The Rodney Dangerfield of Chess

1/26/2003 – Since winning the 2001 FIDE KO World Championship in Moscow Ruslan Ponomariov has discovered that one big paycheck and a nice medal do not automatically earn you respect in the chess world. After a horrible start in Wijk aan Zee Super Mariov has won three straight games to claw back to an even score with one round to play. Read all about it in Mig's round 12 report.

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Corus Wijk aan Zee

Round 12 (Saturday, January 25, 2003)

Round 12 (Saturday, January 25, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Shirov, Alexei
½-½
Topalov, Veselin
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Van Wely, Loek
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Bareev, Evgeny
1-0
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Karpov, Anatoly
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour

ROUND 11: Champion who? FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov is the Rodney Dangerfield of chess. No, he's not old and fat, but he gets no respect. At least not as much as he thinks he should get. Since winning the 2001 FIDE KO World Championship in Moscow he has discovered that one big paycheck and a nice medal do not automatically earn you respect in the chess world.

To a lesser extent this also happened to Alexander Khalifman when he won the FIDE title in 1999. But chess insiders and players already knew that Khalifman was a world-class player, even if not every chess fan knew his name. He had the credibility of a Russian champion. When Anand won the FIDE title in 2000 it was simply the ratification of his status as a world champion caliber player. It was also a nice bonus for someone unlucky to peak during what future chess historians will call the Kasparov Era. (More critical ones will call it "The Era In Which Everything Got Screwed Up.)

Ponomariov showed tremendous promise, but his KO win was certainly a surprise. He was only 18 and his best results were still supposed to be ahead. Since his win he has behaved as though he should be accorded the same respect given to players like Kasparov, Anand, and Karpov. This is not going to happen just yet. However, he is making further strides in that direction this week. Not from the press releases in his battle with FIDE about his match with Kasparov or from his score, but at the board, as it should be.

After a horrible start Super Mariov has won three straight games to claw back to an even score with one round to play. In round 11 he defeated the aforementioned Karpov in an excellent game that included an curious checker-like bishop maneuver. On four consecutive moves he played his bishop one square, transferring it from g4 to c4 like a crab.

The big game between leader Anand and pursuant Polgar lived up to the hype. On move 16 Polgar introduced a pawn sacrifice that led to the offer of the exchange. Anand declined rather than have his king under the gun for the rest of the game. In the diagram he played 17...Qf5 instead of entering the labyrinth of 17...Nxf2 18.Qe2 (18.Qf1!?) 18...Nxh1 19.Bxh6 Kh7 20.Bxg7 Rg8 21.h6.

Polgar continued to play with her trademark aggression, giving up two pieces for a rook and attacking chances. It's hard to make a living trying to out-tactic Anand and he defended well to reach dynamic equilibrium and a 30-move draw to preserve his half-point lead in the tournament. Anand has never won clear first in Wijk aan Zee, although he has tied for the title twice (1989 and 1998). Polgar remains in clear second place.

Another player threw his hat into the ring for a prize. Last year's winner, Evgeny Bareev, has won scored 4/5 and is now tied with van Wely a half-point back of Polgar. Bareev beat Ivanchuk in a very confusing game to break out of the pack. Bareev played with great fantasy, offering a piece for an attack. It looks like Ivanchuk could have survived with the material after 23...Bd5, although it's a harrowing line for a human. Instead he gave up his queen and resigned soon afterwards.

Grischuk showed fine technique in winning a R vs B pawn endgame against Radjabov. I don't know if either of these kids know who Averbakh or Troitsky are, but it was nice to see some technique from the younger generation. Timman lasted 30 moves against Kramnik, a dubious improvement over his previous rounds. Free advice: When you are at -7, stay away from opening systems with the word "poisoned" in them. When you're playing the worst chess of your life is not the time to enter a tactical battle against the world champion. But credit Timman's fighting spirit, if not his common sense, for playing the sharp stuff and trying to redeem his tournament with a win.

