Chess Classic: Neck-and-neck on day three

by ChessBase
8/20/2006 – Vishy Anand lost his fifth round game, another Sveshnikov, against challenger Teimour Radjabov, he came back in force to equalise the score in round six. In the Chess960 contest Svidler and Aronian both won a game (there have been no draws so far) to stay equal, now at 3:3. The final day will decide. Giant illustrated report.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2006

The event takes place from August 15 to 20 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 Anand, Aronian, Svidler, Radjabov, Kosteniuk and Pähtz participating.

Why chess is beautiful: The Chess Classic Mainz

By Johannes Fischer

Today the world’s biggest rapid chess tournament started in Mainz, Germany. In the eleven round Swiss Ordix Open with 632 players, among them 58 GMs, 10 WGMs and 177 title holders, are fighting for a prize fund of 40,000 Euro (together with the FiNet Chess960 Open). While the chance to win a lot of money may attract the grandmasters, the amateurs look forward to playing a grandmaster, or if they are lucky, even chess legends such as Alexei Shirov or Alexander Morozevich. But the tournament is also a social event. Chess friends, who have known each other for a long time, but see each other rarely have an opportunity to spend the weekend playing chess and socialising with each other.

The Hilton in Mainz, where the Chess Classic is being staged

This way to the chess classic

632 players participating in the Ordix Open in Mainz

Spot the great chess player in the Ordix Open (hint: tall, blond, Latvian, black t-shirt...

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (background left), Alexander Grischuk (forground right)

The stage is reserved for the top boards

Alexander Morozevich vs Pentala Harikrishna fighting for first

Rustam Kasimdzhanov vs Zoltan Gyimesi

While the Ordix Open show the competitive and social side of chess, the matches in the evening reveal other fascinating aspects of chess. On Saturday evening Vishy Anand and Tejmour Radjabov played games five and six of the GrenkeLeasing Rapid Chess World Championship while Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian played for the Clerical Medical Chess 960 World Chess Championship. It is in the concentrated silence of these tense and exciting matches that the beauty of chess unfolds.

Round five: Anand vs Radjabov on move 21, Aronian vs Svidler on move 3.

The playing hall, which during the open is brightly lit, is dimmed to darkness leaving only the players on stage in the limelight. The hall falls silent while the grandmasters take their seats. The spectators put on earphones to follow the live commentary of grandmasters such as Vlastimil Hort, Eric Lobron, Arthur Jussupow, Fabian Döttling, Rustem Dautov or Elisabeth Pähtz.

Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan vs Vishy Anand of India

Then the games begin. While Anand and Radjabov usually play their opening moves quickly Svidler and Aronian take more time to ponder where to put their pieces in the unknown position they are confronted with in Chess960. The first four games of the Anand-Radjabov match illustrated the dominant role of opening preparation in top-class chess. While Radjabov could twice easily equalise with Black by opting for a well-analysed Sveshnikov-Sicilian, Anand won the third game right out of the opening by employing a fine exchange sacrifice prepared at home.

Peter Svidler and Lev Aronian share a chuckle over a pre-game announcement...

...and then get to work on what to play on move three

Svidler and Aronian, however, have to improvise from the start. And although Chess960 is still a relatively young variant of chess, one cannot help but feel that here in Mainz the two best players in this discipline are competing. Aronian, who in a lengthy interview published in the February issue 2006 of the German magazine “Schach” declared that he wants to have “fun” in chess and preferred variants such as bughouse or Chess960 to the classical seven-hour mode of playing, is famous for his unorthodox style and his repeated emphasis on shying away from boring theoretical studies. So Chess960 suits him perfectly. Indeed he won the FiNet Open in 2003 and 2005, both times ahead of a large group of strong grandmasters. Svidler, on the other hand, won the Chess Classic FiNet Open in 2002 as well as the subsequent Chess960 matches against Peter Leko 2003, Levon Aronian 2004 and Zoltan Almasi in 2005 and thus can justly claim the title of Chess960 World Champion.

But no matter whether it’s Chess960 or classical rapid chess, it is fascinating to watch these top players play. Gradually, well-thought out strategies become apparent and hidden tricks and resources of the position are revealed. Of course, given the limited time of 25 minutes for the whole game plus a 5 second increment per move, inaccuracies and even blunders occasionally creep in – which, however, give their games a human touch, while the limited time definitely adds to the excitement. Again it’s fascinating to watch how the grandmasters calmly try to find resources in the position when they have only minutes or seconds left on the clock.

Exciting chess on Saturday

After six games everything is still open in the GrenkeLeasing Rapid Chess World Championship between Vishy Anand and Tejmour Radjabov and the Clerical Medical Chess960 World Chess Championship between Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian. While Anand and Radjabov in their games on Saturday still did not seem to be able to decide whether it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to play with White, Svidler and Aronian showed the attractions of Chess960.

“The less said about it, the better”, was Anand’s comment about his play in the fifth match-game. Again, he tried to get an advantage with white against Radjabov’s well-rehearsed Sveshnikov Sicilian, and again he failed. Shaking his head in disbelief he admitted that “two moves after opening theory, I was struggling.”

Radjabov showed why he is considered to be one of the leading Sveshnikov experts. After a tense strategic battle he liquidated into an endgame with opposite coloured bishops and rooks, in which Black was better. When Anand’s famous skill for saving bad positions for once left him, Radjabov quickly won and took the lead in the match.

Azerbaijani super-star Taimour Radjabov in the press conference

Anand not overly enthusiastic about discussing the Sveshnikov with journalists

Making a humorous point about his match against Anand...

... who joins the light-hearted spirit of the press conference

However, in the sixth game Radjabov also failed to demonstrate the advantage of having the white pieces. One reason for this might have been the fact that Radjabov arrived late for the game and was upset to find that his clock had already be running for four minutes. This incident evoked memories of Anand’s 2003 match against Judit Polgar in Mainz. In that match Judit also arrived late for the last game and bitterly complained that her clock had already been started – which, however, was fully according to the rules to which the arbiters decided to stick in that and later matches.

Radjabov complaining about the starting of his clock before he arrived in game six

But Radjabov didn’t know any of this and played with a psychological disadvantage that soon made itself felt. In a line of the Slav that looked to be safe enough for White he gradually lost his way and gave Anand increasingly more chances. An endgame, which Anand had no problems to win to level the score to 3:3. On Sunday, the Indian will have a last chance to improve his result with the white pieces “which have not been very impressive so far”, as Anand admitted. Winning the sixth game with Black might give him a psychological advantage over Radjabov in the final games of the match – despite having to play Sunday’s first game with White.

Click to replay and download games from rounds 5 and 6

In the Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian also continued their fierce battle, both pressing hard in every game. This was particularly evident in the fifth game, which after 15 moves had turned into a position that very much resembled a Queen’s Indian – and was rather drawish. As Peter Svidler commented in the press conference: “It’s possible to lose this position, but you have to exert yourself.” That’s what he did, though not whole-heartedly. “I could not decide, whether to give my opponent chances to get some of my own in return. Using a lot of time I blundered in the end.”

"It was possible to lose, but you had to exert yourself" – Peter Svidler

Svidler’s blunder occurred in an endgame with opposite coloured bishops and queens on the board, which Aronian thought Svidler should not have entered because “though the position is obviously drawn White can create some pressure and with limited time Black might run into trouble”. In the game one slip by Svidler allowed Aronian to win the game with a series of scintillating pawn sacrifices that put Black’s king into serious trouble and stirred up an attack that seemed to come out of nowhere and left a deep impression on the spectators.

However, Svidler had his revenge in the sixth game, once again showing how well he plays Chess960. As in most of the previous games, he had the better of it after the opening. Asked about the secrets of playing Chess960, he said “there are no big secrets. You try to avoid blundering in the opening and you try to develop your pieces as harmoniously as possible.”

Didn't enjoy that last game against Svidler – Levon Aronian from Armenia

Neither Aronian or Svidler blundered in the sixth game, but Aronian went for pawn structure that left his queen on b8 terribly out of play. Svidler continued energetically to make the most of this, trying to open files in the centre. Aronian put his hopes on a kingside attack but Svidler calmly sacrificed his h-pawn and allowed the black rooks to invade the white position to give Black no time to organise his defence. Svidler’s judgement proved to be correct. Without their queen the black rooks proved to be harmless, White quickly won an exchange and soon after the game. Thus, Svidler also equalized and the score in both matches is now 3:3. Sunday promises to be exciting.

All pictures by Frederic Friedel


GrenkeLeasing Rapid
Vishy Anand
Teimour Radjabov
Clerical Medical Chess960
Peter Svidler
Levon Aronian

Schedule, live coverage and downloads

Programme overview
Date from until live games Round Time View Download
Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championships
15.08.2006 15:00 15:40 3 1. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
15.08.2006 16:15 16:55 3 2. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
15.08.2006 17:30 18:10 3 3. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
15.08.2006 18:45 19:25 3 4. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 15:00 15:40 3 5. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 16:15 16:55 3 6. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 17:30 18:10 3 7. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 18:45 19:25 3 8. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 ? Tiebreak 5min+5sec ONLINE PGN
Livingston Duelle Mensch-Maschine
16.08.2006 11:00 12:00 2 1. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
16.08.2006 12:30 13:30 2 2. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
Livingston Chess960 Computer-WM
17.08.2006 10:00 11:00 8 1. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 12:00 13:00 8 2. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 14:00 15:00 8 3. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 16:00 17:00 8 4. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 18:00 19:00 8 5. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 10:30 11:30 8 6. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 12:30 13:30 8 7. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 14:30 15:30 8 8. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 16:30 17:30 8 9. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
FiNet Open Chess960 WM-Qualifikation
17.08.2006 12:30 13:10 10 1. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 13:40 14:20 10 2. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 14:50 15:30 10 3. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 16:00 16:40 10 4. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 17:10 17:50 10 5. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 10:00 10:40 10 6. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 11:10 11:50 10 7. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 12:20 13:00 10 8. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 14:00 14:40 10 9. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 15:10 15:50 10 10. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 16:20 17:00 10 11. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship
Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championship
17.08.2006 18:30 19:30 2 1. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
17.08.2006 20:00 21:00 2 2. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 18:30 19:30 2 3. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
18.08.2006 20:00 21:00 2 4. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 18:30 19:30 2 5. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 20:00 21:00 2 6. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 18:30 19:30 2 7. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 20:00 21:00 2 8. 25min+10sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 ? Tiebreak 5min+5sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 12:30 13:10 10 1. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 13:40 14:20 10 2. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 14:50 15:30 10 3. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 16:00 16:40 10 4. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
19.08.2006 17:10 17:50 10 5. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 10:00 10:40 10 6. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 11:10 11:50 10 7. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 12:20 13:00 10 8. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 14:00 14:40 10 9. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 15:10 15:50 10 10. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN
20.08.2006 16:20 17:00 10 11. 20min+5sec ONLINE PGN



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