Chess Classic: Aronian dominates in Chess960

7/29/2009 – It is a form of chess, originally proposed by Bobby Fischer, in which the position of the pieces – not the pawns – is shuffled randomly before the start of each game. This eliminates deep opening preparation and fosters a new form of creativity. Armenia's top GM appears to have plenty of that. After the first day he leads with 3.0/3 – after a 40-board simultaneous display. Illustrated report.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2009

The 2009 Chess Classic will take place from July 27 to August 2 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. The event includes tournaments and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current World Champion Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian of Armenia, strong Russian junior GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and top German GM Arkadij Naiditsch. Schedule below.

After the traditional opening press conference on Monday there was a simul with Levon Aronian. The top Armenian GM took his 40 opponents to task, winning 37:3.

Aronian did not lose a single game and conceded only six draws. Fred Böttcher, Manfred Herbold (Schachhaus Ludwigshafen), Dr. Matthias Kribben (Zitadelle Spandau), Ulrich Gass (SC Eppingen) Timo Spiess (Bochumer SV 02) and Bernd Grill (SV Ebersbach) managed to take half a point away from the grandmaster.


The last game of the simultaneous display: Aronian won +34 =6 –0.

The day ended with some fine wining and dining at the Champions Dinner. For the gourmets: sliced baliksalmon with caviar was served, followed by lamb with lavender jus with quiche of pointed cabbage. The strawberry salsa with white chocolate mousse was a great dessert.


A friendly game between the Lord Mayor of Mainz, Jens Beutel and World Champion Anand (in the background organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt). Beutel is an accomplished chess player whose top rating was 2250.

The next day, when 71 young talents in the third Mini-ORDIX Open came to the Rheingoldhalle with their parents and trainers, they could meet the world champion and some of the best players in the world in the popular first signing session of the week.

In the above picture we see Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergei Movsesian, Levon Aronian, Victor Bologan, Arkadij Naiditsch and Viswanathan Anand ready to sign pictures, T-shirts, posters and books and anything else for the excited youngsters. Hikaru Nakamura had to cope with the time difference and did not make it on time. However, in Mainz grandmasters are approachable and it is not difficult to snatch an autograph from a top player.

In the evening four stars took part in an event that featured random chess – where the starting position – one of 960 possible configurations – is revealed to the players just before the game begins.

6th Chess960 Rapid World Championship – 28-30 July 2009

Rapid chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Course of events: Tue 28 July: first set of rounds 1, 2 and 3; Wed, 29 July: second set of rounds 4, 5 and 6, possible tiebreak; Thu, 30 July: four-game matches, big and small final, possible tiebreak, award ceremony. Start time of rounds: 18:30h, 19:30h, 20:30h, final additionally: 21:30h. Participants:

Player Nation
Rating
Title
WRank
Levon Aronian Armenia
2754
 GM
6
Sergei Movsesian Slovakia
2734
GM
16
Hikaru Nakamura USA
2699
 GM
32
Victor Bologan Moldavia
2687
 GM
43

First day: Tactics Rule

By Johannes Fischer

Tactics rule. As Viktor Bologan explained in yesterday’s press conference, in Chess960 the random position of the pieces simply forces you to think of everything. In interviews Levon Aronian also stressed how important tactics are in Chess960. The first three rounds of the Chess960 Rapid World Championship confirmed this view. The games featured quite a number of unusual tactical situations – and it was Levon Aronian who handled them best.
Right from the start he showed how good he coped with them. In his first round game against Nakamura he gave his queen for two rooks after just a couple of moves and afterwards he simply brought his pieces to strong squares. Nakamura came under pressure and had to give an exchange but then Aronian used his material plus to mate the enemy king with rook and two knights.

The game between Sergei Movsesian and Viktor Bologan was also characterized by tactics. Tactical tricks gave Bologan an advantage, and a tactical trick allowed Movsesian to extricate himself from a difficult position. However, he could not solve all of his problems and Black still had some pressure. This in turn provoked an inaccuracy from Movsesian which Bologan used to secure a winning position and soon after the point.

However, after this promising start followed a sobering second round, in which Bologan miscalculated and fell victim to a violent mating attack from Aronian.

Levon Aronian - Viktor Bologan
Chess960 Rapid World Championship Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (2.1)


Starting positon

1.e4 e5 2.d4 d6 3.f3 Ng6 4.Bc4 c6 5.Bb3 Nc7 6.Ng3 exd4 7.Bxd4 Ne6 8.Bc3 Nc5 9.Nf5 Nxb3 10.axb3 f6 11.Qe3 Qc7 12.Nd3 Ne5 13.Be1 g6 14.Nd4 Bf7 15.Bf2 Bg7

Now White played 16.Rxa7 Rxa7 17.Nb5 cxb5 18.Qxa7+ Kc8 19.Nxe5 fxe5 20.Bb6 Qe7 21.Qa8+ Kd7 22.Bxd8 and Black resigned: 1-0.

