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Chess Classic

Anand and Svidler bounce back on second day of their Chess Classic matches

19.08.2006 - When Anand sat down behind the black pieces to play the third game of the GrenkeLeasing World Rapid Championship, which is one of the highlights of the Chess Classic Mainz, his whole body language signaled determination. He seemed to be all focused on taking revenge for yesterday’s defeat in the second game of his eight-game match against Tejmour Radjabov. And by running straight into a prepared line the 19-year Azerbaijani gave Anand all the chances he needed.

GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship

Viswanathan Anand and Tejmour Radjabov on day 2 of GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship 2006

The lightning speed with which Anand confidently played the first 20 moves, not even using a minute of his thinking time, already indicated that things were going his way. Radjabov, on the other hand, seemed to be uncomfortable trying to chart his way through unknown opening territory. He fell behind on the clock and exuded none of his usual confidence even though he was an exchange up – obviously this was a prepared line and Anand had ample compensation for his material disadvantage.

Surprise, a difficult defense and much less time on the clock proved to be too much for Radjabov. He decided to sacrifice a piece to relieve some of the pressure but even that did not ease his task. Anand skillfully combined defensive with aggressive moves and exploited the weaknesses Radjabov’s attempt for counter-play had created around his king by finishing the game with an elegant mating attack. “I was quite pleased with this game”, he later said in the press conference. His opponent agreed and said that this game was “great chess by Anand”. Thus, Anand managed to equalize the score to 1.5:1.5.

However, the Indian was not so happy about the fourth game, a Sicilian-Sveshnikov. As Anand later commented, Black had “typical Sveshnikov play” and judging from the way the game developed this is nothing short of a recommendation to try this opening. Even though Anand seemed to develop pressure against Black’s weaknesses, it was Radjabov who initiated the more powerful counter-play. Soon Anand was on the defensive but managed to escape into an endgame in which he was a pawn down but drew quite easily. As Radjabov later said in the press conference: “Nothing special. Fighting chess.”

Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship

Levon Aronian and Peter Svidler on day 2 of Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship 2006

In the other match, the Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship, between Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian, Svidler, who was trailing 0:2 after the first day of the match, also bounced back. Despite losing the first two games he didn’t lose his confidence, which helped him to overcome some critical moments in both games. Thus, even though he had the white pieces he did not manage to get anything out of the opening in the third game and Aronian later said “I was much better after …Qd6. But I blundered and got an endgame, which was probably drawn. But I was upset and blundered again.” Svidler saw things similarly: “I wasn’t very happy with my position. In the endgame initially I had no winning chances whatsoever. But Levon made some bad choices and I could win.” To reduce the score to 1:2 for Aronian.

Maybe the course of the third game influenced the outcome of the fourth. At any rate, it developed in a similar way. Svidler, who had the black pieces, later explained that he had already lost such a Chess960 position against Galdunts. And whereas he tried to play “funny” in the previous game, this time he tried to imitate his opponent, which, however, did not work. As in the game before, Svidler had the worse of it after the opening. However, Aronian wanted too much. “I spent too much time. I wanted to play for a win and later I missed the …Re3, Rc3 moves and ran out of time.” Again, Peter couldn’t agree more: “Positionally I was worse and all I could hope for were some bad endgames. But Levon went wrong and in the end his position collapsed because he had less time.”

The spectators, however, were delighted and seeing Aronian letting his clock repeatedly run down to ten seconds or less added considerable excitement to the pure chess entertainment. And these four games promise more exciting chess for tomorrow and for Sunday. Not to mention the fact that with an equal score of 2:2 both matches are open again and it is increasingly difficult to name a favorite.

Johannes Fischer

Published by Börries Wendling

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