After an overwhelming victory in the sixth game of the World Chess Championship in Bonn, it seems that the only thing which can stop Viswanathan Anand from capturing the world title is if the Indian Grandmaster has been doing a spot of body-building in his spare time.
For Tuesday in Bonn was the day the drug testers arrived.
Yes, tournament chessplayers are subject to drug testing — a part of chess’ deal to become a sport recognised by the International Olympic Committtee.
Since no drugs have been proven to be useful to chessplayers — though anecdotal evidence suggests that caffeine and nicotine might have some short-term benefits and the jury is still out on some of the new memory drugs — the chess drug testers simply look for any substance on the WADA banned list — steroids, EPO, amphetamines, diuretics, etc, etc. Ventolin inhalers are out, as one Italian amateur found to his cost — banned for “only” six months since his was deemed to be an innocent mistake.
On Tuesday the testing procedure took so long that the two players were forced to have separate press conferences; Anand seemingly had more trouble producing a sample than he did dealing with Kramnik over the board earlier in the day.
Two of the players’ Grandmaster seconds were also tested on Tuesday, technically considered out-of-competition tests.
One may presume that Anand and Kramnik are well enough informed by their national sports body to avoid accidentally taking any banned substances, or to gain permission for any drugs prescribed by a doctor.
The same cannot be said for Australian players, who have discovered that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority refuses to deal with them because, they say scornfully, “We don’t consider chess a sport.” “But we are subject to testing…” “Not from us you’re not.” Conversation closed.
As a result, Australian chessplayers playing internationally cannot register with ASADA medically prescribed drugs that they may need to take, as required by the WADA rules. ASADA (and ASDA before it) has never provided educational sessions to Australian teams travelling to the Chess Olympics and will not accept location information from Australian chessplayers who might be subject to out-of-competition testing.
Most Australian chess Olympians are part-timers with negligible knowledge of the details of WADA’s complex rules so it seems inevitable that sooner or later an innocent victim will emerge. Perhaps only then will ASADA accept responsibility for educating all Australian sportspeople, regardless of ASADA’s corporate views on what is a sport and what is not.
Back in Bonn, Anand’s third victory in four games over Vladimir Kramnik gave him a massive 4.5-1.5 lead at the half-way mark of the match and even Kramnik cannot see himself coming back from such a deficit.
“I just have to try to play better, to win a game,” Kramnik mused after his insipid performance in game 6.
In contrast, Anand is looking as if nothing can perturb him; his smooth effort in turning back all Kramnik’s counter-attacking tries on Tuesday was particularly impressive. Anand, at 38 at the end of his best chess years, should within a week have the World Match Championship he has craved for so long — unless of course he made the mistake of taking a cold tablet before a game.
Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defence
Another new idea from Anand’s box of tricks; Kramnik’s reaction looks less than ideal.
“I spent time looking for something direct but in the end could not find anything better than the queen exchange [which follows],” said Anand.
15…f5!? — was more testing for White.
17.Bg2 Ne7? — played in haste, regretted at leisure.
“The endgame had looked pretty equal to me, but suddenly I started to experience some problems,” Kramnik admitted.
“If I play 17…Ne7 then I should also play 18…c5,” following once again the old Russian saying that “Having said A one must say B.”
In chess, however, the saying is worthless — if A is bad, then to continue with B is stupid. Here Kramnik should have accepted passivity with 18…Rfe8.
“I spent a lot of time but I couldn’t see how to equalise,” Kramnik said.
“White is always just in time to keep the pawn.”
“Black is very close to having compensation,” Anand confessed, “but I think I controlled [the game] very well.”
“This was a very well played game by White,” said Karpov, ” but this is the one moment I would have played differently. 29.Rg1 was a simpler way of avoiding potential knight forks on e3.”
A final lunge for counterplay but also the final error according to Karpov, who believed that Kramnik should just sit tight.
“I saw 39…g6 40.Ne4! when it’s time to resign,” said Anand, his tactical point being 40…Re8 41.f7+!.
Eschewing the slower death which was possible after 45…Nbc4 46.g8Q+.
Watch the game here (with an awesome Iron Maiden soundtrack as a backdrop):