration.
18...Rxe4 19.Rhe1 Rxe1 20.Rxe1 is good only for White.
19.Rde1 g5?
A losing move. 19...Nc4 20.Qxf4 Ne5 21.Rhf1 Kg8 looks more stubborn.
20.h4 Nxe4
After 20...h6 21.hxg5 hxg5 22.e5 White wins easily.
As my opponent pointed out in the postgame analysis, 21.Qa5 was a good alternative, but I consider the text move to be more precise.
21...Bf5 22.hxg5?
White misses a much stronger move: 22.g4!! fxg3 23.Rhf1 Nf2 (23...Kg6 24.h5+ Kxh5 25.Rxf5 Kg6 26.Ra5+-) 24.Qb5 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 Be4 26.Qb3+ Bd5 27.Qxg3 Ne4 28.Qe5 gxh4 29.Rf1++- This variation is easy to be seen with a strong program, but not on chessboard... :-)
Now Black gets some counterplay in return for the material losses.
23.Qa5 Rc5
From now on my opponent could only count on time increment (+30 seconds per move)...
24.Qxa7 Nd7 25.Rd1!
My first good move! The treat is 26.Rxd7+ Bxd7 27.Rxh7+ Ke6 28.Qxb7. 25.Qxb7? is a mistake because of 25...Rxc2+ 26.Kb1 Rd2 27.Qb3+ Kg6 28.Ka1 Ndc5 and Black can be happy with his position.
25...Re7 is probably more precise, but this move is also dangerous...
26.c3 Ne5?!
A dubious move, but Black can count on White's blindness :-) 26...R8c7 was more precise.
It was time to take the "b7" pawn: 27.Qxb7+ R8c7 28.Qb4 f3 (28...Nf2 29.Rxh7+ Bxh7 30.Qxf4+ Ke8 31.Qxf2+-) 29.gxf3 Nf2 30.Qb3+ Kg7 31.Rd8 Nf7 32.Rh2 Nxd8 33.Rxf2 Ne6 34.Qd1 and White must win, although it is all but simple in a human game...
27...Ng3 was objectively better, but my opponent played this and the following moves in severe time trouble, so he can be justified. But I can't: I had more than one hour and I didn't find a simple defence after his 29th move.. . After 27...Ng3 28.Qxb7+ R8c7 29.Qb3+ Kg6 30.Rf2 Kxg5 31.Qg8+ Kh5 32.Qe8+ Bg6 33.Qa4 Rc4 34.Qa5 R4c5 I think Black has excellent practical chances to get a draw.
28.gxf3 Nxc3!?
The only way to get some chances to survive. Brilliant, if you consider that Scalcione found it in less than one minute...
29.bxc3 Rb5
I understimated this move and I now played the horrible...
...almost automatically, because I thought it was forced. The correct defence was: 30.Kd2 Re8 31.c4 Nxc4+ 32.Kc3 Ne3 33.Rc1 and the position is still unclear, but White can keep on fighting for a win.
Giving back the favor! After 30...Rc4 White has to pray for a draw: 31.Qa7 (only move) 31...Rxc3+ 32.Kd2 Ra3! 33.Qxa3 Nc4+ 34.Kc3 Nxa3 35.Rd6 and Rybka says this is a perfect draw, but I would prefer to play on Black side, anyway :-)
31.Kd2 Nc4+ 32.Qxc4+!?
32.Ke1 is stronger, but I didn't want to take any more risk.
32...Rxc4 33.Rxb1 Bxb1 34.Rxb1 Ra4
34...Kg6 35.Rxb7 Kxg5 36.Rxh7 Ra4 37.Ke3 Rxa2 38.c4 was also hopeless for Black.
35.Rxb7+ Kg6 36.Rb5 Rxa2+ 37.Ke3
Now it is all over.
37...Rc2 38.Rc5 Kh5 39.Kf4 Kh4 40.Rc6 Kh3 41.Rh6+ Kg2 42.Rxh7 Rxc3 43.Kg4 1–0
43...Rxf3 loses on the spot: 44.Rh2+ Kxh2 45.Kxf3 +-. This is why Black resigned. A thrilling and undeserved win by White, but don't tell me the opening preparation is useless: it can be very useful, if your opponent has to think hard to find the correct moves in a sharp position :-)


Vishy: three steps from the world title

When V is for Victory. Vishy (Anand) is three steps (games) from the world chess title after winning against Alexander Morozevich in round 11. He is now on 7.5 and has a 1.5 points lead over Israeli GM Boris Gelfand, who scored only three draws in the last four rounds (with a loss against Grischuk). Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko and Levon Aronian follow on 5.5: Vlad won’t (probably) retain his title, but he will play a 12 games match against the new world champion – Vishy :-) - next year (and Topalov is supposed to play against the World Cup winner). The official site of the competition is http://www.chessmexico.com/; you can also find photos (by Cathy Rogers), results and download/reply games on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (link to the WCC page is http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mondiale07.html).
