In the 12th round of the Corus Chess 2010 at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, World champion Viswanathan Anand’s chances of winning the 72nd annual Corus Chess Tournament are only theoretical. With only Sunday’s last round to go, ‘Vishy’ lags a full point behind A-Group leader Magnus Carlsen who secured his position on top of the standings by keeping Hungary’s Peter Leko to a draw with black in 12th-round action.
So is the world champ disappointed with his performance? Well, not really.
“I’m basically spoiling other people’s tournaments,” he said with a mischievous smile at the start of the news conference he was asked to give after the drumming he handed out to Vladimir Kramnik on Saturday. What Anand meant was that although he couldn’t be the winner, he could at least function as the tournament’s giant slayer. Kramnik, after all, was tied for first place with Carlsen before he suffered his defeat, just as Alexei Shirov was a front-runner until he went down against Vishy two rounds earlier. The world champion may also find some solace in the fact that he remains the only A-Group competitor with an unbeaten record after the twelfth round.
The most remarkable thing, Anand said about his victory, was that Kramnik, who opted for his favourite Petroff with black, “completely forgot what he had planned” after some twenty moves “and then chose something solid.” A white exchange sacrifice not long after proved it was far from solid enough. “It led to a position where white, with his strong pawns, had a clear advantage.” At the 33rd, Anand told the press, “Kramnik looked at me with raised eyebrows. He seemed to think we’d had a threefold repetition. I had to point out that there was a pawn on f7 the first time round.” By then it was clear to everyone else that Kramnik was in deep trouble. Anand handled the remainder so well that some experts said he played like a computer and wondered “whether this meant the world champion is super-human.”