GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship

Bad Start by the World Champion

By Johannes Fischer

Probably World Champion Vishy Anand has never had a worse start at the Chess Classic. On the first day of the GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship he lost his first two games and now has to worry about qualifying for the final.

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.

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.

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.

FInET Open / Livingston Chess960 computer world championship

Going once, going twice, going three times, Rybka!

In the FiNet Chess960 Open, Alexander Grischuk won his third Open title in Mainz and in the Livingston Chess960 computer world championship Rybka won her (remember, Rybka is a she) third world title. The program, developed by Vasik Rajlich won the four-game final on Friday 3-1 against Shredder and in the battle for third place DeepSjeng could secure third place in the mini-match against Ikarus.

In the preliminaries, Rybka crushed her opponents and scored an unbelievable “Fischer-like” score of 11,5/12 games. However, in the exhibition blitz Rybka lost her first game this week and it became obvious that the program is not unbeatable. In the first game of the final against Shredder, the German program possibly had a winning position, but Rybka found some tactical resources and even won the game in the end. Shredder-father Stefan Meyer-Kahlen commented: “The problem is that Rybka often finds these spectacular tactical escapes and in this game my opponent possibly searched deeper than Shredder”. In the other games Shredder had chances as well and all games were hard-fought. In the end Rybka won the final 3-1 (+2=2-0) and Rybka brainchild Vasik Rajlich received his third trophy from Chess Tigers treasurer Jürgen Wienecke.

In the fight for third place, DeepSjeng convincingly won two games and seemed to be in cruise-control mode in game 3 and 4. Ikarus won both games, equalized the score and therefore a blitz tie-break was necessary. DeepSjeng won both blitz games. It was another nice tournament, which took place in a friendly atmosphere. The Belgian referee and games expert Hans Secelle had no trouble leading the world championship. The programmers discussed various complicated aspects of chess programming for hours on end. We will see the result soon, because Rybka and Shredder will release new versions of their programs this year! Visit and for the latest information about the new releases.

Results of the final:

Rybka-Shredder 3-1

DeepSjeng-Ikarus 2-2 (Tie-break 2-0)

  1. Rybka
  2. Shredder
  3. DeepSjeng
  4. Ikarus

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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