Mainz 2008: Anand to face Carlsen in Grenkeleasing final

by ChessBase
8/3/2008 – The qualifier stage of the 13th Grenkeleasing Rapid Chess World Championship in Mainz ended with a victory by World Champion Vishy Anand, who beat Alexander Morozevich twice. Magnus Carlsen beat Judit Polgar to qualify for the final on Sunday against Anand. In the Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship Rybka beat Shredder to take the title. Big illustrated report.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2008

The 2008 Chess Classic is taking place from July 28 to August 3 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. The event includes tournaments and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current World Champion and world's number one Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Russian GM Alexander Morozevich and the strongest female player of all time Judit Polgar.

Chess Classic, Day 5

13th Grenkeleasing Rapid Chess World Championship

By Johannes Fischer

After a four-hour night in Biel, with a violent thunderstorm keeping everyone awake, and a festive closing ceremony, Magnus Carlsen travelled by train to Mainz, arriving just 35 minutes before the start of the first game in the Rapid Chess event. "With my luck I'll get Vishy with black in the first round," he said. Which is exactly what he did get.

The keenly awaited encounter between Magnus Carlsen and World Champion Vishy Anand came early. The drawing of lots decided they had to play in the first round of the four player double round robin. And this duel between the current World Champion and the 17-year old Norwegian, who many consider to be a future World Champion, attracted quite a lot of attention and the Rheingoldhalle was packed with spectators.

However, the game itself turned out to be a little disappointing. Though no doubt people were hoping for a sharp fight when Carlsen opted for the Sicilian Dragon, moreover, the line, with which he had just narrowly escaped defeat against Leinier Dominguez two days ago in Biel.

But Anand did not want to repeat the line Dominguez played to let Carlsen demonstrate the result of his homework, but instead preferred to swap queens and exert positional pressure against Black’s weak d-pawn. But Carlsen’s active bishop compensated for his slight positional disadvantage and after 31 moves Anand was content to share the point. In the press conference after the game, Carlsen, who on Thursday had just played the last round in Biel and who had arrived only half an hour before the start of the tournament, dryly explained: “I did not sleep too much last night and thus I was very tired and content with the result.”

Anand,V (2798) - Carlsen,M (2775) [B77]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (1), 01.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Kb1 a6 13.h4 h5 14.Bh6 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Rxc4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Rhe1 Re8 18.Nde2 Qa5 19.Nf4 Rec8 20.Ncd5 Qxd2 21.Rxd2 Nxd5 22.Nxd5 Re8 23.Nb6 Rc7 24.e5 Be6 25.exd6 Rc6 26.Na4 exd6 27.b3 Rec8 28.Nb2 Rc5 29.Ree2 Re5 30.Nd3 Rxe2 31.Rxe2 ½-½.

Judit Polgar and Alexander Morozevich were not so peacefully inclined. Morozovich with Black opted for a Ruy Lopez and an interesting position arose. Yet, Polgar, who in recent months had not played that much still seemed to be a bit rusty when she allowed a position to arise, in which Black’s knight clearly dominated the white bishop and in which a long, passive defense lay ahead.

Morozevich gradually increased the pressure and with more time on the clock looked certain to win the game. However, with the seconds ticking away he made things more difficult for himself than necessary and the game wound up in a rook endgame, in which Black was better, but Polgar could hope. In vain, as it turned out when Morozevich’s passed pawns were getting closer and closer to White’s first rank. When they finally arrived on e2 and d2 Polgar resigned.

