<Today's play on the top board reminded me of the famous chess tale from the Gothenburg tournament of 1955 when the Argentinean contingent of Najdorf, Panno and Pilnik, all playing black in the 14th round against the Soviet might of Keres, Geller and Spassky, decided that they would all play the same risky line of the Sicilian Najdorf that they had prepared before the round in an effort to collectively confuse their opponents. As the games progressed, the Soviets' quickly twigged what was happening as they watched each other's games from the demonstration boards […] The reason for telling this tale is that it's a ploy that today could have saved Vishy Anand a painful few hours of torture at the hands of Kasparov. As the opening moves were being played on the top board, at the other end of the tournament hall, it was like looking in to a mirror as Van Wely vs Short, 2000 had the same moves as the Kasparov-Anand game - even right up to Kasparov's TN at move 19!
Kasparov had found a big improvement over the Shaked-Georgiev game from Las Vegas 1999, in one of his favourite systems against the Nimzo-Indian with g3. And, every move the world number one made with White against Anand, Van Wely was faithfully reproducing in his game against Short.
"It's an instance of cloning," commentator Vlastimil Hort informed his audience. "Pretty smart, actually, since Van Wely is a few moves behind, so he can see how White's plan works out. Kasparov doesn't seem to mind but if I were Short, I'd be rather annoyed. After all, he's playing Kasparov two days running!"
Luckily for the wily Short, he managed to find the correct defensive plan to easily draw. Now if only Anand had had the sense to slow down to find out how Short was going to handle the opening….
19.Rd2! Kasparov's TN. 19 Re1 Nc4 20 Qc5 Rfd8 was Shaked vs Kiril Georgiev, 1999 [with the rook on d2, 19…Nc4 fails to 20.g4! Qxg4 21.f3 – and here, 21…Bxf3 can be met by 22.Qxc4, since g2 is defended.] 19 ..Rab8 20 Bxb6 axb6 21 Qd6 Bf3?! "It seemed a good idea at that point," said Anand at the press conference after the game. "I was convinced that I'd win the pawn back soon enough." He did not, however, and had to work hard for another 35 moves to salvage a half point from the encounter.
Short, who was in exactly the same position as his Indian colleague, came up with a better idea. He played the simple 21 ..Rfc8! (later Kasparov suggested 21. ...Rbc8 as his preferred move here MC) "I'm much better than this Indian guy," he boasted after he left the tournament hall. "What's he doing, giving away a pawn like that?" Kasparov later - his game lasted three hours longer - remarked that Van Wely wasted his chances with his weak 22 h3. Short disagreed, showing he might just as easily have drawn after the stronger 22 Rb1 that Kasparov suggested. A) 22 h3 Bf3 23 g4 (23 Rb1 Bxg2 24 Kxg2 Qa5 and Van Wely and Short opted for the draw here) 23 ..Qg5! 24 Rb1 Rd8 25 Rxb6 Ra8! 26 Ra6 Rab8 Now 27 Rb6 is a draw by repetition as White's only other option is: 27 Qxd8+ Rxd8 28 Rxd8+ Qxd8 29 Bxf3; B) 22 Rb1 h6 Black has to watch the back-rank [there’s a threat of 23.Rxb6!] 23 e5 Bf3 [a few years later, Bacrot vs Leko, 2004
reached this position and quickly ended in a draw] 24 Rdb2 b5 25 c4 (25 a4 Rd8 26 Qc5 Rd5 27 Qxc6 Rd1+) 25 ..Bxg2 26 Kxg2 Ra8 holds comfortably for Black.
Afterwards at the press conference, Australia's Ian Rogers asked Anand if he at any moment he had felt jealous of Short? "Oh, yes," replied Anand. "When he left the tournament hall a good three hours before I did!"> (