A classical duel
The paths of two shooting stars in the chess world will cross in a few days, in an event that will be noted with at best mildly passing curiosity (I am basing this on history for guide) by all but a few geeky woodpushers across the world. This championship match is of historical importance, for it marks the end of an era of controversy in the chess world. Probably the most popularly held view is that the rarefied area at the top of the world of chess is split in the middle, with Vishy Anand wearing the crown handed down from Wilhelm Steinitz from champion to champion, when the previous champion of the bloodline lay it on the line in a tournament style championship held under the auspices of FIDE. FIDE held the championship tournament in 2007 to unify the bloodline title with the FIDE world championship title. Traditionally leaning chess fans feel strongly about the handing over of the bloodline title over a tournament, which they feel doesn’t establish the head-to-head superiority of the champion over the challengers. Vladimir Kramnik will be playing Vishy Anand for the unified world championship title in a head-to-head 12 game match.
Vishy Anand: Known for his extremely quick calculations, however in classical games, speed of calculation is usually not of prime importance. Anand’s style is sharp but safe and probing. His creative approach does open up vulnerabilities in his camp OTB, but at the same time prods the opponent into areas of tactical possibilities where Anand out calculates his rival. He is known to play the so called “open game” in almost every game of his career with White, by choosing to move 1.e4. This will be a potential weakness for him, since Kramnik is expected to play neutralising lines from the Petroff defence 1…e5, 2.Nf3, Nf6 and so on, which have proven very hard to crack so far. However, Anand does have a more incisive track record with Black than Kramnik, but Kramnik is known to be close to undefeatable with White. Anand’s nerves could be a problem for him, especially if he lets Kramnik take the lead early.
Vladimir Kramnik: Known for his deep positional play. Kramnik is known to play for positional long term advantages, especially with White. He is known to seek positions that offer slow gradual improvement, which Kramnik usually exploits to grind down the opponent until he/she pops. Kramnik has been criticized by fans for his extreme passive play with Black, where he firmly places the burden-to-prove-advantage on the player playing White. With Black, he is known to avoid all complicating and risky lines, and is content with entering drawing lines at the earliest opportunity, unless the opponent blunders. This strategy has proven very efficacious for him in all three WC matches he has been part of. His solid playing style and ability to come back from losing the lead make him a formidable match opponent, although his style is not well adapted in winning tournaments where one has to win a lot of games.
The two opponents go back a long way, with Kramnik holding a tiny lead over Anand in head-to-head classical games. I think that this will be a very interesting match, with Kramnik somewhat of a pre-match favourite. I would put it at 55%-45% in favour of Kramnik.
Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind.
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.
“Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?”
“Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?”
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?”
“Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.”
“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel ich mit dir;
Manch bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand.”
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?”
“Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.”
“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen
Reihn Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.”
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?”
“Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh’ es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.”
“Ich lieb’ dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.”
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!”
Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in den Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Mühe und Not –
In seinen Armen, das Kind war tot.
Who rides so late through the night and the wind?
It is the father with his child.
He holds the boy in his arm,
grasps him securely, keeps him warm.
“My son, why do you hide your face so anxiously?”
“Father, do you not see the Elf-King?
The Elf-King with his crown and train?”
“My son, it is only a streak of mist.”
“Darling child, come away with me!
I will play fine games with you.
Many gay flowers grow by the shore:
my mother has many golden robes.”
“Father, father, do you not hear
what the Elf-King softly promises me?
“Be calm, dear child, be calm–
The wind is rustling in the dry leaves.”
“You beautiful boy, will you come with me?
My daughters will wait upon you.
My daughters will lead the nightly round,
they will rock you, dance to you, sing you to sleep.”
“Father, father, do you not see
the Elf-King’s daughters there, in that dark place?”
My son, my son, I see it clearly:
it is the grey gleam of the old willow-trees.”
“I love you, your beauty allures me,
and if you do not come willingly, I shall use force.”
“Father, father, now he is seizing me!
The Elf-King has hurt me!”—
Fear grips the father, he rides swiftly,
holding the moaning child in his arms;
with effort and toil he reaches the house–
the child in his arms was dead.]
(..don’t know the translator)