Mainz 2007 – Anand leads in Rapid World Championship

8/17/2007 – With the Chess960 play finishing – Victor Bologan won the FiNet Open – the players at the Mainz Chess Classic return to regular unshuffled chess. In the Rapid Championship Vishy Anand used the Ruy Lopez to take a solid lead (2.5/3) ahead of his colleagues Levon Aronian, Etienne Bacrot and Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Big pictorial report with results and games.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2007

The event takes place from August 13 to 19 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 the current world's number one Anand, who will play in Chess960 (Fischer Random) and in rapid chess tournaments together with Levon Aronian, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Etienne Bacrot.

Anand dominates Rapid World Championship

Johannes Fischer reports on day one of the
Grenke Leasing Rapid World Championship in Mainz

On Friday evening Anand, Aronian, Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot sat down to play their second World Championship in four days. This time it was back to classical chess, position 518 in Chess960 terms. A well researched position familiar to the players. Instead of having to worry about unprotected pawns and possible mates in the opening, they could rely on preparation. And maybe it was the wish to be back on familiar territory that made the Ruy Lopez the opening of choice – four of six games featured a Ruy. But theory or not, the players showed interesting chess with Anand being the most fluent in Spanish.

Anand showed how well he understood the Ruy Lopez in the very first round against Kasimdzhanov – or maybe it was Anand’s knowledge of the Sicilian Sveshnikov that helped him to play a fine positional game. Somehow the Ruy turned into a Sicilian structure in which Anand sacrificed a pawn to establish a permanent knight on d5 which terrorized Black’s bad black squared bishop. Anand now proceeded to gradually prevent all counterplay and to hunt down the weak black pawns. With less and less time on the clock Kasimdzhanov could not defend against the increasing pressure, and in the end, as if to emphasize the crucial motif of the game, his bishop was lost because it had no more squares to go to.

Meanwhile Aronian demolished Bacrot in a short tactical game. Playing with black, Bacrot was not content with passive defense, but tried to gain counterplay by provoking complications. However, his king was just not in a position to allow his forces such luxury. Aronian simply developed his pieces and Bacrot was faced with the choice of letting his king be mated on the open central files or to play on a piece down. Instead he chose to resign.


Super-GM Levon Aronian from Armenia

The second round saw the most prestigious encounter of the preliminary: Anand vs. Aronian. Again it was a Ruy Lopez and again Anand had the better of it. After an exchange of bishops on e6, which gave Black double pawns, Aronian suffered from a bad structure. He tried to compensate this disadvantage with piece play, but ran into a counter by Anand, which forced his opponent to give an exchange for some swindling chances. But Anand easily defended against Aronian’s thin threats to win this prestigious encounter.


World's top-ranked chess grandmaster Vishy Anand of India

In the other game of the second round, Bacrot was undeterred by his quick loss against Aronian and tried the same recipe of seeking tactics in the opening again. This time he was more successful. His pawn sacrifice gave him powerful piece play and a few moves later a much better ending, which he won despite some technical inaccuracies.


Top French grandmaster Etienne Bacrot

What is good with White can’t be that bad with Black. Maybe this is what Anand thought when he decided to play the Ruy in this third round game against Bacrot. However, to prevent early pawn sacrifices by Bacrot, he opted for the Marshall. Both players followed theoretical lines and an endgame arose in which Anand had two pieces for rook. As both couldn’t do much, the game was quickly drawn. Later Anand said about the game: “Well, we could have played something more interesting.”


Rustam Kasimdzhanov, FIDE world champion 2004

In the press conference Kasimdzhanov also explained his bad results and said that rapid chess “is less a matter of expertise than form and luck. I was not in form, and I did not have much luck. Actually, it was only the very last move of my game against Levon [Aronian], which saved a draw for me that I considered myself lucky. So I think this is a very good sign and I am quite optimistic for tomorrow.” In fact, after his losses against Anand and Bacrot, Kasimdzhanov was again close to defeat against Aronian, who in a queenless middlegame came up with a surprising combination, which gave him a better ending. But after accurate defense Kasimdzhanov saved the draw. Tomorrow he will hope for more. Right now, most people expect another final between Anand and Aronian.

Standings after day one


Bologan wins FiNet Chess960 Open

Report by Eric van Reem

Victor Bologan (Moldova) is the winner of the 6th FiNet Chess960 Open. He won in the final round against top seed and sole leader Vassili Ivanchuk, who just needed a draw with the white pieces to win the tournament.


The winner of the FiNet Open: Victor Bologan of Moldova


The critical final round game Victor Bologan vs Vassily Ivanchuk


Caught at the very end: Vassily Ivanchuk

Bologan scored 9.5 points and he was followed by a handful of players with 9 points: Kamsky, Ivanchuk, Volokitin and Navara, In this extremely strong field no player remained unbeaten.


Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna


Former boy wonder Sergey Karjakin from Ukraine


French WGM Marie Rachel Sebag

Very exciting was the women's section: no less than six players scored 6.5 points! Best senior player was Ivan Farago (7.5). The category "best player under 14" was won the young Indian grandmaster Negi with 7 points.


Gata Kamsky (left) before his eight-move win over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Gata Kamsky had a very good start on the second day: he won an eight move game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The ex-youth world champion from Azerbaijan obviously has mysterious black-outs from time to time. But in Chess960 such things happen: the unusual structures and a single moment of distraction may lead to disaster.


