Anand fails to qualify for final in Mainz
Last night in Mainz, an era came to an end. On the second day of the unofficial Rapid World Championship, eleven times winner Viswanathan Anand failed to qualify for the final. During the press conference after the games, Anand proved to be a fair sportsman and congratulated his opponents: “I think the two people who deserved to qualify, qualified. That’s life. If you play badly you get punished.”
The Mainz Chess Classic, the big, annual festival of rapid chess (20 minutes for the game + 5 seconds increment per move), is held July 27-August 2 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. During the day many open events take place while at night two unofficial World Championships are held: Tue-Thu the 6th Rapid Chess960 Wch with Aronian, Bologan, Movsesian and Nakamura, and then Fri-Sun the 14th GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship with Anand, Aronian, Nepomniachtchi and Naiditsch.
Anand fails to qualify after dramatic second day
By Johannes Fischer
Will World Champion Vishy Anand strike back? Will he be able to qualify for the final? On the first day of the GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship Anand, 11 times winner of the Chess Classic Mainz, had only scored 1 point from 3 games and was trailing 1,5 points behind Aronian and Nepomniachtchi. However, everybody knew that an Anand in good shape can work miracles on the chess board.
But the first game of day 2 seemed to indicate that Anand had not yet overcome his bad form. Playing with Black against Aronian Anand opted for the Grünfeld and got an almost equal position after the opening. This, however, developed into an endgame in which Aronian had a passed b-pawn and every right to play for a win and it took Anand a fine defensive effort to draw.
Meanwhile, Arkadij Naiditsch took his revenge for yesterday’s first-round loss by beating Nepomniachtchi. In a Sicilian Najdorf, Naiditsch sacrificed a pawn to gain the initiative and this strategy paid off when the young Russian crumbled under the pressure:
Black “defended” with 30...Rbc8 31.Rxc8 Rxc8 but after 32.Bxf7 he found himself in a lost position. Yet, similar to the day before, Naiditsch made life difficult for himself and later lost the better part of his advantage. Fortunately, his position was good enough to still win the game.
But Naiditsch’s technical weaknesses proved fatal against Levon Aronian. With the white pieces the German grandmaster obtained a very good position after the opening, which together with the fact that he had much more time on the clock gave him every chance of winning. And when he cashed in on c7 things again seemed a matter of technique.
But now Aronian demonstrated why he is considered to be one of the most stubborn, creative and inventive players. With little time on the clock he made life increasingly difficult for Naiditsch who suddenly was faced with a number of unexpected difficulties.
Trying to find a way to bypass all tactical traps and to win safely cost Naiditsch most of his time. This in turn later made him overlook a decisive knight fork.
Here Naiditsch played 49.Rc3 to resign immediately after 49...Nd1+. This win secured Aronian a spot in the final – no matter how he would play against Nepomniachtchi in the final round.
The other fifth round game between Nepomniachtchi and Anand was less tactical but no less dramatic. On the black side of a Caro-Kann Anand carefully converted an equal position into a slightly better one. This slight advantage led to a better queen endgame, which in turn led to a queen endgame, in which Anand was two pawns up.
However, his king could find no place to rest. A win would have given Anand three points and every chance to qualify for the final and the World Champion indeed tried hard. But White relentlessly pursued Black’s king all over the board and after 50 moves in which no pawn advanced and no piece was captured, a draw was agreed.
Now, ironically, before the sixth and final round, Anand could only hope that Aronian would help him to qualify for the final by beating Nepomniachtchi.
While a lot of people expected Aronian to agree to a quick draw to avoid playing Anand in the final, the Armenian showed true sportsmanship by playing a real game against Nepomniachtchi. However, after committing an error in the opening he was unable to put any pressure on his opponent and finally had to agree to a draw, which secured Nepomniachtchi a place in the final.
While constantly having an eye on Nepomniachtchi’s game, Anand tried his best to win against Naiditsch – but he also failed to get any tangible advantage. And shortly after Aronian and Nepomniachtchi drew their game Anand and Naiditsch also drew.
