Chess Classic Mainz 2008
The 2008 Chess Classic took place from July 28 to August 3 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. The event included tournaments and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current World Champion and world's number one Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Russian GM Alexander Morozevich and the strongest female player of all time Judit Polgar.
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 Grenkeleasing Rapid Chess 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.
Start of the first final game between Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen
Magnus, what happened? This is what the fans of the Norwegian might have asked after the first game – or the match – of the final of the 13. GrenkeLeasing Rapid Chess World Championship. Carlsen boldly – foolishly? – 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 something had gone seriously wrong in the opening. Though Anand playing with queen against rook might have been able to win quicker, the outcome was never in doubt.
Indian TV journalist Vijay Kumar captures the game – for 700 million viewers back home
Carlsen getting into trouble with his dodgy Dragon
You kidding me, Magnus? Vishy Anand gives his young opponent the glare
The game nears its inevitable conclusion
... and reaches it, as Magnus resigns in a hopeless position
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.
Alexander Morozevich in the first game for third place against Judit Polgar
Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in history, against Russian GM Alexander Morozevich
Carlsen fans could not be happy about the second game of the final either. He steered the game into Kramnik’s favorite opening: the Catalan. Maybe Magnus entertained hopes that Anand would not want to show his preparations against Kramnik and go in for an inferior line. 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 speak of Anand won without problems and the match seemed to turn into a really one-sided affair.
Game two Carlsen vs Anand in front of a packed house
Vijay Kumar records the progress of his country's favourite son
The games in the final of the Mainz Chess Classic under way
Feeling the heat: Magnus Carlsen before his second loss against Vishy Anand
And it's over – the Rapid Chess king in Mainz has a two-point lead
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 two match-for-third Judit Polgar vs Alexander Morozevich
The Russian GM continues his slow transformation into a Johnny Depp lookalike
Yet another exciting game: Judit Polgar in action
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 “a professional move”: 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.
Carlsen-Anand game three – a mere formality
A quick postmortem on the stage...
... and some useful advice outside the playing hall
The Champ with his potential successor
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.
The final game of the Final match in Mainz
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 suddenly came up with Bxh3, sacrificing a bishop for unclear compensation.
Morozevich,A (2788) - Polgar,Ju (2711) [A70]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh 3rd-4th Mainz GER (3), 03.08.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.e4 Bg7 8.h3 0-0 9.Bd3 a6 10.a4 Nbd7 11.0-0 b6 12.Re1 Qe7 13.Bf4 Ne8 14.Qd2 Ne5 15.Nxe5 dxe5 16.Be3 f5 17.exf5 gxf5 18.Bg5 Qf7 19.Bh6 Nd6 20.a5 b5 21.Bxg7 Qxg7 22.Qe3 c4 23.Bc2 Re8 24.Qc5 Qe7 25.Re3 f4 26.Re2
26...Bxh3!? 27.gxh3 Rec8 28.Qa3 b4 29.Qxb4 Kh8 30.Ne4 Qg7+ 31.Kh2 Rg8 32.f3 Nf5 33.Qd2 Nd4 34.Rf2 Raf8 35.Raf1 Rd8 36.Qd1 Nf5 37.Rg1 Qh6 38.Rfg2 Rxg2+ 39.Rxg2 Ne3 40.Qg1 Nxg2 41.Qxg2 Rxd5 42.Qg4 Rd8 43.h4 Qg6 44.Qxg6 hxg6 45.b3 cxb3 46.Bxb3 Rd3 47.Bc4 Rxf3 48.Bxa6 Ra3 49.Bb7 Rxa5 50.Ng5 Kg7 51.Be4 Ra3 52.Kg2 Rg3+ 53.Kf2 Re3 54.Kg2 Kh6 55.Bf3 Kg7 56.Be4 Kf6 57.Nh7+ Kf7 58.Ng5+ Kg7 59.Kf2 Rg3 60.Bf3 Kh6 61.Nf7+ Kg7 62.Nxe5 Rh3 63.h5 gxh5 64.Nd3 Rh2+ 65.Kg1 Rh4 66.Kg2 Kf6 67.Nc5
Judit's creative play 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. Draw.
In the final game an exhausted Judit Polgar finally succumbs
... and the wily Alexander Morozevich takes third place
All this excitement took its toll on Judit in the fourth game. As she admitted in the press conference she “did not have the same energy as in the first game”. 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.
At the closing ceremony a short speech by the Norwegian chess star
... and a word of thanks by Vishy Anand (the two are invited to the Chess Classic 2009)
All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Mainz