Polgar,Ju (2711) - Morozevich,A (2788) [C92]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (1), 01.08.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 Na5 13.Bc2 b4 14.d5 bxc3 15.bxc3 c6 16.c4 Qc7 17.Bd3 Reb8 18.Ra3 Bc8 19.Nf1 Bd7 20.Bg5 Be7 21.Ne3 h6 22.Bh4 cxd5 23.Bxf6 Bxf6 24.Nxd5 Qd8 25.Nd2 Bg5 26.Nf3 Nb7 27.a5 Be6 28.Nxg5 hxg5 29.Qd2 Bxd5 30.cxd5 Nc5 31.Bf1 Rb3 32.Rxb3 Nxb3 33.Qe3 Nc5 34.Qd2 Rb8 35.Bc4 Qf6 36.Qc2 g6 37.Re3 Kg7 38.Bf1 Qd8 39.Ra3 Rb4 40.Bc4 Qb8 41.Re3 Rb1+ 42.Kh2 Rb2 43.Qc1 Rxf2 44.Qe1 Qb2 45.Be2 Rf4 46.Bf3 Rh4 47.Qg3 Qd2 48.Re2 Qf4 49.Rb2 Nxe4 50.Qxf4 Rxf4 51.Bxe4 Rxe4 52.Rb6 Ra4 53.Rxa6 e4 54.Kg3 Kf6 55.Rxd6+ Ke5 56.Rd8 Rxa5 57.d6 Ra3+ 58.Kg4 f5+ 59.Kxg5 Rg3+ 60.Kh6 Rxg2 61.h4 Ke6 62.d7 Ke7 63.Rg8 Kxd7 64.h5 e3 65.Rg7+ Ke8 66.Rxg6 e2 67.Re6+ Kf7 68.Re5 Kf6 69.Re8 f4 70.Kh7 f3 71.h6 f2 0-1.

Spotted in the audience: Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Natalia Zhukova and Arkadij Naiditsch

Victorija Cmilyte and Kateryna Lahno enjoying the action at the Chess Classic

In the second round Judit did not seem to fare much better when she got a clearly worse, if not even already lost position against Anand. But when it came to converting his advantage, Anand returned the favor: He did not seem to know what to do with his extra pawn and in an attempt to get active he sacrificed/blundered his material advantage. Suddenly the position was unclear and Anand-fans had to suffer some awkward minutes until Anand gave a piece for all of Polgar’s pawns to draw the game.

Anand,V (2798) - Polgar,Ju (2711) [B46]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (2), 01.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nf6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd5 9.Ne4 f5 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.Nd6+ Bxd6 12.Qxd6 Qe7 13.Bf4 Bb7 14.Bf3 Kf7 15.0-0-0 a5 16.Rhe1 a4 17.Qxe7+ Kxe7 18.Bd6+ Kf7 19.Rd4 Ra5 20.Rb4 Ba8 21.Re5 Ra7 22.Rf4 Rc8 23.Ree4 a3 24.b3 c5 25.Rc4 Bxf3 26.Rxf3 Rc6 27.Bxc5 Rac7 28.Bxa3 Rxc4 29.bxc4 Rxc4 30.Kb2 e5 31.Kb3 d5 32.Bb2 Ke6 33.Rc3 Rg4 34.g3 Ne4 35.Rc7 Nd2+ 36.Kc3 Ne4+ 37.Kd3 Nxf2+ 38.Ke2 Ne4 39.Rc6+ Kd7 40.Rb6 Nd6 41.Kf3 Re4 42.Bc1 Rc4 43.Rb2 Rc3+ 44.Ke2 Nc4 45.Bd2 Ra3 46.Rb7+ Ke6 47.Rxg7 Rxa2 48.Kd1 Ra1+ 49.Ke2 Ra2 50.Kd1 d4 51.Bc1 Ra1 52.Rxh7 e4 53.Rh4 Nb2+ 54.Kd2 Nc4+ 55.Kd1 Kd5 56.Rh5+ Kc6 57.Rh4 Nb2+ 58.Kd2 e3+ 59.Ke2 Rxc1 60.Rxd4 Rxc2+ 61.Kxe3 Rxh2 ½-½

Carlsen vs. Morozevich was a bit less dramatic. In a Sicilian Defense Morozevich had no problems to at least equalize but Carlsen found adequate counterplay and when everything boiled down to an opposite colored bishops endgame Morozevich soon gave up his attempts to win.

