The world chess championship is half-way and there were many exciting battles in the last three rounds, 5, 6 and 7, with five decisive games, all in White’s favour. Vishy Anand is in sole lead on 5/7, but his closest opponent is not who you would expect to be: GM Boris Gelfand, the oldest player of the event (he is 39 y.o.), won two games in a row (against Aronian and Morozevich) and is now on 4.5, after a fighting draw against world champion Vladimir Kramnik in round 7. The Russian superGM is still unbeaten, but he is only third on 4 (six draws and only onw victory). Alexander Grischuk is half a point behind him, after losing the only decisive game of round 7 against Anand. Peter Leko and Levon Aronian follow on 3, Svidler and Alexander Morozevich are on 2.5. Anything can happen, but it looks like Vishy, Boris and Vlad have better chances to be crowned world champions than all other players.
The official site of the competition is http://www.chessmexico.com/; you can also find photos (by Cathy Rogers), results and download/reply games on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (link to the WCC page is http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mondiale07.html).
And now here is a really spectacular draw from round 6...
Grischuk,Al. (2726) - Svidler,P. (2735) [D43], Mexico City 19.9.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4
Svidler also faced 6.Bxf6 against Kramnik in round 1: the game continued 6...Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 g6 9.e4 dxc4 10.e5 Qe7 11.Bxc4 Bg7 12.0–0 0–0 13.Re1 Rd8 14.Qe2 b6 15.Rad1 a5 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.Be4 b5 18.h4 Nb6 19.Bb1 c5 20.Nxb5 Ba6 21.h5 g5 22.Nh2 Rxd4 23.Rxd4 1/2–1/2
6...dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.h4 g4 11.Ne5 h5 12.0–0 Nbd7 13.Qc2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bg7 15.Bg3
15.Rad1 was Aronian's choice against Anand in round 2. After 15...0–0 16.Bg3 Nd7 17.f3 c5!? 18.dxc5 Qe7 19.Kh1? a6 Black soon got the initiative.
15...Qxd4 16.Rfd1 Qc5!?
This looks to be a new move, which invites White to play 17.Bd6 with tempo: 16...Qb6 was seen in five earlier games.
Grischuk takes the challenge. After 17.e5 Nd5 18.Ne4 Qb6 (18...Qe7!? 19.Nd6+ Kf8 20.a4 a6 21.Qe4 c3!? is an alternative to be considered) 19.b3 cxb3 (19...c3 20.Nxc3 Qc5 21.Rac1 Nxc3 22.Qxc3 Qxc3 23.Rxc3 gives White good chances to equalize the position.) 20.Nd6+ Ke7 21.axb3 a5 Black is two pawns up with just a little compensation for White.
17...Qb6 18.a4 a6 19.e5 Nd7 20.a5 Qa7 21.Ne4 c5
Black can't obviously take the pawn: 21...Bxe5?? 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.Qc3 Ng6 24.Qg7+-; 21...0–0–0 was an interesting alternative, e.g.: 22.Qc3 c5! 23.Ng5 Rhf8 and Black is slightly better.
This is not a smart choice: White takes a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed material. 22...Rh6 looks more accurate, e.g.: 23.Qd2 (intending 24.Bb8) 23...Bd5 24.Qf4 Nf8 25.Ne4 Bxe4 26.Qxe4 Rc8 with chances for both sides.
23.Bxe5 Bxe5 24.Bxc4!
Brilliant and virtually only move.
This is not forced and the "positional" alternative 24...Bc8 was probably more precise, although after 24...Bc8 25.Bd5! Rb8 (25...exd5 26.Rxd5 Bf6 27.Rxc5 Bd7 28.Rc7 Qd4 29.Rd1+-) 26.Bc6+ Ke7 27.Re1 Bd4 28.Qf5 White gets a strong attack, e.g.: 28...Rf8 29.Rxe6+!? Bxe6 30.Re1 Bxf2+ (30...c4 31.Rxe6+ fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kd8 33.Qd6+ Kc8 34.Qe6+ Kd8 35.Qd6+=) 31.Qxf2 Rbd8 32.Ne4 f5 33.Nxc5 Rf6 34.b4 Rd6 35.Bb7 f4 36.Bc8 with good compensation.
25.Qa4+ Kf8 26.Rd7 Bd5
26...g3 27.Rxf7+ Kg8 28.fxg3 is even most favourable to White.
Better than immediate Rxa7: Queen won't run away.
The immediate 28.b3 was also playable.
28...Rxa7 29.b3 Kg7
29...cxb3!? is risky, but probably leads to a draw after the spectacular 30.Rxd4 cxd4 31.Qxd4 Rb7! 32.Qxh8+ Ke7 33.Qb2 (33.Qxh5 b2 34.Qxf7+ Kd6 35.Qf8+ Kd7 36.Qf7+ Kc8 37.Qe8+ Kc7 38.Qe7+ Kb8 39.Qf8+ Ka7 40.Qc5+ Ka8 41.Qc8+ Ka7=) 33...f6 34.Nh7 (34.Qa3+ Kd7 35.Qa4+ Rb5 36.Ne4 Bxe4 37.Qxe4 b2 38.Qb1 Kc6=) 34...e5 35.Qa3+ Ke6 36.Nf8+ Kf7 37.Qd6 Be4 38.Qe6+ Kxf8 39.Qxf6+ Kg8 40.Qe6+ Kf8 41.Qf6+ Kg8=
30.bxc4 Ba8 31.Qc2 g3 32.Rxd4?!
32.Qb3 was the best chance to retain some winning chances, e.g.: 32...gxf2+ 33.Kf1 Rd7 34.Qg3 Kf8 35.Rb1 Ke7 36.Nf3 Bxf3 37.Qxf3 intending Rb6 - with some initiative.
32...cxd4 33.Qe2 gxf2+ 34.Qxf2
The game looks about equal now, but both players are in time trouble.
34...Rd8 35.Qg3 Kf8 36.Qe5 Ke8?
The game is immediately drawn after 36...Rad7! 37.Nh7+ Ke7 38.Qc5+ (38.Qf6+ Ke8 39.Qh8+ Ke7 40.Qf6+=) 38...Rd6 39.Qg5+ Kd7 40.Nf6+ Kc8 41.c5 Rc6 42.Ne4 d3 43.Nd6+ Kc7 44.Nxf7 Rd5 45.Qf4+ Kc8 46.Nd6+ Rcxd6 47.cxd6 Kd7 48.Qf7+ Kxd6 49.Qf8+ Kd7 50.Qxa8 d2 51.Qb7+ Ke8 52.Qc8+ Ke7 53.Qc7+=.
Missing the lucky chance in time trouble. White could win by 37.Qh8+ Ke7 38.Qg7.
37...fxe6 38.Qh8+ Ke7 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Qh8+ Ke7 41.Qg7+ ½–½
Time control has just passed and Grischuk decides he doesn't want to take any risk by playing 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qxa7 , probably because he calculated that after 42...d3 White is almost forced to give perpetual, e.g.: 43.Qxa6 d2 44.Qxe6+ Kf8 45.Qf5+ Ke7 46.Qg5+ Ke8 47.Qxh5+ Ke7 48.Qd1 Be4! 49.a6 Bc2 50.Qe2+ Kf6 51.Qf2+ Bf5 52.Qb6+ Ke7 53.Qc7+ Rd7 54.Qe5+ Be6 55.Qg5+= A really amazing game!