Washington Post: Kavalek on Stellwagen vs Anand

by ChessBase
4/6/2009 – Every week the Washington Post provides a column by GM Lubomir Kavalek on its online edition. In the latest he takes a look at Anand's incredible final Bundesliga game against Daniel Stellwagen. Anand will be 40 this year, but instead of taking it easy he shows nerves of steel in picking one of the most complex and difficult opening lines in chess. Washington Post column.

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By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, April 6, 2009; 12:00 AM

Anand's Team Triumphs

The last weekend in March, world champion Vishy Anand traveled to Germany. The Indian grandmaster scored two victories and helped his team, OSG Baden-Baden, to clinch the title in the 2008-09 Bundesliga season. The team, with such superstars as Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Alexei Shirov of Spain and the five-time Russian champion Peter Svidler, went undefeated, winning 13 out of 15 matches with two ties. No other team came close.

Poisoned Pawn Slugfest

Anand will be 40 this year and you might expect him to take it easy. Instead, he picks one of the most complex and difficult opening lines in chess -- the Poisoned Pawn variation in the Najdorf Sicilian. It requires excellent memory, quick calculation, nerves of steel, intensive homework and plenty of experience and energy. You grab a pawn and try to survive, hoping it is not really poisoned. Play it and your hair turns gray. It can be a scary experience. I thought I was foolish, trying the line at age 14, until I saw a game between two 7-year-old boys, played last year at the Under 8 World Championship in Vung Tau, Vietnam. Mercifully, it lasted only 20 moves.

Early in March in Linares, Spain, Anand as black barely survived a Poisoned Pawn encounter against Alexander Grischuk. When the Dutch grandmaster Daniel Stellwagen, 22, challenged him again in the Bundesliga, the world champion did not back off. It was an action-packed epic battle -- a queen vs. three light pieces. The pendulum swung wildly from one player to another, both missing some chances as they navigated their way through the maze of treacherous variations. The last mistake belonged to Stellwagen and Anand won.

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