Mainz 2007 – Aronian and Anand qualify for Chess960 Final

8/16/2007 – Today one of them will win the world championship title – in Chess960, with shuffled pieces. Both the hot favourites Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand dutifully qualified, knocking Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Etienne Bacrot out of contention. The final will take place on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. local time (= 12:30 p.m. NY, 10:00 p.m. Chennai). You can watch it on Playchess.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2007

The event takes place from August 13 to 19 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. It includes matches and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current world's number one Anand, who will play in Chess960 (Fischer Random) and in rapid chess tournaments together with Levon Aronian, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Etienne Bacrot.

Anand and Aronian Qualify for the Final

Johannes Fischer on day two of the FiNet Chess960 World Championship

Anand and Aronian were favorites to win the FiNet Chess960 Rapid World Championship, and after the first three rounds most people also expected them to qualify for the final. However, Bacrot and Kasimdzhanov certainly did not want to go down without a fight. After all, with 1.5 points from three games, Kasimdzhanov shared second place with Anand. But their crucial encounter right at the start of day two turned out to be rather one-sided. Anand seemed to have absorbed the lessons from his first three serious Chess960 games quickly and after an opening blunder by Kasimdzhanov, which cost a vital pawn, Anand quickly won.


Anand qualified for the Chess960 final

Viswanathan Anand - Rustam Kasimdzhanov
FiNet Chess960 World Championship Chess Classic Mainz (4.2), 2007


Chess960 starting position

1.d4 d5 2.Nd3 Nf6 3.e3 Nd6 4.g4 h6 5.h3 Bb5 6.Ne2 e6 7.a4 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Qd7 9.f3 Re8 10.e4 dxe4 11.fxe4 e5?

12.Bg3 and now 12...exd4? would lead to the fork 13.e5. 12...Nc8 13.dxe5 Qxd3 14.cxd3 Nh7 15.Rxf7 Ng5 16.Rf1 Nxh3 17.d4 Nb6 18.Rc1 a5 19.e6 Rxe6 20.Rxc7 Ka7 21.e5 1-0.

Meanwhile, Bacrot tried hard to keep his slim chances of qualifying for the final alive by trying hard to beat Aronian. He was focused and played much quicker than yesterday. This afternoon he was also seen taking a walk along the Rhine carrying a copy of John Nunn’s Chess Puzzle Book under his arm. This book contains numerous tactical puzzles, ranging from easy to (very) difficult, and solving these puzzles could have helped the French player to find his way through the tactical complications in his game against Aronian. But although Bacrot had a slight pull throughout the game, in the end Aronian drummed up enough counterplay to save the draw.


Anand's formidable adiversary in the Chess960 Final: Levon Aronian of Armenia

In the fifth round Aronian and Anand dispelled any doubts about who would make it to the final. Anand with White gradually managed to shake off the pressure Bacrot had developed right out of the opening and reached a favorable position, which for Bacrot was, to quote Anand, “maybe not lost, but unpleasant.” Theoretically, there might have been a defense for Black, but practically there wasn’t, if only because Anand still had five minutes on the clock, while Bacrot had only one. Eventually time pressure and difficult defense were too much for the French player, who – similar to his first round game against Aronian – went down to a couple of tactical shots on h6, g7, f7 and e7.

Aronian also was unwilling to give Kasimdzhanov any chances to make it to the final. After the opening he gradually took over and after an error by Kasimdzhanov Aronian won a pawn, which he safely converted to a full point.


Rustam Kasimdzhanov signing poster for fans in Maniz

Thus, the games of the last round of the preliminary were more or less played for prestige. Anand and Aronian both knew they qualified and that they will face each other four times tomorrow and thus decided not to fight too much: they drew their game in a position they both might have continued in the previous rounds. However, Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot more than made up for this. In the press conference Kasimdzhanov said that they wanted to fight and “played an extremely complicated game; unnecessarily complicated, because we both could no longer qualify.” But the spectators liked it, particularly the final phase of the game, where Bacrot with White had to defend with a single rook supported by a couple of pawns against Kasimdzhanov’s two bishops. Both players had only seconds on the clock and tried their best to outwit each other. In the end Bacrot managed to create the more dangerous passed pawns and won his only game of the tournament.

Standings after day two

Replaying the games

Due mainly to the specially castling rules (see below) Chess960 games recorded in PGN cannot be easily replayed with regular chess programs or applications. However Fritz 10 can handle these files, in PGN or ChessBase formats. ChessBase 9 or ChessBase Light can also do the same, using the games in ChessBase format.

How about a nice game of Chess960?

Note that with Fritz 10 you can also play Chess960 against the or on the Playchess server. With ChessBase Light you can do the latter.

To do this you should enter the special rooms reserved for Chess960. You can go there to watch the broadcasts of the games being played at the Mainz Chess Classic, or you can play games against other users yourself.

You can also stage tournaments, for humans or for chess engines which know the game.




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