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Linares 2006 r10-11

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I'm all extremities to the grindstone here in San Diego at the US Championship, so I can't really say I've spent much time looking at the Linares games this week. But that won't stop me from making sweeping generalizations and baseless commentary, of course. Vallejo Pons has turned into a giant black hole of bad in these last two rounds, sucking up all the bad around him. Someone should have told him that when you follow a 1978 game between Tal and Dorfman for 16 moves YOU WANT TO BE TAL, NOT DORFMAN. No offense to Iossif, but you don't hear tales of "the Magician of Jitomir." To be fair, Vallejo improved. Dorfman dumped another pawn with 16..Ne7 17.Bxh7! And Aronian played amazingly to hang on to the f-pawn.

Vallejo's slow slide to the bottom has made things look better for Bacrot, who is competing with him for anti-honors. The Frenchman has played a couple of nice games in the second half. Ivanchuk has also slid below the horizon after consecutive losses with white. (Including, ahem, one against Radjabov's King's Indian. And who doesn't love the King's Indian?) Topalov always finishes strong and has pulled within a point of Leko, who is holding on to the lead with a very shaky grip. He hasn't won a game since the fourth round, that's seven draws in a row. (A winless streak shared by Svidler.) Meanwhile, Aronian has crept up to a half-point back despite the loss to Topalov. The last two rounds include Topalov-Leko and Leko-Aronian.

Many of the players here at the US Championship follow the Linares games closely, keeping an eye out for opening details they might make use of. I doubt the reverse is true, but you never know.


How's this for a finish: In the last three rounds Leko, Aronian, and Topolov beat up on one another while Radjabov munches on the tailenders and walks off with the plunder. Stranger things have happened.

Vallejo's 31.Bxa2 did not put up much resistance. More stubborn would have been 31.-,Rxf6 and only by accurate play Aronian could have clinched the victory by the nails.

Leko has made 7 draws in a row. He will make it to 10 draws in a row. He has some experience, and he does not want to risk anything.
Last Linares he made all games a draw, as far as I remember.
And will end up on 8,5.
Radjabov will score 2,5 in the last 3 rounds, as will Topalov. They all finish on 8,5 p.
What are the tie break rules this time?
Most wins as last time?
Then Leko will be 3 d.

I dislike modern chess games like Aronian-Vallejo. Play random ridiculously sharp lines for no reason except to test who works better with the computer. I say this because I was analyzing this opening a few months ago myself and using the computer I was able to reach the position after white's 28th move in this game within 15-20 minutes. I am a terrible chess player and yet after 9.Bd6 e5 everything develops very forcefully. Aronian essentially won a game for free without showing any real skill whatsoever.


I take issue with your argument that players who win through opening "preparation" are to be dismissed or condemned for not enriching chess.

My inclination is to see this same glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.

Although I haven't replayed Aronian-Vallejo yet, I agree with your description of what went on in that game, because I've seen the same phenomenon in many other recent games, even in the past month or two. There was at least one game from the US Championship, (round 1 I think) where one player (Novikov?) said he had the position on move xxx on his analysis board the day before the game (he won with a TN against an opponent who had played the same variation in top-level games before). And in San Luis, Anand won a celebrated game as Black in a Najdorf English Attack, with a long-range piece sac -- not usually the computer's specialty, but this was the exception -- which no one ever noticed before, but computer analysis proved was a forced win. Of course Anand had done that computer analysis well before the game, so he won in spectacular style without having to make a single original move.

How is this any different, or any worse, than the extensive, and highly productive, search for opening novelties that Kasparov -- and Fischer before him -- habitually and famously engaged in? I don't recall anyone ever disparaging their contributions as showing a lack of skill, even though they won a great many games largely on the strength of their ability to ferret out the holes in established theory before they sat down at the board.

Of course, you'll say that the difference is computers. They didn't exist for Fischer; and for the majority of Kasparov's career, while computers were valuable for cataloging and replaying opening lines, the engines weren't quite strong enough to perform the actual analytical work at the super-GM level (identifying errors in theory and finding and checking potential novelties) -- which they obviously are today.

Yet, it would be naive to romanticize the past. What about all the opening theory that was created by the Soviet machine: teams of GMs working around-the-clock on state salaries, harnessed to channel the results of their work to advance the prospects of whoever was the Party's favorite son in Tournament X or Y, or in the championship cycle?

I'm really not trying to make any kind of Cold War point here; to be consistent, I have to say all that Party-sponsored opening analysis contributed positively to the world's stable of chess knowledge and chess understanding, too.

The point I mean to make is, 40 years ago there were no computers, but the sort of thing you complain about went on then too, with top players/innovators benefiting from outside assistance of the human rather than electronic sort.

Rather than making things worse, I think the possibility of teaming up with an engine to prepare novelties has made things better for chess and for chess players (because it's more democratic) than in days gone by, when this kind of help was available only to those who could afford to pay for GM-strength human helpers.

