At Last Another Tournament Victory for Anand

In 1867, Ignatz Kolisch, who earlier that year had won an important tournament in Paris ahead of Winawer and Steinitz, gave a small simul in Baden, the German spa that at the time had not yet acquired its modern stuttering name Baden-Baden. Among those present were Prince Sturdza from Moldavia, Prince Bibesco from Romania, Prince Dadian from Mongrelia, Mustafa Pasha, brother of the vice-king of Egypt, and Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Queen of Prussia and the future Empress of the united Germany as consort of Wilhelm I.

With such prominent admirers, it is no wonder that the simul giver would rise to become the wealthy banker Baron von Kolisch, who would remain a generous patron of chess until his death.

That evening in 1867, the idea was born to organize a big international tournament, which in fact started on July 18, 1870, one day before France would declare war on Prussia.

The Grand-Duchy Baden was an ally of Prussia and the town Baden was near the French border. Shortly before the start of the tournament, one of the players, Johannes Minckwitz, had proposed to postpone or cancel it in the face of the impending war, but Adolf Anderssen then declared that this would show a defeatist’s lack of faith in the German troops, who would be well able to protect the border against French attacks. Later Minckwitz would write that Anderssen may not have been as confident as he had made it appear, because he had packed a small bag to flee in case of need.

Even the great and enlightened Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, who acted as vice-president of the organizing committee, worried about the Turcos, who, despite their name, were not Turks but members of an Algerian regiment in the French army that apparently was considered to be particularly fearsome.

Actually the tournament would not be disturbed by acts of war, although one of the participants, Adolf Stern, had to withdraw to fight for Prussia. Anderssen won the tournament, a half-point ahead of Steinitz.

The next year Stern came to Paris with the victorious Prussian army. Posing as an innocent Swiss, he visited the Café de la Régence, where he saw people playing cards, billiards or dominoes, with portraits of Philidor and Morphy on the walls, but living chessplayers he did not meet.

After a pause of 55 years, the ailing tournament tradition of Baden-Baden was brought to life with the tournament of 1925, won in a grandiose manner by Alexander Alekhine, and after a still longer pause, this year in February there was the Grenke Chess Classic.

Anand won that tournament, a victory long overdue, after a race with Fabiano Caruana. After trailing Caruana for some time, he drew level in the penultimate round, and in the last round he surpassed him.

Last month I showed Anand's wonderful victory over Aronian at the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, which owed a lot to his preparation for the world championship match against Gelfand. The same may apply to his victory over Daniel Fridman in the penultimate round in Baden Baden.

Anand-Daniel Fridman, after White's 22nd move.

White, after sacrificing a pawn, threatens to win quickly with 23.Nf6+ and Black cannot play 22...Bxg4, because then 23.Nf6+ would be decisive also. In the game, Fridman meekly played 22...Rf8, and Anand won back his pawn with 23.Bxf5 Qxf5 24.Bxc7, with a serious advantage. The critical move in the diagrammed position would be 22...Be6.

I propose an exercise. Put yourself in Fridman's place and try to work out, without computer help and with limited time, the intricacies of the position after 22...Be6 23.Bxh6. I think that even for the best players it would be near to impossible. In Fridman's place, you would realize that probably Anand had worked it all out at home with his computer.

Would you, gentle reader, have stepped into that jungle in Fridman's place? Understandably he opted out with 22...Rf8 and lost.

Annotated Game: Simply click on the game to play through it.

Anand-Fridman, Baden-Baden 2013