Saturday, 11 August 2012

Chess Reviews 198: ChessBase Magazine #149

ChessBase Magazine #149

The latest issue of ChessBase Magazine dives straight into the recent Anand vs. Gelfand World Championship match.

Rainer Knaak's measured editorial (always worth reading)doesn't dodge the controversial aspects of the match. Flagging up the standard criticisms - ''Too many draws, games not played out to a finish, too little entertainment'' - he opines ''Most of the accusations are unjustified''. Knaak traces some of the problems back to the last Candidates event, with the reliance rapid chess mini-matches foreshadowing the Moscow match. While noting that such a safety first stance was definitely not in evidence at the Tal Memorial tournament (given excellent coverage in this issue), he concludes that future matches may benefit from playing the rapid games first; ''then there is always someone who will have to play for the win''.

It's an interesting idea but one which is unlikely to happen. A similar idea has been mooted in the past for the world of football; play the penalty shoot-out first and the real match should be more exciting. The Moscow match was obviously not the most exciting we have seen, but where does the blame lie and what is the best solution? Perhaps the day of big matches is coming to an end and tournaments really are the best way to decide champions.

The lack of fireworks in the match shouldn't detract from its importance. The coverage provided by the magazine is superb and varied in tone and content. For example, Karsten Mueller is on hand to dissect some interesting endgame moments. Here's a simple example from one the tie-break games.

Anand - Gelfand

Gelfand's last move, 71 ...Rf7-f5, was a bad one. Mueller demonstrates how Anand was able to very quickly transpose into a winning endgame with 72 Ne6+ Kc8 73 Nd4 Rf8 74 Nxf3 Rxf3 75 Kb6 Rb3 76 Rg8+ Kd7 77 Rb8 1-0

All of the match games are annotated in depth by a variety of commentators and Dorian Rogozenco present a very thoughtful summing up of the contest. The highlight of the magazine is undoubtedly the lengthy interview with Rustam Kasimdzhanov, conducted by Andre Schulz. As Anand's second (not just in Moscow, but in his earlier World Championships against Kramnik and Topalov also) Kasimdzhanov is ideally placed to provide valuable insights into the World Champion's preparation and play, paying particular attention to the psychological aspects behind the scenes. Key moments from all of the games are put under the spotlight.

Gelfand - Anand, game 9

Here's one interesting snippet. Anand has just played 18 ...Qc7-d6, provoking 19 c5 (which Gelfand played). Kasimdzhanov's Grandmaster wisdom tells us that Black had a serious positional threat of 19 ...Qb4, leading to 20 ...Qa4 or 20 ...Qa5, giving White plenty to think about on the queenside, when he'd rather just play on autopilot with the two bishops. Instead of 19 c5, the best move for White was apparently 19 a3, just keeping the black queen out of the position, after which White keeps the tension and maintains his advantage.

There's nearly 90 minutes of material here and it's all good stuff, from the surprise of seeing Gelfand play the Grunfeld, through the exchange of victories in games 7 and 8 and on to the agony of the tie break games. This is the sort of feature I'd like to see more of in future issues. I always enjoy interviews and bringing them to life with ChessBase's video clips makes them even more interesting.

Despite the amount of disc space used to cover the World Championship match, the standard ChessBase magazine features are in place too. As ever, ChessBase magazine it is a top quality product at a very reasonable price.

For further details regarding this and all other ChessBase products, please visit their official website.

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