Anand remains king in Mainz

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
For the ninth consecutive time, and the eleventh in total, Vishy Anand has won the Rapid World Championship in Mainz: this year in the final he beat Magnus Carlsen 3-1. Morozevich won the match for third place 2.5-1.5 against Judit Polgar. Report with videos.

In our last report on the Mainz Chess Classic 2008, which took place from July 28 to August 3 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Hilton Hotel Congress Centre, we focus on the Grenkeleasing Rapid World Championship.

Because qualifiers Viktor Bologan and David Navara couldn't go to Mainz this year (they are in Sochi), organizer Hans-Walter Schmitt, who was not amused when he heard about the Grand Prix dates, had to think of something else this year. For the Chess960 Rapid Wch he invited four ladies, about which we've already reported, and for the rapid event Anand, Carlsen, Morozevich and Polgar came to Mainz. A fine group, of course!

But before we continue with the event, first a Mainz introduction video by Macauley Peterson:

The following reports, on three days of exciting rapid chess, were provided by Johannes Fischer

Day 1: Exciting chess and calm comments The keenly awaited encounter between Magnus Carlsen and World Champion Vishy Anand came early. The drawing of lots decided they had to play in the first round of four player double round robin. And this duel between the current World Champion and the 17-year old Norwegian, who many consider to be a future World Champion, attracted quite a lot of attention and the Rheingoldhalle was packed with spectators.

However, the game itself turned out to be a little disappointing. Though no doubt people were hoping for a sharp fight when Carlsen opted for the Sicilian Dragon, moreover, the line, with which he had just narrowly escaped defeat against Leinier Dominguez two days ago in Biel.

But Anand did not want to repeat the line Dominguez played to let Carlsen demonstrate the result of his homework, but instead preferred to swap queens and exert positional pressure against Black's weak d-pawn. But Carlsen's active bishop compensated for his slight positional disadvantage and after 31 moves Anand was content to share the point. In the press conference after the game, Carlsen, who on Thursday had just played the last round in Biel and who had arrived only half an hour before the start of the tournament, dryly explained: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI did not sleep too much last night and thus I was very tired and content with the result.?¢‚Ǩ?

World champion Vishy Anand with Mainz organizer Hans-Walter Schmitt

Judit Polgar and Alexander Morozevich were not so peacefully inclined. Morozovich with Black opted for a Ruy Lopez and an interesting position arose. Yet, Polgar, who in recent months had not played that much still seemed to be a bit rusty when she allowed a position to arise, in which Black's knight clearly dominated the white bishop and in which a long, passive defense lay ahead.

Morozevich gradually increased the pressure and with more time on the clock looked certain to win the game. However, with the seconds ticking away he made things more difficult for himself than necessary and the game wound up in a rook endgame, in which Black was better, but Polgar could hope. In vain, as it turned out when Morozevich's passed pawns were getting closer and closer to White's first rank. When they finally arrived on e2 and d2 Polgar resigned.

In the second round Judit did not seem to fare much better when she got a clearly worse, if not even already lost position against Anand. But when it came to converting his advantage, Anand returned the favor: He did not seem what to do with his extra pawn and in an attempt to get active he sacrificed/blundered his material advantage. Suddenly the position was unclear and Anand-fans had to suffer some awkward minutes until Anand gave a piece for all of Polgar's pawns to draw the game.

Carlsen vs. Morozevich was a bit less dramatic. In a Sicilian Defense Morozevich had no problems to at least equalize but Carlsen found adequate counterplay and when everything boiled down to an opposite colored bishops endgame Morozevich soon gave up his attempts to win.

After this somewhat peaceful prelude things really heated up in the third round. Anand, who, as he later explained, did not have much after the opening, gradually outplayed Morozevich and in contrast to the previous game he now managed to convert his advantage.

And the other game between Judit Polgar and Magnus Carlsen really turned out to be spectacular. Carlsen again chose the Dragon and Polgar went for a much sharper line than Anand in the first round. Both sides were attacking and after an inaccuracy by Polgar Carlsen gave his two rooks against queen and a couple of pawns. In the very tactical, complicated position he creatively used White's exposed king and his own pawns to win. Thus, after the first half of the 13. GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship Anand and Carlsen share the lead with 2 points each, followed by Morozevich with 1.5 and Judit Polgar with 0.5.

