Vishy: three steps from the world title

When V is for Victory. Vishy (Anand) is three steps (games) from the world chess title after winning against Alexander Morozevich in round 11. He is now on 7.5 and has a 1.5 points lead over Israeli GM Boris Gelfand, who scored only three draws in the last four rounds (with a loss against Grischuk). Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko and Levon Aronian follow on 5.5: Vlad won’t (probably) retain his title, but he will play a 12 games match against the new world champion – Vishy :-) - next year (and Topalov is supposed to play against the World Cup winner). 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).
Meanwhile, the Fide Presidential Board, held in Mexico City on September 13 and 14, confirmed Grandmaster, Woman Grandmaster, International Master, Woman International Master, International Arbiter and Fide Arbiter titles achieved last months (full story at http://www.fide.com/news.asp?id=1466). This means that Fabiano Caruana is officially the youngest Italian GM ever: he will have 2594 rating points on October 1, but he has already gained 7 more points in Trieste, so that he could be over 2600 in January 2008.
Some more news about Italian young stars. The 17th European Youth Chess Championship took place in Šibenik, Croatia, 14th-23th September. There were five sections for Boys and five for Girls: U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18. Croatian IM Ivan Saric took the title in the main U18 section with 7 points out of 9; FM Denis Rombaldoni from Pesaro was placed 7th on 6.5, while FM Niccolò Ronchetti from Ravenna scored 5.5 points and achieved his last IM norm. In the U14 Female section, Marina Brunello from Bergamo was placed 11th on 6. Official site: http://www.euroyouth2007.com/.
And now here is the clash of the giants Elista: Kramnik pushed hard to get some advantage against Anand in round 10, but he couldn't get more than a draw, an almost decisive result in Vishy's favour.

Kramnik,Vl. (2769) - Anand,Vi. (2792) [D43], Mexico City 24.9.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2
In his game against Aronian (round 2) Vishy faced 9.Ne5 h5 10.h4 g4 11.Be2 Bb7 12.0–0 Nbd7 13.Qc2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bg7 etc.
9...Bb7 10.0–0
The other main line is 10.h4
10...Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7
11...h5 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Qc1N was played in Kramnik-Gelfand (round 7).
12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bd6 a6
13...Bf8 is the main alternative.
The game Deep Junior-Deep Fritz, Elista 2007, continued 14.a4 e5 15.Bg4 exd4 16.e5 c5 17.Bf3 Nxe5 18.Bxb7 Qxd6 19.Bxa8 0–0 with an unclear position.
And not 14...e5?! 15.f4! , Agrest-Kulaots, Turin 2006.
15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.e5 Qb6 17.b3!?
A new move, 17.Ne4 has been played so far: 17.Ne4 0–0–0 18.Nd6+ Kb8 19.b3 (19.Nxf7 Rxf7 20.Bxf7 Nxe5= Radjabov-Anand, Mainz m-7 2006) 19...f6 20.bxc4 fxe5 with an unclear position, S.Ernst-Van Wely, Dutch Cht 2006/7.
If 17...c5 then 18.d5!? looks interesting.
18.bxc4 Nxe5 19.c5
The only way to hold the center.
19...Qc7 should be a valid alternative, e.g.: 20.Re1!? Nc4 21.Be2 Na3 22.Ne4 Kb8 23.Nd6 Rxd6 24.cxd6 Qxd6 with a good compensation in return for the exchange.
20.Ne4 Qb4 21.Nd6+ Rxd6 22.cxd6 Nd7
22...Nc4 was also to be considered. Now Black has two pawns and a solid position in return for the exchange.
23.a4 Qxd6 24.Bf3!? Nb6 25.axb5 cxb5 26.Bxb7+
After 26.Rc1+ Nc4 Black has nothing to be afraid of.
26...Kxb7 27.Qh5
A pawn exchange d4 for h6 will open the d-file for the white rooks, but this doesn't mean that Vlad can get any edge. 27.Qf3+!? Nd5 28.g3 was an interesting alternative.
After 27...Qxd4 28.Qxh6 Qd8 Black is solid as well.
28.Qxh6 Nf4!
With the beautiful idea 29.Qxg5?? Ne2+ 30.Kh1 Qxh2+! 31.Kxh2 Rh8+ and then mate.
The most precise defence. If 29.g3?! Ne2+ intending Qd5 and Rd8 (Anand); while 29.Rfe1? Qd5 is winning for Black.
29...Qd5 30.f3 Rd8
Kramnik has achieved nothing so far.
31.Qg7 Rd7
31...Qf5!? intending Qg6 was good as well.
32.Qf8!? Ne2
In the post-game press conference Anand said that 32...Qd6! was even stronger, e.g.: 33.Qg7 Qd5=; 32...Qxd4?! was not good because of 33.Rfc1
After 33.Qa3 Rd6!? (33...Qd6 34.Qe3 Nxd4 35.Qxg5 b4!? with some counterplay) 34.Rad1 Nxd4 35.f4 g4= the position is dinamically equal.
The endgame looks not easy for White because Black has two connected pawns supported by the king.
Neither side can improve the position seriously, but 34.Rad1!? was probably more precise.
The immediate 34...Qd6 was more precise.
White misses his only chance to get some initiative: 35.Qh6! Qd6 36.Qxg5 f6 37.Qd2 and Black has to defend accurately.
35...Qd6 36.Qg8
36.Qc8+ looks better.
Now Anand has an excellent solid position and can start thinking about pushing the a-pawn.
37.Rc8 a5 38.h3
Obviously not 38.Rdc1? Nc6! 39.h3 Ne7 and Black wins; but 38.Qh8 or 38.Ra8 were probably more accurate.
The black king may go forward under the protection of the pawns if needed.
If 39.Rdc1 then 39...Nb3! (Kramnik); 39.Qh8 and 39.Ra8 came (again) into consideration.
39...Kb6 40.Rb8+ Ka5
40...Rb7!?= leads to an equal position according to Anand.
41.Ra8+ ½–½
After 41.Ra8+ Kb4!? (41...Kb6=) 42.Qg8 (42.Rb8!?), intending Qa2, White should save the day. Apparently Anand didn't want to risk in such a good tournament situation, so a draw was agreed.

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