2007 World Chess Championship (Mexico City)

The 2007 World Chess Championship has begun! The games started today and from all indications the games have started off with a fighting spirit… despite the draws. The field is as follows:

Participants

Viswanathan Anand (India 2792)
Vladimir Kramnik (Russia 2769)
Alexander Morozevich (Russia 2758)
Peter Leko (Hungary 2751)
Levon Aronian (Armenia 2750)
Peter Svidler (Russia 2735)
Boris Gelfand (Israel 2733)
Alexander Grischuk (Russia 2726)

Coverage

Mexico 2007 (official site)
Europe-Echecs (web coverage, photos, videos)

ChessBase (web coverage, photos, games)
TWIC (web coverage, commentary, games)
GM Susan Polgar (blog, live commentary)
The Daily Dirt (blog, fan commentary)
Chess OK (Sergey Shipov’s commentary)
Chess.FM (audio commentary… ICC members)
FIDE America (web coverage, photos, games… in Spanish)

Here are some of the regulations:

Schedule: Opening ceremony 12th Sept 2007. Rounds 1-4 13th-16th Sept 2007: Rounds 5-8 18th-21st Sept 2007: Rounds 9-11 23rd-25th Sept 2007: Rounds 12-14 27th-29th Sept 2007. Tiebreak games if required 30th Sept 2007, along with the closing ceremony. Play starts at 15:00 (Eastern Standard Time – New York) tiebreaks a couple of hours earler at 12:00. Prize fund: US$1.3 million.

Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by 20 moves in one hour, followed by 15 minutes plus 30 seconds for all the remaining moves (40/2h, 20/1h, 15m+30sec/all).

According to the FIDE regulations: Tie breaks for the World Chess Championship Tournament: When the top two or more players score the same number of points, the title of the World Champion will be decided by the following criteria, in order of priority: a) The results of the games between the players involved in the tie. If they are still tied: b) The total number of wins in the tournament of every player involved in the tie. If they are still tied: c) Sonneborn – Berger System. If there is no clear winner with the above 3 criteria, there will be a special competition between the players who still remain tied after using the 3rd criteria (Sonneborn – Berger). If still tied each player will play two games with the other opponents (one or more) with a time control of 25 minutes and an increment of 10 seconds per move from move one for each player. There can also be Blitz and sudden death games.

The World Championship cycle has gone through several permutations and the latest design was announced by FIDE, but you can also read the analysis on the ChessBase website.

One of the drawbacks of these championships is that they feature the same permutation of players as in Dortmund, Linares, Wijk an Zee, etc. There needs to be some “fresh blood” in the mix. Fortunately, Armenia’s Levon Aronian will bring a new face to the elite chess fraternity. It will be exciting to watch the world’s best square off!

Here are videos from opening ceremonies:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4e0KNr_gtw
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PIaIwNvjo0

Enjoy!

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

31 Comments

  1. All games drawn today with none of the games lasting more than 30 moves. Despite this fact, the games were interesting and showed that all players are very well-prepared. (see video of opening moments)

    Round 1: Thursday, Sept. 13th 2007, 14:00h

     Vladimir Kramnik  ½-½  Peter Svidler
    Alexander Morozevich  ½-½  Levon Aronian (ICC Webcast)
    Viswanathan Anand  ½-½  Boris Gelfand
    Alexander Grischuk  ½-½  Peter Leko

    In Kramnik-Svidler, Black sacrificed a pawn for central play and it appeared as if there was still lots of dynamic tension in the game. They agreed to a draw after 23.Rxd4. 😐 Kramnik’s 22.Nh2 was scorned by fans in lieu of 22.Bd3. In the final position, black has adequate compensation and ideas surrounding 24.Ng4 are too slow.

    World Champion Vladimir Kramnik facing off against
    compatriot Peter Svidler. Photo by Ali Nihat Yazici.

