After a rest day on Wednesday, September 27th, the eight contestants enter into the final leg of the World Chess Championships for 2007. The final three games are to be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with tiebreaks on Sunday if necessary. It would be of great surprise if Sunday is necessary to decide anything, as Vishwanathan Anand leads the tournament with a score of 7.5/11, a full 1.5 points ahead of Boris Gelfand with three rounds to play. Short of a total collapse by Anand, or 3-0 finale by Gelfand, we will be crowning a new World Chess Champion come Sunday evening.
Being a vocal Kramnik fan (I was smitten during his match against Leko for reasons still unknown to me), I can only express disappointment over his 35-minute, 13-move draw Tuesday against Alexander Grischuk. Given the circumstances of the standings Tuesday, a quick draw was the furthest thing that should have been from Kramnik's mind, even at the risk of 'insulting' a fellow countrymen. Grischuk, having just lost to Levon Aronian the round before, cannot be faulted for offering the draw. However, Kramnik, defending World Champion, must be scolded for accepting the offer. The position was hardly 'dead', with weaknesses in White's queenside with isolated doubled pawns and bishops of the same color, there was certainly something to play for, given the current standings. This is another example of contestants not giving it their all in the public arena of competition. It's very unfortunate to witness such weak-willed play from one of the top players in the world - and current reigning World Champion.
Kramnik will now need to prove something to us all and capture second place outright over the final three rounds. Anything less makes even a bigger mockery of the current W.C.C. cycle and puts no arguments to rest whatsoever. It will be hard to justify - regardless of contracts and FIDE obligations to the contrary - having Kramnik play Anand next year in a match for the W.C.C., even as much as I'd like to see it happen (it will). This was the glaring fault of having a tournament to determine the World Champion - with the current champion participating - instead of having it be the final test for a challenger to take Kramnik on in a match. But, business as usual for FIDE - live and don't learn - appears to be the creed.