However, one wonders what kind of game it takes to excite the young Norwegian. No matter how complicated the position, he always remains calm at the board. He actually appeared to be more nervous in the press conference, though he was very calm there as well. In fact, all four players seem to share this sober, almost too distanced view of their own games. It's hard to imagine them raving about a well played game or expressing amazement about some beautiful win or a particularly exciting move ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú instead, they prefer to hint at options and opportunities the opponent had. Maybe being objective means being strong, but it would be nice to see these chess artists display a bit more feeling about their creations. However, as long as they continue to play the strong and exciting chess they do, one should not complain too much. Or, as Judit Polgar said, when asked whether she would not like to write or at least contribute some article for the press: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI will make news on the stage.?¢‚Ǩ?

Day 2: Anand and Carlsen to meet in the final

Tomorrow Carlsen and Anand will play in the final of the 13. GrenkeLeasing Rapid Chess World Championship ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the very encounter many chess fans were waiting for. Qualifying, however, was not that easy. In the second half of the preliminary it took Anand three exciting tactical games to qualify while Carlsen was lucky to survive against Morozevich.

If the fourth round encounter between Anand and Carlsen is anything to go by, tomorrow will see an exciting final. Carlsen, who sat down to play in a corduroy jacket, which he never took off during the entire game, chose a fashionable pawn of the Queen's Indian involving a pawn sacrifice. In return he received active pieces and compensation. While he gradually increased his pressure on the kingside Anand countered on the queenside and suddenly an outburst of tactical complications followed. In a still interesting position Anand, despite being two minutes ahead on the clock, decided not to risk too much and settled for a perpetual.

Morozevich and Judit Polgar also played a Queen's Indian. However, Polgar one again confirmed suspicions that she might be a bit out of shape when blundering ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú ?¢‚Ǩ?ìsomehow I always go mad against Morozevich?¢‚Ǩ? ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú a pawn right after the opening. Afterwards she desperately tried to stir up complications but had no success against Morozevich's calm defense.

In the fifth round the players seemed to be set to keep things exciting. As often before Judit Polgar (playing White) and Vishy Anand debated the pros and cons of the Sicilian Najdorf. Though Judit opted for the line with 6.Be2 the game turned into a sharp struggle. Judit castled queenside, Anand castled kingside and both were attacking the enemy king. For a while Fritz liked Anand's chances better, but Judit came up with creative attacking resources. When Anand failed to find a decisive tactical blow he decided to go for a repetition and a draw.

Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand on the second day in Mainz

Morozevich and Carlsen also played an exciting game ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú and also drew. Morozevich played his second Queen's Indian of the day and with his trademark double-edged interesting play managed to put Carlsen under constant pressure. However, the Norwegian neutralized all threats and when a queen ending was reached in which he was slightly better, he accepted Morozevich's draw offer ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú with only nine seconds left on the clock, he was not in a mood to gamble.

Thus, with one round to go Anand, Morozevich and Carlsen all had three points, while Judit was trailing with one. As the first two in the preliminary qualify for the final, the 6th round, in which Anand played against Morozevich and Polgar against Carlsen promised to be really exciting.

As it was, the final round pretty dramatic ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú at least for the spectators. The game Anand against Morozevich in particular was full of tactical possibilities. This was mainly Morozevich' fault: He blundered right after the opening and allowed Anand a winning knight sacrifice. Morozevich declined the sacrifice and now Anand could have won immediately with a second sacrifice ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú which is easy to find when letting the computer do the search:

25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Ng5+ Kg8 27.Qb3+ Kh8 28.Qf7 and Black has no defense against the threat of 29.Qh5+.

Instead Anand took the safe route and suddenly Morozevich had some swindling chances because the position was rather tactical. But Anand calmly parried all threats and used his material advantage to win the game and the tournament.

Magnus Carlsen saw with pleasure how Anand was doing his best to put the Norwegian on second place. Trusting Anand to win against Morozevich Carlsen made no real effort to win against Judit Polgar and calmly exchanged pieces to steer the game to an unexciting draw, which allowed him to finish on second place ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú something Morozevich might feel to be a bit unjust. After all, he twice had the better position against Carlsen, but achieved only two draws. In return he lost twice against Anand and finally ended up half a point behind the Norwegian.

As it is, chess fans can look forward to an interesting final between Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú tomorrow draws will not be enough to win the title of World Champion.