    In Morozevich-Aronian, white played in his usual provactive bravado by shoving the h-pawn toward the black camp. White maintained a spatial advantage, but black punched back with 16…c5! Moro tried sacrificing a pawn for a rook initiative, but black decided to sack a pawn of his own (temporarily) and reach a balance.

    Anand trotted out one of the more aggressive lines against Gelfand’s Petroff, a defense that has many advocates at the top level. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nd7 8.Qd2 Ne5 9.0-0-0 0-0 10.h4 Re8 11.h5 it appeared as if the tiger was preparing a brutal assault. The ever-solid Gelfand held quite comfortably after mobilizing his bishop pair. Fans felt he should have opted for 22…Rxf4 instead of 22…Rxe1+. (see video by Vijay Kumar)

    The Grischuk-Leko battle had the best chance at being a decisive encounter. There was no Marshall Attack since Grischuk opted for 8.h3, an anti-Marshall system. However, it appeared as if Leko equalized rather easily and had a nice space advantage. Grischuk was able to neutralize black’s bishop pair and was perhaps a bit better if black would have played on with 28…Bxf4.

    Round 1

  2. I enjoyed the Grischuk -Leko game a bit ,It was also interesting to see Anand gain nothing out of Gelfand’s Petroff.Does the Petroff take e pawn players out of business???Seems the case these days as Kramnik himself has adopted it with Success .I look forward to see this Defence more in this Championship. For those who enjoy good analysis on games I find Sergey Shipov’s analysis on https://www.chessok.com/ easier and more detailed .Obviously Yasser Seirawan is doing a good job on live commentaries on Chessbase.com but Mikhail Marin’s game commentaries are a joke .He never takes time to even give adequate alternatives only “browsing through”.Yes ,its that bad from a GM!I will try Susan Polgar blog today ,she is a hardworker I doubt she would let anyone down.

  3. Thanks Darren. I was looking for Shipov’s commentary. I thought it was on chesspro, but that it is Russian anyway.

    Polgar does a good service with her live commentary because you can follow it at your leisure. When the other audio commentators are talking, sometimes you need time to digest the lines. I don’t like the fact that you have to pay for the playchess.com commentary. Yasser Seirawan does a great job and I’ll never forget his Deep Blue analysis with Maurice Ashley, but sometimes he is a bit dry.

    It’s funny. The Petroff was looked at as a drawish defense for decades until it was revived. Many classical openings and defenses have made a resurgence such as the Guioco Piano, Evans Gambit, the Center Game and the Scandanavian. Trust me… there will be many more Petroffs in this tournament. I like Anand’s treatment against it and I believe he had better options.

  4. I predict at least 2 decisive results today.I will watch the games after the Springboks v England Rugby World cup today in France .

  5. Round 2: Friday, Sept. 14th 2007, 14:00h

    Viswanathan Anand getting set to demolish Lev Aronian
    Photo by Ali Nihat Yazici.
     

    Peter Svidler ½-½ Peter Leko
    Boris Gelfand ½-½ Alexander Grischuk
    Levon Aronian 0-1 Viswanathan Anand (ICC Webcast)
    Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Alexander Morozevich

    The game of the round was Kramnik-Morozevich as pieces flew about the board like missiles. Aronian had a bad experience as Anand’s team benefited from deep preparation. The Viswanathan “Tiger from Chennai” Anand ground the Armenia’s Levon Aronian into dust and is on +1 with Kramnik. The two champions will meet in round 3. Svidler-Leko tested the Marshall Gambit, but as someone mentioned on the ICC, these games (while speculative) mostly end in 80-90% draws at the top level. Gelfand-Grischuk was a brief struggle which despite only 23 moves had some interesting ideas.