Carlsen,M (2775) - Morozevich,A (2788) [B45]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (2), 01.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Nce2 b5 10.a4 bxa4 11.Rxa4 Be7 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Rc4 Bb5 14.Rd4 e5 15.Rd2 0-0 16.Re1 Qc7 17.Nc3 Bd7 18.Rd3 h6 19.h3 Rfc8 20.f4 Be6 21.Kh2 a5 22.g4 exf4 23.Bxf4 Nd7 24.Re2 Ne5 25.Nd5 Bxd5 26.Rxd5 Qb6 27.c3 a4 28.Be3 Qc7 29.Bd4 Bg5 30.Rf2 Ng6 31.Rdf5 Rf8 32.Kh1 a3 33.bxa3 Rxa3 34.Rf1 Qe7 35.Qe2 Ne5 36.Qb5 g6 37.Rxe5 dxe5 38.Bc5 Rb3 39.Bxe7 Rxb5 40.Bxf8 Kxf8 41.Rf3 Rb1+ 42.Bf1 Re1 43.Kg2 Bf4 44.Bd3 Rc1 45.Bc4 Rc2+ 46.Kf1 Ke7 47.Bb3 Rb2 48.Bd5 f6 ½-½.

After this somewhat peaceful prelude things really heated up in the third round. Anand, who, as he later explained, did not have much after the opening, gradually outplayed Morozevich and in contrast to the previous game he now managed to convert his advantage.

Morozevich,A (2788) - Anand,V (2798) [B90]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (3), 01.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.Qd2 b5 10.g4 b4 11.Nd5 Bxd5 12.exd5 Nb6 13.0-0-0 Be7 14.Qxb4 Nfxd5 15.Bxb6 Nxb6 16.f4 0-0 17.fxe5 a5 18.Qe1 a4 19.Nd4 Bh4 20.Qe2 Qg5+ 21.Kb1 Qxe5 22.Nf3 Qf6 23.a3 Rab8 24.c3 Nc4 25.Qxc4 Qxf3 26.Bd3 Rfc8 27.Qe4 Qxe4 28.Bxe4 Rxc3 29.Rd2 Rxa3 30.Bd5 Re3 31.Ka2 Bf6 32.Rc1 Reb3 33.Bxb3 axb3+ 34.Ka3 Bg5 35.Rcd1 Bxd2 36.Rxd2 Rb6 37.Rd3 Kf8 38.Ka4 Ke7 39.Rxb3 Rxb3 40.Kxb3 h5 41.gxh5 f5 42.Kc4 f4 43.Kd4 d5 44.Kd3 Kd6 45.Kd4 Kc6 46.Kd3 Kc5 47.Kc3 d4+ 48.Kd3 f3 0-1.

And the other game between Judit Polgar and Magnus Carlsen really turned out to be spectacular. Carlsen again chose the Dragon and Polgar went for a much sharper line than Anand in the first round. Both sides were attacking and after an inaccuracy by Polgar Carlsen gave his two rooks against queen and a couple of pawns. In the very tactical, complicated position he creatively used White’s exposed king and his own pawns to win.

Polgar,Ju (2711) - Carlsen,M (2775) [B78]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (3), 01.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.g4 b5 13.g5 b4 14.Nce2 Nh5 15.f4 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 17.b3 Rc7 18.Ng3 Rc3 19.Nxh5 gxh5 20.Kb1 Qa5 21.f5 Rfc8 22.f6 e5 23.Nf5 Bxf5 24.exf5 Rxc2 25.Qxc2 Rxc2 26.Kxc2 Qxa2+ 27.Kd3 Bf8 28.Rc1 d5 29.Rhd1 Qb2 30.Bd2 Qxb3+ 31.Ke2 e4 32.Be3 Qb2+ 33.Ke1 Qxh2 34.Rxd5 Qb8 35.Rcd1 b3 36.Rd8 Qb4+ 37.Kf2 b2 38.Rb1 Qa5 39.Ra8 Qxf5+ 40.Ke1 Qa5+ 41.Kf2 Qc7 42.Rd1 Qh2+ 43.Ke1 Qh1+ 44.Ke2 Qxd1+ 0-1.

