REBEL versus ANAND Day-1
From July 21 till July 23,1998 REBEL in Italy on the island Ischia
played 8 games against World's SECOND BEST chess player VISHY ANAND.
Rebel vs. Anand: Day 1 by Jeroen Noomen ---------------------- The first game was scheduled at 11:30 on tuesday 21st of July. The time control being 5 minutes for the whole game, plus 5 seconds for each move (Fischer method). On the first day 4 of these blitz games had to be played. After lunch there followed two 15-minute blitz games. In game 1 Anand replied with the Grunfeld Indian against Rebel's 1. d4. Black choose an unusual setup by means of ... Bd7!? When I remember it well, this move was recently tried by Peter Svidler. Rb1!, the strongest reply, was still in Rebel's opening book. After ... Qc7 we were out of book, the expected move being ... Na5. The opening went well for Rebel and when Anand played ... b6?? he got into deep trouble after the very strong Qa3! A few moves later Rxd6 won material and the game was over. An unbelievable start, I just couldn't believe we just beat the number 2 in the world within 30 moves! In game 2 Anand was visibly nervous. He played rather passive and when Rebel got a knight to d3 (in Holland we call this an 'octopus'), White was in trouble. Anand defended well, after which Rebel shocked everybody by sacrificing a piece. After the game we found out that f3! instead of Ng4? could have saved the game for Anand. Look at f3!,Rc2! Qxc2,Bxe3+ Rf2! and you will find out that it is going to be a perpetual check. After Rebel's ... f5! the position is probably lost for White already. The only improvement we found was Nf4 instead of Rxd3? But you can imagine Anand wanted to remove this annoying knight. Now the game ended quickly. In the end there could follow Bxe6+, Rxe6 Nxe6,Rf2+ followed by Rf1+ and Rxa1, also making a new queen. So after two games Rebel was leading 2-0. I thought 'Am I dreaming or something!?'. Game 3 the opening didn't go well for Rebel. It blocked the king's side instead of opening it, so Anand had his hands free to act on the queen's side. He won pawn f4 and Rebel was showing a score of around -0,70, the position being clearly lost. But somehow Rebel managed to get counter play, based on the weaknesses on a4 and c6. However, after winning back the pawn, the ending still looked very good for Black. The passers on g6 and f5 look impressive. Anand failed to make use of this, his pawns being blocked by White's knight. Suddenly the White a-pawn became a very strong passer as well and this proved to be decisive. That meant a 3-0 lead! In game 4 Vishy finally fought back. Rebel played the opening very unusual (I never would play that way, I'm sure this must be good for White!), but nevertheless got a good chance for an advantage. The big mistake was ... Ng3?, instead the simple ... Nxc3 bxc3,Nd7 is good for Black, planning to transfer the knight to c5. After ... Ng3? Anand got two very strong bishops. Of course Rebel should have kept the queens on to retain some chances. When the queens were exchanged, the game was over. Anand received a well-deserved applause from the audience. The score: 3-1 to Rebel. Game 5 saw the first 15-minute blitz game. Before the game started nobody could find the guy who operates the digital timer and no one else was able to put it on 15 minute blitz level. So the referee decided to play with a normal clock. The game first went well for Anand, but after ... Rc8?! (better looks ... Qc7) he had to think after Rebel's reply Nf5! The game became very tense, but Anand played extremely well, temporarily sacrificing a piece. Rebel's score dropped, I was especially worried about the knight on b4. After Rebel's last move Qf5, something strange happened. Anand thought for a few minutes, reducing his remaining time to about 1 minute. Then he looked up and didn't watch the board anymore, after which his flag fell. Many people stormed to the board, claiming that the 15 minutes were not over yet and that the clock was wrong. The Rebel clock showed however that the 15 minutes were clearly over. Anand correctly stated that the next game should be played with the digital clock again, so he could see the remaining time. An unfortunate ending to a thrilling game, in which Anand played brilliantly in my opinion. In the final position Rebel gave a clear plus score to the Black position. Total score: 4-1 to Rebel. In game 6 we saw a quiet opening, not quite to my taste. Rebel moved its queen to h6, but when Vishy played Bc1! the score dropped immediately (I remember it was around -0.80). In the further course of the game, Anand missed the 'zwischenzug' Bxg7+, simply picking up a pawn for no compensation. Now we approached an ending which was not clear anymore. Thanks to the KryoTech machine Rebel found ... Bg8! in the last seconds, inevitably leading to a repetition of moves. With the third repetition coming up, I claimed a draw, stating that Rebel would play ... Bd5 again, leading to the repetition. Anand accepted, making the total score 4,5-1,5. Conclusion after day 1: The match had already been decided! We simply couldn't believe this. I went to my room, sitting there shaking my head, just wondering if this was all a dream. But no, it was not! Actually, Rebel was beating the number two in the world, having a FIDE ELO of 2795! Of course I immediately realized that the real games, the tournament games, could tell a completely different story. Although I am often an optimistic guy, I also try to be realistic. So I expected Vishy to strike back very hard, expecting a clear 2-0 in the tournament games.
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