    Round 2

  6. Round 3: Saturday, Sept. 15th 2007, 14:00h

    Alexander Morozevich 1-0 Peter Svidler
    Viswanathan Anand ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik (ICC Webcast)
    Alexander Grischuk ½-½ Levon Aronian
    Peter Leko ½-½ Boris Gelfand

    Morozevich played an energetic Scotch Game (!?) and masterfully outplayed Svidler. Svidler’s queen earned her paycheck, but ended stranded when blasted up the center and took control. Impressive game by Moro! An interesting encounter by the co-leaders of the tournament. Both Kramnik and Anand were going to find out whose Petroff preparation was the deepest. Anand had faced Gelfand’s Petroff and was on the verge of losing. In this game, Anand survived once again after misplaying the ending. So far the “Tiger from Chennai” looks unimpressive. The game ended in a textbook ending with white walking into a stalemate.

    Grischuk-Aronian was an interesting battle with white trying to deliver checkmate on the kingside. Aronian proved he had adequate resources and held the balance. The final position showed white’s pieces in a menacing position, but with no easy way to break through. 

    GM Sergey Shipov suggests 31…Rgg8 32.Qh6! to break the pin and threatening 33.Rh4. The game of the day had to by the 100-move draw between Leko and Gelfand. In the Q+P ending it appears that Gelfand may have missed a win and then allowed Leko to deliver a series of checks ending in three-fold repetition.

    Round 3

    Crosstable: https://www.thechessdrum.net/newsbriefs/2007/NB_WCC1.html

  7. Brilliant chess being played at Mexico city. Some of the moves to me seems irrelevant but only after a couple of moves they start to show their worth. The formidable Kramnik seems unstopable .

  8. I am still for matches ,I do not believe a round robin like this produces a real Champion .Like Garry Kasparov once mentioned tradition of world champions has to be maintained .Its a pity its been a long time since we had a decent World Championship.No wonder talented players like Piket,Salov,van der Sterren are no longer around ,one just gets frustrated .I got a good laugh when I read rules of current cycles,Topalov and Kramnik get all the priviledges all the way .I doubt any real sponsors would like to be involved in this fiasco .FIDE credibility has lowered significantly to quote Karpov “Even a dXXXhead would do a better job than Ilyumzhinov. The chaos in the chess world is caused by “leaders” who are unable to do their job properly.” https://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2495
    The FIDE vice president Zurab Azmaiparashvili of Georgia won the 2003 European Championship, on his own admission, by retracting a move during the decisive game against Malakhov.

    Anyway onto the games themselves,The Petroff is reigning supreme ,Gelfand is spearheading the Petroff once again,now when is the Berlin coming??Nice play by Vishy against Morozevich but just couldn’t convert.Leko’s horrific game against Aronian is certainly what I have not been expecting but I expect the Hungarian to still finish in top 3.

    “Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.”—-Mao Tse-Tung

  9. They’re back at it again today.

    Good chess, but I agree Darren. This cycle is a circus and we have Garry Kasparov to blame for the mess he created when he bolted FIDE. He has now confessed that it was a bad mistake. He felt he could get more support for an alternative to FIDE.

    I also look at the mess as a result of egos and a very unrepresentative FIDE body. I have been told recently by a good source (outside of FIDE no less) that the organization could care less about Africa. When I interviewed Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (through Ignatius Leong) he didn’t have much to say about Africa. His claim to fame was that a World Championship Knockout was held on the continent in 2005 (Tripoli, Libya). What else has FIDE done for Africa or the Caribbean? I have not seen it.

    There are too many egos clashing and it has destroyed chess since 1972. I believe that FIDE will become a better organization when it is no longer dominanted by Europe. I include Russia here although geographically it is not perceived as being European. Hopefully China and India can tilt the balance. Other regions need to get into the debate. Going to a FIDE assembly you can really see the disregard for smaller federations. In its current structure, chess will continue to have turmoil.

  10. Svidler should have gone for Petroff against Anand ,it would have a psychological impact as it has been doin well ,instead he chose a Marshall Gambit and ……Peter Leko in a bid to avoid Kramnik’s Petroff tried the out of favour Bishop’s opening( something every Russian kid is taught to defend against in very first chess lessons )the result was obvious ,drawn. Gelfand is rekindling the form that saw him clinch the Interzonal in 1990 ,its getting interestin as Grischuk played really well against eccentric Moro .3 decisive games ,good day!!

