The Petroff defence, opening preparation, the press, standings, and commented games
Replay the games from the World Chess Championship in Mexico 2007
Anand – Gelfand with IM Miodrag Perunovic
Anand Kramnik with GM Vladimir Dimitrov
Morozevich – Aronian with IM Miodrag Perunovic
Grischuk Aronian with Goran Urosevic
Morozevich Anand with GM Vladimir Dimitrov
Leko Gelfand with Goran Urosevic
Aronian Anand with IM Miodrag Perunovic
Svidler Leko with IM Miodrag Perunovic
Kramnik Svidler with IM Miodrag Perunovic
The Petroff Defence
So far used in four games with white looking troublesome in three of them. In the first round Gelfand gave up on the promising 22…Rxf4 and immediately offered a draw to Vishy Anand. It seems like he was happy with the result and trusted more in Vishy’s calculation skill than his own intuition.
The third round saw Petroff in two games – Kramnik following his home preparation all the way to the rook ending with 4 vs 3 pawns and Peter Leko “improving” the line against Gelfand. Anand deviated from the variation he tried in the first round and returned to the classical approach. It only left him proving he was able to find unique moves in holding the inferior rook endgame against Kramnik. Peter Leko declined repetition against Gelfand, a surprise for many titled observers and perhaps to Gelfand too. After couple of careless moves, Boris found himself in trouble as a g5 breach was airing above his head. Lucky for him, Leko was delaying it for after the time control and Gelfand was able to create sufficient counterplay by pushing his d-pawn forward. The resulting queen endgame was almost certainly winning, but Gelfand didn’t manage to convert the advantage and had to agree on draw on the 100th move.
Rock-solid Petroff: Boris Gelfand
Peter Svidler tried different plan in 5. Nc3 against the Gelfand’s third attempt and achieved nothing. The game was drawn after the Queens went off. “The head-banging against the Petroff wall continues” – as Peter Svidler said at the press conference.
For now we will highlight two top favorites – Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand. Catalan opening was ruthlessly analysed after Kramnik started to use it last year, but he is still able to find promising setups and put blacks on task. The early novelty knocked Alexander Morozevich off the balance and after Kramnik sacrificed a piece, Moro found himself in very unusual situation – he was forced to accurate defence. At first he was able to do so, but it cost him quite some time on the clock, and soon he started to wander. Kramnik played fantastic game and won convincingly. In the 4th round, Kramnik played quiet 11. a3 and went on to gain significant advantage against Grischuk. Nevertheless, he missed many winning continuations in Grischuk’s time trouble and had to settle to a draw. We could add this game to the “poor technique” chapter, together with Anand’s drop against Morozevich, but the World Championship is psychologically very stressing event and we will give some credit to the players, at least till the next rest day.
Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand
Vishy Anand saw only two openings in the first four rounds – The Petroff with white and Semi-Slav with black. And while he suffered badly and had to save draws in both white games, his preparation with black pieces is impressive! Anand is giving lots of credit to his second GM Peter Heine Nielsen. Nielsen is responsible for the stunning 17…c5 novelty which fairly early got Aronian in trouble. In the next Meran defence against Morozevich, Anand neutralised threats by swapping queens and already after 24…Nd4! he was better. But Morozevich defended persistently and Anand started to produce some inaccuracies. Moro’s king walk was particularly impressive and Anand soon settled for moves repetition.
Stubborn defence: Alexander Morozevich
The numerous journalists present at the press conferences obviously have a lot of questions, and some of them are annoying for the players. Morozevich avoided answer on question about Sofia rule, saying that he wants to play and has no time to set the regulations. Boris Gelfand was more explicit, explaining that he believes more in tournament dogma of “the great Botvinnik” than in Silvio Danailov’s caprice.