With two out of two Aronian showed why he was considered to be the favorite to win this tournament. The secret favorite Hikaru Nakamura fared much worse. After his first round loss against Aronian things also went wrong against Movsesian. The American played with White, built up pressure in the opening, avoided a repetition and a draw – only to lose his way and the game later on. "After ten moves I was almost winning, but then I got careless,“ he remarked during the press conference after the game.


Top American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura in Mainz

However, he managed to pull himself together in the third round and won with Black against Bologan. Both players were fond of the enemy pawns, but Nakamura managed to snatch one more pawn than his opponent, which gave him a clear endgame advantage that he finally converted to a full point.


Dominating in Chess960: Levon Aronian from Armenia

The game between Movsesian and Aronian quickly developed into a sharp encounter. Both players wanted to gain the initiative and did not shy away from material sacrifices. At first it seemed as if Movsesian, who played with White, set the pace, but the tide turned after a strong counter by Aronian.

Sergei Movsesian - Levon Aronian
Chess960 Rapid World Championship Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (3.1)


Starting position

1.b4 Nf6 2.Ng3 e6 3.e4 b6 4.Bf3 Ng6 5.h4 d6 6.d4 d5 7.h5 dxe4 8.Be2 Nf8 9.h6 Rg8 10.c4 c5 11.bxc5 bxc5 12.Rxb8 Qxb8 13.d5

Suddenly White’s position was critical and Movsesian’s search for counterplay only accelerated his end. There followed: 13...e3 14.Bd1 exf2+ 15.Kxf2 gxh6 16.N1e2 Ng4+ 17.Kg1 Bg5 18.Ba4+ Ke7 19.Qc2 Be3+ 20.Kf1 Bf4 21.Nf5+ exf5 22.Rh3 Be5 23.Nc3 Kf6 24.Qd3 Rg5 25.d6 Kg7 26.d7 Nxd7 27.Bxd7 Ld4 28.Ke2 Nf2 0-1.

This round led to an amusing situation: three players with one out of three share places two to four and will fight hard to qualify for the final tomorrow. At the same time Aronian scored 3.0/3 and is the sole and dominant leader and more than ever favorite to successfully defend his title of Chess960 World Champion.

"All games were hard and tough fights,“ Aronian said during the press conference. Maybe – but he still seemed to play all of them with effortless and playful ease. Often a sign of real great skill.

All pictures by Christian Bossert for Chess Tigers/Chess Classic


Schedule of remaining events

GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship – July 31 to August 2nd, 2009

Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Course of events: Fri, 31 July: first rounds 1, 2 and 3; Sat, 1 Aug.: second rounds 4, 5 and 6, possible tiebreak; Sun, 2 Aug: four-game matches, big and small final, possible tiebreak, award ceremony. Start time of rounds: 18:30h, 19:30h, 20:30h, final additionally: 21:30h. Participants:

Player Nation Title
Rating
WRnk
Viswanathan Anand India  GM
2783
2
Levon Aronian Armenia  GM
2754
6
Arkadij Naiditsch Germany  GM
2710
26
Ian Nepomniachtchi Russia  GM
2628
113

Full details

16th ORDIX Open – August 1-2, 2009

Eleven rounds Rapid Chess Open, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration until Sat 1 Aug, 11:30h. Sat 1 August: rounds 1-5; Sun 2 August: rounds 6-11. Start of rounds: Sat 12:00h, Sun 10:00h. Award ceremony Sun 17:30h. Details.

FiNet Chess960 Open – July 30-31, 2009

Eleven rounds Chess960 Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Thu 30 July: rounds 1-5; Fri 31 July: rounds 6-11. Start of rounds: Thu 12:00h and Fri 10:00h. Award Ceremony Fri 17:30h. Details.

3rd Mini-ORDIX (28th July) and the 3rd Mini-FiNet (29th July)

3rd Mini-ORDIX Open: Rapid Chess Open for Children and Talents U14, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration
until Tue, July 28, 10:30h. Seven rounds: 11:00h, 12:00h, 13:00h, 14:00h, 15:00h, 16:00h, 17:00h. Award ceremony: 18:00h. Details.

3rd Mini-FiNet Open: Rapid Chess960 Open for Children and Talents U14, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration
until Wed, July 29, 10:30h. Seven rounds: 11:00h, 12:00h, 13:00h, 14:00h, 15:00h, 16:00h, 17:00h. Award ceremony: 18:00h. Details.

5th Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship– 29-31 July 2009

Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Course of events: Wed 30 July: first set of three rounds; Thurs 31 July: second set of three rounds; Fri 1 Aug.: four-game matches, big and small final possle tiebreak (5min/game + 5s/move). Start time of rounds: 11:00h, 12:30h, 14:00h, final additionally: 15:30 h, tiebreak: 17:00h. Participants: Rybka, Deep Shredder, plus two qualifiers. Details.


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