A somewhat uneventful Petroff draw at the end! Neither side really wanted to try anything when there are still plenty left to play for. I understand that it is not easy for White to try to go for the win in the final position due to black’s active Bishop pair. However, why not at least play on a little further? Black’s a6 and c6 pawns are quite ugly. This is a World Championship. If you don’t at least try to win in such a position as white, when would you try to go for the win at all?
Morozevich 1/2 – 1/2 Kasimdzhanov
The final position was a dead draw but at least there were some minor actions. Kasim seemed to equalize as Black quite effortlessly. Neither side was really in danger of losing at any time. It is a fairly decent start for Kasim with Black. Back to the drawing board for Morozevich to get a better edge with White next time.
J. Polgar 0 – 1 Anand
As I said before the round, it would be a fairly peaceful game unless Judit decides to make an issue as White. She did! She made an issue out of it and was severely punished for castling to the Queenside. Her Kingside attack was stopped stone cold before any real fireworks. Anand cautiously put out all the fire on the Kingside then launched his own deadly counter attack on the Queenside against Judit’s unsafe King. This certainly was a disappointing start for my sister but there are still 13 games left.
Leko 0 – 1 Topalov
Just like in Judit’s game, Leko decided to make an early issue. He also castled on the Queenside. However, his position really looked good and he had excellent chances to win. On move 17, he could have played 17. f4 which would have lead to an even better position for White even though there was nothing wrong with 17. Kb1. All of a sudden, Leko made a number of inaccuracies starting with 20.Nf5?! [20.Nb6 Rb8 (20…Qxb6 21.Nxe6! Qxf2 22.Nc7#) 21.Bg3 Rd8 22.Nb3±] 20…g5 21.Bg3 Rc8 22.Qd4?! Rg8 23.c3? Rd8 24.Qxd8+ Qxd8 25.Rxd8+ Kxd8 26.Ne3 Bc6 27.Nb6 bxc3 28.bxc3 Bg7 29.Bxf4? [10.Kc2 Kc7 and Black is better] 30…gxf4 31.Nd1 Bb5–+. The Bishop pair was simply too powerful and Topalov easily converted the position to a full point. This has to be a very painful loss for Leko.
So what is the moral of round 1? In this caliber of play, you cannot make too many inaccuracies. In addition, if you live by the sword, be prepared to die by the sword. Bishop pair is powerful and don’t forget one of the basic of chess: King safety is a must even for 2700+ players!
Round 2 pairings: