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Aronian Wins Linares 2006

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Good! Armenia's Levon Aronian played interesting, combative chess throughout and beat Peter Leko in the final round (with black!) to seal the deal. Aronian is Linares champion. Kasparov's prediction that Aronian would do well at Corus was just off by a tournament, perhaps? I would also have been content with Topalov completing his miraculous comeback to win. Leko led almost the entire way but simply stopped winning after a great start. He capped off his long run of draws with losses in the last two rounds to drop him to fourth place. Radjabov really showed some quality here, beyond the usual pragmatic opportunism. Svidler started out with the same 3.5/4 as Leko but never won again. His Grunfeld failed him but he also had a few whites, don't forget.

Overall it was a very exciting tournament, although the word uneven could also be used. Everyone had a win and everyone had at least two losses. Linares 06 was full of fighting chess on both sides of the Atlantic. As much as I like wins and losses, I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with Linares having this many sloppy games. But it's not fair to complain about everything all the time. Dropping Kramnik and Anand into the field (for example) would have almost certainly increased the number of draws while dropping the number of blunders. If the "year of Topalov" is to be continued by a year of sharp, unorthodox play by guys like Aronian and Radjabov, with more risk, more tactics, and the inevitable increase in the number of mistakes, I welcome it.


Sincere congratulations to Aronian!

I ask myself, however, what made Topalov choose *that* variation in the last round...

Spot on, Mig. Two rounds ago, it looked as though Leko's dour approach was going to bring him success in this tournament, but instead the top three finishers all champion the uncompromising, combative style of play that makes the game interesting and exciting for those of us who watch this stuff. Compare, for example both of the Topalov-Aronian encounters - each played out to the bitter end - with Leko's inexplicable decision to agree a draw with Vallejo on the white side of a still very interesting Sicilian. I don't mean to sound too critical of Leko here; obviously he's a very strong and successful player, and he's by no means the only one who plays what I suppose could be termed the percentage game. However, what Mig calls the 'sharp, unorthodox play' of Aronian and Radjabov (and Topalov himself, to be sure) is infinitely preferable, in my view, to the clinical and relatively error-free world that represents the alternative.

This was a great tournament. In fact most supertournaments since the start of 2005 have been exciting, as opposed to the drawfests in Linares and Dortmund 2004. The players seem to be making the effort to actually win games instead of playing perfect 25 move draws. This produces more mistakes, but it is far more interesting to watch. I'm already looking forward to the Mtel masters!

Great tournament indeed.
Amazing the final nose dive by Leko! What happened: nerves?, simply outplayed?
Amazing also Topalovīs second half sprint.

Just when I think Topolov might come back all the way, and/or Radjabov could "sneak" in, but Leko will probably will probably still finish first (draw)...Aronian upends the cart and runs away with the plunder. Certainly can't say I'm displeased though, since I like Aronian.

Re: Francisco: I think Leko's 'nosedive' - and also Topalov's choice of opening in the last round - is explained by the Leko-Topalov epic in the penultimate round. It must have been thoroughly exhausting for both players, not only because of its length, but also because they must have both been acutely aware of the significance of the result in the context of the final placings. The somewhat tentative way Topalov put Leko away after the decisive gain of material is evidence of this. Aronian was the ultimate beneficiary of this, as Leko and Topalov effectively took each other out - but, fair play to him, a win with black against Leko is a rare and admirable result whatever the circumstances.

Vallejo-Topalov was an odd game. The variation chosen was a known line (Zoltan Ribli mentioned that he had looked at it at least as far as ...Qd2 in the 80's), and it's a known draw. White has no way to get an advantage.

Someone needs to ask Vallejo what the heck he was doing repeating moves over and over rather than just making the draw the first time he had a repitition. After ...Qd2 it's just drawn. I suggested ...Rg8 as a possible way to play on for Black, with the threat of ...a6 winning the knight. However, this entails a certain amount of risk, and Black should probably play a different variation if he is seeking to win.

