This will be the last issue of The Spectator before the annual tournament starts at Hastings. This dates back to 1895 and is the longest-running major tournament in the world. My own favourite game from my many appearances at Hastings was against Tony Miles.
Daniel Johnson’s excellent new book, which I am already promoting as the leading candidate for the English Chess Federation Book of the Year award agrees with me that Fischer’s victory in the World Championship in 1972 might actually have regressed the cause of chess, in spite of the great publicity achieved.
Daniel Johnson, a distinguished former correspondent of the Times and the Telegraph, would doubtless have become a strong titled player had he chosen chess as a profession. His new book White King and Red Queen: How the Cold War Was Fought on the Chessboard (Atlantic Books, £22) manages to make chess come alive even for those who cannot play. Essentially an examination of the way the Soviet state used chess, this book also covers the reigns of Spassky, Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov. The match between the first pair was the first occasion in the 20th century when chess fired the public imagination. Notes based on Kasparov’s.
A little-known system, favoured by Reti and Smyslov, could be useful for club or county games. It involves a double flank development (fianchetto) of White’s bishops but the key feature is to combine this with an early queenside attack involving the wing thrust b4. This week I give one of my own games with this system.
Six years ago grandmaster Tony Miles died at the tragically early age of 46. He had been one of the world’s strongest players capable of beating almost anybody on his day. Kramnik, Anand, Karpov, Tal, Spassky and Smyslov all fell to Tony’s enterprising style at some point or another in his career. This week I shall be commemorating a player who helped put British chess firmly on the global map.
Every so often an ingenious theoretician comes up with a novelty which is destined to overturn established practice. However, if such a novelty breaks hallowed rules such as moving the queen too early in the opening or neglecting development, the odds are that there will be a refutation which demonstrates it to be unsound.
This week, as a homage to the new world champion Vishy Anand, I give a game and a puzzle from his illustrious career. Although he showed tremendous early promise, Anand always seemed preternaturally cowed in the presence of Kasparov. Now that Kasparov has retired, it appears that Anand’s full genius has been permitted to flourish.
This week I conclude my coverage of the World Championship in Mexico with a
fine win by the Armenian grandmaster Lev Aronian. Although the Mexico tournament format produced much fine chess, it lacked the heroic dimension of a one-on-one match, to which we will be treated next year when Anand must defend his newly won title against the former incumbent Kramnik.
Why does Fidé, the world chess federation, insist on drug tests for chessplayers? Earlier this year I discussed this problem in the abstract, but after the recently concluded world championship in Mexico City, concrete examples have arisen.
The defending world champion Vladimir Kramnik finished in second place, on tie-break, in the Mexico City World Championship. Although he won some fine games, Kramnik came badly unstuck against the erratic firebrand Morozevich.
At last the crown prince has become king. Vishy Anand has been so close to the supreme title for years, yet like Rubinstein, Tarrasch, Nimzowitsch, Bronstein, Korchnoi and Keres before him, some obstacle always seemed to block his path. Twelve years ago Vishy unsuccessfully fought Kasparov for the championship in the no longer extant Twin Towers of New York.
As the undisputed World Championship in Mexico nears its close, it appears that the Indian grandmaster Vishy Anand is the likely winner. With five rounds to go, Vishy held a one point advantage over Gelfand and was 1Ω points clear of the reigning champion Kramnik.