However, one wonders what kind of game it takes to excite the young Norwegian. No matter how complicated the position, he always remains calm at the board. He actually appeared to be more nervous in the press conference, though he was very calm there as well. In fact, all four players seem to share this sober, almost too distanced view of their own games. It’s hard to imagine them raving about a well played game or expressing amazement about some beautiful win or a particularly exciting move – instead, they prefer to hint at options and opportunities the opponent had. Maybe being objective means being strong, but it would be nice to see these chess artists display a bit more feeling about their creations. However, as long as they continue to play the strong and exciting chess they do, one should not complain too much. Or, as Judit Polgar said, when asked whether she would not like to write or at least contribute some article for the press: “I will make news on the stage.”

Journalists and photographers at the press conference after round three

World Champion Vishy Anand

The Norwegian chess phenomenon Magnus Carlsen

Day two

In the fourth round encounter between Anand and Carlsen the latter chose a fashionable Queen’s Indian involving a pawn sacrifice. In return he received active pieces and compensation. While he gradually increased his pressure on the kingside Anand countered on the queenside and suddenly an outburst of tactical complications followed. In a still interesting position Anand, despite being two minutes ahead on the clock, decided not to risk too much and settled for a perpetual.

Carlsen,M (2775) - Anand,V (2798) [E15]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (4), 02.08.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.d5 exd5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.0-0 Be7 10.Rd1 Qc8 11.e4 Nc7 12.Nc3 0-0 13.e5 Ne6 14.Nd5 Bxd5 15.Rxd5 Nc6 16.Qe4 Qb7 17.a3 Na5 18.Nh4 Nb3 19.Nf5 Rae8 20.Qa4 Nxa1 21.Rxd7 Qb8 22.Nxe7+ Rxe7 23.Rxe7 Qxe5 24.Bf1 Qd5 25.Qd7 Qb3 26.Qxa7 Qd1 27.Be3 Nc2 28.Rd7 Ned4 29.Bxd4 Nxd4 30.Qb7 Nf3+ 31.Kg2 Ne1+ 32.Kg1 Nf3+ 33.Kg2 ½-½

Morozevich and Judit Polgar also played a Queen’s Indian. However, Polgar once again confirmed suspicions that she might be a bit out of shape when blundering a pawn right after the opening (“somehow I always go mad against Morozevich”) . Afterwards she desperately tried to stir up complications but had no success against Morozevich’s calm defense.

Morozevich,A (2788) - Polgar,Ju (2711) [E17]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (4), 02.08.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 a6 11.Ne5 Bd6 12.Qb3 Re8 13.Nxd7 Qxd7 14.Nxd5 Ne4 15.Rad1 Bxd5 16.Qxd5 c6 17.Qb3 Bxf4 18.gxf4 Rad8 19.Qxb6 f5 20.Qxa6 Re6 21.Qc4 Kh8 22.Bxe4 fxe4 23.Kh1 e3 24.f3 Rf8 25.d5 Rh6 26.Rg1 Qd6 27.dxc6 Qf6 28.c7 Rc8 29.Qd4 1-0.

In the fifth round the players seemed to be set to keep things exciting. As often before Judit Polgar (playing White) and Vishy Anand debated the pros and cons of the Sicilian Najdorf. Though Judit opted for the line with 6.Be2 the game turned into a sharp struggle. Judit castled queenside, Anand castled kingside and both were attacking the enemy king. For a while Fritz liked Anand’s chances better, but Judit came up with creative attacking resources. When Anand failed to find a decisive tactical blow he decided to go for a repetition and a draw.

