(1) Morozevich (2758) - Aronian (2750)
World Championship Mexico (1), 13.09.2007

A slightly dissapointing start of the World Championship. True, in all the games the position after the opening promissed a sharp and spectacular fight, but after the 20th move the players' fighting mood suddenly dropped down and all the games ended peacefully before the 30th move was reached. In one case, one of the player would have been entitled to play on at least for a while; in another game the position was simply too complicated to be adjucated as "drawn". Let us hope that it was all about fatigue after the long trip and problems of aclimatization and that we shall see longer games in the next rounds!

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3
The so-called Petrosian (or Petrosian-Kasparov) Variation, played for the first time in the game Sultan Khan-Capablanca. The mysterious Indian player won in great style, but we cannot know whether he was aware of the subtle character of his invention, since he used to play a3 or ...a6 in the opening quite frequently. (This was how the so called Chebanenko Slav was born, too)

4...Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e3
Morozevich is known as one of the most creative and original players of the moment. Some 10 years ago, he used to deviate from the approved paths as soon as possible (for instance, on the second move; just think of the almost forgotten Chigorin Defence and Albin Countergambit). Lately, he has changed his attitude a bit, by producing stunning novelties in well-established openings. Let us see what he has in mind for today.

7...g6
This move, transposing to some sort of Gruenfeld, came into the limelight after Korchnoi used it to defeat a young player named Kasparov in the first game of their Candidates' match in 1983.

8.h4
So, this was his idea. However, this slightly extravagant move is not really new. Among others, it has been tried by Polugajevsky against Korchnoi.

8...Bg7 9.h5 Nd7 10.Bd3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 e5
A counter-action in the centre is the best answer to an attack on the wing. However, White's centre is solid enough yet.

12.Qc2 Qe7 13.Be4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 0-0 15.hxg6 hxg6
Aronian correctly evaluates that White cannot create dangerous threats along the h-file. Capturing with the other pawn would have meant a significant structural concession.

16.a4 c5 17.Ba3 Rfe8
In one of the two Gruenfelds Aronian lost with White against Svidler, the structure was almost identical. Now, he shows that he learned something from the unpleasant experience. White cannot maintain his stability in the centre for too long.

18.Rc1 exd4 19.Qxe7 Rxe7 20.cxd4 Re4 21.Kf1 cxd4 22.exd4 Nf8 23.g3 Rd8 24.Rc7
A curious situation. White is not fully developed yet, but the hyper-activity of some of his pieces allows him maintain the balance even.

24...Ree8 25.Rxa7 Ra8
After exchanges on a8 anf f8, followed by Kg2 and Rb1, the game will transpose to a dead drawn rook + 2 pawns vs rook + 2 pawns ending. For once in this round, the draw agreement looks entirely well timed. 1/2-1/2