San Luis R1: Anand and Topalov win with black

9/29/2005 – The hot favourite for this world championship, Vishy Anand, started off with a bang, beating Judit Polgar with the black pieces in a beautiful game. Peter Leko was close to victory, but then blew it against Veselin Topalov. Rustam Kasimdzhanov almost made it three black wins against Morozevich. Nigel Short reports from San Luis.

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The FIDE World Chess Championship will take place in the Hotel Potrero de los Funes Complex, in the Province of San Luis, Argentina, from September 27 to October 16, 2005..

Round one

The first round of the world championship started with two black victories. Anand beat Judit Polgar in convincing style, Peter Leko blundered in a very promising position to drop the full point against Veseling Topalov, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov missed a golden opportunity to make it a third black victory. Svidler and Adams drew in 24 moves.

Round 1: Wednesday, September 28th

Peter Leko
0-1
Veselin Topalov
A. Morozevich
½-½
R. Kasimdzhanov
Peter Svidler
½-½
Michael Adams
Judit Polgar
0-1
Vishy Anand

World Championship Report: Round 1

By Nigel Short – on site in San Luis

Preparations for the opening round were left uncomfortably late: five minutes before the start of play at 3 p.m. name plates were still being affixed to the tables and dozens of people were milling around close to the boards. There was no chance of anyone adopting the Botvinnik method of sitting down and carefully composing oneself mentally before the start of play. Instead the players stood nearby and attempted to ignore the goings-on the best they could.


Kirsan Ilyumzhinov makes the first move in Judit Polgar vs Vishy Anand.
Left: former FIDE president Florencio Campomanes.

Eventually though things settled down and the players took their seats. His Excellency President Kirsan Iljumzhinov made the ceremonial opening move 1.e4 in the game Polgar-Anand. The finest woman player in the world appeared a little uncomfortable at the sight of the Caro-Kann. It was as if she had not quite made up her mind what to do against the tournament favourite – whether to strive for activity or to keep it safe. In the end she did neither – playing safe-looking moves, but rather ineptly. However she is not rated 2735 for nothing and, sensing the drift in her position, made an audacious queenside castling having already advanced her pawn to a4. Sound or unsound, it was probably a wise decision to alter the nature of the struggle.

Svidler-Adams was the first game to end. Adams employed the Petroff Defence – the bane of modern tournament chess – in an attempt to suck the life out of the position as early as possible. Over lunch Topalov had been predicting that we would see as many as three Petroffs today. I don’t know whether he was being facetious because he clearly had no intention of playing the opening himself, preferring a razor-sharp Najdorf instead (further comment on his game below).


Excellent facilities, but not so many spectators.

Anyway, Adams employed an unusual early Na5 in the main line, and the game soon developed along original paths. There was an interesting tactical sequence when Svidler abjured a simple recapture of a bishop in favour of a zwischenzug whereby he attacked both queen and knight simultaneously. Material balance was quickly restored but the tranquility had been disturbed as Adams’ queenside pawn structure was damaged. But in compensation the Englishman possessed the two bishops. An interesting tussle looked in prospect until suddenly the game unexpectedly terminated in an agreed draw. I have not a clue why. Usually the players do not know why in these cases either. Quite possibly the game would have petered out, but it would have been nice to see it demonstrated.


Morozevich vs Kasimdzhanov

The wild, the creative, the weird, Alexander Morozevich, showed his unpredictability by playing the sort of solid, unassuming system against the Najdorf favoured by middle-aged, semi-retired grandmasters like myself. It was as if he wished to make a mockery of his reputation.


So close to victory – Rustam Kasimdzhanov

The World Champion (that is Rustam Kasimjanov – lest you forgot) safely negotiated the minor pitfalls until they reached a position of curious equilibrium with neither side having any obvious constructive plan. At this point Morozevich – probably not wishing to waste a white against the lowest rated player in the tournament – opted for a deconstructive plan. This was an unwise choice as Kasim swiftly assumed the initiative to enter a rook and pawn endgame a doubled pawn to the good.

In the meantime Anand was steadily diffusing the Polgar initiative, leaving her saddled with static weaknesses. Yes, she had an open g-file, but when he defended the only point of attack she had nothing much to do but wait. The Indian cobra moved slowly forward on the queenside until, in his victim’s time-trouble, he suddenly struck with a deadly blow – a knight sacrifice on c3. Polgar averted both immediate mate and losing on time but, although only a pawn down, her position was in total ruins and she resigned.

