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Arkadij Naiditsch GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship
GM Arkadij Naiditsch – Bester Deutscher
31.7.-2. August 2009, 18:30 Uhr, Rheingoldhalle Mainz

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July 27- Aug 2nd, 2009 Rheingoldhalle, Mainz
Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (CCM9)
14. GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship
GM V. Anand, GM L. Aronian, GM I. Nepomniachtchi, GM A. Naiditsch







     











  






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Chess Classic

Anand has chance to take revenge against Aronian
Anand and Aronian to play final of Rapid World Championship

18.08.2007 - Saturday saw the last round of the preliminary of the Grenke Leasing Rapid Chess World Championship. The two best players in the preliminary would qualify for the final, which will be played tomorrow – and most people expected another battle between Anand and Aronian. But maybe Bacrot or Kasimdzhanov would manage an upset? After all, in yesterday’s press conference Kasimdzhanov had declared that he felt his luck had changed after his third round draw against Aronian. However, with only a half point out of three games he would indeed need a lot of luck to turn the tables. But maybe Bacrot would finally show his true mettle and put pressure on Aronian and Anand? Three rounds later all questions were answered.

Levon Aronian against Etienne Bacrot

Yet, the fourth round already showed that Kasimdzhanov was the only one who might have a chance to endanger the qualification of Aronian and Anand. Playing with White against Anand he got a much better position out of the opening and had the Indian on the brink of defeat. Anand clearly felt uncomfortable and spent a lot of time to defend against Kasimdzhanov’s pieces, which threatened to invade his shaky position. Time that turned out to be well spent, when Kasimdzhanov overlooked a hidden defensive blow, after which Anand suddenly stood better. But Kasimdzhanov did not lose heart and was able to cope with the reversal of fortune. Imaginatively combining attack and defense he rekindled his initiative, put Anand under pressure again until all petered out to a drawn rook endgame.

Meanwhile, Bacrot betrayed real signs of fatigue. Playing White against Aronian he opted for a quiet opening, got a harmless position, but lost without much resistance. As Aronian commented in the press conference: “He gave me a present. The position was totally equal.”

So it did not really come as a surprise that Bacrot also lost against a determined Kasimdzhanov. In fact, in this game psychology seemed to be much more important than pure chess. Even though Bacrot reached a good position out of the opening he failed to make anything out of it. In contrast, Kasimdzhanov seemed set on a real fight, gradually gained the upper hand and won.

The second round encounter between Anand and Aronian took an entirely different course. Anand followed a prepared line, in which he sacrificed an exchange for a pawn and active play. But after some small inaccuracies by Anand, Aronian returned material to shake off the pressure and the game was drawn immediately, which secured Anand his place in the final.

Vishy Anand against Rustam Kasimdzhanov

But it was not yet clear who his opponent would be. Kasimdzhanov had two points, Aronian three and they were to play against each other in the last round. If Kasimdzhanov won, a tie-break would follow. As Kasimdzhanov later revealed in the press conference, he decided to use some preparation for “serious games” to try to make it to the final. In the beginning everything went according to plan: Aronian went into a prepared line, fell much behind on the clock and got what he himself called “a strategically worse, unpleasant position”. But again luck seemed to elude Kasimdzhanov who similar to his game against Anand in round four found no way to win. Later he commented: “That’s a typical problem in Rapid Chess. You get a better position and you would need some time to work out how to win it. But that’s exactly what you don’t have.”

In the press conference, Kasimdzhanov also revealed how he felt about predicting winners in chess events. Asked who he thinks would win the FIDE-World Championship he replied: “Well, I consider it to be unethical to predict the winner of chess tournament because it might ever so slightly influence the way people play. … While it may be done in politics, I think, in chess there should be a bit more honor.”

A good point but it’s still interesting to speculate about the outcome of the final matches tomorrow. Though Kasimdzhanov clearly lost the Chess960 match against Bacrot judging on today’s performance he should be a slight favorite. And given Anand’s superior play in the preliminary of the Rapid World Championship one might see him as a favorite in his match against Aronian. Tomorrow evening we will know.

Johannes Fischer

Published by Harry Schaack

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