14th World Champion Alexander Khalifman present
Position of the day

Black to move and win.




This is my last review. Everything has ended, so there's no need to hurry. The incredible commotion following my previous reviews at first made me consider writing two variants of the text; the first destined for Topalov's supporters., and the other one designated for all the others. Upon reflexion, however, however, I decided to save time and effort at my own risk.

Fans and supporters are truly unique people. No matter what you write about their idol, you are always wrong simply because you don't share their deep-rooted loyalty. All that I've written was: 1) Veselin is likely to win the tournament , 2) I am certain that he does not use any outside help during matches; and that was it All that followed is pure fantasy and hearsay. One might wonder : why would the fans have been dissatisfied? And yet, they were. There was no end to it: "demeaning", "repulsive", "Danailov should press charges immediately" , to have a few reactions. Luckily, herr Breutigam happened to occur at that point, and the bees went buzzing to another hive and I'll try to make comments in the meantime.

I would like you to look at those photos of Y. Vasilyev once again. If you tell me that you've seen this look in the eyes on the faces of numerous chess-players at numerous other tournaments , I'm not going to believe you, I've played many games with the strongest chess-players I the world , so I'm entitled to say: I've only seen such look a couple of times. I won't tell you who it belongs to, guess it yourselves. These are the eyes of a hyper-motivated and hyper-concentrated man (it doesn't sound quite right , but it's better to name it using whatever comes to mind). Wouldn't a lot chess players love to be able to enter such a state? Probably, but the question is: how. I wouldn't know. If I did, I would probably employ it. Veselin and Danailov do know, but they won't tell. I don't know , and trying to find it at by reading coffee dregs wouldn't help. Anyway, there is one thing I know for sure: if a person's role during the tournament foils down to reproducing on the board the hints provided by the machine, he will not work himself up into such a trance, and won't be able to, for that matter.

Strictly speaking, Topalov has probably described the victory in the tournament a little more than those with whom he shared his first place. He took a beating because of his tendency to go to extremes; since in the match with Svidler he was striking for victory at all costs, at one point he forgot that, besides a victory or a tie chess offers a third option , and as a result, he had to share his prize. Thereby I wind up my discussion of the first place in the world. I'm looking forward at what criticism the fans will come up with now.

Basically, Radzhabov has proven everything to all those he doubted, me included. I take my hat off to him. Now his place on the future tournaments in among the favorites, which is quite a heavy burden. We'll to see how he'll cope. He was probably right in his decision not to rush into getting his own back with Black against Carlsen, He simply bided his time . The statistics of Teimour is impressive; fifty with White and "+4" with Black. I can't remember any other similar results in super tournaments. There is the case of Alexander Morozevich, this racehorse of chess, for whom, when he is in good form, colours don't play any role, and he can score more with blacks than with whites. Scoring the whole plus with blacks, however, is a whole other issue. Teimour rode into the first place on the back of an ancient Indian elephant.

A couple of words about "King's Indian" issues. During the "semi-correct" (which is not my opinion, at that of many classics) debut the black scored 5.5 out of 6. I can't remember similar results either. The skeptics might object that the match was played by Radzhabov and perhaps Topalov once, hence the plus. Then however, it turns into the question about the hen and the egg. Can it be then that Topalov and especially Radzhabov rose to the top because they played King's Indian? In any case, I predict that King's Indian will grow in popularity on the tournaments of all the possible levels. It will be fun!

Aronian - is the winner of the tournament in terms of Berger. In Wijk-an-Zee, however, Berger isn't taken into account, which I find reasonable. Some may fell that Levon is also the winner in terms of such an uncommon ration as points/energy consumption (Kramnik would probably come second in this nomination). Levon leisurely made his length of the tournament and shared the first place without making extraordinary efforts. He could have if he had won the endspile that was truly against Shirov, in the second-to-last round. It would be interesting, though, to see how he plays at full capacity or perhaps he simply can't? Perhaps there is a certain energy limit, and that's all there is to it? The not-so-distant future will show. Aronian's real potential remains a mystery, making another success even more prominent.