Meanwhile, the Fide Presidential Board, held in Mexico City on September 13 and 14, confirmed Grandmaster, Woman Grandmaster, International Master, Woman International Master, International Arbiter and Fide Arbiter titles achieved last months (full story at http://www.fide.com/news.asp?id=1466). This means that Fabiano Caruana is officially the youngest Italian GM ever: he will have 2594 rating points on October 1, but he has already gained 7 more points in Trieste, so that he could be over 2600 in January 2008.
Some more news about Italian young stars. The 17th European Youth Chess Championship took place in Šibenik, Croatia, 14th-23th September. There were five sections for Boys and five for Girls: U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18. Croatian IM Ivan Saric took the title in the main U18 section with 7 points out of 9; FM Denis Rombaldoni from Pesaro was placed 7th on 6.5, while FM Niccolò Ronchetti from Ravenna scored 5.5 points and achieved his last IM norm. In the U14 Female section, Marina Brunello from Bergamo was placed 11th on 6. Official site: http://www.euroyouth2007.com/.
And now here is the clash of the giants Elista: Kramnik pushed hard to get some advantage against Anand in round 10, but he couldn't get more than a draw, an almost decisive result in Vishy's favour.

Kramnik,Vl. (2769) - Anand,Vi. (2792) [D43], Mexico City 24.9.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2
In his game against Aronian (round 2) Vishy faced 9.Ne5 h5 10.h4 g4 11.Be2 Bb7 12.0–0 Nbd7 13.Qc2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bg7 etc.
9...Bb7 10.0–0
The other main line is 10.h4
10...Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7
11...h5 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Qc1N was played in Kramnik-Gelfand (round 7).
12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bd6 a6
13...Bf8 is the main alternative.
The game Deep Junior-Deep Fritz, Elista 2007, continued 14.a4 e5 15.Bg4 exd4 16.e5 c5 17.Bf3 Nxe5 18.Bxb7 Qxd6 19.Bxa8 0–0 with an unclear position.
And not 14...e5?! 15.f4! , Agrest-Kulaots, Turin 2006.
15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.e5 Qb6 17.b3!?
A new move, 17.Ne4 has been played so far: 17.Ne4 0–0–0 18.Nd6+ Kb8 19.b3 (19.Nxf7 Rxf7 20.Bxf7 Nxe5= Radjabov-Anand, Mainz m-7 2006) 19...f6 20.bxc4 fxe5 with an unclear position, S.Ernst-Van Wely, Dutch Cht 2006/7.
If 17...c5 then 18.d5!? looks interesting.
18.bxc4 Nxe5 19.c5
The only way to hold the center.
19...Qc7 should be a valid alternative, e.g.: 20.Re1!? Nc4 21.Be2 Na3 22.Ne4 Kb8 23.Nd6 Rxd6 24.cxd6 Qxd6 with a good compensation in return for the exchange.
20.Ne4 Qb4 21.Nd6+ Rxd6 22.cxd6 Nd7
22...Nc4 was also to be considered. Now Black has two pawns and a solid position in return for the exchange.
23.a4 Qxd6 24.Bf3!? Nb6 25.axb5 cxb5 26.Bxb7+
After 26.Rc1+ Nc4 Black has nothing to be afraid of.
26...Kxb7 27.Qh5
A pawn exchange d4 for h6 will open the d-file for the white rooks, but this doesn't mean that Vlad can get any edge. 27.Qf3+!? Nd5 28.g3 was an interesting alternative.
After 27...Qxd4 28.Qxh6 Qd8 Black is solid as well.
28.Qxh6 Nf4!
With the beautiful idea 29.Qxg5?? Ne2+ 30.Kh1 Qxh2+! 31.Kxh2 Rh8+ and then mate.
The most precise defence. If 29.g3?! Ne2+ intending Qd5 and Rd8 (Anand); while 29.Rfe1? Qd5 is winning for Black.
29...Qd5 30.f3 Rd8
Kramnik has achieved nothing so far.
31.Qg7 Rd7
31...Qf5!? intending Qg6 was good as well.
