The Kasparov jinx has struck again.
No sooner does Kasparov nominate a challenger than the chosen person starts to play like a wombat. The latest victim has been Vladimir Kramnik, who replaced Viswanathan Anand as Kasparov's chosen opponent for a title defence. (The Kasparov-Kramnik match is scheduled to be played in London in October.)
Last week Anand, with the jinx off his shoulders, outclassed an elite field, including Kasparov, at the Frankfurt Giants rapid tournament while Kramnik struggled to reach a 50% score.
Anand claimed great satisfaction from his third victory in Frankfurt but he was probably even more gratified by hearing Kasparov's excuses for finishing second. When Anand had come down with the flu in January and played badly in Wijk aan Zee, Kasparov said that Anand had looked fine to him. In Frankfurt Kasparov was claiming a cold, a fever, and a loss caused by watching Anand's opponents play too weakly. (Kasparov lost to Peter Leko in the same round where the game given below was played.) Anand just donned the winner's black jacket (for the third time!) and smiled.
Frankfurt Giants 2000
Opening: French Defence
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nce2 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.f4 b5 8.a3 c4!?
A controversial decision; closing the queenside should theoretically favour White.
9.Nf3 Nb6 10.g4 f5 11.gxf5 exf5 12.Bg2 Be7 13.0-0 h6!?
Under normal circumstances, the plan chosen my Morozevich would appear very logical, aiming for a pawn assault on the White king. However in some respects the kingside should be regarded as White's side of the pawn and Black should always be cautious about opening up that flank. Anand appears not be reacting to the threat of ...g5, but he is ready when it comes.
14.Rf2 Be6 15.Bf1 g5? 16.fxg5 hxg5 (Diagram) 17.h4!!
Sensational play, breaking all the rules by moving pawns in front of the king. If 17...gxh4 then White's king can hide in front of the Black pawn but this may have been the best chance since text move allows White to take control without any material investment.
17...g4 18.Ng5 Bc8 19.Rh2 a5 20.Ng3 Ra6 21.Be3 Na4 22.Qc2 Rf8 23.Rf2 Qd7 24.e6 1-0
The f pawn falls.
Frankfurt Giants Final scores:
1. Anand(Ind) 7.5/10; 2. Kasparov(Rus) 6; 3. Kramnik(Rus) 5; 4. Shirov(Spa)
4.5; 5eq. Leko(Hun), Morozevich(Rus) 3.5.