Reports | June 04, 2011 8:07

Anand takes early lead against Shirov in León

Anand takes early lead against Shirov in LeonAfter the first of three playing days, Viswanathan Anand leads 1.5-0.5 against Alexei Shirov. Their 6-game match of 'semi-rapid' games started on Friday in León, Spain. On Saturday games 3 and 4 will be played and on Sunday games 5 and 6 and a possible tie-break. Update: games now annotated.

General info

The 24th edition of the Magistral Ciudad de León takes place in the León Auditorium, from Friday, June 3rd till Sunday, June 5th. This year the main event is a 6-game match between World Champion Vishy Anand and Alexei Shirov. The rate of play is 40 minutes per game plus 30 seconds increment after each move; games start at 16.30 CET.

In a first press release, Spanish journalist and press officer Leontxo Garcia wrote:

It looks like Anand started last week journey from his hometown of Chennai (formerly Madras, in southeast India) with mixed feelings: some disappointment due to the separation for a few days of his baby, Akhil (this name has different meanings in Tamil, but Anand prefers “ruler” and “king”) and his wife, Aruna; and, on the other hand, hope for success for the eighth time in Leon. To increase his chances for a new victory, he has been working for a few days at his other home, in Collado Mediano (Madrid), together with his coach, the Danish grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen.

Shirov will arrive in Leon on Wednesday with his wife, Olga, and his coach, Manuel Perez Candelario. As happens to most top players, his score with the World Champion is very unfavorable for him since Anand defeated him in the World Championship 2000 final in Tehran (Iran). But he has now have an appropriate opportunity to retaliate, as Shirov seems to be in very good shape after winning in Lublin (Poland) with plenty of creativity in his games.

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony, with the drawing of lots, was held on Thursday at the Hotel Conde Luna, performed by the international arbiter Joaquin Espejo. There it was decided that Shirov would have White in the first game.

At the opening ceremony Shirov joked "Here is clear proof that chess can delay Alzheimer's," referring to his age (almost 39), Viswanathan Anand (41) and of the Indian's next challenger, Israeli Boris Gelfand (almost 43). The world champion made this analysis: "Everyone talks about the young talents in chess, and it is true that most of the world's best are getting younger. But we are still here, and we can still handle them. The ambition that we have, for example Gelfand and I, is as high as when we were young, and that explains our results. So our championship match in 2012 will be very interesting."

press conference

Anand and Shirov at the press conference on Thursday

Shirov then chose to point out some irony to explain the apparent contradiction of the facts: there are only seven players over 40 years among the hundred best in the world, but three of them are the champion, the challenger and the world's number four at the moment (Vassily Ivanchuk) and two other are in the top 25 - Shirov himself Britain's Michael Adams, who are approaching 40. "Lately you have found strong evidence that the common practice of chess delays the aging of the brain. And I think we reinforce that theory," he said, half seriously, half jokingly.

Anand acknowledged that chess is of little use when exercising the job of being a father of a baby, as he has done for the last few weeks: "It is he who dictates the rules, and you have to follow." It was suggested that he'd ask Shirov for advice, for his paternal experience, and Alexei took up the gauntlet: "Vishy has made great strides in his sport and is now completing the most important personal step. It gives so much joy and happiness to have a child that it will be very beneficial, even in sports."

Day 1

In all honesty, so far we borrowed heavily from Leontxo Garcia's press releases. The author of this report travelled to León on Friday and due to some delay, I arrived at the train station while the second game had just started. Naturally I decided to take a cab to the playing hall immediately... the hotel could wait!

The games are played in the excellent Auditorium, which is equipped with giant screens left and right of the stage. That spectators can see the moves and close-ups of the players, but also an analysis board and with handsets they can listen to the commentators: Miguel Illescas, eight times Spanish champion and international master Michael Rahal.

The first two games were of high quality, and high fighting spirit. In the first, a Caro-Kann Advance, Shirov had the initiative but Anand held the balance with a number of fine, tactical nuances.