32.Qf8!? Ne2
In the post-game press conference Anand said that 32...Qd6! was even stronger, e.g.: 33.Qg7 Qd5=; 32...Qxd4?! was not good because of 33.Rfc1
After 33.Qa3 Rd6!? (33...Qd6 34.Qe3 Nxd4 35.Qxg5 b4!? with some counterplay) 34.Rad1 Nxd4 35.f4 g4= the position is dinamically equal.
The endgame looks not easy for White because Black has two connected pawns supported by the king.
Neither side can improve the position seriously, but 34.Rad1!? was probably more precise.
The immediate 34...Qd6 was more precise.
White misses his only chance to get some initiative: 35.Qh6! Qd6 36.Qxg5 f6 37.Qd2 and Black has to defend accurately.
35...Qd6 36.Qg8
36.Qc8+ looks better.
Now Anand has an excellent solid position and can start thinking about pushing the a-pawn.
37.Rc8 a5 38.h3
Obviously not 38.Rdc1? Nc6! 39.h3 Ne7 and Black wins; but 38.Qh8 or 38.Ra8 were probably more accurate.
The black king may go forward under the protection of the pawns if needed.
If 39.Rdc1 then 39...Nb3! (Kramnik); 39.Qh8 and 39.Ra8 came (again) into consideration.
39...Kb6 40.Rb8+ Ka5
40...Rb7!?= leads to an equal position according to Anand.
41.Ra8+ ½–½
After 41.Ra8+ Kb4!? (41...Kb6=) 42.Qg8 (42.Rb8!?), intending Qa2, White should save the day. Apparently Anand didn't want to risk in such a good tournament situation, so a draw was agreed.


Mexico, Vishy on top at half way

The world chess championship is half-way and there were many exciting battles in the last three rounds, 5, 6 and 7, with five decisive games, all in White’s favour. Vishy Anand is in sole lead on 5/7, but his closest opponent is not who you would expect to be: GM Boris Gelfand, the oldest player of the event (he is 39 y.o.), won two games in a row (against Aronian and Morozevich) and is now on 4.5, after a fighting draw against world champion Vladimir Kramnik in round 7. The Russian superGM is still unbeaten, but he is only third on 4 (six draws and only onw victory). Alexander Grischuk is half a point behind him, after losing the only decisive game of round 7 against Anand. Peter Leko and Levon Aronian follow on 3, Svidler and Alexander Morozevich are on 2.5. Anything can happen, but it looks like Vishy, Boris and Vlad have better chances to be crowned world champions than all other players.
The official site of the competition is http://www.chessmexico.com/; you can also find photos (by Cathy Rogers), results and download/reply games on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (link to the WCC page is http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mondiale07.html).
And now here is a really spectacular draw from round 6...

Grischuk,Al. (2726) - Svidler,P. (2735) [D43], Mexico City 19.9.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4
Svidler also faced 6.Bxf6 against Kramnik in round 1: the game continued 6...Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 g6 9.e4 dxc4 10.e5 Qe7 11.Bxc4 Bg7 12.0–0 0–0 13.Re1 Rd8 14.Qe2 b6 15.Rad1 a5 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.Be4 b5 18.h4 Nb6 19.Bb1 c5 20.Nxb5 Ba6 21.h5 g5 22.Nh2 Rxd4 23.Rxd4 1/2–1/2
6...dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.h4 g4 11.Ne5 h5 12.0–0 Nbd7 13.Qc2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bg7 15.Bg3
15.Rad1 was Aronian's choice against Anand in round 2. After 15...0–0 16.Bg3 Nd7 17.f3 c5!? 18.dxc5 Qe7 19.Kh1? a6 Black soon got the initiative.
15...Qxd4 16.Rfd1 Qc5!?
This looks to be a new move, which invites White to play 17.Bd6 with tempo: 16...Qb6 was seen in five earlier games.
Grischuk takes the challenge. After 17.e5 Nd5 18.Ne4 Qb6 (18...Qe7!? 19.Nd6+ Kf8 20.a4 a6 21.Qe4 c3!? is an alternative to be considered) 19.b3 cxb3 (19...c3 20.Nxc3 Qc5 21.Rac1 Nxc3 22.Qxc3 Qxc3 23.Rxc3 gives White good chances to equalize the position.) 20.Nd6+ Ke7 21.axb3 a5 Black is two pawns up with just a little compensation for White.
17...Qb6 18.a4 a6 19.e5 Nd7 20.a5 Qa7 21.Ne4 c5
Black can't obviously take the pawn: 21...Bxe5?? 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.Qc3 Ng6 24.Qg7+-; 21...0–0–0 was an interesting alternative, e.g.: 22.Qc3 c5! 23.Ng5 Rhf8 and Black is slightly better.
