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Linares, Buey!

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Qué onda, vato?! The Wimbledon of chess is putting its fresas in the crema this year, splitting into two parts and starting out with the first half in Morelia, Mexico. I've been to this pretty town quite a few times over the years, a pity I'm too swamped with work to make it down for the show. El Fred is there for ChessBase. I'll be chipping in with some live audio commentary at Playchess in a mix of Spanish and English when time allows, assuming they can get the live moves out and assuming I can get the broadcast encoder thingy to work.

As far as I can tell, this embarrassment of html is still the official site. I had no idea you could train squirrels to design web pages, but there you go. The players: Topalov, Leko, Svidler, Ivanchuk, Aronian, Bacrot, Radjabov, Vallejo. Double round-robin. peach's message board poll had Topalov as the prohibitive favorite, garnering over 50% of the vote. Ivanchuk was a surprising second, followed by Svidler and Leko.

It's hard to disagree with the Topalov pick. I'd take him versus the rest of the field for a share of first at two to one if I were a betting man, which I'm not. Other than that I'm interested in seeing if Leko can get his pawns out of his ears. The way he's been playing lately I'd rather watch ice prancing, or whatever it is they're doing in Italy. Radjabov has been under the radar for a while. No longer a kinder, he needs to push his rating up to get back on the invitation gravy train. The ever-unpredictable Ivanchuk will play his 4th and 5th games against Aronian in as many months. Right now it's +2 -1 for Chukky.

According to various Mexican and other LatAm newspapers, there was an opening shindig last night for the drawing of lots. The players lifted up giant chess pieces to reveal the numbers. (Vallejo Pons 1, Svidler 2, Bacrot 3, Aronian 4, Radjabov 5, Ivanchuk 6, Topalov 7, Leko 8.) The full pairings are up with opening ceremony pics now. The mayors of Linares and Morelia were there. Eight of the ten sports items in the local Morelia paper are about chess, either Linares or the concurrent open. It runs Feb. 18-26th in Morelia and then March 3-13 back home in Linares. By then I'll be in San Diego for the US Championship.

Some translated press conference highlights from Topalov in the local paper:

"I suppose I am the favorite, yes, but I also feel more pressure and get more attention from the media than my rivals do. And I just finished playing in Holland and haven't had much of a chance to prepare for this tournament as I'd like. I see Svidler as the best prepared, the most rested since he didn't play in Holland. He's been playing at a very solid, high level in the past few years. Ivanchuk is a very unpredictable player who can win any tournament. Everyone knows his problems aren't faults in his chess, but in controlling his nerves. If he can do that he is also capable of winning. ...

It's a big change; it's the first post-Kasparov Linares, there are eight players instead of seven, and we've moved to a different continent. The Spanish-speaking market is an attractive one for chess in general because from what I've seen here chess is seen more as an art than as a sport, while in Europe the journalists are look more at the results and not so much at the virtues of chess. ...

Chess has great potential, but it's lacking a big star like Kasparov was, as well as administration and organization. There's no danger of chess coming to an end; in the short run computers aren't a threat to the sport of chess. ...

I don't want to be one of those champions of recent years who won and lasted just one year. I'd like to do it better and distinguish myself, that's what motivates me. I'm one of the few who have survived the test of time and I'd like to stay on top for a while, a few years more."

Just stumbled onto a comment from Leko in which he says "last year was a great one for Topalov, but this year can be the end for him because I feel sure I can win the Linares tournament in Morelia." Good to hear him sounding cocky.

I assume Frederic will be including such things in his onsite reports at ChessBase in the future, but of course it's usually much harder to get any work done when you are on site.


So where/when is the second half of Linares? I'm assuming Anand will play that one?

Linares half will be played March 3-11, same players as in Morelia. This is just a double RR played in different locations (Mexico & Spain)

Pairings at least for the Morelia Open at
744 players.

Leko*s comment is interesting. Somebody noted on this site that his decline in play was one of the remarkable developments last year. I do not think he ever was on a level with Anand, who does seem to be having a comeback.

Nice going Mexico! Two international chess events within a couple of weeks of one another, while we your prosperous neighbors to the north............?

I wouldn't say nice going, the event is still a total disaster.

John, My point is that in this country we can't (disaster or not) even begin to organize an international event, let alone get it off the ground.

Ok, I got Svidler, Chucky and Aronian. I would take a bet on the fact that one of these three will win over a bet on Topalov winning. His luck is bound to run out.

When was the last time someone won three major tournaments in a row, Kasparov 1999. You can't expect Topalov to pull this off. There is a chance but we must rate Svidler higher

How many major tournaments in a row has Topalov won so far...
He is still the favorite, even with one loss.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 17, 2006 11:58 PM.

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