Shirov-Topalov was a predictably wild and sharp game. It ended in a repetition draw after enough excitement for three games. That is, if those three games were like Krasenkow-Van Wely, which was drawn in 10 moves. The Pole just wants to get out of Holland alive and with more points than Timman. Van Wely has already declared his tournament a success and had no reason to press with black.

It is unlikely that Bareev will risk his standing by playing for a win against Anand in the final round with black. On the other hand, van Wely and Shirov probably won't be able to avoid a sharp position! Polgar has black against Radjabov, who has been a loose cannon. If he overpresses she might try to tie for first place. Clear second place in this category 18 event would be one of her career-best results and push her rating close to top 10 territory.

A terrible twist of fate has left Timman-Krasenkow for the final round. Will they try to salvage some pride and a full point or will it be a quick draw and an even quicker trip to the bar? (The guy with -8 never buys the beer.)

Mig Greengard

Standing after round 12

Previous rounds

Round 1 (Saturday, January 11, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Bareev, Evgeny
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Krasenkow, Michal
0-1
Karpov, Anatoly
Shirov, Alexei
½-½
Timman, Jan H
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Van Wely, Loek
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Topalov, Veselin
Round 2 (Sunday, January 12, 2003)
Bareev, Evgeny
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Topalov, Veselin
0-1
Anand, Viswanathan
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Polgar, Judit
Timman, Jan H
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Karpov, Anatoly
½-½
Shirov, Alexei
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Krasenkow, Michal
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Kramnik, Vladimir
Round 3 (Tuesday, January 14, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Van Wely, Loek
Shirov, Alexei
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Polgar, Judit
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Karpov, Anatoly
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Bareev, Evgeny
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Topalov, Veselin
Round 4 (Wednesday, January 15, 2003)
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Timman, Jan H
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Bareev, Evgeny
½-½
Topalov, Veselin
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Karpov, Anatoly
0-1
Polgar, Judit
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Shirov, Alexei
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Krasenkow, Michal
Round 5 (Thursday, January 16, 2003)
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Topalov, Veselin
0-1
Van Wely, Loek
Shirov, Alexei
1-0
Kramnik, Vladimir
Radjabov, Teimour
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Bareev, Evgeny
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Karpov, Anatoly
Round 6 (Saturday, January 18, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Polgar, Judit
Bareev, Evgeny
0-1
Van Wely, Loek
Krasenkow, Michal
1-0
Shirov, Alexei
Timman, Jan H
0-1
Topalov, Veselin
Karpov, Anatoly
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Round 7 (Sunday, January 19, 2003)
Shirov, Alexei
1-0
Bareev, Evgeny
Grischuk, Alexander
1-0
Krasenkow, Michal
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Van Wely, Loek
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Topalov, Veselin
½-½
Karpov, Anatoly
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Round 8 (Monday, January 20, 2003)
Shirov, Alexei
0-1
Grischuk, Alexander
Bareev, Evgeny
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Topalov, Veselin
Karpov, Anatoly
1-0
Van Wely, Loek
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Polgar, Judit
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Round 9 (Tuesday, January 21, 2003)
Timman, Jan H
½-½
Karpov, Anatoly
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Grischuk, Alexander
0-1
Bareev, Evgeny
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Shirov, Alexei
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Krasenkow, Michal
Topalov, Veselin
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Round 10 (Thursday, January 23, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Topalov, Veselin
Grischuk, Alexander
0-1
Polgar, Judit
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Van Wely, Loek
Krasenkow, Michal
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ivanchuk, Vassily
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Shirov, Alexei
0-1
Anand, Viswanathan
Bareev, Evgeny
½-½
Karpov, Anatoly
Round 11 (Friday, January 24, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Shirov, Alexei
Topalov, Veselin
1-0
Krasenkow, Michal
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Timman, Jan H
0-1
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Bareev, Evgeny
Karpov, Anatoly
0-1
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Games – Report

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