Bad start for the World Champ; Grischuk wins FiNet Chess960 Open
He probably never had a worse start at the Chess Classic. On the first day of the GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship, World Champion Viswanathan Anand lost his first two games and now has to worry about qualifying for the final. Earlier on Friday, Alexander Grischuk emerged as the winner of the FiNet Chess960 Open.
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.
Bad start for Anand in Mainz
By Johannes Fischer
The first game already indicated that Anand was not in top shape. Playing with White against Aronian he used an unusual amount of time in the opening – which, however, seemed to be well invested: Anand managed to secure himself the bishop pair but, as he later explained in the press conference “things were a bit complicated. Therefore I was ready to draw but did not want to sit too passively. But with little time on the clock I went astray.” Which gave Aronian, who the day before had suffered a bitter defeat against Hikaru Nakamura in the final of the Chess960 Rapid World Championship, an important point and a confidence-booster.
Indeed, in chess there is hardly anything as motivating as winning a worse game. Ian Nepomniachtchi definitely knows how this feels. In his first round game against Arkadi Naiditsch he was on the brink of defeat, but Naiditsch found no way to push him over the edge, which allowed Nepomniachtchi to neutralize the enemy threats slowly to achieve a better endgame, which he finally won.
In the second round the young Russian had to face Anand with Black and again Fortune was on his side. Nepomniachtchi opted for the sharp Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf Sicilian and as Anand later admitted in the press conference, „I did not quite know what I was playing and could not clearly remember what to do in this line.“ This blackout of the World Champion gave Nepomniachtchi a better endgame and a second point. With 0 from 2, Anand, however, could not have had a worse start.
That Arkadi Naiditsch did not fare any better was no real consolation. After his unfortunate loss in the first round the German number one lacked the energy to offer significant resistance against a revitalized Aronian. Immediately after the opening Naiditsch went astray and had to give a pawn to prevent worse – but his game was still practically lost.
Demoralized, he did not do much better against Anand in the third round. With White he chose a harmless line against the Caro-Kann and again he lost a pawn right after the opening. And even though Anand, as he remarked at the press conference with a grim sense of humor „almost managed to spoil even this game to a draw”, Black’s extra pawn permitted a certain degree of inaccuracy. Anand scored his first win – which he bitterly needed to keep up his hopes to qualify for the final.
Viswanathan Anand kept slim chances to reach the final by beating Arkadij Naiditsch
Meanwhile, Nepomniachtchi and Aronian proceeded carefully in their third round game. The Russian in particular did not take any risks. Playing with White he played rather cautiously and it took a pawn sacrifice by Aronian to provide some excitement. However, as the balance was never seriously disturbed the game soon ended in a draw.
Ian Nepomniachtchi with White against Levon Aronian
Halfway through the tournament Aronian and Nepomniachtchi are 1,5 points ahead of Anand. But despite this bad start one should not write the World Champion off. In the past he again and again proved how good he can cope with critical situations. And after all, Nakamura showed how to do it: after losing the first two games in the Chess960 World Championship he won seven games in a row. Saturday, 18:30, Anand has the chance to catch up. Live transmission on the website. Don’t miss it.
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FiNet Chess960 Open: Going once, going twice, going three times, Grischuk!
By Eric van Reem
The man with the cap was the sole leader after 10 nerve-breaking rounds in the 8. FiNet Chess960 Open, but in the final round, Gata Kamsky lost his only game against former world champion Rustam Kazimdzhanov. This loss paved the way for Alexander Grischuk, who won the massive Ordix Open twice, to clinch home his third Mainz Open title. He kept his cool in the last round against German ace Rainer Buhmann and won the 8. Edition of the FiNet Chess960 Open with 9,5 points.
This last minute victory avoided a total American Chess960 domination in Mainz. Hikaru Nakamura won the Chess960 world championship and the American program Rybka won the Livingston Chess960 computer tournament for the third time in a row. The late Bobby Fischer, the inventor of this fascination chess variant that gets more and more attention on all levels, would have smiled in heaven.
The ICC Qualifer wins the Chess960 Open: Alexander Grischuk
Despite his tremendous victory, Grischuk was not too happy with the way he played in the Chess960 Open. “I had a lost position in three games”. But Grischuk, winner of the online Chess960 qualification tournament on the Internet Chess Club, showed that he is a tough player to beat. “And you need a little luck as well to win an Open like this”, the Russian smiled. He added: “My main goal is to win both the FiNet and the Ordix Open in one year”. Maybe he can be the first player in Chess Classic history to reach this unearthly goal. He will give it a shot tomorrow!
Kamsky, who scored nine points in the end, was downhearted after his terrible loss in the final round. He was in the lead from the word go and losing the final game is an experience that even a hard-boiled chess professional like Kamsky will not easily forget. He just needed a draw to win the tournament. His opponent Kasimdzhanov showed his ambitions and all his class in his last game against the American. In the end he shared 2nd place with Kamsky.
From a German point of view, the tournament was very successful. Arkadi Naiditsch and Georg Meier scored 8,5 points but the big German surprise was Rainer Buhmann, who played a fantastic tournament. He even had a chance to win the tournament, but he lost against Grischuk in the last round. He played an excellent Chess960 game, had a pawn up and was on the upper hand, but the Russian top player showed his perseverance, power and experience. Buhmann was very disappointed after the game: “I might never get such a good occasion to win the FiNet anymore”. Symbolically, in the end he landed on 13th place…
The best female player in the FiNet was Kateryna Lahno with 8 points, Irina Gaponenko and Marie Rachel Sebag scored 7,5 points. Vlastimil Hort was the best senior player.
FiNet Chess960 Open 2009 | Final Standings (top 40)
A great FiNet Chess960 open came to an end today. Never before, the tournament attracted more top level players. We even counted 106 players with an international title! The top ten had an ELO average of 2718, the total average of all 263 players in the FiNet Chess960 Open was 2170. The end of the FiNet Open marked the end of the Chess960 events this week in Mainz. The GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship started on Friday, on Saturday the massive Ordix Open with around 700 players starts at 12.30.
The stage, with during the day the top boards of the Opens, and at night the 'rapid world championships'
Peter Heine Nielsen, regular guest in Mainz, and NH Chess Tournament participant later this month
Sergei Movsesian also joined the big group during the day - here playing Georg Meier
Photos © Christian Bossert / Mainz Chess Classic.
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