The second game was a very sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit which went wrong for Shirov at an early stage - his king had to stay in the centre and he lost a few pawns. With a nice knight sacrifice the World Champion scored the full point.

Game 1

The first game between Shirov and Anand

Following the success of previous editions, Castilla y León television is providing extensive coverage, including live connections. On the first day, this meant that the players were briefly interviewed, first Anand and then Shirov, live on television. We do have one, not unimportant quote from Shirov from his interview: "My eleventh move of the second game was improvised on the board." Quite a stunning remark, since the position after 11.Rd1 is well-known and was even on the board in one of the Anand-Kramnik games in Bonn 2008.

Game viewer

Game viewer by ChessTempo

As usual, the organizers took care of several parallel activities: simuls by Shirov, a lecture by Illescas on the Kasparov-Deep Blue historic match, another lecture class for the local young talents by the IM Sergio Estremera, a chess cinema week and the traditional Young Talents tournament.

Despite the big economic crisis, (even worsened by the E. coli outbreak, which has a devastating effect on Spanish agriculture) everything is sponsored by a balanced combination of public bodies and private companies, which have been loyal to the tournament for many years.

Sponsors

The sponsors shown behind the players

And one can notice this long tradition in several other aspects as well. I visited the event in 2009 and again everyone is staying in the same hotel, and having dinner in the same, small but cosy basement part of the restaurant. Last but not least, the red wine still tastes very nice!

Before the start of the first game the new mascot of the tournament took place at the board: Inquietín, a creation of The Restless Investor, which was added this year to the usual sponsors of the City of León.

Before the start of the first game the new mascot of the tournament took place at the board: Inquietín, a creation of The Restless Investor, which was added this year to the usual sponsors of the City of León.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

Septimus's picture

What is the difference between a blunder and a human mistake??

He missed Ng4+ which would have trapped Shirov's king in the corner of the board. But yes, f6 was a killer that started the ball rolling.

I thought 7...Qa6 was a bit weird.

Jeffrey "notyetagm" Hall's picture

Anand's 28 Nc3-d5!! in Game 2 was a *tremendous* idea.

Chess Fan's picture

A world champion playing like a world champion ;-)

Fireblade's picture

Wonder if Shirov let Anand checkmate him as a ;sportive' gesture or did he miss it ?

Peter Doggers's picture

I could just witness that in the playing hall. The last moves were played quite quickly so it was a sort of "sequence" that happened in 10 seconds total - Anand had seen the mate in the end, not sure about Shirov.

john's picture

Nice touch! its almost like I was there myself :-)

Chess FAn's picture

I second that John.

Thank you Peter. This is what makes this site so very special.

litmus's picture

The translation of Leontxo Garcia's reports are more or less okay, but not idiomatically accurate. For example, "and now we can with them" sounds weird in English until you realize that it's a literal translation of "y de momento podemos con ellos" (which ought to be expressed in English as something like: "and now we can deal with them".)

By the way, the live commentary of Miguel Illescas and Michael Rahal is pretty good. My only complaint about their chitchat is that they were using a lot of computer analysis in the second game. Nd5 is not so hard to see in any of the positions where Anand seemed to be uncertainly moving his queen back and forth but the real difficulty is in judging if your opponent has any counterattack.

Peter Doggers's picture

Simply forgot to remove the part "and now we can with them" after I had already changed it to "and we can still handle them". I think I more or less avoided any direct translations but if you still see something, let me know, it was a bit late last night. :-)

Septimus's picture

The second game was incredible.

Sumit Balan's picture

Anand wins the 2nd game with a Crushing attack against the Black Monarch !! in Rekthna style !!

Peter Doggers's picture

Update: games now annotated.