Vladimir Kramnik in his game once again defended his rightful title of the strongest chess-player in the world (angry catcalls and jeers of the audience can be heard). I repeat: the strongest player in matches, defeating a player of his class and style is a challenge that few could at present meet. Tournaments, on the other hand, are basically two different games. They correspond, no doubt, at they are still different. The qualities needed to win a tournament would not apply to the requirements for a winning a match. Therefore, the world champion in tournaments and the world champion in matches don't have to be one and the same person. There have been cases when they matched, and others when they didn't. Since round-robins still remain the most common form of chess competition on the elite level, whatever player is the most successful round-robins happens to have the highest #1 rating. If matches were more frequent and prevailed the other types, the list could be headed by somebody else. If only swiss matches were played, it could be yet another person, and it were customary of measure the players skills according to their results in matters against amateurs (which is not a simple matter either, believe me), the situation could be completely different. For these reasons, it's advisable to spend less time on arguments such as "who is the strongest, after all" This is nothing at verbiage.

So, back to Kramnik. As the curtains fell, he pilled off a match a la "Kramnik in the 20th century". Now, however, he's not, into that anymore.

Kramnik, Vladimir - Van Wely, Loek

Vladimir played 17.Nxd7?! Rxd7 18.f5, followed by 18:Bg5 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Qg4 Re7? 21.Qe4 Nf6 22.Qg6 Kh8 23.dxc5 Rxc5 24.Rxf6! which shattered the blacks' position into pieces, At the same time, in case of a precise 20:Bxe3+ 21.Kh1 Nf4! The whites would have had to think of an escape.22.Rxf4? Qxf4! 23.Qxe6+ Rf7 24.Rf1 Bf2 25.Qg6 Rd8! The cosmic computer combination of 22.d5!! Bxd5 23.Be4! Qb7 24.Nc3!!, is stronger , but even here White don't fight for advantage. Let's return to the position on the diagram. The Kramnik that swept away the tournament in the 20th century would have found the instantaneous 17.f5!, without prematurely opening the diagram for the black queen. These blacks would have succumbed with acute at brief suffering. For further credibility I would site one particularly illustrative product of computer thought: 17...Nxe5 18.dxe5 a6 19.fxe6! axb5 20.Qh5! c4 21.Bb1 c3 22.Rxd5!! Bxd5 23.Qxf7+ Kh8 24.Bxc3! Rxc3 25.Qf5 with seizure of the remaining property. I suggest that the readers look for other "scrumptious" possibilities themselves or with the help of our knowing friends

Where was I? Oh yes, once again about Kramnik's critics . One has to admit that he used to have a beautiful style with mate attacks and outstanding point-scoring during tournaments. Now everything is different, but it's obvious that Kramnik didn't stand a single chance in a match against Kasparov. In order to reach the highest point of his career he had to change completely, that is, bring to perfection the elements of the style that still characterizes him now: a very reliable debut, tenacity in his defense, impeccable skills and refusal to taking practically any skills, and he achieved. It's a great deed, you know, I don't like affectations, but this victory is truly a great deed.

Speaking about his possible return to his former self to sweep away the tournaments, was he not able to do it? Did he not want to do it? I don't know. I doubt if Vladimir himself could given answer. Still, the style of "Present Kramnik" largely deserves to be admired. I can't refrain from advising you to watch the match Kramnik-Anand once again. Watch it and enjoy it. It's a very profound game. What should you do with the ties in 15-20 moves? Don't bother with them, just read on.

What follows are those who lost in the tournaments. I am sure that Vishy and Petr consider their performances unsuccessful (they can), and the 50% of Kariakin and Navara (like any other 50%) can only be considered semi-positive . And I don't like writing about losers. Rubbing it in? I'd rather not. Give recommendations with an arrogant posture? Who am I to do it? Anyway, they realize what they need to do without me.

Here are some subjective-objective results:

The match of the tournament:
1. Kramnik-Anand
2. Shirov-Radzhabov
3. Aronian-Ponomarev

The opening of the tournament:
King's Indian

Pyromaster of the tournament:Ivan Cheparinov

24,2% of the matches finished with the victory of White
60,4% of the matches finished drawn
15,4% of the matches finished with the victory of the Black
98,9% of the matches finished with a handshake


What I would really not like to see is my photo on the cover of a book next to a big caption "Toilet", irrespective of the context. But that is everyone's own decision.

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