After watching the Dortmund semifinal and
final matches, we all know that Anand is the best rapid/blitz player in
the world today. In the Dortmund semifinal match, Anand with white in the
first classical game with Leko took a draw after 18 short moves. For most
players this is not a wise strategy, but with Anand’s great blitz play,
it’s a good strategy. After all Leko is a great defensive player and
very difficult to defeat especially in classical time controls.
unable to do anything with his classical game with white. So Anand and
Leko faced off in a blitz showdown.
Anand was able to blitz Leko off the board at Dortmund in the
semifinal in two very exciting games.
Leko handled himself quite well in his first game against Anand.
Even though Leko found himself with an exposed king and two rooks and
bishop vs. Anand’s queen and bishop. Leko played brilliantly and was
able to hold this game. Leko circled
the wagons and was able to create a dangerous passed pawn. Anand was
forced to create a perpetual check draw.
However Leko was blitzed off the
board in a tight pawn race against Anand
in the last blitz game.
Anand has used his blitz play as a brilliant strategy in the final phases
of Dortmund. Anand seems content to draw his games with classical time
control and then go all out in the blitz playoff. Kramnik also advanced to
the finals by defeating Peter Svidler, the 4 times Russian champion. This
was a fitting final between the two best players in the world. Kramnik
played Anand for the Dortmund title.
Kramnik must still be smarting from
his Cap d’Agde final’s loss to Anand in late 2003; it cost Kramnik the
rapid world title. So I thought Kramnik should have been thinking about
avoiding facing off Anand in a blitz tiebreaker. Well in the first game of
the final, Kramnik showed some desperation with the black pieces. He
forced the play into very dangerous uncharted waters. However like the
World Champion that he is, he was able to save the game, by forcing a
perpetual check, as Anand was about to queen a pawn.
Kramnik played very aggressively pushing his central pawn mass, 42...
d5, then he followed with d4, c4. Anand
was forced to sacrifice the exchange for two connected offside passed
pawns. The silicon beasts did not like Kramnik’s aggressive play.
Kramnik was also in serious time pressure.
I give both players a lot of
credit in making this game very exciting, but most of it belongs to
Kramnik, because he took it to Anand. Kramnik’s loss looked certain,
however Kramnik was able to force things on the kingside by pushing his h
pawn and seizing the half open f file. Kramnik attack bust open Anand’s
castle king position by sacking his rook for a pawn. During the later
phases of this game, I
thought Anand should have made better use of his time. He had a 50-minute
time advantage. I believe had Anand switched off his blitz mode, he might
have found a better way to reduce Kramnik’s counter play that ultimately
forced the draw. Time can be a dangerous weapon, in the hands of a
great chess player, great moves and strategies can be found. Time is also
money, and Anand might have missed a ½ point
by not taking advantage of
this precious commodity.
I think Anand needs to address his chess time management, especially against the World Champion. Crafty seemed to think
that Anand should have played 37.
Ra3 Rb6 38. Bd2 d5 39. Ba5 Rb7 40. Bc3 d4 41. Bd2 c4 42. Ra6 cxd3 43. Rxe6
with .81 advantage. Crafty also felt Anand should have played 57. Kh2 Qh5 58.
Kg1 Ra8 59. Kg2 Qg4 60. Kh2 hxg3+ 61. Qxg3 Qf4 62. Be3 Qxe4 63. Qh3+ Kg6
64. Qxe6+ giving white 1.42 advantage.
Anand have brought home the full point by using his time properly ?
Hopefully expert analysis will answer this question in the near future. This was not Kramnik’s only great
save in this tournament. He also saved a tough game against the young
Karjakin. In the 2nd classical game of the final, Kramnik was able to win a pawn with the white pieces. However this was not enough to
win the game.
The final would be decided by two blitz games. Not much can
be decided in a two game match, or a two game blitz play off.
Prior to the blitz playoff, I was thinking that
should Anand defeat Kramnik, I will start leaning in the direction
that Anand is the best player in the world right now. However If Kramnik
wins here, then I will start leaning in Kramnik’s direction.
currently rated number one in the world, however he has not played a lot
of classical games against humans in the last 2 years. Kramnik also has to
be thinking, he needs to build momentum for his title match against Leko
in September of 2004. In the first blitz game, Kramnik was unable to do
anything with the white pieces and accepted a friendly 19-move
Kramnik showed much more heart from the black side of the board. He tried
the Najdorf Sicilian defense. Kramnik’s has experimented with this
defense before with disastrous results.
This proved to be a very bad decision against Anand. Both
players’ castles on opposite wings. Kramnik assault lost its steam and
Anand busted open Kramnik kingside with a pawn storm. Kramnik resigned
when material loss was unavoidable.
I have to question Kramnik strategy
with the blitz phase of the final.
He did nothing with the white pieces. As black, he played and opening he
was not familiar with. This was a poor strategy against Anand, the best
player in the world. I was thinking Kramnik should be out to put Anand in
his place. After all, Kramnik is the World Champion. I would have thought
Kramnik would have been out for revenge for losing to Anand in the Cap
D’adge final. Also Anand
has pushed Kramnik aside in the FIDE rating
charts. Well for Kramnik and
Leko it’s on to the World Championship match
in late September.
Anand there would be another quick stop for the Indian Express. Anand challenged Alexi Shirov at Mainz. Anand took Shirov on
in an 8 game rapid match. Anand, the Indian Express, defeated Shirov by a
score of 6-4 with 2
wins, 6 draws, and 0 losses. I watch all of these games of the match
on ICC. I noted another situation in game
5 of this match, where Anand did not make prudent use of his time.
Anand had a 12-minute lead in the clock, however he did not used it
prudently and missed a winning move.
Anand played 28 …rb5 and missed the winning move 28...Bf8 29.Rfd1
Rdb5 30.Ra1 Bxb4 31.Kf1 Ba5 32.Nd4 Rc5 33.Ne6 Rxc6 with -1.56 advantages
I read an interesting quote from a book
written by Raymond Keene called "World Chess Championship: Kasparov v
Anand." Anand went on to draw
first blood in the match by winning game 9. However, Anand would collapse
soon afterwards by losing 4 out of the next 5 games.
I read the following interesting quote from Anand: “chess is a fathomless, bottomless. So what is the
point of trying to work it all out?”
After watching the Dortmund final and the Mainz matches,
I wonder if the Indian Express needs to, at times, stop at a station and
stretch his legs. No doubt speed kills, especially when a player apposes
Anand in a rapid/blitz game. However, Anand needs to use his time more
prudently. A significant lead in time is an advantage. Anand should put
it to good use in critical positions of the game. If he does, then maybe
this will drive him above the 2800 plateau. Bobby Fischer
was the first to approach the 2800 rating. In 1972 after winning the
world championship, he retired at 29 years of age with a rating of 2780.
No doubt Fischer
would have broken the 2800 barrier had he continued to play. Kasparov
broke the 2800 barrier back in 1991 or 1992 and he remains above the
barrier today. Kramnik also broke the 2800 barrier was well. However
since winning the world championship in 2000, Kramnik has recently slipped
below it. Prudent use of a time advantage could be just what Anand
needs to break the barrier as well. I am not sure where the
Indian Express stops next, but it is the fastest and best ride in town. I
think fans worldwide would love to see Kasparov take a ride on the
Indian Express. Anand recently shared
his thoughts in an interview on www.chessbase.com.