Canberra Times, May 27

When the proposed 100th anniversary tournament for Max Euwe fell through, World Champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand found themselves as free agents in May. 

An alternative super-tournament was mooted in Kazakhstan but by the time the event was confirmed, Anand had already decided to travel to Merida for an elite four player round-robin. 

Merida, a city of 800,000 on the Yucatan peninsula in the south-east of Mexico, hosted two strong tournaments in 2000, a year when Merida was designated the 'Cultural Capital of the Americas'. 

Merida has continued the good work in 2001, organising a powerful event with Anand, his predecessor as FIDE World Champion, Alexander Khalifman, the battle-hardened veteran Nigel Short and local GM Gilberto Hernandez. 

However within three rounds the tournament was finished as a contest, Anand defeating fellow leader Short to leave only the destination of second prize in doubt. 

After beating Short, Anand could have spent the rest of the tournament taking short draws and spending his day touring the Merida pyramids and other remnants of Mayan civilization but, with an ambition of matching Kramnik's 2800+ rating, he put in the effort to overwhelm the Mexican tailender in the following game. 


Click here to see the game in a Javascript viewer  


Merida 2001 
White: V.Anand 
Black: G.Hernandez 
Opening: Sicilian Defence 

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 

11...fxe4? 12.Bxb5! axb5 13.Nxb5 is a well-known trap which gains few victims nowadays. The bishop sacrifice, while unclear if played on move 11, is now much stronger because 13...Ra7? loses to 14.Nxa7+ Nxa7 15.Qa4+ Qd7? 16.Nf6+. 

12.Bd3 Be6 13.Qh5 0-0 14.0-0 f4 15.Rad1 Kh8 16.g3 Rg8 17.Kh1 Bf8 18.Be2 Rg5 19.Qf3 f5 20.gxf4 exf4 21.Nxf4 Bxa2 

A month ago Anand suffered a stunning defeat from this position in a rapid game against Veselin Topalov. That game concluded 22.exf5 Rxf5 23.Qe4 Rf7 24.Bh5 Rf6 25.c4?! Ne5 26.c5 Rc8 27.cxd6 Bxd6 28.Be2 Qf8 29.Nh5 Rxf2 30.Nc2? Nd3!! 0-1. This time Anand is better prepared. 

22.c4! fxe4

 22...Qf6, preventing 23.Ne6, was the critical choice. 

23.Qxe4 Qe8 24.Bf3 Qxe4 25.Bxe4 Rc8 26.Ne6 Re5!?

An ingenious try, but 26...Rg8 offered better defensive chances. 

27.Bxc6 Rxc6 28.Nxf8 b4! 29.Nc2 Bxc4 30.Nd4! Rc8 31.Nd7 Bxf1 32.Rxf1 Re4 33.Nf5

Anand has returned some material in order to coordinate his pieces and now gives a text-book demonstration of the power of the two knights. 

33...Rf4 34.Ne3 Rd8 35.Nd5 Rf3 36.N7b6 a5 37.Ne3 Re8 38.Kg2 Rf6 39.Rd1 Rg8+ 40.Kf1 Rgf8 41.Rd2 Rh6 42.Nec4 Rxh2 43.Nxa5 Rh1+ 44.Kg2 Rh5 45.Nac4 Rg8+ 46.Kf1 Rh1+ 47.Ke2 h5 48.Rxd6 h4 49.Ne3 Rg5 50.Nbc4 h3 51.Rh6+ Kg7 52.Rh4 Kg6 53.f4 1-0

Merida final scores: 1. Anand (Ind) 4.5/6 2. Short (Eng) 3.5; 3. Khalifman (Rus) 3; 4. Hernandez (Mex) 1. 

 The Cold Comfort Cup begins at the Canberra Chess Club (Griffin Centre, Civic) on Wednesday evening, 7.30 pm. Details: Ian Rout 6276639.