15 May 2010

'Hardly Ever Played Chess960 Before'

In addition to his frequent participation in events for the traditional World Championship title -- the 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match, the 1998 Karpov - Anand FIDE Title Match, the 2000 FIDE Knockout Matches, 2005 San Luis, 2007 Mexico City, the 2008 Anand - Kramnik Match, and 2010 Anand - Topalov -- Anand played for the chess960 World Championship in 2007 at Mainz:-
  • Aronian Shines on First Day of Chess960 FiNet World Championship • 'How would Vishy Anand play Chess960? The many fans of the nine times Chess Classic winner were keen to find out -- particularly because the World’s number one revealed before the tournament that he had hardly ever played this form of chess before. He himself said in the press conference after the first three rounds: "I think I coped reasonably well. However, you have to be careful because h- and a-pawns can be without protection right from the start and you have to overcome a mental block because you just cannot imagine that some squares are not protected."'

  • Tigers on the Stage • 'Anand and Aronian were favorites to win the tournament and after the first three rounds most people also expected both players to qualify for the final. However, Bacrot and Kasimdzhanov certainly did not want to go down without a fight, and after all, with 1.5 points from 3 games Kasimdzhanov shared second place with Anand. But their crucial encounter right at the start of day two turned out to be rather one-sided. Anand seemed to have absorbed the lessons from his first three serious Chess960 games quickly and after an opening blunder by Kasimdzhanov, which cost a vital pawn, Anand quickly won.'

That 'opening blunder' occurred after some provocation by Anand.

Mainz 2007, Preliminary Event
Kasimdzhanov, Rustam

Anand, Viswanathan
(After 8...Qd8-d7)

In the diagrammed position, White played 9.f3. There is more to this move than opening the e1-h4 diagonal for the Bishop. Black answered 9...Re8, when White continued 10.e4, threatening a Pawn fork of the Black Knights. Now Black's best was to move one of the Knight's out of danger, but he blundered with 10...dxe4. After 11.fxe4 e5 12.Bg3, Black lost the e-Pawn, because 12...exd4 permits 13.e5.

Here is the PGN score for the game (SP827 RKNQBRNB).

[Event "FiNet Chess960 Rapid World Championship"]
[Site "Chess Classic Mainz"]
[Date "2007/8/15"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Anand"]
[Black "Kasimdzhanov"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Variant "chess 960"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rknqbrnb/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RKNQBRNB w FAfa - 0 1"]

1.d4 d5 2.Nd3 Nf6 3.e3 Nd6 4.g4 h6 5.h3 Bb5 6.Ne2 e6 7.a4 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Qd7 9.f3 Re8 10.e4 dxe4 11.fxe4 e5 12.Bg3 Nc8 13.dxe5 Qxd3 14.cxd3 Nh7 15.Rxf7 Ng5 16.Rf1 Nxh3 17.d4 Nb6 18.Rc1 a5 19.e6 Rxe6 20.Rxc7 Ka7 21.e5 1-0

In the next two rounds, Anand beat Bacrot and drew with Aronian. His score of +2-0=4 was good enough to earn him a place in the final match against Aronian.

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