The first stage of the WCC ended today and my final score is 6/8. What? Well, I mean I predicted the correct winners of six matches, while I was wrong about Judit Polgar and Rustam Kasimdzhanov; tha latter lost and didn't won (as I wrote) on tie breaks with Boris Gelfand. I'm particularly happy for Alexei Shirov's win over Michael Adams: first, because this is the only case where I've also predicted the correct result ("3-3 with Shirov winning on tie breaks"); second, because he is one of my favourite players. I'm sorry for Magnus Carlsen's loss: both him and Levon Aronian, in my opinion, deserved a place in Mexico City, but the latter won the blitz games, after tying 3-3 the classical and then 2-2 the rapid games. So we have these pairings for the second and final stage of the WCC: Aronian-Shirov, Leko-Bareev, Grischuk-Rublevsky e Gelfand-Kamsky. And here are my predictions...
1. Aronian Levon (ARM) - Shirov Alexei (ESP)
Sorry Alexei, This time I think you have very little chances. Aronian won the Wijk aan Zee supertournament last January and looks to be in good shape, at least when he plays with White pieces. On the other hand, Shirov didn't play at superGM level in his last tournaments. He would have some possibilitis in rapid games, but I think Levon will beat him earlier :-( Possible result: Aronian wins 3.5-2.5 or 3.5-1.5.
2. Leko Peter (HUN) - Bareev Evgeny (RUS)
Bareev was a top GM a few times ago, but he beat Judit in Elista just because she didn't play like Judit. She has become a mother, after all... I think Leko will take revenge fot his compatriot's loss: in the match against Gurevich he showed to be as solid and precise as usual and his last place in Linares is part of his bad memories now. Possible result: Leko wins 3.5-2.5.
3. Grischuk Alexander (RUS) - Rublevsky Sergei (RUS)
Rublevsky beat Pono just because the Ukrainian forced a drawn position in game 3, but Grischuk is not as kind as Ruslan. Alexander will win this Russian derby as he did against Malakhov. Kramnik and Morozevich won't be the only two Russians in Mexico city, anyway. Possible result: Grischuk wins 3.5-2.5 or on tie break.
4. Gelfand Boris (ISR) - Kamsky Gata (USA)
This is the hardest result to be predicted. Both players are in good shape, but Gata has had much more time (three days) to rest and study his opponent. Gelfand would win in rapid games, so Kamsky has to win earlier. But can he succeed in beating such a tough opponent in standard games? Very hard to say... Well, I think he can't... Possible result: Gelfand wins on tie break.
Round 2 will start on Wednesday. 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).
Bulgarian GM Todor Todorov scored 6.5/9 in the 2nd Senigallia Chess Festival - 1st "Perini Memorial" to take first place on tie break over Serbian GM Sinisa Drazic and Italian GM Igor Efimov. They all remained unbeaten. French IM Vladimir Okhotnik, Greek GM Spyridon Skembris and German IM Olaf Heinzel were placed 4th-6th on 5.5, FM Alessio De Santis from Rome and Belgian FM Marc Geenen shared 7th-8th on 5. 86 players from eleven countries took part in the event. Congratulations to winners and organizers :-) Official site: http://digilander.libero.it/dragonscacchicv/festivalS07.html. You can download some games from the competition by clicking here.
Our game of the day took the second place in Messaggero Scacchi's "The 2007 Queen - April" contest.
Palazzo,D (1772) - Della Rocca,L (1784) [B46], Gallipoli 15.4.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0–0 Ng6?!
I've often played the Taimanov variation in blitz and rapid games and this move is all but in Taimanov's style, although it is not a novelty. 7...Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qd3 Qc7 is just better: the knight is not well placed on "g6".
8.Be3 Be7 9.Qd2
9.f4 0–0 10.Rf3 was played in Tarrasch-Mendelsohn, Breslay 1879, many decades before Taimanov invented this line...; in Areshchenko-Zubarev, 1001, White chose 10.Nb3.; In the game I. Ivanov-L. Gofshtein, Daugavpils 1978, White got a slight edge after 9.Na4 d6 10.c4 Bd7 11.Nb3 Qc7 12.Rc1 0–0 13.Nb6 Rae8 14.Qd2 The text move is probably a novelty, and perhaps not a very strong one.
9...0–0 10.Rad1 Qc7 11.a3?!
This move was not necessary.
Finally White starts the attack!
13.Nb3 d6 14.Rf3 followed by Rg3 would have been more precise.
13...Nge5 14.Kh1 Rac8 15.Qe1 Na5
After 15...Nxd4 16.Bxd4 f6 Black wouldn't have been anything to be afraid of.
The decisive mistake! 16...Bf6; 16...Kh8; or even 16...Nac4 were much better.
Both 17...Bd6 18.f6 g6 19.Qg5 Rfd8 20.Nxe6 dxe6 21.Rxd6 Nxd6 22.Qh6 Ne8 23.Bxc7 Rxc7 24.Rf3+-; and 17...Qb6 18.Bh6 g6 19.b4 Nc6 20.Bxc4 Nxd4 21.fxe6 Nxe6 22.Bxf8 Bxf8 23.Qf3+- were good for White anyway.
18.Bh6 Bf6 19.Ndxb5!
19...Qd8 20.Rxd7! Qxd7 21.Bxg7 Bh4 22.Qxh4 f6 23.Bxf6 Rxf6 24.Qxf6 Qf7 25.Qxf7+ Kxf7 26.b3 axb5 27.bxc4 bxc4 would have prolonged the agony.
20.Bxg7! Bh4 21.Qxh4 Kxg7 22.f6+ Kh8 23.Rf3 1–0
Black can't avoid Rh3 and mate, so he resigned. A nice win by Daniele Palazzo.