There is room for everyone and Leko shouldn't be criticised for having a more conservative approach than the others.
Karpov was criticised for this at the time but now we realise what a great player he was.
Watching the contrasting styles of Leko and Topalov was fascinating in this tourney.

Well several of us considered the possibility of Topalov losing his 2800 status, after his sprint to the line is this still likely? He sure is a fighter and we can all appreciate him for that! I just saw on Chessbase that he will be playing a reunification match in September against Kramnik man I can't wait and will be hoping it really happens! Linares was fun too bad for Leko leading for so long then coming in 4th must be frustrating. Congratulations to Aronian who is on a good run of his own he is a player to watch for the future as well as today. I also am glad for Radjabov he is still gaining in strength and nearly made it to the trophy.

While Topalov's current official rating is 2801, he gained points to go up to about 2809 (my calculations) - 2811 (other guesses I have heard) in his last tournament, so he will go down a few points, but not enough to drop into the 2700's.

While Aroninan deserves hearty congratulations, and he is one of my favorite players, I can't help but wish that Topy had tied him, and capped what would have been maybe the greatest comeback in chess history.

Anyone know of any comeback that would have surpassed what we just witnessed, assuming that Topy had won his last game?

I'm impressed by how closely each player's TPR approximated his pre-tournament rating. Congratulations to Prof. Elo.

I don't think it surpasses Topolov's but it was enjoyable to be a part of while it was unfolding, Fischer-Spassy 72. After being down 2/0 against the World Champion (an opponant he had yet to defeat in any previous encounter) Fischer evened and then surpassed Spassky after game 6.

It seems to me that the real story here is Radjabov. At last year's Linares, Radjabov beat Kasparov with Black, and was rewarded for this with a prize for the "most beautiful game." If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, than Kasparov's series of unsportsmanlike actions afterwards were even more inappropriate. I always kind of felt that there was a backlash against Radjabov because of what happened, and it seemed to have affected his game for a while.

This year, Radjabov came back, and--again--defeated a reigning world champion with the Black pieces. Radjabov also beat the Russian Champion. Radjabov gained more rating points than anyone in this tournament, and he had fewer losses than Topalov himself. At eight points, he tied for second overall (losing second only on the tie-breaker).

A great tournament that should have it's own tournament book. Hello Batsford, NIC, Gambit, OLMS, somebody! Bring back the classic 200+ page books like the Second Piatigorsky Cup 1966 and New York 1924 with photos and every game annotated. Some of these tournaments deserve to be immortalized not just digitalized on a database.


I couldn't agree with you more.

I just read Serper's latest and probably last blog (too bad). Yepper doddle, by far the best overall blogger at this U.S. Championship.

Apologies, wrong thread?

nathan, hm. the radja-kasparov dispute was NOT last year. and the game itself was hardly brilliant-prize-winning then except the wonderkid factor.
radja was lucky even this edition imho. check ivanchuk-radja e.g.

real story is of course topalov comeback, leko breakdown, aronian win.

I'd like to second MiamiAl and chesstraveler. I'd welcome the return of tournament books. San Luis, Linares, Corus - I'd purchase them all.

Tackhead, real story is the story of eight players here. It's up to you to decide that a boy that defeated Kasparov at 15, that leaded Linares at 18, who has positive scores against Kasparov and Topalov, that this boy was "not part of the story".
For you, Radjabov is an accident. For me, he'll be undisputed classical world champion within a couple of years, and will retain the title for a while, like Karpov and Kasparov both did. Like I already said in a previous post, everybody talks a lot here about Kamsky, about Carlsen, but Aronian, Mahmedyarov and Radjabov (who are they ?) are "lucky", "not part of the real story", "after all is Nr 5 in world ratings" (said about Aronian, and I do really appreciate the "after all" : first everybody says his rating is an accident, second when he starts winning the strongest tournaments, he is "after all" Nr 5 in the world) ...
Just look at the chess world champion history : how many world champions are Jewish and Armenian? How many of them are born or have their origins in Caucasus? Fischer, Tal, Kasparov, Petrossian, Lasker, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Steinitz.
Said in other words : you have much more chances to become world champion if you are born in Caucasus, or Armenian, or Jewish. Aronian is armenian, Radjabov is half jewish (his father is jewish), Judit Polgar, by far the strongest woman ever, is jewish.
Jewish and Armenian rule, and when they make a child together and mix their genes, the outcome is Kasparov, the best chess player ever.

