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August 13-19th, 2007 Rheingoldhalle, Mainz
Chess Classic Mainz 2007 (CCM7)
12. GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship
WM V. Anand, GM L. Aronian, GM R. Kashimdzhanov, GM E. Bacrot
Average: Elo 2730 / Category 20



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Chess Classic

Anand Uses Ruy Lopez to Dominate Rapid Chess
The Grenke Leasing Rapid World Championship Began in Mainz

17.08.2007 - On Friday evening Anand, Aronian, Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot sat down to play their second World Championship in four days. This time it was back to classical chess, position 518 in Chess960 terms. A well researched position familiar to the players. Instead of having to worry about unprotected pawns and possible mates in the opening they could rely on preparation. And maybe it was the wish to be back on familiar territory that made the Ruy Lopez the opening of choice – four of six games featured a Ruy. But theory or not, the players showed interesting chess with Anand being the most fluent in Spanish.

Ordix Rapid World Championship

How well he understood the Ruy Lopez Anand showed in the very first round against Kasimdzhanov – or maybe it was Anand’s knowledge of the Sicilian Sveshnikov that helped him to play a fine positional game. Somehow a Ruy Lopez turned into a Sicilian structure, in which Anand sacrificed a pawn to establish a permanent knight on d5 who terrorized Black’s bad black-squared bishop. Anand now proceeded to gradually prevent all counterplay by Black to hunt the weak black pawns afterwards. With less and less time on the clock Kasimdzhanov could not defend against the increasing pressure, and in the end, as if to emphasize the crucial motif of the game, his bishop was lost because it had no more squares to go to.

Meanwhile Aronian demolished Bacrot in a short tactical game. Playing with black, Bacrot was not content with passive defense, but tried to gain counterplay by provoking complications. However, his king was just not in a position to allow his forces such luxury. Aronian simply developed his pieces and Bacrot was faced with the choice to let his king be mated on open central files or to play on with a piece down. Instead he chose to resign.

The second round saw the most prestigious encounter of the preliminary: Anand vs. Aronian. Again it was a Ruy Lopez and again Anand had the better of it. After an exchange of bishops on e6, which gave Black doubled pawns, Aronian suffered from a bad structure. He tried to compensate this disadvantage with piece play, but ran into a counter by Anand, which forced Aronian to give an exchange for some swindling chances. But Anand easily defended against Aronian’s thin threats to win this prestigious encounter.

Vishy Anand

In the other game of the second round, Bacrot was undeterred by his quick loss against Aronian and tried the same recipe of seeking tactics in the opening again. This time he was more successful. His pawn sacrifice gave him powerful piece play and a few moves later a much better ending, which he won despite some technical inaccuracies.

What is good with White can’t be that bad with Black. Maybe this is what Anand thought when he decided to play the Ruy in this third round game against Bacrot. However, to prevent early pawn sacrifices by Bacrot, he opted for the Marshall. Both players followed theoretical lines and an endgame arose, in which Anand had two pieces for rook. As both couldn’t do much, the game was quickly drawn. Later Anand said about the game: “Well, we could have played something more interesting.”

In the press conference Kasimdzhanov also explained his bad results and said that rapid chess “is less a matter of expertise than form and luck.” To add: “I was not in form and I had not much luck. Actually, it was only the very last move of my game against Levon [Aronian], which saved a draw for me that I considered myself lucky. So, I think this is a very good sign and I am quite optimistic for tomorrow.” In fact, after his losses against Anand and Bacrot Kasimdzhanov was again close to defeat against Aronian, who in a queenless middlegame came up with a surprising combination, which gave him a better ending. But after accurate defense  Kasimdzhanov saved the draw. Tomorrow he will hope for more. Right now, most people expect another final between Anand and Aronian.

Standing after three rounds: Anand, 2,5, Aronian, 1,5, Bacrot, 1,5, Kasimdzhanov, 0,5.

Johannes Fischer

Published by Harry Schaack

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