The WCM are coming to an end, with only two matches remaining. Leko and Gelfand obtained a draw and a victory respectively in the fifth game and go through to Mexico City. After disappointing his fans for quite a long period Leko has finally appeared at his best in Elista: he made short work first of the bottom seed Mikhail Gurevich (3.5-0.5) and secondly of Evgeny Bareev (3.5-1.5). The Hungarian super GM was never in any trouble against his opponent and crushed the Russian's Petroff defence twice in powerful style. Boris Gelfand also made pretty short work of Gata Kamsky, whose opening preparation was all but perfect. The Israeli GM gained a pawn (with Black pieces) on move 17 in the last game and Gata made a mistake when he decided not to take it back three moves later, pushing for a win in a completely drawn position. It was easy for Boris to convert his material advantage into a full point, winning the game and the match (3.5-1.5). The other two matches will continue to the final game. Levon Aronian has a point lead against Alexei Shirov. This has been a very interesting duel up to now and Shirov will have one final go with White to try and take the match to the tie-break (as he did against Adams). In the fifth game Shirov selected the double-edged Gruenfeld Defense; Aronian chose a sharp and deeply analyzed variation where White sacrifices an exchange on a1, but Black defended accurately and a draw was agreed on move 34. Alexander Grischuk (with White pieces) offered a draw after only 18 moves, in a sharp position, to his compatriot Sergei Rublevsky and the match is still level (2.5-2.5) going into the final game. It's now difficult to predict who will win (I say Grischuk, anyway). Official site of the event: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
"Deep Junior" defeated "Deep Fritz" 4-2 in a match alongside the above mentioned event, called the "President's Cup Ultimate Computer Challenge". The Israeli program won the third and fourth game and drew all the others. Junior was running on 16 processors at 3.0+ GHz and looking at 25 million positions per second. Fritz had eight processors at 2.66 MHz and 12 million positions. Before the match a $100,000 challenge was made to Fide, to have Rybka play the winner in Mexico City; Fide has not answered yet.
The 7th European Individual Senior Championship took place in June 2-10, in the Business-Lounge of the Hockenheim circuit (Germany). Russian GM Nukhim Rashkovsky edged out Lithuanian IM Algiman Butnorius on tie-break after both finished on 7.5/9. The latter, 61 years old, can be satisfied anyway since he made a GM norm. Israeli GM Jacob Murey, Czech GM Vlastimil Jansa, Hungarian GM Ivan Farago and German GM Wolfgang Uhlmann were tied for third on 7 points. Italian FM Antonio Rosino was placed 24th on 6. Official site: http://www.euro-seniorchamp.de.vu.
Our "game of the day" is an interesting battle between Aronian and Shirov in Elista, where the Spanish GM found an improvement to his game against Topalov (Wijk aan Zee 2007).
Aronian,L (2759) - Shirov,A (2699) [D89], Elista 11.6.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0–0 10.0–0 Bg4 11.f3 Na5 12.Bd3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Be6 14.d5
This sharp line recently gained a lot of popularity (see my annotations to "Messaggero Scacchi" April Queen, Rizza-Oliveri, in my post of May 31). White sacrifices an exchange and launches the attack on the kingside.
14...Bxa1 15.Qxa1 f6 16.Bh6 Re8 17.Qd4
17.Kh1 was more popular until 3-4 years ago, but Black found the way to hold the position at last. The game Korotylev-Timofeev, Tomsk 2004, continued 17...Rc8 18.Nf4 Bd7 19.e5 Nc4 20.e6 Ba4 21.Nxg6 hxg6 22.Bxg6 Ne5 23.Be4 Bc2 24.Bxc2 Rxc2 25.Qd1 Kh7 26.f4 Kxh6 27.fxe5 Qc8 28.exf6 Rg8 29.f7 Rgxg2 30.f8Q+ Qxf8 31.Rxf8 Rxh2+ 32.Kg1 Rcg2+ 33.Kf1 Rh1+ 34.Kxg2 Rxd1 35.Rd8 Kg6 and a draw was agreed (1/2–1/2).
17...Bf7 18.Bb5 e5 19.Qf2 Re7 20.f4 exf4 21.Qxf4 Qb6+ 22.Kh1 Bxd5
Black can't obviously play 22...Qxb5??, because after 23.Qxf6 White mates.
23.exd5 Qxb5 24.Qxf6 Qe8 25.Qd4 Rf7!?
A novelty. Shirov tried 25...Rd8 against Topalov in Wijk aan Zee last January. The game went 26.h3 Rf7 27.Rxf7 Qxf7 28.Qc3 b6 29.Ng3 and here the Spanish GM made a bad mistake: 29...Nb7? ; after (29...Re8 Rakhmanov-Danin, Sochi 2007) 30.Ne4 Qe7 31.Nf6+ Kf7 32.Nxh7 White obtained a strong initiative and won.
26.Rxf7 Qxf7 27.Bd2 Qg7!? 28.Qe4
After 28.Bxa5?! Qxd4 29.Nxd4 Rc8 30.Nb3 b6 31.Bb4 Kf7 Black has a good counterplay thanks to his strong rook.
28...Qf7 29.Bc3 Rc8 30.h3 Nc4 31.Qd4 Kf8
The only way to avoid mate, but this is enough.
Levon could have played 32.Nf4 Ke8 33.Ne6 , but this position is unclear and the Armenian GM had no reason to take a risk, since he lead the match by a full point.
32...Qg8 33.Qd4 Qf7
33...Ke7 34.Qe4+ Kd7 35.Qg4+ Ke7 36.Qe4+ would have led to a draw anyway.