Here I am! Yes, I'm back! No, I didn't write anything in the last few days: the article about Kasparov's visit in Milan has remained into my mind. I took a six days total rest and now I'm ready for... two more weeks of holidays! Yes, I will leave for Sardinia on July 27, but do not worry: now I'm in Bergamo and I'm ready for three hot weeks of chess.
I was in Rome until July 5; on that day the chess tournament of the 12th European Maccabi Games has started in Acqua Acetosa Sports Complex. One GM, three IMs, one wGM and four FMs compete in the event. The Maccabi is the international Jewish Sports Organization, present on the 5 continents, in 50 countries and numbering more than 400 000 members. The present edition has 16 sports (Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bridge, Chess, Fencing, Football, Futsal, Golf, Karate, Squash, "Stracittadina", Table Tennis, Tennis, Ten-Pin Bowling, Volleyball), in 8 world class venues, a Sports staff of over 200, and almost 2000 athletes from 38 countries, making it the largest European Maccabi Games ever. The event will end on July 12. Results: http://www.emg2007.roma.it/ResultIndex.aspx.
A couple of strong rapid events took place in the last few days. Vishy Anand won the XX Ciudad de León tournament by beating Veselin Topalov (3-1) in the final match, as happened in 2006: this is his 7th title in the Spanish competition and the third in a row. Official site: http://www.advancedchessleon.com. Vassily Ivanchuk took the first place in The Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup, held in Odessa (Ukraine): he scored 7 points out of 9 and edged out Alexander Grischuk by half a point. Teimour Radjabov and Alexei Shirov were placed third on 5.5, followed by Boris Gelfand on 5. Official site: http://www.worldcup.pivdenny.com.
My congratulations to 15 y.o. master Axel Rombaldoni from Pesaro: he was placed first in the Italian U16 championship and won his 6th National youth title in a row. He achieved an IM norm last April and he is now rated 2269; I'm sure he will become International Master by a couple of years. Go Axel! Official site of the Italian U16 champ: http://www.palermoscacchi.it/.
And now here is our game of the day, a brilliant win by Anand against Topalov in Leon.
Anand,V (2792) - Topalov,V (2769) [B84], Leon 8.7.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Nbd7
The immediate 7...Qc7 is more common.
8.f4 is the main alternative.
8...b5 9.a4 b4 10.Nc6 Qc7 11.Nxb4 d5 12.Nxa6!?
12.Nba2 is too passive, while 12.Qd4 was played in Beliavsky-Stean, Moscow 1975; the game continued 12...Bc5 13.Ncxd5 exd5 14.Nxd5 Nxd5?! (14...Qb8) 15.Qxg7 Nxe3 16.Qxh8+ Nf8 17.fxe3 and White won.
12...Bxa6 13.exd5 Bd6
This looks to be a novelty. The game Faibisovich-Liberzon, Grozny 1969, continued 13...Be7 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.Bxa6 Rxa6 16.Qe2 Qc8 17.Nb5 0–0 18.Bg5 h6 19.Bh4 Rf7 and Black got slightly better chances and eventually won.
14.h3 exd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 Bb7 17.Qc4 Bc6
Black is a piece up, but White has three dangerous passed pawns on the Queen side. Chances are about equal at the moment, but Topalov is forced to win in order to level the match and soon loses his nerves...
18...Rc8 looks more precise, e.g.: 19.b5 Bh2+ 20.Kh1 Bxg2+ 21.Kxg2 Qb7+ 22.Qc6 Rxc6 23.bxc6 Qxc6+ 24.Kxh2 Qc7+ 25.Kg1 0–0 with an unclear endgame.
19...Bxb4 loses to 20.Rxd7 Bxd7 21.Bf3+-; but 19...Ne5 was better, e.g.: 20.Qd4 0–0–0 21.f4 Ng6 22.a5 Nh4 and Black has some counterplay. Now White takes the initiative.
21...Qxd7 22.Kxg2 0–0 23.Bf3 is even worse.
22.Qd4+ Qd5 23.Rd1 Qxd4 24.Rxd4+ Ke6 25.Kxg2 was stronger.
Topalov misses his last chance to put up a tough resistance: 22...f5! was a better alternative, e.g.: 23.Qd4+ (23.Qxf5+ Ke8 24.Bh5+ g6 25.Bxg6+ hxg6 26.Qxg6+ Kf8 27.Bh6+ Rxh6 28.Qxh6+ Kf7 29.Qh5+ Kf8 30.Qh8+=; 23.Rd1+ Ke6 24.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 25.Kxg2 Rxa4 26.b6 Rb8 and Black can hold on) 23...Bd5 24.c4 Rxa4 (24...Bf6!? 25.Qd1 Ke6 26.cxd5+ Qxd5 27.b6 Qxd1 28.Bxd1 is good for White as well) 25.Qd1 Rb4 26.Bf3 Rxb5 27.Bxd5 Rxd5 28.cxd5 Qa6 and White can still fight for the full point, but Black has some drawing chances.
23.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Rxa4 25.b6
This pawn is now unstoppable.
25...Kd8 26.Rd1+ Kc8 27.Bg4+ Rxg4+ 28.hxg4 Rd8 29.Ra1 was also hopeless for Black.
A big blunder in a lost position. 26...Bc5 would prolong the agony: 27.b7 Ke7 28.Rd5 Bxe3 29.Rxa5 Bf4 is a better attempt for Black, although 30.Bg4 intending Bc8 and Ra8 is decisive.
27.b7 Ke7 28.Bb6 Re5 29.Bd8+ 1–0
The text move is good enough, but 29.Rd8 Rxd8 30.Bxd8+ followed by b8Q was more spectacular. Topalov resigned anyway.