The 14-game Classical World Championship is coming to an end in Brissago, Switzerland, today. The world champion, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, is trailing Hungarian challenger Peter Leko with the score 6-7 and needs to win the last game to keep the title. It will be not easy. Last week, Leko defended several difficult positions with a remarkable calm. Although Kramnik was close to a few victories, he was unable to break through.
Learning From the Old Champions
Both players are being accused of contaminating the picturesque place on the Lake Maggiore with too many short draws and lack of fighting spirit. We saw two highly skilled chess technicians at work. True, some of the games were not exciting, but Kramnik and Leko are not the first to make a farce out of a world championship match.
In their first match in 1984-1985 in Moscow, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov managed to draw 18 games under 23 moves and nobody called it the end of modern chess.
Their shortest performance, Game 29, far exceeded what Leko and Kramnik attempted to do:
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2 Bb7 9.a3 b4 10.Na4 bxa3 11.bxa3 Be7 12.0-0 0-0 13.Bb2 c5 draw agreed.
The format of the match in Brissago should have helped Kramnik. He needed only to draw all 14 games to keep the world title. After his win in the first game many fans thought the match was over.
How could Leko win any games against a player who defeated Kasparov in 2000 without losing a game? But the Hungarian grandmaster was hungrier, played with more energy, won a tough endgame in Game 5 and it was not his fault that Kramnik self-destructed in Game 8.
Of course, Kramnik can still win brilliantly today and we may forgive him his previous heavy-handed performance.
Olympiad in Calvia
The 36th Chess Olympiad began last Friday in Calvia, on the Spanish island of Majorca, with 129 teams in the Open section. Vishy Anand of India is top-rated among more than 200 grandmasters. The all-grandmaster U.S. team consists of Alexander Onischuk, Alexander Shabalov, Alexander Goldin, Gregory Kaidanov, Igor Novikov and Boris Gulko. Ukraine was in the lead after yesterday's third round with a perfect score, winning all 12 games.
The U.S. women's team of Susan Polgar, Irina Krush, Anna Zatonskih and Jennifer Shahade has a good chance to clinch a medal, perhaps even a gold one, among 87 women's teams.
The results and games of the 14-round Swiss system olympiad can be followed at www.36chessolympiad-daily.com.
At the olympiad in Havana in 1966, Viktor Korchnoi, playing for a Soviet team, suffered a stunning defeat by Spanish international master Ricardo Minguez Calvo. It was a big sensation at that time not only because Soviet players seldom lost at chess olympiads, but because Calvo managed to win in a mere 18 moves. Here is the memorable Sicilian defense game.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Ba7 7.c4 Nc6 8.0-0 Qh4?! (An unsound adventure. 8...Nge7 is more solid.) 9.N1d2 Nge7 10.c5! (Threatening 11.Nc4, aiming for the hole on d6.) 10...Ne5 11.Be2 b6 12.f4! N5c6 (Korchnoi realized too late that after 12...bxc5? 13.fxe5 c4+ 14.Kh1 cxb3 15.g3 Qh3 16.Bg4, his queen is lost.) 13.Nc4 bxc5 14.g3 Qh6 15.f5 Qf6 16.fxe6 Qxe6 17.Nd6+ Kf8 18.Bc4! (White has too much firepower against the queen and the f7-pawn.) Black resigned.
In the second round in Calvia, Korchnoi, playing for the Swiss team, has outdone himself, losing to Alexander Morozevich, the top Russian board, in just 13 moves. The two-time world championship finalist allowed a simple fork in the Spanish Opening.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 (Preventing the Open Spanish that Korchnoi still likes to employ.) 5...b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.Nc3 d6 8.Nd5 Ng4 (Winning a chance to go after the light bishop.) 9.O-O Na5 10.Bg5! f6 (Taking away the square f6 for his knight.) 11.Bd2 Nxb3 12.axb3 c6? (After 12...0-0 13.h3, black may have small problems, for example 13...Nh6 14.Bxh6 gxh6 15.d4, but nothing like the outright blunder.) 13.Ba5 (After the black queen moves, white forks with 14.Nc7+.) Black resigned.
White's queenside knight played a major role in both games.
Oscar Shapiro Open
Andrew Samuelson, a Virginia master, scored 31/2 points in four games and won the event also known as D.C. Open on Oct. 10. It is now being named after the late D.C. master Oscar Shapiro, who won it at least once every decade since the 1940s.
Solution to today's problem by W. Shinkman (White: Kb2,Be8,P:b6,d5,d7,f4,f7; Black: Kd8): 1.Kc3! Ke7 2.d8N! Kd6 (Or 2...Kxd8 3.f8Q Kc8 4.Bc6 mate.) 3.f8Q+ Kxd5 4.Bc6 mate.