Anand Triumphant!

The big chess match is over. Anand is the victor. He won three games to Kramnik’s one, with seven draws.

The final game saw Anand, playing white, opening with his e-pawn. This is Anand’s usual choice, but he had avoided it in this match. This is likely owing to the success Kramnik has had in making easy draws with the Petroff Defense. Given the match situation, however, Anand would have been happy with an easy draw.

Since the Petroff is not what you play when you need a win with black, Kramnik tried the Sicilian instead. The always exciting Najdorf variation appeared, though it quickly transposed to a sort of Classical Sicilian position. The most interesting moment of the game came at Kramnik’s twelfth move:



Position After 12. 0-0-0



Having to win with black necessitates taking some risks, so Kramnik played the bizarre 12. … exf5. Technically, this move wins a pawn. But it leaves white with so many positional trumps it is hard to believe it represents a serious winning attempt for black. His pawns are shattered, he is behind in development, and his king is not happy in the center. As things transpired, Anand recovered his pawn quickly, and Kramnik never managed to get any sort of counter-attack going.

For the record, the game ended here:



Final Position

It is white to move, and after, say, Rf3, he can claim some advantage based on his better pawn structure. It would take a blunder of epic proportions for black to win. So Kramnik conceded the inevitable, and a draw was agreed.

So Anand is now the latest in the line of champions passed down through matches, starting with Botvinnik, and moving on to Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik. He is a well deserving champion. He has been a top player for two decades, and by all accounts he is one of the great class acts of chess.

Rumors have been circulating that Kramnik will now retire from chess. At a mere 32 he is not so old, and could certainly have another decade among the world’s chess elite. But he has nothing left to achieve, and having lost a match of this sort it tends to be difficult to return to that high level of play.

Anand, for his part, seems to be playing some of his best chess at 39. He could make a good case for retiring with the title, though I doubt he will do so.

If everything goes according to plan, this should be a bumper year for chess fans. American GM Gata Kamsky is set to play a match against Bulgarian phenom Veselin Topalov. This is supposed to take place at the end of November, though I do not know if everything is still on track. It should be a fascinating match, since there is a whole fire and ice story line there (with Kamsky being the ice, and Topalov being the fire). If the match happens, Topalov would have to be considered the favorite. But who knows!

If the match happens, you will certainly hear about in this space. For now, one more round of congratulations to Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. He is the first non-Russian to win a match for the WC since Fischer, and the first person from India ever to accomplish the feat.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul
    October 29, 2008

    Having to win with black necessitates taking some risks, so Kramnik played the bizarre 12. … exf5. Technically, this move wins a pawn. But it leaves white with so many positional trumps it is hard to believe it represents a serious winning attempt for black. His pawns are shattered, he is behind in development, and his king is not happy in the center.

    Triple Pawns! Little good ever comes from doing that.

  2. #2 Dave S.
    October 30, 2008

    He is the first non-Russian to win a match for the WC since Fischer, and the first person from India ever to accomplish the feat.

    I hate to get all technical on you, but isn’t Kasparov Armenian, not Russian? And isn’t Ponomariov Ukranian, and isn’t Kasimdzhanov an Uzbek, and Topalov, he’s Bulgarian and a former FIDE champ.

    OK, I’m probably wrong in several ways there. :)

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 30, 2008

    Dave S -

    Regarding Kasparov, I should have said that Anand was the first person not from the former Soviet Union to win the title.

    The others, though, are not part of the succession of WC’s to earn the title by beating their predecessors in a match. That succession, starting with Botvinnik, goes Botvinnik, Smyslov, Botvinnik again, Tal, Botvinnik yet again, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand. The only people on that list not from the former Soviet Union are Fischer and Anand.

  4. #4 Kevin
    October 30, 2008

    Thanks Jason!

    I have been a chess fan and occasional player ever since I watched the Fischer / Spassky matches!

  5. #5 Dave S.
    October 30, 2008

    What…the WC doesn’t go through Khalifman?? *L*

    More nitpicking…Karpov did not beat his predecessor in a match. In fact, I don’t think they ever played a single official game against one another. I did hear rumours of a few secret informal games played while they were hashing out their 1975 match which never took place.

    None of that diminishes Karpov and the legitimacy of his championship however. Still, I would love to have seen that match.

  6. #6 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 30, 2008

    Dave S -

    Picky, picky!

    Kevin –

    Glad you liked the posts.

  7. #7 Joe
    October 30, 2008

    As a purist- Fischer abdicated his place and Karpov was the legit champion. It’s not like Fischer could not play.

    Although I asked if Vishy had a lineage to Botvinnik; I also think that Botvinnik properly ascended to the title- and their lineage trace to Steinitz.

  8. #8 Dave S.
    October 31, 2008

    In Fischer’s view he only relinquished his FIDE championship, not THE championship.

  9. #9 Ramesh
    November 1, 2008

    Anand is, indeed, a worthy champion and possibly the most universal player to hold the world title since Boris Spassky. I hope there is an eventual Anand – Topalov match; it will be one-sided, though. Topy for all his attacking game, is the most one dimensional of current top players.

  10. #10 perde
    March 7, 2009

    good thanks and nice wroks

  11. #11 dış cephe
    March 8, 2009

    Great comment.Thanks a lot.

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