You shouldn't believe it, but it happened. The participation of Veselin Topalov at the Wolrd Championship in Mexico City has been included in the agenda of the Presidential Board of the World Chess Federation, which takes place in Tallinn, Estonia, on June 23 and 24. A Bulgarian delegation led by Silvio Danailov will attend the meeting. Fide has taken this decision after two consecutive letters by Stefan Sergiev, president of the Bulgarian chess federation. This doesn't mean that Topalov will play in Mexico city, but the possibility seems to be not so vague at the moment... Tell me it is just a nightmare, please. Is Fide going to change rules for the umpteenth time? I'm afraid the answer should be yes... But, dear Kirsan, it's too late now! Full story on www.chessdom.com.
Round 2 of the WCM will start tomorrow in Elista. Luciano Dalfovo from Bressanone-Brixen sent his forecasts, as he did for round 1 (where he chose 5 right winners out of 8, against my 6 :-) ). Here they are:
Luciano: Aronian after tie breaks
Luciano: Leko 3,5-1,5
Luciano: Grischuk 3,5-2,5
Luciano: Kamsky 3,5-2,5
Well, the latter match will decide the result of our duel :-), since it represents the only real difference between Luciano's and mine predictions (I wrote Gelfand will win on tie break).
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).
Right yesterday I posted an article about "When (chess) life starts at 40". Now I see that Ryan Emmett from Wales, a frequent writer on www.chess.com, wrote a nice story about a related argument the day before: the title is "Too old for chess?". You can read it on his own blog, http://sonofpearl.blogspot.com/. Amusing article, Ryan!
The game I'm going to show is not recent and many of you will probably know it. I found it on the book "The lost Olympiad - Stockholm 1937" (remember? I bought it in London last April) and I thought: "Good Lord! Italian players could win in less than 20 moves against chess legends... 70 years ago!".
Castaldi,V. - Tartakower,S. [C41], Stockholm, 1.8.1937
Speaking about miniatures (like this game), good "Tarta" was not new to very short losses. Take for example Reti-Tartakower, Vienna 1910: 1...c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qd3 e5?! (5...Nxe4) 6.dxe5 Qa5+ 7.Bd2 Qxe5 8.0–0–0! Nxe4?? (8...Be7) 9.Qd8+! Kxd8 10.Bg5+ Kc7 (10...Ke8 11.Rd8#) 11.Bd8#
2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Be2
5.Bc4 is much more common nowadays. But chess theory was just moving its first steps 70 years ago.
5...Be7 6.0–0 h6 7.b3 c6
The "Hanhan set-up", according to W. H. Cozens, author of the above-mentioned book.
8.Bb2 Qc7 9.Qd2 g5?!
"Some excellent wins have been obtained by Black with such methods. But for the idea to succeed, it is essential that the centre be kept close" (Cozens).
This is already the losing move! 10...b5 11.a3 Bb7 and, when necessary, ...O-O would have been a much better alternative.
And now the weakness of "e5" gives an opportunity which Castaldi doesn't miss...
The first blow!
12...Qxe5 loses immediately: 13.Nd5 Qd6 (13...Qxb2 14.Nc7#) 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 (14...Kd8 15.Qa5+ b6 16.Rxd6+ Bxd6 17.Qd2+-) 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.e5+-; 12...Ne6 would have been more stubborn, anyway.
The second blow! "The offer of the two knights in succession makes a combination of rare beauty" (Cozens).
After 13...cxb5 14.Bxb5+ N8d7 15.Nxd7 0–0–0 16.Be5 Qxe5 17.Nxe5 Rxd2 18.Rxd2 Nxe4 19.Rd4 Black would have prolonged the agony. 13...Qb6 14.Qe3 Bc5 15.Qf3 N8h7 16.Nd6+ Bxd6 17.Rxd6 Qc7 18.Rad1 0–0 was (perhaps) the more stubborn defence, although 19.Nxf7! is simply winning for White.
White threatened Nc7+. 36 years later, the game Hoogendoorn-Jansen, Dordrecht 1973, went 14...b6 15.Nxc6 Qb7 16.Nxe7 Qxe7 17.Qc3 1–0. 14...cxb5 is probably the best move, but 15.Bxb5+ N8d7 16.Nxd7 Bxd7 17.Bxd7+ Kf8 18.e5 Nxd7 19.Rxd7 is just hopeless for Black.
The third and final blow!
15...Qxd8 16.Nc7+ 1–0
And Black resigned in view of 16...Ke7 17.Ba3+. "Quick debacles in the Philidor are not uncommon, but it is a surprise to find grandmaster Tartakower among the victims" (Cozens). In that same Olympiad Castaldi beat Reshevsky and drew with Pirc and Lilienthal among the others. Not bad indeed...