While all the games have been watched with interest, the most eagerly followed encounter was Leko-Topalov. The Bulgarian essayed the same risky line which brought him spectacular success against Kramnik at the Corus Tournament back in January. Leko had clearly anticipated this eventuality and massed his forces with great purposefulness in the center. Topalov had secured his long-term advantages – the two bishops and his opponent’s wayward knight – but lagged so severely in development, with his king stuck in the middle, that his situation was exceedingly precarious. Leko missed an excellent opportunity to rip open the center with 17.f4!, opting instead for a “solid” king move. Nevertheless he still maintained a promising position. However, with the tension mounting he accidentally allowed the exchange of queens, after which the initiative vanished in a puff of smoke. All the trumps were suddenly in Topalov’s hands. Leko’s dubious position disintegrated altogether in time-trouble, although it was doubtful he would have survived even with an extra hour on the clock. He resigned on move 40. This was quite a blow for the number three seed as he rarely loses with white.


Peter Leko watching Morozevich vs Kasimdzhanov

This left only Morozevich-Kasimjanov to trundle to its conclusion. The Uzbek pushed and pressed and squeezed, but in truth his advantage was too slender to seriously hope for victory. When Morozevich, with precision, prevented the Black king penetrating, peace was concluded.


Press conference with Peter Leko, Vishy Anand, Judit Polgar and Veselin Topalov

All in all, a good day’s chess with three fascinating games. Let us hope it continues!

Photos by FIDE, Casto Abundo, Carlos Ilardo


Full schedule

Round 1: Wednesday, September 28th

Peter Leko
0-1
Veselin Topalov
A. Morozevich
½-½
R. Kasimdzhanov
Peter Svidler
½-½
Michael Adams
Judit Polgar
0-1
Vishy Anand
Round 2: Thursday, September 29th
Veselin Topalov
-
Vishy Anand
Michael Adams
-
Judit Polgar
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Peter Svidler
Peter Leko
-
A. Morozevich
Games – Report
Round 3: Friday, September 30th
A. Morozevich
-
Veselin Topalov
Peter Svidler
-
Peter Leko
Judit Polgar
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Vishy Anand
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Round 4: Saturday, October 1st
Veselin Topalov
-
Michael Adams
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Vishy Anand
Peter Leko
-
Judit Polgar
A. Morozevich
-
Peter Svidler
Games – Report
Free day: Sunday, October 2nd
Round 5: Monday, October 3rd
Peter Svidler
-
Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar
-
A. Morozevich
Vishy Anand
-
Peter Leko
Michael Adams
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Games – Report
Round 6: Tuesday, October 4th
Judit Polgar
-
Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand
-
Peter Svidler
Adamas
-
A. Morozevich
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 7: Wednesday, October 5th
Peter Leko
-
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
A. Morozevich
-
Vishy Anand
Peter Svidler
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Round 8: Thursday, October 6th
Veselin Topalov
-
Peter Leko
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
A. Morozevich
Michael Adams
-
Peter Svidler
Vishy Anand
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Free day: Friday, October 7th
Round 9: Saturday, October 8th
Vishy Anand
-
Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar
-
Michael Adams
Peter Svidler
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
A. Morozevich
-
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 10: Sunday, October 9th
Veselin Topalov
-
A. Morozevich
Peter Leko
-
Peter Svidler
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Judit Polgar
Adamas
-
Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 11: Monday, October 10th
Adamas
-
Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Judit Polgar
-
Peter Leko
Peter Svidler
-
A. Morozevich
Games – Report
Round 12: Tuesday, October 11th
Veselin Topalov
-
Peter Svidler
A. Morozevich
-
Judit Polgar
Peter Leko
-
Vishy Anand
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Free day: Wednesday, October 12th
Round 13: Thursday, October 13th
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Veselin Topalov
Michael Adams
-
Peter Leko
Vishy Anand
-
A. Morozevich
Judit Polgar
-
Peter Svidler
Games – Report
Round 14: Friday, October 14th
Veselin Topalov
-
Judit Polgar
Peter Svidler
-
Vishy Anand
A. Morozevich
-
Michael Adams
Peter Leko
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Games – Report
Tie-breaks: Saturday, October 15th

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