After a (quite) long absence from chess scene, Anatoly Karpov has recently made his come-back. His third place in Gorenje last June was not a bad result, if you consider that his previous tourney was Essent 2003. But his last place in the "Chess Champions League", which took place 1st-15th November 2007 in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain, is a bit disappointing: and this is not because he scored 3 points out of 10, but because of his play. Wasting good positions and making some really big mistakes is not what you can expect from a chess legend like him, a superGM who has won 161 tournaments and has played in every Fide World Championship match from 1978 to 1998.
Since 2005 Karpov has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia and he has lately been involved in several humanitarian causes: all those activities must have brought him miles far from chess and I wonder if he would be able to beat his old (and oldest) rival Viktor Korchnoj nowadays.
Speaking about the "Chess Champions League", Veselin Topalov won the tourney with a convincing 7/10; he lost only one game with Judit Polgar, after giving her a free piece as an early Christmas present (you are a real gentleman, Veselin!). Ruslan Ponomariov took second place on 5.5, losing his last two games against Topalov and Kasimdzhanov; Nisipeanu and Polgar shared third on 5, Kasimdzhanov was fifth on 4.5 and Karpov, as already written, sixth and last on 3. The aim behind the tournament was to get funds to build up and/or send equipment to a Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, one of the poorest regions in the Congo. Side events which aimed to raise this money included an auction: some of the best Spanish sportsmen donated some items to be sold and Topalov did the same, by donating the medal he got when he became World Junior Champion in Puerto Rico 1989. Official site of the event: http://www.ajedrez-hotelakua.com/.
Kasimdzhanov,R (2690) - Karpov,Ana (2670) [E37], Vitoria Gasteiz 13.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 c5 8.dxc5 Nc6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.e3
More common is 10.Nf3 Qa5+ (10...Bf5 11.b4 0–0 12.Bb2 b6 13.b5 bxc5 14.bxc6 Qa5+ 15.Nd2 Rab8 16.c7 Rb3 with complicated play, M. Gurevich-Franzoni, Luzern 1989) 11.Bd2 Qxc5 12.Qxc5 Nxc5 13.Be3 Nb3 14.Rd1 Be6 15.Rd3 Nba5 16.g3 0–0 17.Bg2 Rfd8 and the position looks about equal, S. Ivanov-Balashov, Elista 1995
Karpov either mixed up or didn't payheed to the minor alteration. 10...Bf5 is the strongest continuation: 11.Bd3 (11.Qd1 0–0 12.Nf3 Nxc5 13.b4 Qf6 14.Ra2 Ne4 15.Bb2 d4 16.exd4 Ng3 17.d5 Qe7+ 18.Be2 Nxh1 19.dxc6 Rfd8 20.Bd4 (Sula-Maksimovic, Kastoria 1996) and now after 20...bxc6 Black has a slight edge.) 11...Qg5 (11...Ne5 12.Nf3 Nxd3+ 13.Qxd3 Ng3 14.e4 Nxe4 15.0–0 0–0 16.Qd4= Kasimdzhanov - Asrian, Vandoeuvre 2007.) 12.f3!? (12.Kf1) 12...Qh4+ 13.Kf1 Ng3+ 14.hxg3 Bxd3+ 15.Qxd3 Qxh1 16.b4 (16.Qb5? 0–0–0 17.b4 d4 18.e4 f5 19.exf5? Rhe8 20.Bg5? d3–+ 21.Kf2 Re2+! 22.Nxe2 Qxa1 23.Bxd8? d2 0–1, Bromberger-Van den Doel, Bundesliga 2000) 16...0–0 17.Bb2 Rfe8 18.Kf2 Qh6 19.Ne2 with some compensation for the sacrificed exchange, Kasimdzhanov - Aronian, Mainz 2007.
With his light-squared bishopdesigned to enter the game White isn'tobliged to play 11.Bd2 Nxd2 12.Qxd2 Qxc5=
11...Nxb4 12.axb4 Qxa1 13.Bb5+ Kf8 14.Ne2 a5
14...a6 (or 14... Bf6) also came into consideration, although after 15.Ba4 a5 16.b5 Bf5 17.c6 bxc6 18.b6! the position looks really complicated.
15.f3 Nf6 16.0–0
16.c6!? had to be considered.
The first inaccuracy. Black had to play 16...axb4 and after 17.Bb2 Qa7 18.Ra1 Qb8 19.Ra4 White has some compensation, but he is not better.
17.e4! dxe4 18.Bf4
Now all White pieces are ready to attack the enemy King: Black's position is quite unpleasant.
18...Qf5 19.g4 Qg6 20.Qd2 Be6 21.Bb8!
A really elegant move!
A big mistake after which Karpov's position collapses soon. 21...Bd5 was the best alternative: after 22.Nf4 Qh6 23.Be5 (23.Bd6+ Kg8 24.Nxd5 Qxd2 25.Ne7+ Kf8 26.Ng6+=) 23...Bb3 24.Qd6+ Kg8 25.bxa5 Qg5 26.c6 bxc6 27.Bxc6 Ne8 28.Qc5 Rc8 29.a6 h5 White has the better chances, but Black can still fight; 21...Bd7 was weaker than ...Bd5, e.g.: 22.Nf4 Qh6 23.Bxd7 Nxd7 24.Bd6+ Kg8 25.Qd5 Nf6 26.Qxb7 Re8 27.bxa5 exf3 28.Qxf3 Qg5 29.a6 and passed pawns a and c are too strong.
Simple and winning. Black can't take the knight because of Qd8#.
22...Qh6 23.Nxe6+ Qxe6
23...fxe6 was not better: 24.fxe4+ Nf6 25.g5 Qh5 (25...Qg6 26.Qd8+ Kf7 27.Qd7+ Kf8 28.Bd6+ Kg8 29.Qxe6+ Qf7 30.Bc4+-) 26.Be2!+-
24.Bd6+ Kg8 25.Bc4 exf3 26.Bxd5
Game over: in addition to his dangerous initiative White gains material.
26...Qxg4+ 27.Kh1 axb4 28.Bxf3 Qc4 29.Qg2 h5 30.Bd5 Qg4 31.Bxf7+ Kh7 32.Qc2+ g6 33.Bxg6+ 1–0
Black resigned in view of 33... Qxg6 34.Rf7+ Kh6 35.Bf4+.