Good heavens!--Tackhead, I feel like Rip van Winkle. Yes, you are right: Radjabov beat Kasparov, not last year, as I thought, but in 2003. Still, at various times he's beaten Kasparov, Anand, and, Topalov--when all three of those players were White.

I do fail to see how the #1 player's temporary glitch in one half of a tournament makes his usual record in the second half significant news. Perhaps, like beauty, that's in the eye of the beholder. Come to think about it, news is usually "man bites dog" issues, so I do think that the correct emphasis ought to be on Radjabov. As for luck, well, it's not like anyone's throwing dice in a double round robin chess tournament. Radjabov's standing at the end left him the biggest rating gain of all the participants, and sharing 8 points with the World Champion at second (dropping to third only on the tie breaker) ain't bad, either.

Another Chess Fan, couldn't you also say that if you mix a mix of Armenian or Jewish and something else, with something else, you may get something great?

hey i am an armenian and married to a jew and have two kids. you'll hear from them soon :) you'll remember their 1.h4 forever :)

On the whole, the tournament was quite exciting. Obviously, taking clear first at Linares is a great feat for Aronian, even if he wasn't exactly dominant. By winning a Category XX event, he has "ratified" his high rating, and demonstrated that his 5th place ranking is no fluke. Of course, now Aronian will be expect to vie for 1st Place in every tournament--a 50% result will be seen as a disappointment.
It was good to see Topalov rally, and nearly take 1st place. It is a bit reminscent of Fischer's performance at the 2nd Piatagorsky Cup, in 1966. There, Fischer lost to Spassky in the "first lap" of the Double Round Robin tournament, and also played poorly in suffering defeats by Larsen and Najdorf. at the halfway point, after 9 games, Fischer stood at -2, with just 3.5/9. Larsen and Spassky were in the lead at +3; 6.0/9

In the 2nd lap, Fischer caught on fire, and scored +6 =3 for 7.5/9 This was enough for Fischer to finish in clear 2nd, behind Spassky.

Granted, the players each played 18 rounds, rather than 14, so there was more opportunity for a comeback. Still, a great feat.

Radjabov made a bit of a statement, although I expect for him to still mostly finish in the middle of the pack, at least for the next 2 or 3 years. He's sure to reap a nice bounty in ratings points from this result.

Leko's nerves seem to be getting the better of him. While he has never been much of a fighter, he seems to have lost his confidence, and shies away from a full struggle, even when his position is good. What a turnaround in the last 2 rounds! He really blew the event, and is really far from the consistency in form which earned him his title shot vs. Kramnik

Ivanchuk played some of the most interesting chess of the event, and he was "unlucky" to finish at -1. One wonders what kind of score Ivanchuk could achieve, if he could go through an event without making unforced errors, and was a bit more practical with his clock management.

Svidler suffered a complete collapse in the 2nd half. His fine form in San Luis is just a distant memory. Obviously, he needs to hit the books, when it comes to openings. Did he skimp on preparation for this event? Is he burned out?

Bacrot has given no indication that he really belongs at these events. He'll continue his drop back to the 2700 level. Without the gift point from Ivanchuk, the result would have been even worse. Clearly, his 2740 rating was a bit bloated, and the other Top GMs have adjusted to his style. He's a bit too flat footed in tactical melees, and he simply can't grind out enough wins via positional means, against Super GM opposition.

Vallejo Pons also "ratified" his rating of 2650; rating-wise, it was a "break-even" event. Still, after all those years of experience in competing at Linares (against even more intimidating company) one might have expected that he would manage to do better than an anemic -4, with only a single victory.

