Champions League: Ponomariov leads by a full point

11/11/2007 – With three rounds to go former chess prodigy and FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov leads, after his sixth-round win over Judit Polgar. The Hungarian GM and strongest women in the history of the game defeated the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov in round seven to join the chasing group. Meanwhile four players have donated their prize money for the tournament's Africa benefit.

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The "Chess Champions League – Playing for a better world" is taking place from November 1st to 15th, 2007, in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain. The participants are former world champions plus Judit Polgar, with Romanian GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu standing in for Alexander Khalifman (FIDE world champion 1999) who took ill just before the start of the event. The other world champions are: Anatoly Karpov, who held the title from 1975 to 1985, and then the FIDE world championship title from 1993 to 1999; Ruslan Ponomariov, who held the FIDE title from 2002 to 2004; Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who was FIDE world champion from 2004 to 2005; and Veselin Topalov, who held the title from 2005 to 2006. The event is a double round robin, with the ten rounds being played on November 2,-4, 6,-7, 9- 11, and 13-14. It is a benefit event to raise funds for a hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, one of the poorest regions in Congo.

Postponed first-round game

On Thursday, the free day, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Rustam Kasimdzhanov drew their postponed first-round game. It must be remembered that Nisipeanu was a last-minute participant, standing in for Alexander Khalifman, who had to have emergency surgery the same day he was scheduled to travel from St. Petersburg to Vitoria . Although Nisipeanu was contacted immediately and arrived in Vitoria in less than 24 hours, the organization decided to postpone his first game, which has been played this afternoon, in the second day off for the players. [Click to replay]


The players with personalised soccer tricots presented to them by the Alava team


Round six report

Ruslan Ponomariov did a good job winning his white game against Judit Polgar, a direct rival for the final victory. With this triumph the Ukranian increased his advantage over the field to one point. His followers are now Vesselin Topalov and Liviu Nisipeanu, who will have a difficult task if they want to catch up with him.

The ex-child prodigy and one of the youngest players in history to get the grandmaster title, was the under 18 world champion at the age of 13, and the FIDE world champion at 18. “For me, being the youngest player of this tournament is a great honour, because I feel a big respect for my rivals, who have much more experience than me”, he said a day before the start of the tournament. However, although he is sincere in his words, on the chessboard he shows no fear.

Ponomariov,R (2705) - Polgar,Ju (2708) [E21]
Chess Champions League Vitoria Gasteiz ESP (6), 09.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Bg5 c5 6.Rc1 h6 7.Bh4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 b6 9.e3 Bb7 10.Ndb5 Na6 11.Nd6 Bxd6 12.Qxd6 Rc8 13.f3 Rc6 14.Qd4 Qe7 15.Be2 g5 16.Bg3 d5

Ponomariov goes on the attack: 17.h4 Nh5 18.Bf2 Ng7 19.hxg5 hxg5 20.Qe5. A good alternative was 20.cxd5 exd5 21.Bb5 Rcc8 22.Qd3, threatening Qh7# and Bxa6. 20...f6 21.Qh2 dxc4 22.f4 g4 23.Bxg4 Rc5 24.e4 Kf7 25.Bxc5 Qxc5 26.Qh7 Ke7 27.Qxg7+ Rf7 28.Qg8 Nb4 29.Ke2 Nd3 30.Rcf1 Qb4 31.Rh8 Qxb2+ 32.Ke3 Kd6 33.e5+ fxe5 34.fxe5+ Nxe5 35.Qb8+ Rc7 36.Rd1+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Vesselin Topalov had a clear advantage against Anatoi Karpov, but if the old star is known as one of the best defensive player of all times, is due to games like this one. Although he was – once again – pressed for time, Karpov was able to use the few seconds left to find the moves that led to a draw. [Click to replay]

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu won a beautiful game against Rustam Kasimdzahonv. The Romanian grandmaster arrived in Vitoria as a last-minute substitute and so had no time to prepare this tournament thoroughly. However, he has shown that experience can make up for lack of preparation. After drawing all his games easily in the first half of the tournament, this first victory allows him to place himself near next to Topalov on the results table. [Click to replay]

Standings after six rounds


Round seven report

Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar, the only women in history to find a place amongs the top ten players in chess, scored her third victory in round seven. After beating former FIDE world champions Rustam Kasimdzhanov (in round three) and Veselin Topalov (in round four, both with the black pieces) Judit today beat the 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov in an electrifying game.

The game brought emotional turmoil to both players: to Judit Polgar because during the game she seemed to have a bad position, and everyone believed she would lose. She had to suffer a lot to find any chances. For Karpov the game was traumatic, because he thought he had the victory in his hands, but then made some dreadful mistakes to change the result. At 56 the chess legend still shows his extraordinary understanding of the game, but seems to be showing signs of weakness when playing against younger and fitter opponents.

Karpov,Ana (2670) - Polgar,Ju (2708) [E17]
Chess Champions League Vitoria Gasteiz ESP (7), 10.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.Nc3 0-0 7.Qc2 Nc6 8.e4 d5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.e5 Ne4 11.0-0 Nb4 12.Qb1 c5 13.Be3 Qd7 14.Rd1 Rad8 15.dxc5 Nxc5 16.a3 Nba6 17.b4 Ne6 18.Ra2 Nac7 19.Rad2 Rfe8 20.Qb3 Qc8 21.Nd4 Bf8 22.f4 g6 23.h4 Ng7 24.Bf2 Qa8 25.Ndb5 Nxb5 26.Nxb5 Ne6 27.Bxd5 Rxd5 28.Rxd5 Bxd5 29.Qxd5 Qb8 30.Qe4 Qc8 31.Rd3 Qc2 32.Re3 Qc1+ 33.Kg2 Rd8 34.Nxa7 Rd2 35.Nb5 Qb2 36.Qf3 Qc2 37.Rc3 Qa2 38.Kf1 Qb1+ 39.Be1 Nc5 40.Qe3 Rh2

Karpov has been piling up the pressure on Judit Polgar's Queen's Indian, and is two pawns up. Judit has been seeking compensation with counterplay on White's second rank, but is still in quite a lot of trouble. Now comes the fatal mistake: 41.Rc1?? How long does it take you to find the refutation that led to Karpov's resignation two moves later? This game goes to show that even in a bad or lost position it is always important it is to give your opponent a fair chance to chance to mess things up. [Click to replay]

With this victory Judit make up for her sixth-round defeat and is now in the three-player group that is chasing the leader Ruslan Ponomariov. The Ukraine drew his game against Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and remains a point ahead of the field. Veselin Topalov, playing with the black pieces, drew his game against the Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov. [Click to replay]

Standings after seven rounds


The most supportive move

Ruslan Ponomariov, Vesselin Topalov, Judit Polgar and Rustam Kasimdzhanov, players in the Chess Champions League, have informed the organization that, regardless of their position they end the tournament, they will donate their prize money entirely to the project of building a hospital in Congo. The prize for the winner is of 18,000 Euros, and that of the second is 9,000 Euros. The players showed that they genuinely support the motto of the tournament: “We play for a better world”.

If you wish to join the players in donating to the hospital fund you can use the following account:

Caja Vital (the name of the bank)
c/a: 2097018345000838900

Information and pictures by David Llada, translations by Aitziber Elejalde

Links

Solution to the puzzle: Judit Polgar won her game against Karpov with the move 41...Qb2!, which threatens 42...Qg2 mate. White cannot abandon the defence of the rook on c1 with 42.Qf3. Karpov tried his luck with 42.Bf2, but Superwomen had it all figured out: 42...Ne4 43.Kg1 Nxf2 0-1.


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