Rustam Kasimdzhanov wins Corsica Masters

11/9/2006 – That is a great victory all by itself, but when it was achieved by beating Vishy Anand, the greatest rapid chess player in the world, then it takes on a special quality. Sixteen top GMs took part in this rapid chess festival on the French island of Corsica, but little information leaked out to the chess world. We have games and pictures.

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The Third International Open of Ajaccio on Corsica

Part of the "Corsican Circuit" International Chess Open Festival, which was held on the French island of Corsica, was the Corsica Masters Bastia. It took place from November 4-7 and carried a prize sum of €100,000.

Information on this tournament is sparse – you can try to mine the official web site for more than we have in this report. However we did contact the organisers who send us the games and a bunch of pictures for our news page.

Sixteen players started in this rapid chess knockout tournament, with two games per round deciding who proceeded to the next stage. The favourites were of course Vishy Anand, who had won the event five times in past years (and is probably the best rapid chess player in the world today); Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who like Anand is a former FIDE world champion and capable of playing extraordinary chess; Etienne Bacrot, France's top GM and number 18 in the world.

In the following cross table you can see how the tournament developed. In the first stage there were four matches that went to tiebreaks, after that Anand went through his opponents like hot butter through a knife (as Anand himself once put it). In the other branch of the tournament Rustam Kasimdzhanov squeaked past tough opposition: Tregubov, Bologan, Bacrot. In the final Kasim won the first game with black against Vishy, and held the Indian superstar to a draw in the second to take the title.

Anand,Viswanathan - Kasimdzhanov,Rustam
Bastia Bastia (4.1), 05.11.2006
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 Re8 10.d4 Bb7 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 c4 18.Nd4 Qf6 19.N2f3 Nc5 20.Ree3 Nbd3 21.axb5 axb5 22.Nxb5 Rxa3 23.Nxa3 Rxe4

Let the tactical slugout begin: 24.Nxc4 – the idea being that 24...Rxc4 25.Bxd3 Nxd3 26.Rxd3 and White has an extra pawn in a roughly equal position. 24...Nxf2!? Now after 25.Kxf2 Rxc4 White is doing fine. 25.Qe2 Nxh3+ 26.gxh3 Qg6+ 27.Kf2 Rxe3. Did Anand miss this in his calculations? 28.Bxe3. After 28.Bxg6 Rxe2+ 29.Kxe2 fxg6 Black is a healthy pawn up. 28...Qxb1 29.Bxc5 dxc5 30.Qe5 Qc2+ 31.Nfd2 Qd3 32.d6 Qxh3. Now it's a two-pawn advantage for Black. 33.Qe8 Bc8 34.Ne5 Qe6 35.Qxe6 Bxe6 36.Ne4 f5 37.d7 Bxd7 38.Nf6+ gxf6 39.Nxd7 Kf7 40.Kf3 Bd6 41.Nb6 Ke6 42.b3 h5 43.Nc4 h4 0-1.

Picture gallery


Anand and colleagues in the spectators' area...


...while his main rivals battle it out on the stage


Etienne Bacro, number 18 in the world...


...knocked out by former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov


So now it is between the you and me, bro! Anand and Kasim


The first and fateful game between the two


The world's finest rapid chess player at work


His very dangerous Uzbek opponent


The final game, which Anand desperately needed to win


But it wasn't meant to be – and Rustam Kasimdzhanov wins the event


The prize is handed over to the winner


The players with their prizes

Previous winners of the Corsica Masters:

1997 – Pavel Tregubov (Russia)
1998 – Alexander Chernin (Hungary)
1999 – Vladimir Akopian (Armenie)
2000 – Viswanathan Anand (India)
2001 – Viswanathan Anand (India)
2002 – Viswanathan Anand (India)
2003 – Viswanathan Anand (India)
2004 – Viswanathan Anand (India)
2005 – Vadim Milov (Switzerland)

All pictures by courtesy of the Organisation




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