My take:

Levon Aronian: The "after all" was merely the result of the fact that a lot of players rack up victories in swisses and olympiads, get high ratings, and then get swatted at Linares. Shirov, Polgar, now Svidler, certainly Bacrot it's easy to believe that Aronian had a bloated rating that would come back to earth when he had to make his points against Peter Leko. This tournament was a real trial by fire for him and he succeeded brilliantly. To be honest, I think he may well be the mostly likely player at Linares (other than Topalov) to seriously make a run at "strongest player in the world" over the next ten years.

Teimour Radjabov: Still needs to hit the books! A couple of games had him in hot water after the opening, especially in Morelia, but his strong play and willingness to play the best lines (even if they are dangerous) recalls Kasparov in his best years and brought him a solid result. Stop inviting him because he's young and start inviting him because he belongs in Linares.

Veselin Topalov: Kudos for the strong finish. It seems he may have just run out of gas between his WC duties and photo ops and heavy playing schedule. The opening innovations that stunned the fields at Wijk and San Luis weren't there, and he finished t-2nd anyway.

Peter Leko: Really needs to fight a little harder. You cannot win Super GM tournaments taking draws in winning positions because you "only" have fifteen minutes on the clock. He lacks confidence, and it shows. His tentative, occasionally foolish play in the last two rounds (How could he not KNOW Ra2 was bad against Aronian? Even if he missed the tactics, it was still useless) makes me think he's had his shot. There's no question of his class; he's a "Linares" player. But he isn't acting like he has anything to prove; and he does.

Peter Svidler: Collapsed in the second half. As much as people blamed the Grunfeld, his play was unimpressive in and out of the opening. He's capable of playing very good chess, but so far it appears his best is still not nearly as good as Topalov's, or Anand's, or even Leko's.

Ivanchuk: What to say? About half the time, Vassily played World Champion caliber chess; his win over Aronian was beautiful chess. However, Ivanchuk has a genius for ruining his score. He may be the most talented player in the field, but he is far from the best.

Bacrot: Etienne Bacrot is lucky. He can look forward to a lifetime of being invited to decent tournaments because he is the only really strong French grandmaster. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to be invited back to Linares, because he clearly did not belong in this field, and being French isn't too impressive in Spain.

Vallejo Pons: His chess wasn't actually horribly bad apart from his helpless-looking loss to Svidler with White. He didn't come to Linares with as clear a plan this time, however, and it showed in his result. However, I can hardly think of another GM I'd rather hire as a second. No one else below 2700 (other than Karpov, of course) has his experience against the current world elite. Next year, he needs to come better prepared and willing to make draws with the players who are on form. Even Kasparov has been willing to do that. Mixing it up with a fired-up Svidler isn't terribly bright.

Why Ponomariov, Morozevich and Grischuk are missing in the supertournaments?
I think all these guys play much better chess than Bacrot or Vallejo...
Without counting the veterans Bareev (principally), Akopian and Shirov, which are by no means inferior to Ivanchuk.

Ponomariov will be in Sofia. Morozevich's results have been uneven of late, and he keeps giving interviews saying he isn't a serious professional anymore, maybe that has something to do with his lack of invitations. Grischuk, also, has had so-so results for the guy who was supposed to be doing what Aronian has been doing lately.

None of Shirov, Akopian, and Bareev are even in Ivanchuk's class (anymore). Shirov has been playing non-top-10 chess ever since he failed to get a match with Kasparov, had a tiff with same, and lost about 10 straight games to him. I don't know what's wrong with him but he's a run of the mill GM now. Akopian and Bareev are strong GM's, in a class with Van Wely, Bacrot, Dreev, etc., who aren't quite Linares caliber, at this point probably never will be, but nonetheless command respect.

to Rouslan
You have to think again what you are talking and thinkig because people like you have brought Hitler on the scene. As far as I know there a also a lot of armenians killed and so on.
I am half jew half bulgarian but it is not the origin that forms a man but the culture.Most of these people lived in USSR and that gave them the opportunity to be what they were. As you see now the bet players are Anand a pure indian, Topalov a pure bugarian and Kramnik a pure russian.
No jews around.

kramnik is a russian jew actually.

and aronian is half jewish too.