INTERVIEW JUDIT POLGAR by Georgios Souleidis


Many more great videos and reports at the official website!

Day 3: Anand remains king in Mainz

It was the final many were waiting for. Vishy Anand against Magnus Carlsen. The experienced Indian against the young Norwegian. The reigning World Champion against the player many consider to be the coming World Champion. But Anand used his experience and skill to show why he is the World's number one. He gave his young opponent no chances and defended his title of World Champion without trouble. The match for third place between Alexander Morozevich and Judit Polgar might not have been as technically correct as the games of Anand but it was highly entertaining. After four exciting games Morozevich won 2,5-1,5 to take third place.

Magnus, what happened? This is what the fans of the Norwegian might have asked after the first game ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú or the match ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú of the final of the 13. GrenkeLeasing Rapid Chess World Championship. Carlsen boldly ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú foolishly? ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú went for the Dragon again and dared Anand to find an improvement of their first game of the preliminary. Anand duly obliged and when he came up with a new move Magnus seemed to be surprised. At least, he spent a long time to find a way to justify his strategy. Finally, he came up with an exchange sacrifice but Anand decided to continue to go for Carlsen's king. When Carlsen sacrificed his queen it confirmed that he something had gone seriously in the opening. Though Anand playing with queen against rook might have been able to win quicker, the outcome was never in doubt.

Carlsen and Anand in the final

In the match for place three Judit Polgar at first appeared to continue her losing streak against Morozevich. Playing the Black side of the Benoni she failed to create dynamic counterplay and suffered from her queenside weaknesses. However, though Morozevich won the a-pawn he failed to win the game because he suddenly found it difficult to penetrate Black' position in the endgame.

Carlsen fans could not be happy about the second game of the final either. Carlsen steered the game into Kramnik's favorite opening: the Catalan. Maybe Carlsen entertained hopes that Anand would not want to show his preparations against Kramnik and go in for an inferior. But Anand easily equalized and soon after had already seized the initiative, which he used to win a pawn. As White had no counterplay to talk of Anand won without problems and the match seemed to be turn into a really one-sided affair.

The second game between Polgar and Morozevich offered more excitement. Polgar seemed to have gotten nothing but a slightly worse position on the white side of a Ruy Lopez and had to seriously compromise her pawn structure to keep the Black pieces from invading her camp. This guaranteed her some active play soon an interesting queen ending arose, in which, however, Morozevich seemed to have the better chances. But when both sides sent sides sent their passed pawns running the game got very tactical, Morozevich somewhere lost the thread and was suddenly on the brink of defeat when Polgar's king gobbled up the black pawns on the queenside. Yet, with four queens on the board and little time on the clock everything was possible. Polgar's winning attempts led to an endgame K+Q and a-pawn against K+Q. Polgar tried to win this position but on move 146 finally had to admit that she could not escape the perpetual.

Game three showed how professionally Anand approaches the game. Needing only a draw to win the match and to defend his title World Champion Anand took no risks. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 he declined the invitation to a sharp Sicilian and preferred the calmer waters of 3.Bb5+. And he continued this safety-first policy until the very end. He gradually increased the pressure against Carlsen's position until the Norwegian was forced to concede a pawn. With a pawn to the good and a better position Anand made what Leko would call ?¢‚Ǩ?ìa professional move?¢‚Ǩ?: He offered a draw which Carlsen had to accept to make Anand the new and old World Champion in Rapid Chess. With this victory Anand won the Chess Classic for the ninth time in a row and for the eleventh time altogether.

This made the fourth game of the match a mere formality and the players indeed agreed to a draw after eleven moves giving Anand a clear 3-1 win.

While Anand showed technique and professionalism, Judit Polgar showed courage and creativity. With Black she again went for the Benoni against Morozevich and in a double-edged situation (see diagram) suddenly came up with ...Bxh3, sacrificing a bishop for unclear compensation.

She continued to play creatively and was rewarded with the slightly better endgame. However, in the end this was not enough and for the third time Judit Polgar and Morozevich shared the point after an interesting game.

All this excitement took its toll on Judit in the fourth game. As she admitted in the press conference she ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdid not have the same energy as in the first game?¢‚Ǩ?. Still, the game was interesting but this time Morozevich managed to convert the advantage he had after the opening into a full point to come third.


Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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