Polgar,Ju (2711) - Anand,V (2798) [B92]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (5), 02.08.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg5 Be6 9.Qd3 Nbd7 10.f4 Rc8 11.0-0-0 0-0 12.Rhe1 b5 13.Kb1 Qc7 14.f5 Bc4 15.Qg3 Kh8 16.a3 Rb8 17.Qh4 a5 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.exd5 Rfc8 20.Bd3 Nb6 21.Re3 Nbxd5 22.Rh3 a4 23.Be4 axb3 24.cxb3 Kg8 25.Rxd5 h6 26.Bxf6 Qc1+ 27.Ka2 Bxf6 28.Qf2 b4 29.a4 Qh1 30.Bc2 Qc1 31.Be4 Qh1 32.Bc2 Qc1 33.Be4 ½-½.

Morozevich and Carlsen also played an exciting game – and also drew. Morozevich played his second Queen’s Indian of the day and with his trademark double-edged interesting play managed to put Carlsen under constant pressure. However, the Norwegian neutralized all threats and when a queen ending was reached in which he was slightly better, he accepted Morozevich’s draw offer – with only nine seconds left on the clock, he was not in a mood to gamble.

Morozevich,A (2788) - Carlsen,M (2775) [E17]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (5), 02.08.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 Na6 8.Ne5 d5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nc3 c5 13.e3 Bxe5 14.dxe5 Nc7 15.Qa4 Qe7 16.f4 Rfd8 17.Rad1 Qe6 18.b4 Bc6 19.Qb3 Rd7 20.bxc5 bxc5 21.Qa3 Qe7 22.Rd2 Rad8 23.Red1 f6 24.e6 Nxe6 25.Nxd5 Qf7 26.Qa5 f5 27.Ne7+ Qxe7 28.Bxc6 Rxd2 29.Rxd2 Kh7 30.Kf2 Qf6 31.Bd7 c4 32.Bxe6 ½-½.

Thus, with one round to go Anand, Morozevich and Carlsen all had three points, while Judit was trailing with one. As the first two in the preliminary qualify for the final, the sixth round, in which Anand played against Morozevich and Polgar against Carlsen promised to be really exciting.

As it was, the final round pretty dramatic – at least for the spectators. The game Anand against Morozevich in particular was full of tactical possibilities. This was mainly Morozevich’ fault: He blundered right after the opening and allowed Anand a winning knight sacrifice. Morozevich declined the sacrifice and now Anand could have won immediately with a second sacrifice – which is easy to find when letting the computer do the search:

Anand,V (2798) - Morozevich,A (2788) [C92]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (6), 02.08.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.d5 Nb8 13.Nf1 Nbd7 14.N3h2 Nc5 15.Bc2 c6 16.b4 Ncd7 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Bg5 Qc7 19.Ng3 d5 20.exd5 Nxd5 21.Ng4 Nf4 22.Bxf4 exf4 23.Nh6+ Kh8 24.Nxf7+ Kg8

25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Ng5+ Kg8 27.Qb3+ Kh8 28.Qf7 and Black has no defense against the threat of 29.Qh5+. None of the GM commentators saw this move, but in the lobby outside the hall, where WGM Natalia Kisseleva was explaining the games to a lay audience (she didn't see it either) a 12-year-old lad proposed it – and dictated the entire line to Natalia. Sign up that kid! Anyway, Anand took the safe route and suddenly Morozevich had some swindling chances because the position was rather tactical. But Anand calmly parried all threats and used his material advantage to win the game and the tournament. 25.Ne4 Ne5 26.Nfd6 Red8 27.Qh5 Bxe4 28.Nxe4 h6 29.Qf5 Re8 30.Qxf4 Rac8 31.Qf5 Qd7 32.Qxd7 Nxd7 33.Rad1 Nb6 34.Bb3+ Kh8 35.Kf1 g5 36.f3 Rc6 37.Rd3 Bg7 38.Red1 Be5 39.Rd8 Rxd8 40.Rxd8+ Kg7 41.Rg8+ Kh7 42.Re8 Bxc3 43.Re7+ Bg7 44.Nc5 Nc8 45.Re8 Bc3 46.Bd5 Rc7 47.Be4+ 1-0.

