And the battle finally began. The first round of the 2007 Candidates matches was played today in Elista, Russia. Many games (6 out of 8) ended in not so peaceful draws: Ponomariov-Rublevsky (36 moves), Kamsky-Bacrot (28), Leko-Gurevich (31), Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov (47), J. Polgar Bareev (63) and Adams-Shirov (50). Rustam and Judit succeed in saving really bad positions, thanks to some inaccuracies by their opponents. Top seed Aronian beat "wunderkind" Carlsen being on the Black side of a Spanish opening, while Grischuk won against Malakhov in the "Russian derby". After posting my predictions three days ago, yesterday I received an e-mail by a reader in which he gives his own forecasts about the WCM. His name is Luciano Dalfovo from Bressanone-Brixen (a nice place - I visited it a couple of years ago - not far from Bolzano-Bozen).
1. Aronian Levon (ARM) - Carlsen Magnus (NOR)
Luciano: Carlsen 3-3 on tie breaks
2. Leko Peter (HUN) - Gurevich Mikhail (TUR)
Luciano: Leko 3,5-2,5
3. Ponomariov Ruslan (UKR) - Rublevsky Sergei (RUS)
Luciano: Pono 3,5-1,5
4. Gelfand Boris (ISR) - Kasimdzhanov Rustam (UZB)
Luciano: Gelfand 3-3 on tie breaks
5. Bacrot Etienne (FRA) - Kamsky Gata (USA)
Luciano: Kamsky 3-3 on tie breaks
6. Grischuk Alexander (RUS) - Malakhov Vladimir (RUS)
Luciano: Grischuk 3,5-1,5
7. Polgar Judith (HUN) - Bareev Evgeny (RUS)
Luciano: Bareev 3-3 on tie breaks
8. Shirov Alexei (ESP) - Adams Michael (ENG)
Luciano: Adams 3.5-2,5
Well, Luciano, we'll se who's the best in predicting the future ;-) Official site of the event: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can also find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
Russian IM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the V International tournament "World’s Youth Stars" dedicated to Vanya Somov’s memory, which took place May 14th-28th in Kirishi. Nepomniachtchi scored 7 points out of 11, winning on tie-break over Azeri GM Rauf Mamedov, Indian GM Parimarjan Negi and Armenian GM Zaven Andriasian. There was also a rapid tournament (Nesis's Cup) on May 21 e 22 won by Russian GM Konstantin Sakaev. Official site: http://www.somovs-memorial.ru.
Our "game of the day" is Carlsen-Aronian from the Candidates matches in Elista.
Carlsen,M (2693) - Aronian,L (2759) [C84], Elista 27.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nc3 0–0 11.h3 Nb4
11...Be6 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5 Nb4 14.d4 e4 15.Ng5 c5 was played both in Romanishin-Nunn, Euro team champ 1992 (16.c3), and in Dvoyris-Shinkevich, Chigorin Memorial 1999 (16.dxc6). The text move is a new one according to my (old) database (at least in top level games), but it looks stronger than 11...Be6, because Black can immediately fight for the center with another pawn (by ...c5).
12.Ne2 c5 13.Ng3 Be6 14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.c3 Nc6
Now Black has a very strong pawns center and will soon take the initiative.
16.Re1 Qd7 17.d4?!
17.Bd2, trying to organise b2-b4 and Qb3, was a bit more cautious.
17...exd4 18.cxd4 c4
Black aims to create a passed pawn...
19.Bg5 h6 20.d5?!
20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Qd2 looks safer.
20...exd5 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.Qxd5+ Rf7 23.Qd2 Ne5 24.Nxe5 Bxe5 25.Ne2 Rbf8
Black has not played any special move, but he now has a much better position!
26...Qc6 was good too, but Aronian loves to complicate positions.
Another inaccuracy. 27.Qd5+ was slightly better, even if 27...Kh7 28.Rad1 Qc8 29.Ng3 Rb3 30.Nf5 Qc5 31.Qb7 Rxb2 would have led to a difficult endgame for White anyway.; 27.gxf3 Rxf3 28.Nf4 Bxf4 29.Qd5+ Kh7 30.Qf5+ Qxf5 31.exf5 Rxh3 followed by Rh5 or Rb3 was obviously bad for White.
27...Rxa3 28.bxa3 Qc6 29.Nd4
29.f4 Bf6 30.Qe3 Re8 31.Ng3 Bb2 followed by ...c3 is decisive.
29...Bxd4 30.Qxd4 Ra8
Black has a passed pawn and will soon have another one. White's position is hopeless.
31.Ra1 c3 32.Qb4 Qc5 33.Qb3+ Kh8 34.Ra2
34.Kf1 b4 35.a4 Qd4 was winning for Black anyway.
The last mistake, but what White could do?
35...Rxa3 36.Qd1 Ra8 0–1
Black's pawns are too strong and the rook is ready to support them from the 8th rank. White resigns. How little Magnus will react to this loss?