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Vlastimil Hort Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship
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Chess Classic

Anand and Aronian win in Mainz

21.08.2006 - Sunday was the final day of the GrenkeLeasing Rapid World Chess Championship between Vishy Anand and Tejmour Radjabov and the Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship between Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian. The tension was high and several hundred spectators were waiting for an exciting fight. They were not disappointed.

Especially Anand and Radjabov fully lived up to expectations. In the seventh game Radjabov with White again went for the Slav Defense even though he had not achieved much with it in the previous games of the match. He even repeated the line, which had brought him a painful defeat in the fifth game, possibly waiting to spring a prepared improvement on Anand. However, things didn’t go to plan and after a strong piece sacrifice by Anand Radjabov suddenly had difficulties to defend against an armada of black pawns threatening to paralyze White.

Winner Viswanathan Anand, Chess Classic organisator Hans-Walter Schmitt and second Tejmour Radjabov at the final press conference.

And even though Radjabov managed to develop pressure, the permanent threat the pawns emanated finally proved to be too much for the Azerbaijani. He decided to give up material to get rid of the pawns and liquidated into an endgame an exchange down, in which he could hope for a draw. But as he later explained “it’s very hard to defend this position with less time on the clock”. Anand eventually won, thus taking the lead with 4:3 and now only needed a draw in the last game to win the match. It turned out to be a nervous affair.

This time Anand avoided the Sveshnikov and he later said “he was surprised to see how difficult it was for White to equalize in this opening”. Instead, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Sc6 he opted for a Rossolimo with 3.Bb5. Radjabov reacted aggressively and soon sacrificed a pawn. Possibly not entirely satisfied with the compensation he got, he decided to continue in this mood of generous aggression and sacrificed a second pawn.

It is striking how much Black dominated the match
Anand accepted these gifts and calmly consolidated his position, which provoked further outrage and sacrifices. Now Anand wanted to show that he is also a generous man and gave up a knight for three pawns giving Black however also chances to come back into the game.

But Radjabov failed to find a way to create sustained threats and when queens were exchanged White’s pawns soon proved to be too much for Black and he was forced to resign. Thus, Anand won his seventh match in Mainz in a row and his ninth title altogether. Asked, which games of the match he liked best, he replied: “I liked my games with Black best, even the one I lost. At any rate, it is striking how much Black dominated the match.”

In the Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship things went a bit smoother for Levon Aronian. Which, however, to a large part was due to Peter Svidler. After a quiet opening in the seventh game, he decided “to destabilize the position as much as I could. Which I did until it was too late”. In his efforts to stir up a fight he gave Aronian’s queen access to the white position and was soon forced to concede a pawn. And though Aronian had some technical problems and could have converted his advantage quicker, he finally won.

Svidler and Aronian at the award ceremony (next to Schmitt and Koenig)

The last game also took an unlucky course for Svidler. By chance Aronian and Svidler had to play a position in which Black had to be careful from the very first move not to drift into a real bad position. But as Svidler explained in the press conference: “In classical chess you do not really expect to lose the game after the first two moves – but this can happen in Chess960. So when I blundered in the first move, after two moves the game was practically over.”

Svidler tried to shake off the pressure by giving up a piece for dubious compensation but possibly shaken by the unfortunate turn of events he immediately blundered a piece afterwards and resigned. Thus, Levon Aronian could add the title of Chess960 World Champion to his already impressive list of successes.

Svidler showed his sportsmanship by avoiding all excuses: “Levon is a deserved winner and a deserving champion”, he declared. “Winning the incredibly competitive open twice in a row is possibly more of an achievement than winning the matches.” Praise which Aronian instantly returned: “The match was very close and I am not sure that I am any better than Peter.” Maybe they will have more opportunities to find out who really is the best in Chess960. Due to the huge success of this year’s tournament the sponsors guaranteed their support at least until 2013. Chess fans can already look forward to the Chess Classic Mainz in August 2007.

Johannes Fischer

Published by Börries Wendling

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