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3 more months to Anand-Kramnik

July 8, 2008

I am still counting down the days to the big match coming up in October. Somewhat to my surprise, both players are choosing to stay reasonably active leading up to the match. I had assumed that they would both shut down tournament play post-Linares and start up their preparations. Instead, Kramnik’s just finished playing Dortmund and has apparently agreed to defend his title at the Tal Memorial in September. Vishy is playing the Mainz Classic (which he always seems to win) but more importantly, is playing the Grand Slam Final in September.

I guess the strategy is 3-fold:

  • Shake off the rust and get some real games under your belt.
  • Don’t let any opening secrets out of your bag. (I guess a side-effect of this will be that they won’t play any spectacular novelties and will probably not contend in these tournaments)
  • Play openings you wouldn’t normally play, just to make your opponent waste time conducting his due diligence on it. For example, Kramnik unleashed the Grunfeld at Dortmund. By the same token, I fully expect Anand to open with d4 and/or Nf3 at the Grand Slam Final – in fact, he might very well have to do that sooner or later in the match.

In addition, Kramnik’s agreed to lead the Russian team at the Chess Olympiad two weeks after the end of the match. Vishy hasn’t yet made a similar commitment to the Indian team and I don’t think he will either – the last Olympiad, where he rushed at the end of the M-Tel to join the team, was an absolute disaster for him.

And finally, I wonder what Kramnik’s ranking will be when the match starts. The next ratings are due to be published on October 1st and Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Morozevich and Topalov are all ahead of him in the live ratings.

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