Chennai: Black is Not Just OK, but Deadly

Hari Hara Nandanan/TNN
Chennai, Oct 23:
'Black is OK' was the first in a series of books by Hungarian Grandmaster Andras Adorjan in the late 80s. At a time when the black pieces in chess were the underdogs, Adorjan championed the cause of the player playing with black pieces and went on to add to the 'black series' books as 'Black Is Still OK' and 'Black Is OK forever', the last one coming out in 2005.

If Adorjan were to write a fourth book on Wednesday in the light of Viswanathan Anand's forcing wins with black pieces against Vladimir Kramnik in the current World championship in Bonn, Adorjan would perhaps title it 'Black Is Deadly'.

Such is the authority with which Anand has used the black pieces — which has not been his favourite colour over the board — that he has opened up a new dimension in the World chess competition taking his fight against Kramnik to the romantic ages of the game when the opening, colour and opponent did not matter. The fifth game on Monday was the best from the black side, though he was helped by Kramnik's blunder, while the third started the trend. Experts could find holes in white's handling of the positions and the mistakes Kramnik made in time trouble but in reality they were forced by the initiative, a very useful quality in chess, taken by Anand.

For long, in chess history, analysts would come up with ideas that a player playing black would defend and more so in battles as significant as the World championship, to negate the minute starting advantage that white has. And the player with white is supposed to call all the shots.

At the pre-match press conference, Kramnik had explained how difficult it is to strike with black at this level when asked about his poor record in classical chess against Anand (Kramnik had not won against him with black). "The theory of big numbers is on my side, and I hope that the day will come when I am able to win a game with black. But actually it is not easy at this level. For instance, in all the games I ever played against Garry Kasparov I won only one game with black, and he never won any black game he played against me."

What actually turned out during this match was the opposite. Anand looked determined to maximise black's chances by getting into the dark alleys of opening variations, often dusting off sidelines that were never tried for want of information or by practice and catching his opponent off-guard. The idea was that with computers giving solid help, analysis has improved by leaps and bounds helping the historically weaker colour to get stronger.

Adorjan was inspired by black magicians Tony Miles and Alexander Morozevich while extending his scope of his work. Anand's deeds with black in Bonn should spur a black revolution in chess. 


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