Monday, October 27, 2008
With a 6-3 lead, Vishy Anand needs only a draw from the remaining three games to win the world championship match against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in Bonn, Germany. A victory in a title match is the only achievement that has eluded the Indian grandmaster thus far.
Anand, 38, is already the most versatile world champion. He won the junior world championship in 1987, the 128-player knockout world championship in 2000, the world championship in rapid play in 2003 and the tournament world championship in 2007, and he thoroughly dominated the advanced chess title events, where players could use computers during the play. No chess player has matched these accomplishments. Winning the world title match would solidify his position among the greatest players in history.
The Triumphant Meran
Anand is winning the match with a sharp Meran variation that caught Kramnik by surprise. Instead of floating in quiet, smooth waters, Kramnik found himself in wild, unpredictable rapids, where every move was important and every slip magnified. Kramnik lost both games with the white pieces. Such damage is irreparable in a short match. Anand's second Meran win came in the fifth game of the match.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2 Bb7 15.Bxb5 Rg8 (Anand concluded that a quick concentration of his forces against the white king is worth a pawn. In the third game of the match he tried 15...Bd6, preventing 16.Bf4.) 16.Bf4 Bd6 17.Bg3 (Kramnik covers the g-pawn, but not for long.) 17...f5! (Anand is relentless in creating attacking chances.) 18.Rfc1 f4 19.Bh4 Be7! (The bishop exchange allows Anand to slide on the dark squares.) 20.a4 Bxh4 21.Nxh4 Ke7 (Connecting the rooks, Anand creates threats along the g-file.)
22.Ra3?! (As in the third game, the same move weakens the first rank. But after 22.b4?! Rxg2+! 23.Nxg2 Rg8 24.f3 d3+ 25.Qf2 Bxf3 26.Qxb6 Rxg2+ 27.Kf1 Nxb6 28.Bxd3 Nd5, Anand has plenty of play for the exchange.) 22...Rac8! 23.Rxc8?! (Keeping the rooks on the board with 23.Rd1 was preferable, since 23...Rxg2+ 24.Nxg2 Rg8 could be met with 25.Rf3!) 23...Rxc8 24.Ra1 Qc5 25.Qg4 Qe5 26.Nf3 Qf6 27.Re1?! (Kramnik is losing the thread. After 27.Bxd7 Kxd7 28.Nxd4 Ke7 29.Nb5 Qxb2 30.Rd1, black has nothing better than to go for a draw with 30...Rc1.) 27...Rc5 28.b4 (Kramnik is obsessed with capturing the d-pawn, but after 28.Bxd7 Kxd7 29.Nxd4? comes 29...Rg5!) 28...Rc3! (Threatening 29...Bxf3 30.gxf3 Ne5 with an advantage.)
29.Nxd4? (The six-move combination does not work. Anand sees one move further. After 29.Bxd7 Bxf3 30.gxf3 Kxd7, black's d-pawn is dangerous. For example, 31.Re4?! d3 32.Rxf4 is refuted by a surprising march of the h-pawn: 32...h5! 33.Qg3 h4 34.Qg4 h3! creating a mating net, and black wins. Only 29.Nd2 offered chances to survive.) 29...Qxd4 30.Rd1 Nf6 31.Rxd4 Nxg4 32.Rd7+ Kf6 33.Rxb7 Rc1+ 34.Bf1 Ne3! (An astonishing knight blow delivered with such devastating force could be compared to the 17th game of the Korchnoi-Karpov match in 1978.) 35.fxe3 fxe3 (After 36.Rc7 Rxc7 37.g3 Rc1 38.Kg2 Rc2+ 39.Kf3 [or 39.Kg1 e2!] 39...Rf2+, black is a full rook up.) White resigned.
Solution to today's three-mover by W. Massmann (White: Kf7,Qd4,Bg5,Ne6,P:f6; Black: Kf5,Bc1): 1.Bh4 Bh6 2.Bg5! Bxg5 (or 2...Bf8 3.Qf4 mate) 3.Ng7 mate.