"Leko, Bareev, Grishchuk, and Rublevsky showed the need of Sofia rules in chess". That's what Chessdom.com site wrote after the day of draws in the 2007 WCM. All games ended in a draw, in fact: Bareev offered to share the point after only 15 moves, Grischuk on move 18. Their opponents, Leko and Rublevsky respectively, accepted immediately. I don't think Sofia rules are necessary, anyway: at least they are not in the World championship cycle, where a player can obviously decide to take an extra rest day during a hard and (quite) long duel, even if he is a full point down (e.g.: Bareev and Rublevsky). By the way, Shirov-Aronian and Gelfand-Kamsky were exciting and tough games, especially the first one, where both players pushed hard for a win: Levon had to force a perpetual check at last.
An interesting article about visibility and Internet coverage of chess events (related to WCM) has been published today on the official site of the event, http://globalchess.eu, written by Press director Peter Rajcsanyi. Here are some passages: "Many, many years ago I have learnt that any sport event is as good as it is visible to the audience in the stadium or on TV and as far as it is well covered by the media. Chess is not different, although it has some distinct features. [...] Beyond the journalists working here in Elista and at the headquarters of the magazines, the main channel of the event to the outside world is Internet. After the difficulties of the first day when the operators of the server underestimated the potential interest and thus its overload resulted in slow access or refusal of connection, the Press Office has been looking at the ever-increasing number of hits and visitors on the official and FIDE websites at peak hours with certain satisfaction. The number of visitors on the official website was close to the sixty thousand on the third day of the first round and there were another few thousands looking for download opportunity and additional news on the FIDE website".
Remember there is a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
And now here is our game of the day, a fighting draw from Elista.
Shirov,A (2699) - Aronian,L (2759) [E15], Elista 7.6.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.d5
This has become a very popular line in the last months!
7...exd5 8.cxd5 Nxd5
Only 20 days ago, Dutch IM Herman Grooten played 8...Bxd5 against Italian master Claudio Pantaleoni, in Palau (Sardinia), but he didn't survive long... The game continued 9.Nc3 Bc6 10.e4 d6 11.Bf4 Nbd7? (11...Be7) 12.0–0–0 Qb8? (12...Be7 13.Bxd6 0–0) 13.e5! Nh5 (13...dxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxg2 15.Nxd7+-) 14.Rhe1 and Black resigned on move 24.
9.0–0 Be7 10.Rd1 Nc6 11.Qa4!?
This looks to be a novelty. White had previously played 11.Qf5 Nf6 12.e4 g6 13.Qf4 0–0 14.e5 Nh5 15.Qg4 with some compensation, Carlsen-Ivanchuk, Monte Carlo (rapid) 2007(while 15.Qh6 was played in Aronian-Leko, Tal Memorial 2006) ; After 11.Rxd5? Nb4 12.Qd1 Bxd5 (12...Nxd5? 13.Ne1 Bg5 14.e3 and White is better) 13.a3 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Nc6 15.Nc3 0–0 White has nothing in return for the exchange.
11...Nf6 12.Nc3 0–0 13.g4!?
In accordance to 11.Qa4.
After 13...h6 White would have probably played 14.h4 with some initiative, e.g.: 14...Nb4 (14...h5 15.g5 Ng4 16.Bf4 etc.) 15.a3 Nbd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 (16...Nxd5 17.Ne5) 17.g5 Bc6 18.Qf4 hxg5 19.hxg5 Nh7 20.e4 etc.
14...b5 15.Nxb5 Nbd5 16.g5 Nb6 17.Qh4 Ne4 followed by ...f5 was an interesting alternative.
15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.g5
The tempting 16.Rxd5 was not so good for White, e.g.: 16...Nxd5 17.Ne5 b5! 18.Qxb5 Rb8 19.Qxd7 Bf6 20.Qxd8 Rbxd8 21.Nc6 Rd7 and Black has the better chances.
16...Bc6 17.Qh4 Ne8
After 17...Ne4 18.Ne5 Black is in trouble.
18.Ne5 Bxg2 19.Rxd7 Bb7!?
19...Qc8 20.Rxe7 Bc6 was less risky, but Aronian was uninterested in passive defending...
20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.Be3 Rd5 22.Nf3 Nd6 23.Qa4 b5 24.Qc2 Nf5 25.a4
25.Bd2 followed by Bc3 had to be considered.
25...b4 26.Rd1 Rxd1+ 27.Qxd1 Nxe3 28.fxe3 Rd8
Having the bishops pair and an open file for his rook, Black has good chances of equalizing the position.
29.Qc2 g6 30.h4 Bd6 31.Kf2 a6 32.Nd2 Bf8 33.Nc4
After 33.Ne4 Bxe4 34.Qxe4 Rd6 , followed by ...Re6, Black would have put up a fortress hard to be conquered.
34.Ne5 intending Nd3 would have probably given more problems to Aronian.
34...Be6 35.b3 Rd5
35...Bxc4 36.Qxc4 Rd6 would have probably drawn as well, but Aronian prefers an active play.
36.Kg3 h6 37.gxh6 Bxh6 38.Qf3 Kh7
The immediate 38...Bg5 was also possible: after 39.hxg5 Rxg5+ 40.Kh2 Rh5+ 41.Kg1 Rg5+ White has to repeat the position (42.Kf2 Rf5).
39.e4 Rh5 40.Nd6 Bg5 41.Nxf7 Bxh4+
Now Black has an easy draw.
42.Kg2 c4!? 43.bxc4 Kg8
After 43...b3?! 44.e5! b2 45.Qb7 b1Q 46.Qxb1 Bxf7 47.Qb7 Kg8 (47...Kg7 48.e6) 48.Qc8+ Kg7 49.e6 Bg8 50.e4 White would have kept a dangerous initiative.
44.Nd6 Rg5+ 45.Kh1
The only move: 45.Kf1 loses to 45...Rg3 46.Qf4 Bh3+ 47.Kf2 Rg4+
45...Rg3 46.Qf4 Rh3+ 1/2-1/2
White can't avoid perpetual, so a draw was agreed. How much "fuego en el tablero" (fire on the board)!