  11. Svidler’s game was disastrous. Given that Anand has not done much against the Petroff in tries, it is a mystery why he chose the Marshall. He must have seen something in preparing for Anand. While many classical openings are seeing a resurgence, the Bishop’s Opening has a long way to go, but it is a way to get into the Guioco Piano while avoiding the Petroff. When I saw Grischuk’s f3, I knew that he would get some play with the central pawns. When I came back and saw the final position, that is exactly what happened. Grischuk plays practical chess. So far the action has been good… apart from a few misplayed winning positions, the quality has been good.

  12. What is interesting is that Grischuk himself appears to have discovered that 1.e4 is long dead and started on playing d4 on first move :mrgreen: 😆 :mrgreen: Should we then conclude taht a Chess game ends in a draw if played accurately??

    A game played by men of equal strength, if played accurately, will end in a draw, and it is apt to be dull. ——Em. Lasker .

  13. I have argued against the notion whether the first move is actually an advantage and I still do not believe it is. There are so many resources for the second player and chess is a lot more sophisticated than we imagine. Even today people talk about the “white advantage” and GMs say “I got a draw with black today… that is OK.” I think that reasoning is flawed. We have only scratched the surface of ideas in chess and given the resurgence of the Petroff, Center Counter and other classical opening played at top level, we should say “Black is OK.” 8)

  14. I quote an extract from TWIC website from the article https://www.chesscenter.com/twic/event/mex07/rd5.html ” “Boris Gelfand is demonstrating precisely why the Petroff is such a good choice for black. Three absolutely comfortable draws with black is gold dust in an event like this. Today he had a chance with white and he of course plays 1.d4 which means at least he has a chance to play for a win. “” 😆 😆 Makes me laugh everybody thinks Petroff is a draw now. 😉

  15. Daaim – I remember discussing this topic with you at the World Open a few years ago – whether or not having white, and therefore the first move, is an advantage. I believe that having the first move is definitely an advantage, because it confers the initiative, and having the initiative is a definite advantage.

    But it does not confer a decisive advantage. So I also believe that we will ultimately find out that with best play, black can always equalize, regardless of what opening scheme white chooses.

    For a patzer like me, however, such issues are irrelevant. I’m still still trying to develop enough patience to not fatally drop pawns like I did in the final round of this year’s WO. 😉

    Good job on the Mexico coverage!

  16. Notice that I have added the ICC “Game of the Round” webcasts. These are games analyzed by Grandmasters using audio-visual interface. Very interesting.

    One game that has impressed was in round six when Grischuk came up with an interesting idea in 22.Ng5!? What followed was an interesting sequence involved a bishop sacrifice with complications. Svidler was forced to give up his queen as they entered blistering time pressure. The Internet Chess Club has some good audio-visual content. Check out the following link… https://www.chessclub.com/resources/event/wccmexico2007/

  17. An interesting rook ending evolved from Aronian-Morozevich and has been the subject of study in the past. After a heavy exchange of material, white emerges a pawn up and has just played 36.h4.

    Some analysts claim this to be a mistake because it fixes the pawns and it makes it harder to achieve a passed f-pawn (the key winning plan). Fast forward to move 60. The white king rounded up the black e-pawn, but Moro’s rook continues its harassment from behind. 

    According to Mark Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, black has to “harass his opponent with check from the rear when the white king comes to the 6th rank, otherwise a winning pawn structure can occur.” Also notice that the black king has to stay on the g7-square. Moving it to f7 would allow the skewer tactic, 1.Rh8! Rxa7 2.Rh7+ K moves 3.Rxa7.