I had an Armenian acquaintance who bragged about how rich Armenians are everywhere in the world, because 'Armenians are smart!'

I asked him why Armenia itself is a poor country.

He answered: "That's because everyone in Armenia is smart!"

I wonder what all the "Jews play great chess" people are going to say in 50 years when the Chinese dominate chess.

More racist nonsense...

That's kind of along the lines that if Governor Schwarzenegger moved from California to New York, he'd raise the average IQ's of both states.

"I wonder what all the "Jews play great chess" people are going to say in 50 years when the Chinese dominae chess."

That Jews and Chinese play great chess! What is wrong with saying what you see rather than lying using the fog of political correctness?

artyom: Is that because Kramnik is a jew he always wears a cross on his necklace?

well dear friend go and do an etymological research as to where he gets his last name, which is anything but russian, like mao tze tung.

after all the first men is jew:)
then we are all jews
and if darvin was right the first monkey to become a man was jew too.

GMC made good points. The race thing is based on ignorance. Mamedyarov didn't get to 2700 by beating Kaparov Kramnik Anand and Leko he did it against juniors he and Bacrot will undoubtedly lose rating points untill they gain enough experience against the big boys (and Girl ie:Judit!)to earn an elite 2700.

The problem with why Pono or Moro or anyone you can name doesn't get invited to the supertournaments is simple the tournaments themselves. There just aren't enough spots for everybody so invitations are limited. Blame FIDE for that they are the ones in charge of chess and need to bring money and tournaments and a set schedule in or we'll continue to watch the same fields over and over with only 2-3 spots rotating through everyone else. Remember Kamsky's criticism of the FIDE championship rules they set up a system with an elite club and everyone else fighting over just a couple of spots for the championship, hardly fair. Strength demonstrated in wins against opponents not seeding according to elo rankings should produce the most deserving winners in tournament and championship play.

Thats stuff about real 2700 and fake ones its one of the biggeest BS I have ever read. We can also say that the real 2700 guys are the ones who gained their Elo in opens bacause all the other Gm just draws among them and this way keep their high ranking. Whats happen when those SuperGM play in an Open? Do you remember Svidler winning the Aeroflot? Huzman Kasparov anyone?.
Of course those permanent 2700 players has more experience playing against strong opposition, but to say that the new ones aren't for real its just a disrespect that only can come from an ignorant mind.
I still remeber some bloggers here saying after some Aronian loses in Corus that he doesn' belong to the elite, that his ranking was inflated, etc... Classic 1400 semiparter garbage.
PS: excuse my bad english

oh i see it's his name that makes him jewish..and because it's not rusian but polish it has to be jewish...i always thought religion has something to do with faith and not names, silly me

p.s: you said i should look up "where he gets his last name" - well could that be his father?

p.p.s: is mao tze tung also jewish? i just try to follow your logic...

Photos thank you for the kind response!
ELO's are built on pools of players if you play against a pool of fish you can get a 2700 if you play against a pool where you are the fish you will not get to the same level. I could care less if Mamedyarov is a 2700 or not the fact is his rating will reflect who he is playing against. If he played 100 games against Kasparov in the next 6 months his rating would be much different than 100 games in the same time frame against the juniors he built up to 2700 with. He is worthy of inviting to the top events and is and will get invited, however he will then of course be playing against the top players in the world and will see his elo rise and fall just like the rest of them. Only work and results will then give him big ratings.

The point isn't that one player has a "real" 2700 rating while another has a "fake" one. The point is the pool of players that you build your rating against can skew it higher which puts you into a higher level pool your rating adjusts you build it back up move into a higher pool etc.


Photos: I'll excuse your English but you're still wrong. See Bacrot.

Someday someone will explain to the world that A. being ethnically Jewish and of the judiac religion are not the same thing, and B. Nobody gives a rat's hind end about either one.

PS: Why don't we talk about chess from now on.

greatest comeback in chess or any other discipline was kasparov v karpov 1984/1985. It's so clear there is no need to present an argument...........

