Champions may be most vulnerable right before they defend their titles.

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Deep into the preparation for his 12-game match against challenger GM Boris Gelfand of Israel starting May 11 in Moscow, titleholder Viswanathan Anand of India took a little timeout this month to hold down first board for the Baden-Baden team in final rounds of the powerful German chess Bundesliga.

Perhaps because his mind was elsewhere, or perhaps for fear of showing Gelfand too many of his ideas, Anand ran into a buzz saw in his game against veteran Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov.

Anand’s play on the Black side of this Rossolimo Sicilian is uncharacteristically passive, and by 11. a4 b6?! (a too-modest move Tiviakov later criticized) 12. b3 Ra7 13. Rd1 Bc8 14. Ba3, Tiviakov appears to have achieved all the positional advantage from the White setup in the Sicilian with none of the drawbacks. With his d-pawn hopelessly backward on the half-open file, Black is in for a long evening of suffering.

Handed a golden opportunity against a great champion, Tiviakov makes the most of it: 24. g3 g5 25. f4! (with all of Black’s pieces tied down, this temporary pawn sacrifice is easy to find and hard to counter) gxf4 26. gxf4 Kf7 27. Kf2 exf4 28. Kf3 Ke6 29. Bc1! Rc8 30. Bxf4 Bf8 (Rh8 31. Be3 Rb7 32. Rg1 Kf7 33. h4 Bf8 34. Rf5 Bg7 35. h5 and Black is paralyzed), and now Black must worry about the weak h-pawn as well.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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