11 times Anand won in Mainz, now he failed to qualify for the final. An era came to an end – which might have been the reason for the gloomy atmosphere during the press conference after the games. Here Anand proved to be a fair sportsman and congratulated his opponents: “I think the two people who deserved to qualify, qualified. That’s life. If you play badly you get punished.”
Still, with all the pressure lifted of him, he may come back to form when playing against Naiditsch for third place tomorrow. And hopefully he will be back in Mainz next year and the years to come to play many more wonderful games – and possibly to reclaim his title.
Mainz 2009 | Rapid World Championship | Preliminaries, Final Standings
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Eight players with a perfect score after first day of 16th ORDIX Open
By Eric van Reem
The ORDIX Open is a fixed date in the chess calendar for many rapid chess lovers and this year no less than 694 participants made the yearly pilgrimage to Mainz. After the first five rounds, there are still eight players with a clean sheet: Grischuk, Sargissian, Meier, Mamedyarov, Naiditsch, Navara, Landa and Nielsen. Six more rounds will be played on Sunday.
However, Saturday kicked off with the second signing session of the week. Many chess players took the opportunity to meet and greet some of the world’s best chess players. Cups, T-shirts, books, pictures, you name it - everything was signed with a smile from the grandmasters. Even WGM Natalia Zhukova obviously misses some signatures in her collection and queued up to get some pictures signed.
Hard to believe, but the Chess Classic is already counting down the days to the end of the chess festival. However, in Mainz we try to keep the best for last and in the final weekend the tradition ORDIX Open is held. For many chess lovers the ORDIX is a fixed date in their chess calendar.
The big names in the ORDIX this year are Gashimov, Grischuk, Kamsky, Movsesian, Nakamura, Naiditsch and Kasimdzhanov but there are many experienced grandmasters who love to play the rapid open in Mainz each year like Rafael Vaganjan, Vlastimil Hort, Ulf Andersson and Klaus Bischoff. We counted 172 (!) players with an international title and 67 grandmasters! Two ex-chess world champions started in the ORDIX today, Rustam Kasimdhzanov and Alexander Khalifman.
In the first few rounds the grandmasters have a relatively easy job, although some of players who just finished the Chess960 Open obviously had some difficulties with position 518, the normal starting position which is played this weekend. Hikaru Nakamura, who won the Chess960 world championship this week, had a day off on Friday and seemed to have an “off day” in his first round game against Chess Classic bulletin maker Timo Schönhoff. The German amateur had a really promising position and the crowd gathered round the board to follow the game. However, Schönhoff missed a tactical blow by Nakamura and lost the game.
It is difficult to spot the gems in a tournament with 347 games per round. If you go through the endless rows you see an exciting sacrifice on one board, a dreadful time scramble on another board, a dramatic blunder somewhere else. On the top boards on stage some strange things happened. In the game Brkic-Gashimov the highestrated player in the ORDIX missed a tactical blow:
In this position Gashimov played 25…Rc4. A rook move was OK in this position, but 25…Rxc2!! would have been winning! 26. Kxc2 Rc8+ 27. Bc5 Bxe4! This combination should not be too difficult for a 2700+ player, but Gashimov missed it. After some up and downs the game ended in draw.
In the same round, Alexander Grischuk, who desperately wants to win this ORDIX to become the first player in Chess Classic history to win both Opens in one year had some difficult moments in his game against Gofshtein:
Not a pleasant position for white-to say the least. White is a pawn down and Grischuk had only twenty seconds left on the clock. However, the time control in Mainz is 20+5 and by making a few quick moves you can gather some time on the clock. After 29. Qd4 b6? 30. Rde1! Bxc5 31. Qxe4 Qxe4 32. Rxe4+ Kf8 33. Re2 Rd8 34. Rdxg2 Rxg2 35. Rxg2 white suddenly had a slightly better endgame, that Grischuk won with remarkable ease.
Interesting stuff, and you can play through the top games of the ORDIX yourself to spot some nice combinations here and there. All transmitted games can be downloaded from the official site, the easiest way to do that is by clicking on the LIVE portal and scroll down to the 16.ORDIX Open. Then download the transmitted games in .pgn format. Tomorrow six more rounds will be played, and the 6th round starts at 10.00 AM.
Photos © Christian Bossert / Mainz Chess Classic.
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