The Slav Defence did not let Anand down

In the sixth game, the opponents once again played the Slav Defence. This time the challenger opted for the variation 6.Qc2 instead of 6.b3. The game developed further on quietly: Black got an isolated pawn in the centre, but it was compensated for by a somewhat passive position of the white pieces. Soon the d5-pawn was exchanged and the position simplified. By move 25 each side had a rook and a bishop of the same colour remaining on the board. The resulting endgame was estimated as drawn and four moves later the contenders agreed to a draw. The match score is equal: 3-3. Tomorrow, on 19 May, the opponents have a rest day. The seventh game will be played on Sunday, 20 May. Boris Gelfand will play White.

Today Garry Kasparov, the 13th world champion, was the honoured guest at the match. At the press conference, Garry readily answered many questions from the journalists in great detail. Then he joined first the English-speaking commentators, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and Peter Svilder, and after that the Russian-speaking commentators, Ilya Smirin and Alexander Grischuk, and took part in analyzing the game. Later Kasparov went down to the chess courtyard where he played a simul against young talented Russian chess players.

The move 1.e4 is no surprise for Gelfand

In the fifth game of the match the World Champion changed the opening and played 1.e4. The challenger was ready for such a development and immediately played 1…c5. The Chelyabinsk Variation of the Sicilian Defence was played out very quickly. On the 20th move, a technical position with bishops of opposite colours appeared on the board, and as soon as the 26th move was played, the opponents agreed to a draw. The match score is equal – 2.5-2.5. Tomorrow, on the 18 May, the sixth game of the match will be played with Boris Gelfand having the white colour.

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Armour is so far stronger than weapons

The opponents continued their Slav Defence duel that started in the second game of the match. White was the first to deviate from the previous game and managed to get the so-called two-bishop advantage in the middlegame. After a series of exchanges, the game transformed into an ending with somewhat better chances for White. In the resulting technical position, the game could have had either of two results: a draw or a victory for White. It turned out, however, that the white pieces were not sufficiently well coordinated and that the bishop’s advantage over the knight was not enough for a win: with precise play, Viswanathan Anand built a “fortress” and deflected all threats. A draw on the 34th move.

During the press conference, Boris Gelfand noted that there were no critical moments in the game as such, but the question was whether White would manage to gain an advantage or Black would find a clear way to equalise. “Even though I got the two-bishop advantage, the coordination between the pieces was not very good, so Black did not have any major problems.” The opponents considered the possibility of going into a knight against bishop endgame after 32. Rc6, but concluded that the white king lacked the tempo to occupy square d4, so White’s chances in this variation were also minimal.

The challenger showed the position after 18…h6, which produced a great aesthetic impression on him. At that moment, each square on the d-file was occupied by black and white pieces, Black’s rooks were on squares c8 and e8, and the whole array resembled a T-shaped figure that is rarely seen on a chessboard.

Assessing the situation in the match after the first four games, the world champion said the match was just developing and the rivals were still trying each other out. “You don’t really want to start doing evaluations, but so far it’s a pretty tough match,” commented Viswanathan Anand. Boris Gelfand refused to give any assessment of individual parts of the match and stressed that any analysis was pointless until after the 12th game.

Asked by a journalist what scenario the players would have preferred during the game and if something had gone wrong at some point, Gelfand answered jokingly: “Well, of course I would have loved my opponent to choose some doubtful variation that I know well. Then I would have used a strong novelty and won the game, say, by the 20th move. I would be too naïve to count on that, however, so of course one has to be ready for any course of events.” The match score is equal: 2-2. May 16 is a rest day for the opponents, with the fifth game to be played out on 17 May. The world champion will play with white pieces.

Perpetual check saves the challenger

In the 14th move Boris Gelfand sacrificed a pawn in order to mobilise his pieces. Viswanathan Anand managed to rebuff all his opponent’s threats with some precise moves and got some serious chances to win. In the 32nd move the chess players moved to a heavy piece ending in which White’s extra passed pawn was very dangerous. However, in the 34th–35th moves the World Champion played inaccurately, after which both of Black’s rooks penetrated into the opponent’s rear, and Gelfand declared a perpetual check. A draw on the 37th move. The score for the match is level – 1.5-1.5. The fourth game in the match will be played tomorrow, 15 May.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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