Etienne Bacrot, France, vs Gata Kamsky, USA

In the 9th round Gata Kamsky stumbled. Etienne Bacrot sacrificed a piece and won a magnificent attacking game. Kamsky, Ivanchuk, Volokitin und Navara scored 9 points. Other formidable players like Shirov, Grischuk and Akopian were happy to reach at least the top 20! This year 279 players participated in the FiNet Open.


The top three: Victor Bologan, Gata Kamsky, Vassily Ivanchuk

Final standings

Rnk Player Rtn Nat W D L Pts TB1 TB2
1. GM Bologan,Victor 2650 MDA 9 1 1 9.5 57.5 66.0
2. GM Kamsky,Gata 2717 USA 8 2 1 9.0 59.5 69.0
3. GM Ivantschuk,Vassili 2766 UKR 9 0 2 9.0 57.0 66.0
4. GM Volokitin,Andrej 2698 UKR 8 2 1 9.0 55.5 69.5
5. GM Navara,David 2656 CZE 8 2 1 9.0 52.0 61.5
6. GM Grischuk,Alexander 2726 RUS 7 3 1 8.5 54.0 67.5
7. GM Sasikiran,Krishnan 2674 IND 8 1 2 8.5 54.0 65.5
8. GM Gashimov,Vugar 2655 AZE 8 1 2 8.5 53.5 64.0
9. GM Sargissian,Gabriel 2667 ARM 7 3 1 8.5 53.0 65.5
10. GM Bacrot,Etienne 2703 FRA 7 2 2 8.0 57.0 70.5
11. GM Almasi,Zoltan 2682 HUN 7 2 2 8.0 56.5 68.5
12. GM Karjakin,Sergey 2678 UKR 8 0 3 8.0 54.0 66.0
13. GM Petrosian,Tigran L. 2613 ARM 8 0 3 8.0 52.0 67.5
14. GM Jussupow,Artur 2583   7 2 2 8.0 51.5 65.0
15. GM Akopian,Vladimir 2708 ARM 7 2 2 8.0 51.0 63.5
16. GM Moiseenko,Alexander 2641 UKR 7 2 2 8.0 50.0 62.0
17. GM Tregubov,Pavel 2599 RUS 7 2 2 8.0 49.5 61.5
18. GM Burmakin,Vladimir 2592 RUS 8 0 3 8.0 46.0 54.0
19. GM Ruck,Robert 2563 HUN 7 2 2 8.0 45.5 59.5
20. GM Pentala,Harikrishna 2664 IND 6 3 2 7.5 51.0 63.0
21. GM Shirov,Alexey 2735 ESP 6 3 2 7.5 50.5 66.0
22. GM Döttling,Fabian 2537   7 1 3 7.5 49.5 67.0
23. GM Iljin,Artem 2569 RUS 7 1 3 7.5 49.5 61.0
24. GM Drozdovskyy,Yuriy 2572 UKR 7 1 3 7.5 48.5 59.0
25. GM Meier,Georg 2552   7 1 3 7.5 48.5 58.5
26. GM Gyimesi,Zoltan 2607 HUN 7 1 3 7.5 48.0 61.5
27. GM Mchedlishvili,Mikhail 2624 GEO 7 1 3 7.5 48.0 59.5
28. GM Landa,Konstantin 2669 RUS 7 1 3 7.5 47.5 60.0
29. GM Vaganjan,Rafael Agred 2596 ARM 6 3 2 7.5 47.5 59.5
30. GM Bischoff,Klaus 2535   6 3 2 7.5 47.5 58.5
31. GM Medvegy,Zoltan 2512 HUN 6 3 2 7.5 45.5 62.0
32. GM Al-Modiahki,Mohamad 2563 QAT 6 3 2 7.5 45.5 59.5
33. GM Jenni,Florian 2527 SUI 7 1 3 7.5 45.0 57.0
34. GM Farago,Ivan 2501 HUN 7 1 3 7.5 44.5 58.5
35. GM Ubilava,Elizbar 2540 ESP 7 1 3 7.5 44.5 57.5
36. IM Boidman,Yuri 2444   7 1 3 7.5 44.0 57.0
37. GM Meijers,Viesturs 2483 LAT 7 1 3 7.5 42.5 55.0


Rybka wins Chess960 Computer Championship

In the main computer tournament the programs Shredder and Rybka took the top places and met in a final showdown match, which Rybka, developed by Vasik Rajlich, won convincingly with a 2.5:0.5 score.


Stefan Mayer-Kahlen and Vasik Rajlich during their final match

All pictures by Carsten and Natalia Straub

Replaying the games

Due mainly to the specially castling rules (see below) Chess960 games recorded in PGN cannot be easily replayed with regular chess programs or applications. However Fritz 10 can handle these files, in PGN or ChessBase formats. ChessBase 9 or ChessBase Light can also do the same, using the games in ChessBase format.


How about a nice game of Chess960?

Note that with Fritz 10 you can also play Chess960 against the or on the Playchess server. With ChessBase Light you can do the latter.

To do this you should enter the special rooms reserved for Chess960. You can go there to watch the broadcasts of the games being played at the Mainz Chess Classic, or you can play games against other users yourself.

You can also stage tournaments, for humans or for chess engines which know the game.


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