The difference between the modern style and Fischer/Kasparov style is enormous in my opinion. Please understand that I don't have anything against homework: a great move prepared at home can be very impressive. Finding a brilliant new plan or a deep move whatever at home is great. What I do take issue is with these positions that are just random and super forced and lend themselves to being finite searched by a computer with some human input such as the one in question. Essentially, all it takes is to keep clicking the mouse and to stop at a few junctures and turn on the brain. There is, in some sense, no question about the initial moves and it is a question of depth of analysis in the games. The best way to put it is that such positions have no bredth, only depth and with the computer depth becomes a non-issue because we can go as deep in a forcing line as we want, something which Kasparov or Fischer never had. The point is, that in games like these, you could replace Aronian with an ape like me who has prepared the line and it would not make such a big difference compared with more "branchy" positions(I honestly believe I could have taken out Vallejo in that line if you put me in Aronian's body for the game. He probably understands that there is this possibility and wouldn't play such a line against someone low rated). This is what makes so disturbing to me anyway.


I see what you're saying but to me it's again half-full, rather than half-empty.

You seem dismayed by the possibility that you yourself might be able to ambush a GM (indeed even a super-GM) in such a manner. But in fact, you should be thrilled! This is what I dream about!

(By the way, I'm working on an article that will discuss the proper approach for a club player when paired against a pro. I recommend trying your best to "mix it up", since most pros by definition will want to minimize their risks when playing someone much lower-rated. If the game heads into unclear complications, an amateur who isn't too prone to attacks of nervousness may gain a psychological edge, since it's well known that getting the type of position you wanted is 2/3 of the battle. Naka, of course, is the exception that proves the rule.)

Maybe you feel repulsed on aesthetic grounds by the idea of relying entirely on your computer-assisted pre-analysis to upend a pro. Don't be. Winning is what tournament chess is all about. A win achieved through any legal and sportsmanlike means should fill you with pride, not shame.

Since I already know from your response to one of my previous comments that you do regularly play tournament chess and you are at least 2200-level, I find your attitude puzzling. If you don't relish the thought that computer preparation has created a somewhat more level playing field between you and the pros, perhaps you will end up giving up active play in favor of problem composing, or postal chess, or something else more appealing to purists. (I find it odd even saying that, since I consider myself something of a purist at the board.)

Jon, Looking forward to reading that article as long as its not a rehash of what the late Simon Webb did in Chess for Tigers.

Anyone else notice that on the official site, Topalov-Aronian is listed as a draw?


DP I wonder what are you doing here instead of playing in Linares, since you can prepare the way they can. Or it is too dificult to ditch your job?

That is the point. 1) I would need about 350 elo points. The reason I don't have said points is 1) time and more importantly 2)talent for actually playing chess, which is important for a large of the games on the highest level and even more important at lower levels . However in openings like this one, any monkey like me on a jobless Sunday afternoon, can prepare the line almost perfectly because of the computer.

I'm so HAPPY!!!
The drawing master was thrashed,
He got his just deserts for playing so CRAPPY!!!
Topalove is the man, the King of the Smash!

Sometimes you just have this feeling that watching a six-hour chess game without even an exchange sacrifice!, just a slow positional squeeze, might actually be worth it. And sometimes it actually works out that way. What an experience! Topalov has really made chess history again by coming from WAY behind in this tournament. Like many other people, I was fully prepared to say, "well, he's a great champion, he's entitled to one lousy tournament.' But now look! This guy not only can play just about flawlessly, but he also is just absolutely determined to win.

Laj, Leko didn't play "crappy", come on :-) So far as I can see, having been pressured for about 5 hours, he made only one slip....


Amazing comeback by Topalov! Really, it shows that he not only has the chess understanding, but also the grit, determination, and resilience of a truly great player. I can think of too many players who, after such a miserable start, would have given up and tried to salvage their dignity with a string of draws. Topalov is not like that. He fully deserves to win this tournament.

If he wins tommorow he probably will be gaining Elo points from the tournament, which is also incredible.


By crappy, I meant Leko's drawish play in the tournament after his 3 wins, especially his draw against Vallejo. This is exactly what cost him a chance to be a World Champion vs. Kramnik. Some people don't learn their lessons, and even if Leko wins the tournament outright (unlikely since he plays Aronian tomorrow), I am happy that he was punished for such a drab approach to chess. Let's remember that when Topalov drew his way to first in San Luis, many of those draws were not Topalov's fault - some of those were winning positions he failed to convert because of plausible inaccuracies and others where complex positions where his opponents decided that they didn't need to win. Topalov would never have taken a draw in the kind of position that Leko did vs. Vallejo.

I'm so HAPPY....


Indeed.. And I actually predicted this... Topalov is the king! Worthy successor to GK, in the line Morphy, Chigorin, Bronstein, Tal, Kasparov, Topalov..

btw did you know that Aronian is the champ?

It was nice to see a Topalov victory in which he impressively grinds his advantage and doesn't just win because he is not the one who blunders.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 7, 2006 4:30 PM.

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