Antonio's picture

I think Anand needs a new and better hair cut. In chess he needs nothing because he is wonderful

Septimus's picture

Looks to be extremely high level chess. Anand is simply a cut above everybody else, the complete chess player. To find a mate by sacing two pieces and giving up an exchange, against a super player like Shirov is...mind-blowing.

gg's picture

It's a bit entertaining but no one really cares about a rapid minimatch with nothing at stake, and Shirov is just being embarrassed by Anand here.

misha's picture

even in this match anand is showing his class
for some one like a carlsen, handling a guy of shirov's class would have been very difficult.

gg's picture

Carlsen would have lost every game against Shirov if he hadn't been such a coward that he didn't dare to play against such a strong player. Am I doing it right?

misha's picture

all i was saying was carlsen has faltered against experienced players like anand kramnik gelfand

gg's picture

Yeah, Carlsen being able to handle players of Shirov's class is impossible to imagine.

gg's picture

Yeah, Carlsen being able to handle players of Shirov's class is impossible to imagine.

gg's picture

My smartphone seems to post everything twice for some reason. I was thinking about mentioning that Carlsen won the rapid match he played against Anand but I don't get what the point is with bringing up Carlsen in relation to Anand in the first place anyway so no point discussing the subject more.

Septimus's picture

Would you rather have 8 move draws instead?

Fireblade's picture

Third game was crushing ! After Kazan nice to see some exciting games.

Sumit Balan's picture

Anand is Anand, Always Ahead (A A A A) !!!

RealityCheck's picture

Yassur, Anand is miles ahead. Did you see the nice "two-step" on the c-file in game 3? Makes you wanna dance.

PircAlert's picture

How about this one? Anand is Anand, No Milestone Ahead! :) This is just the case of best getting better.

RealityCheck's picture

@PircAlert

Very nice!

PircAlert's picture

Thanks! :)

john's picture

Two fantastic games, brilliant!

Septimus's picture

My God, the 3rd game a beatdown of gigantic proportions. I feel Shirov could have played on for a few more moves. But man that g4 pawn was totally lost in space.

Fireblade's picture

Peter where are you ?
Also will you be doing video coverage ?

salim's picture

A mini-match as preparation for the upcoming world chess crown ?!

salim's picture

Carlsen should get some match experience as kasparov suggested

RealityCheck's picture

@salim

GM Carlsen has got some Rapid match experience, WC Anand schooled him at the
Mainz Chess Classic a couple years ago.

There are surely other rapid matches that I'm not familiar with (sorry, I dont follow his games), but you're right he really needs much more.

gg's picture

I guess it was good training since Carlsen won the rapid match against Anand last year. What reason is there to avoid Carlsen's games, by the way?

Septimus's picture

Today's game which Anand won was full of blunders, but it looks like c6 is giving Shirov a lot of problems...mostly because he is making crazy pawn moves at the outset.

Peter Doggers's picture

'Full of blunders', hm.... Just because the computer points out a miraculous escape for Shirov, which both players missed in timetroube, doesn't mean they 'blundered'. They made a human mistake. Guess what I want to say is that there's often too much focus on computer lines, while what should be remembered about this game is not these two mistakes, but the beauty of Vishy's ...f6 move that started a mating attack in the ending, don't you agree?

PircAlert's picture

Absolutely!

But my expectation is, no inaccuracies whatsoever from Anand in classical time control games. I'm glad people are raising the bar high for Anand in terms of precision even in rapid games!

hc's picture

Still nice mating net that Anand wove at the end. He missed a mate with Rg5?? instead of Ng5+!! when Shirov's king took knight on h6.

Still he was lucky that Shirov walked into a mate a couple of moves later .

hc's picture

To be fair Shirov was down to < 1min and was just playing on the increment. Also, Anand was probably trying to blitz Shirov off the board using his time advantage.

And the mate Anand missed wasn't very obvious at all, he probably thought he had the mate anyway in hand after Rg5, but Shirov can escape with f7+ followed by Kh7, which would have been really crazy (Shirov was white!).

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