The German-language version of chessbase.com links to a couple of articles in the German press about Aronian.

The secret of Aronian's success?

No work.

Yes, you read that right.

-- He almost never trains.

-- Only half an hour's worth of preparation before a game.

-- A memory like a sieve. "I forget my games as soon as I finish playing them."

-- He downloads recent game scores but only to look at them briefly without analyzing.

-- Instead of spending eight to ten hours a day working on new opening wrinkles, he plays basketball or goes for bicycle rides.

His chess idol? Bent Larsen!

Favorite current-day players? Ivanchuk and Topalov!

His chief characteristic? "A very strong belief in myself."

Aronian calls himself a typical Armenian chess player: "All of us are lazy and ignorant about openings -- and very optimistic."

Dear SS,

Even if you don't like my remarks, they are just a statistical reality. Jewish players are much more talentend than non-jewish players. Yes, Topalov and Anand are dominating the field today, but ... with 5 million armenian and 15 millions jews, armenian and jews are 0.3% of human race, and more than 50% of top chess players were or are jews, armenian, georgian and azeri.

Even if those kind of ideas are just not admited today, especially after what did happen in Germany 60 years ago, I still believe that a man who belongs to a race who has spent 5000 years of its history reading books, thinking about philosophy and religion, that this man will have higher chances to have brighter genes that will statistically grant him higher social positions.

We, in Europe, have eliminated any kind of "dangerous" animal species since, let's say, 1000 BC. Therefore, running fast is not an survival and evolutional criteria. In Africa, they still have lions. What can you see at the olympic games? When it comes to sprint, black people are just better than white.

All this does changes nothing to the fact that the best golf player (ever ?) is black, and that Eminem, who makes what people generaly consider as good rap, is white. There are no rules, since a man is a man, but even if you can find a giant pygmee and a little masai, chances are that pygmee people will be little and masai giant ones. Saying that we are all equal and have to differences in our heads is just as ridiculous as saying that there is no physical difference between a black, a white, an asian, an indian or any ethnic RACE. Of course, this word, race, in the hand of fools, has proved to be very dangerous. But it's not a good reason - at least in my eyes - to forget the reality.

Our differences are not good reasons to build walls between nations, they are good reasons to meet each other, to travel, to fall in love with other countries, cultures, races, people. And this is another evolutional rule : the more we mix, the higher chances that next generation will be better. Haven't you ever noticed how beautiful are mixed people?

Of course, my first post was a little bit ... godwin-oriented. But it was just intended to be humoristic. I was not really serious about all that, I'm just a man meeting men - and women - in life, and when I will never judge anybody from his religion, skin, culture, but always try to see who he is. Which changes nothing to the fact that jews play better chess... :o)

... and also changes nothing to the fact that I'm armenian, started my own business from nothing, and have 15 employees :o)

Dear Rouslan
In Izrael there are 6 mil jews and I dont see great chess players from Izrael except the ones born in Russia!.
:)about your business it happens to everyone from time to time to have small business and believe me most of them are not armenians.

Rouslan dude,

Quiet! You say we shouldn't care about all these issues, and you go on forever about them. This is a chess blog.

Where is Mig when you need him ?

Dang !

A tournament comeback like Topalov would have had had he won the last game? Off hand I can't think of one, but I can think of a similar match, and guess there probably are similar tournament comebacks. For a match, what about Korchnoi down 2-5 against Karpov, with any loss by Korchnoi ending the match. Korchnoi proceeds to tie it up at 5 - 5 (before losing the final game).

Why go back so far? Check out the first Karpov-Kasparov (aborted) match.

While Karpov-Kasparov 1st was amazing it wasn't quite a come back. It was an amazing 'threatened' come back. Sure, Kasparov survived an incredible number of games while any loss would end the match. But it was stopped before a comeback could be achieved - Karpov still led, and might still have been considered the slight favorite had it continued. Korchnoi brought it all the way back to tie in equivalent circumstances - then, like Topalov, lost after the unprecedented come back.

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