    Is this two pawn advantage enough to win? No! In the above position (occuring in Aronian-Morozevich), Dvoretsky’s book gives the following line 1.Kf4 (threatening 2.g4 Ra4+ 3.Kg3 hg 4.f4!) Ra4+! 2.Ke3 Ra3+ 3.Kf2 Ra2+ 4.Kg1 Ra1+ 5.Kg2 Ra2+ 6.Kh3 Ra3 7.f4

    7… Ra2 8.g4 Ra3+. Dvoretsky then states, “the king can only escape from the checks by approaching the rook, but his g-pawn rushes to the promotion square.”

    The Aronian-Morozevich game continued in a different way, but with the same results: 61.Kf4 Ra4+ 62.Ke5 Ra1 63.f4 Ra2 64.f5 gxf5 65.Kf4 Ra5 66.Re8

    66…Rxa7 67.Kxf5 Rf7+ 68.Ke4 Rf1 69.Re5 Kg6 ½-½

    Interesting.

  18. Round 10: Monday, Sept. 24th 2007, 14:00h

    Anand versus Kramnik: Is this a prelude?
    Photo by ChessBase.com

    Peter Svidler ½-½ Alexander Morozevich
    Vladimir Kramnik ½-½ Viswanathan Anand
    Levon Aronian 1-0 Alexander Grischuk
    Boris Gelfand ½-½ Peter Leko

    Svidler continues his slide as he seemed on the verge of his first victory. Morozevich apparently had 35…Nxf2!? attempting to trap the queen. Anand and Kramnik ended an exciting encounter in another wild Anti-Moscow variation seen for the third time in this tournament. Anand sacrificed an exchange for two pawns but his king was under heavy pressure. In the final position, perhaps black could play 41…Kb4!? Is this too risky?

    Aronian capitalized off of Grischuk’s mistakes… one being the Russian’s careless handling of the clock. After 10 moves, Grischuk had already used more than an hour. This game ended in a nice mating attack by the Armenian. Gelfand’s Catalan was easily neutralized by Leko

    Round 10

    Crosstable: https://www.thechessdrum.net/newsbriefs/2007/NB_WCC1.html

     

  19. Round 13: Friday, Sept. 28th 2007, 14:00h

    Levon Aronian ½-½ Peter Svidler
    Boris Gelfand ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
    Peter Leko 1-0 Alexander Morozevich
    Alexander Grischuk ½-½ Viswanathan Anand (ICC Webcast)

    Interesting developments in round 13. In a key game, Anand held a draw against Grischuk in a certainly worse position. As a result of this result combined with the draw in Gelfand-Kramnik, Anand will most likely draw out the tournament and be declared World Champion (once again). Kramnik will then earn a chance of meeting Anand in a widely anticipated match.

    Svidler continued his winless pattern drawing with Aronian and Morozevich collapsed against Leko. The standings remain the same… a very disappointed tournament for the Russians since Kramnik will lose his title and the other three Russians are at the bottom of the charts.

    Round 13

    Crosstable: https://www.thechessdrum.net/newsbriefs/2007/NB_WCC1.html

  20. Round 14: Saturday, Sept. 29th 2007, 14:00h

    Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand – World Champion
    Photo by ChessBase.com

    Peter Svidler 1-0 Alexander Grischuk
    Viswanathan Anand ½-½ Peter Leko
    Alexander Morozevich ½-½ Boris Gelfand
    Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Levon Aronian

    Round 14

    Final Standings

    1st: Viswanathan Anand, 9-5
    2nd-3rd: Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand, 8-6
    4th: Peter Leko, 7-7
    5th: Peter Svidler, 6½-7½
    6th-7th: Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, 6-8
    8th: Alexander Grischuk, 5½-8½

  21. Bravo to Anand for his undefeated performance at the world championships in Mexico City! I for one was quite pleased to see that Anand won, because he has been one of my favorite top class chess players for several quite a few years! 🙂 I also like the fact that Anand is a good representative for chess. I mean he seems pretty normal with an eloquent command of several languages, and what seems to be a healthy marriage! I’m sure that the folks back in Anand’s homeland are exceedingly proud of this Son of India! ❗

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