22.Ng5!? Nxe5?!
This is not a smart choice: White takes a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed material. 22...Rh6 looks more accurate, e.g.: 23.Qd2 (intending 24.Bb8) 23...Bd5 24.Qf4 Nf8 25.Ne4 Bxe4 26.Qxe4 Rc8 with chances for both sides.
23.Bxe5 Bxe5 24.Bxc4!
Brilliant and virtually only move.
This is not forced and the "positional" alternative 24...Bc8 was probably more precise, although after 24...Bc8 25.Bd5! Rb8 (25...exd5 26.Rxd5 Bf6 27.Rxc5 Bd7 28.Rc7 Qd4 29.Rd1+-) 26.Bc6+ Ke7 27.Re1 Bd4 28.Qf5 White gets a strong attack, e.g.: 28...Rf8 29.Rxe6+!? Bxe6 30.Re1 Bxf2+ (30...c4 31.Rxe6+ fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kd8 33.Qd6+ Kc8 34.Qe6+ Kd8 35.Qd6+=) 31.Qxf2 Rbd8 32.Ne4 f5 33.Nxc5 Rf6 34.b4 Rd6 35.Bb7 f4 36.Bc8 with good compensation.
25.Qa4+ Kf8 26.Rd7 Bd5
26...g3 27.Rxf7+ Kg8 28.fxg3 is even most favourable to White.
Better than immediate Rxa7: Queen won't run away.
27...Bd4 28.Rxa7
The immediate 28.b3 was also playable.
28...Rxa7 29.b3 Kg7
29...cxb3!? is risky, but probably leads to a draw after the spectacular 30.Rxd4 cxd4 31.Qxd4 Rb7! 32.Qxh8+ Ke7 33.Qb2 (33.Qxh5 b2 34.Qxf7+ Kd6 35.Qf8+ Kd7 36.Qf7+ Kc8 37.Qe8+ Kc7 38.Qe7+ Kb8 39.Qf8+ Ka7 40.Qc5+ Ka8 41.Qc8+ Ka7=) 33...f6 34.Nh7 (34.Qa3+ Kd7 35.Qa4+ Rb5 36.Ne4 Bxe4 37.Qxe4 b2 38.Qb1 Kc6=) 34...e5 35.Qa3+ Ke6 36.Nf8+ Kf7 37.Qd6 Be4 38.Qe6+ Kxf8 39.Qxf6+ Kg8 40.Qe6+ Kf8 41.Qf6+ Kg8=
30.bxc4 Ba8 31.Qc2 g3 32.Rxd4?!
32.Qb3 was the best chance to retain some winning chances, e.g.: 32...gxf2+ 33.Kf1 Rd7 34.Qg3 Kf8 35.Rb1 Ke7 36.Nf3 Bxf3 37.Qxf3 intending Rb6 - with some initiative.
32...cxd4 33.Qe2 gxf2+ 34.Qxf2
The game looks about equal now, but both players are in time trouble.
34...Rd8 35.Qg3 Kf8 36.Qe5 Ke8?
The game is immediately drawn after 36...Rad7! 37.Nh7+ Ke7 38.Qc5+ (38.Qf6+ Ke8 39.Qh8+ Ke7 40.Qf6+=) 38...Rd6 39.Qg5+ Kd7 40.Nf6+ Kc8 41.c5 Rc6 42.Ne4 d3 43.Nd6+ Kc7 44.Nxf7 Rd5 45.Qf4+ Kc8 46.Nd6+ Rcxd6 47.cxd6 Kd7 48.Qf7+ Kxd6 49.Qf8+ Kd7 50.Qxa8 d2 51.Qb7+ Ke8 52.Qc8+ Ke7 53.Qc7+=.
Missing the lucky chance in time trouble. White could win by 37.Qh8+ Ke7 38.Qg7.
37...fxe6 38.Qh8+ Ke7 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Qh8+ Ke7 41.Qg7+ ½–½
Time control has just passed and Grischuk decides he doesn't want to take any risk by playing 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qxa7 , probably because he calculated that after 42...d3 White is almost forced to give perpetual, e.g.: 43.Qxa6 d2 44.Qxe6+ Kf8 45.Qf5+ Ke7 46.Qg5+ Ke8 47.Qxh5+ Ke7 48.Qd1 Be4! 49.a6 Bc2 50.Qe2+ Kf6 51.Qf2+ Bf5 52.Qb6+ Ke7 53.Qc7+ Rd7 54.Qe5+ Be6 55.Qg5+= A really amazing game!