Chess Classic Mainz 2007
The event toos place from August 13 to 19 in the Rheingoldhalle of the
Congress Centre in Mainz, Germany. It included matches and Opens in traditional
and Random Chess.
GRENKE LEASING Rapid World Championship
Anand Remains Supreme in Mainz
Report by Johannes Fischer
Sunday, immediately after the end of the Ordix Open, with 762 participants
the world’s biggest rapid chess tournament, the Chess Classic Mainz finished
with another highlight: the match for the Grenke Leasing Rapid Chess World Championship
between Anand and Aronian. Three days ago the same players had played the final
of the FiNet Chess960 World Championship. This was a tense and exciting match,
but here even more was at stake: Anand wanted to take revenge for his loss and
prove that he is still the world’s best rapid player. Both players also
had the coming World Championship in Mexico in mind: on the one hand both players
are among the favorites and the winner of Mainz would gain a psychological edge
over his rival. At the same time both players had to be careful not to reveal
too much of their preparation for Mexico.
Aruna and Vishy Anand waiting for the action to begin
Maybe this was the reason why they both decided to proceed carefully. In their
first game they repeated the Ruy Lopez of their game in the preliminary but
while Anand was better in that game, he now failed to get anything out of the
opening and quickly agreed to a draw.
The Tiger theme in the final Rapid match between Anand and Aronian
In contrast to Anand and Aronian, Bacrot and Kasimdzhanov, who were playing
for third place, could take it easy. Saturday evening they were even seen sitting
together, drinking wine and exchanging jokes. Maybe they agreed not to care
too much for the result of the match but play entertaining chess for the audience.
Which they did. In the first game Kasimdzhanov pursued a kingside attack but
in the crucial moment did not dare to sacrifice on g6, which Shirov in the analysis
room considered to be winning. With less time on the clock Kasimdzhanov later
lost his way in the complications and failed to see a perpetual with a rook
down, which brought Bacrot his first win.
More tigers in Mainz: the match between Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot under way
In the second round Bacrot and Kazimdzhanov continued where they had stopped.
Right after the opening Bacrot found an interesting way to play with his pair
of bishops against Kasimdzhanov’s knights: The French GM sacrificed both
of his bishops to mate the enemy king, but when Kasimdzhanov gave back a rook
to avoid worse Black was better. However, with a material balance of rook vs.
two knights Bacrot continuously exerted pressure on Black’s position and
reached an endgame, in which he avoided all knight forks, exchanged most of
the remaining pawns and saved a draw.
The audience in the Rheingoldhalle watching the games in great suspense
Meanwhile Aronian’s pair of bishops also fought two knights. Yet the
Armenian was less generous than Bacrot and presented Anand with no more than
a pawn and kept his bishops to compensate for his material disadvantage. However,
when Anand neutralized White’s pressure and Aronian had only 30 seconds
against Anand’s seven minutes, some saw Anand winning already. But their
hopes – or fears – made place for astonishment when the players
suddenly agreed to a draw. Another glance on the position revealed that Anand
had no way to avoid losing his extra pawn after which the ending was a dead
The third game revealed how much respect Anand and Aronian had for each other
and how careful they were to avoid the risk of losing or to reveal any secrets.
They again repeated the Ruy Lopez of their games from the preliminary and the
first round of the final. But again Anand failed to achieve anything out of
the opening – Fritz even saw a slight advantage for Black – and
the game was drawn without much excitement.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Etienne Bacrot drew their match 2:2 (each won a game)
So Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot had to provide some entertainment. Accordingly,
Bacrot again opted for the Marshall Gambit, which had brought him victory in
the preliminary. But it turned out that Kasimdzhanov had done his homework when
he improved on that game. He gradually consolidated and returned his extra pawn
to reach a position in which his passed c-pawn gave him (very) good winning
chances. When the c-pawn gradually moved further down the board everything seemed
to work according to plan until Black suddenly came up with an unexpected tactical
trick, which seemed to save the draw. However, justice prevailed and at the
end of the tactical sequence Black had no draw but lost a piece and the game.
Thus, Kasimdzhanov equalized the match and hoped to win the fourth game and
But this was not to be – though both players tried. Once more the two
bishops had to fight against the two knights but neither side could get any
advantage and when most pieces went off the board the game was drawn. As the
organizers decided not to play a tie-break Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot shared third
Meanwhile the fourth and decisive game between Anand and Aronian started quietly
but ended dramatically. Anand, playing with black, managed to equalize after
the opening to reach a position, which did not offer much chances to either
side. But whether his nerves betrayed him or whether he was tired, Aronian gradually
started to play worse and fell seriously behind on the clock. Suddenly his only
weakness, the pawn on a3, was in real danger and, when it fell, Anand seemed
to be well on his way to keep his title of Rapid World Champion. Although Aronian
in the previous games of the tournament had more than once shown his remarkable
ability to save bad positions, this time there was no escape. Anand smoothly
drove his advantage home to win his tenth title in Mainz.
Organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt with the winner: Vishy Anand
Schmitt awards the runner-up prize to Levon Aronian (who beat Anand in the
You can see that the normally affable Lev is not blissfully happy
...but he puts on a brave face and speaks to the audience
"Kasim" impresses the audience with a speech held in flawless, elegant
...and then joins his colleague Etienne Bacrot to contemplate the result
By Frederic Friedel
This is not quite as violent as the Eduard Norton and Brad Pitt club, but definitely
provides superior culinaray delights. With finger dishes and an open bar it
was the place to be after the games had finshed, or even during play, when GM
Artur Jussupow would comment on the moves while early guests were refreshing
themselves. The Gourmet Club was advertised on imaginative posters designed
by organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt.
We leave it to you to recognise the principals in the abover pictures.
Here's one more for the quiz:
Got it? Hint: this man has often been seen in Mexico
Anand and Aruna enjoying candle-light snacks, while Artur Jussupov comments
on a game
Hans-Walter Schmitt (2nd from left) and his team take a break in the Gourmet
Club: GM Klaus Bischof, Schmitt, Christian Bossert (from the main sponsor Grenke
Leasing), tournament director Hans Dieter Post and Thilo Grubler, responsible
for the game broadcast on the Internet.
The journalists, with Otto Borik (left), editor of Schach Magazin 64, and
Eric van Reem, who wrote English language reports, the press referent of the
German Chess Federation Jörg Lais
More journalists, here Dirk Poldauf of the German chess magazine Schach, and
Johannes Fischer, who wrote the reports on the top GM events, and Harry Schaack,
press chief of the Chess Classic 2007.
The Arabs: former world women's champion Zhu Chen, GM Mohamad Al-Modiahki and
GM Victor Bologan. Explanation: Zhu is married to Al-Modiahki and lives with
him (and their daughter) in Qatar. Bologan, who hails from Moldova,
trains the Qatari team, and also lives in the Gulf.
Alexander Grischuk and Rustam Kasimdzhanov get involved in a quick game of –
wait a minuite, that's nolt a legal position in chess! Can you guess what all
this is about?
A final social breakfast on Monday in the Mainz Hilton: J.B. Singh Negi, Parimarjan
Negi (ridiculously strong 14-year old from India), Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Firuza
Kasimdzhanov (whose birthday it is) Aruna and Vishy Anand.
All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Mainz