Here are a few things that I found interesting:
- Kasparov offered to help Gelfand as his second! And Gelfand declined! Haha, there’s really nothing more to say about Kasparov at this point. He is what he is. As for Gelfand, he too is what he is and at least in that aspect, he commands more respect as a person in my view.
- Gelfand’s second coach told him that to help remember what he should be playing, he should repeat the moves at an actual chess board, not just review them in a book (or on the screen). At some point, I realized this helped me remember my opening lines better, and I began traveling with a regular chess set, in addition to the usual professional second (the laptop). A lot of players were surprised/amused by this habit of replaying moves on an actual board, but it’s nice to know at least one other person has found it useful!
- About Game 9, Gelfand was asked about the decision to play 19.c5!?, heading into an endgame with a Queen for Anand’s rook, knight, and pawn. What was interesting to me was the amount of criticism Gelfand received about the decision, as though the endgame was clearly a draw – it was, but to me, it was very complicated and if it was winning, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all. Still, for exmaple, Grischuk blasted the decision and Svidler was confused at first (although then he began to see the light). But Gelfand correctly noted that the position wasn’t exactly a proof with a clear answer – depending on the players and their form, either continuing with the middlegame or going into the endgame would be the subjectively right decision.
Also, here’s a nice, but slightly less novel, article about why it’s harder to promote chess is at. Anand published a book of best games in the late 1990s – a real update with more games would be nice, but a World Championship book like the one Bareev wrote about the first 3 Kramnik matches would be great. I don’t think Anand himself would write such a book, or be so great at it, but his long-time second, GM Peter Heine Nielsen, is by all accounts a better and more lively writer.
Finally, why are Kramnik and Carlsen in the title? The Tal Memorial started, and in the first round, Magnus had white against Kramnik. With the kind of lax opening play that isn’t normally seen in a World Championship, Magnus was in huge trouble as white after only 17 moves.
Magnus just played 17.b4 and Kramnik bailed out into a draw with 17…dxe3? 18.bxc5 Rad8 19.Qc2 Qa5+ 20.Kf1 Qb5+ 21.Ke1 Qa5+. (By the way, where were all the Monday morning quarterbacks on this one when he could have played on with 20…g5 or 21…g5? But I kid. Sort of.)
However, Kramnik could have capitalized on Magnus’s terrible opening had he found 17…Nd5!!. A beautiful move, highlighting an almost checkers-like complex of weak squares on which the black knights operate. Now moves like 18.bxc5, 18.exd4, 18.Qxd4, and 18.Qe2 all lose pretty quickly, while on 18.Nxd5, 18…Nd3+ 19.Kd2 Nxf2 seems to suffice for a clear advantage. Meanwhile, both 19…dxe3+ and 19…Rad8 might be as good or even better.