Magnus Carlsen saw with pleasure how Anand was doing his best to put the Norwegian on second place. Trusting Anand to win against Morozevich Carlsen made no real effort to win against Judit Polgar and calmly exchanged pieces to steer the game to an unexciting draw, which allowed him to finish on second place – something Morozevich might feel to be a bit unjust. After all, he twice had the better position against Carlsen, but achieved only two draws. In return he lost twice against Anand and finally ended up half a point behind the Norwegian.

Carlsen,M (2775) - Polgar,Ju (2711) [E10]
13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER (6), 02.08.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8.dxc5 Nxc5 9.0-0 Bd6 10.Nc3 Nce4 11.Nxd5 Bxh2+ 12.Nxh2 Qxd5 13.Qxd5 Nxd5 14.f3 Nc5 15.e4 Nb4 16.Bd2 Nc6 17.Ng4 Rd8 18.Rfd1 f6 19.Ne3 Kf7 20.Nf5 Nd3 21.Bc3 Rd7 22.Rd2 Rhd8 23.Rad1 b5 24.b4 a5 25.a3 axb4 26.axb4 Nce5 27.Bxe5 fxe5 28.Kf1 g6 29.Ne3 Ke6 30.Nd5 Nxb4 31.Nc7+ Ke7 32.Rxd7+ Rxd7 33.Rxd7+ Kxd7 ½-½.

Standings after the qualification rounds:

As it is, chess fans can look forward to an interesting final between Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen – tomorrow draws will not be enough to win the title of World Champion.

All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Mainz

Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship

Rybka defends Chess960 title after tough final with Shredder

By Eric van Reem

Rybka, the program developed by Vasik Raijlich, won the 4th Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship. After four tough games against the German program Shredder, programmed by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen from Germany, the American program won with only a narrow margin: 2.5-1.5.

It was an exciting final on Friday. Last year, Rybka easily won the final against the same opponent and a fourth game was not even necessary anymore. This year, Rybka won the first game as well, but as the Dutch say: “You have beaten the Germans only when they are sitting in the bus”. And the German program Shredder bounced back: Rybka terribly mishandled the position in game two and never had a chance in this game. The third game of the day ended in a draw. Rybka was a pawn up in a rook ending, but that was not enough to win the game. In the last game, the peculiar position 614 was chosen by Natalia Zhukova. Peculiar, because only the rook and knight on h1 and g1 traded places! And a strange game developed: Rybka sacrificed a pawn on the first (!) move, but could easily develop her pieces and soon the American program outplayed Shredder to win the title. Congratulations to Vasik Raijlich and his team! His team mates Jeroen Noomen and Hans van der Zijden came from Holland to support their boss.

The Chess960 Computer World Champion Vasik Rajlich with Rybka

Raijlich was delighted and relieved after the last game: “This final was rather interesting and the games were really nice. But I have to check the last game thoroughly, because I think that the pawn sacrifice was not right”.

In the battle for third place, Naum seemed to be safe after leading 2-0, but Deep Sjeng came back and won two games in a row: 2-2. The last game was dramatic, since Naum lost on time in a winning position. The graphical interface Arena Naumov was using is very buggy and unreliable and suddenly did not want to make any more moves. In the tiebreak with reduced time control (5-5) between the two Internet qualifiers no winner was found: 1-1. And even the last “armageddon game” ended in a draw, but since Deep Sjeng played with the black pieces, the program landed on third place.

  • All games in PGN
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