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Linares 2007 r3

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The second round was chock-full of exciting and interesting games. The only win was scored in excellent style by Vassily Ivanchuk over Veselin Topalov, really first-class work. Everyone knows you just aren't supposed to capture on e6 in these lines. Black gets a strong central pawn mass and the open f-file. Ivanchuk, as ever, thought differently. After an amusing knight tour and leaving his beastie en prise on d5 for three moves, the Ukrainian wizard had a positionally superior position. He turned the screws effectively and Topalov never had a shred of counterplay. The game ended abruptly when Topalov blundered a piece on the final move of time control, but at least he was down a pawn at the time. Ivanchuk even tempted Topalov, dared him you might say, to play a trademark exchange sac with with 15..exd5 16.Qxa7 dxe4, but Black declined. Analysis shows that Black wouldn''t have adequate compensation. Many pointed out that White could have grabbed a second pawn with 31.Nxe5, but he was clearly fixated on a plan as well as on reaching the time control. The lack of increment in Linares has already led to some hair-raising moments and there is no doubt Ivanchuk in particular will have many more of them.

Carlsen and Ivanchuk; the youngest and oldest in the lead. Photos by John Henderson

Aronian-Carlsen turned into a barnburner when Aronian took a solid position with an extra pawn and sacrificed a piece for a wild speculative attack. There were some lethal lines but Carlsen defended cooly (20..f5!) and looked good for his second win until choosing safety with five minutes left on his clock. 27..Rd7 allowed the shot 28.e6! and Black bailed out into a perpetual, although he could have run his king to the queenside still with better chances. 27..Bg6 was best, but Carlsen probably saw 28.Rxg6 hxg6 29.Qxg6 and Black is lost unless he finds the unrealistic 29..Qh3!

Leko-Morozevich was a very complicated fire and ice battle. Moro's position was incredibly ugly but he managed to wangle his way to what my ICC Chess.FM co-host GM Kaidanov called a slight advantage before drawing a four-rook endgame. Anand got a pawn against Svidler but Black always had good activity. Svidler even turned things around at the end with the nicely calculated shot 30..Bxe1! to go up a pawn, but the endgame never looked like anything but a draw. A day of great chess. Some pics and videos at ChessBase en español.

We spoke on the air with two of the world's elite in a very small club, the chess journalists. My old friend Leontxo Garcia of Spain is the official commentator at Linares again and also covers the event for Spanish radio and his newspaper, the major daily El País. It's worth learning Spanish to see a real pro in action. He has been very impressed with Carlsen so far, his demeanor as much as his play. We also spoke with Aussie GM Ian Rogers in the Morelia press room. He said there were no anti-cheating measures in place at all and that it's very easy for the players to see the audience from the elevated stage. Spectators go in and out with no security at all. Ian added that he hadn't even seen Danailov at the playing hall yet.

The consensus among the kibitzing players and others on the scene was that Morozevich missed several clear draws against Carlsen in round one. The best annotation came from Peter Svidler, who told Rogers, "The most important thing in this endgame is not to resign." That's a reference to how he resigned a similar opposite-colored bishop ending against Kramnik at Corus 2004 only to find out later that it was a forced draw. After two rounds Carlsen and Ivanchuk are in the lead and Morozevich and Topalov are trailing. Not the crosstable you would have imagined a week ago. Carlsen is by far the lowest-rated player and Ivanchuk wasn't playing. Note that Topalov started with .5/3 last year (and losing three games in the first six rounds) and came back to nearly win the event.

A local Morelia paper says Ivanchuk has grabbed a trainer for the tournament off the shelf, 18-year-old Mexican hope Manuel León Hoyos! They know each other from Ivanchuk's regular stops at the Torre tournament in Mérida. In the past Ivanchuk has worked with Kotronias and others, but I remember Ukrainian IM Alexander Sulypa as his friend and second for many years.

As part of the inaugural festivities the famous windmill game Torre-Lasker, Moscow 1925 was played in living chess fashion in front of the giant cathedral in the central square in Morelia. Carlsen's father is blogging here.

Today is Topalov-Leko, Svidler-Ivanchuk, Carlsen-Anand, Morozevich-Aronian. I'm back on ICC Chess.FM at 4:30 EST with GM Jon Speelman as co-host. Tomorrow is a free day.


wow, Ivanchuk got Manuel León Hoyos as his second. He is a great young talent, maybe some day we will see him playing in this tournament.

Do the other players have seconds with them also?

With Topolov starting at .5 for the first two rounds, Danailov had better start showing up...for moral support that is. =;-)

Maybe Danailov was scared off by the recent accusations against him. It is strange that he was all around Topalov at the last event but now Danailov is keeping his distance.

Do you think that Radja would have gone for Topalov's throat like Chucky did?

All hail the Chuckster!

The only thing better than Ivanchuk substituting at the last second would be Kasparov substituting at the last second. Now that would be great. Our world would rock. Meanwhile, I agree, all hail the Chuckster.

Chess is pretty darn exciting these days, we've got personalities, accusations, threats, oldsters, youngsters, pacifists, barnburners, and a heck of a lot of action on the chessboard. Now if we could just shift the starting time of the rounds...

"Now if we could just shift the starting time of the rounds..."

I agree. Even though it has a certain charm when Chucky delivers the final blow to Topalov, and just then the birds start singing their morning serenade under my window.

Luckily they're switching to Linares soon, but I don't know how I will live through the WCh in September.

The time is just fine for those of us in the Western USA ;-)

I'm a zombie now (as I am plunging into the third consecutive night without proper sleep)

I seriously think that all of us fans on GMT+1 are going to enjoy the tuesday rest day even more than the players.

I am almost hoping for 4 quick < 20 move draws :-)


Exactly! I love listening to the Eastern USA whine about the starting times. Probably a bunch of Boston and New York liberals. OMG, did I just say something that could be interpreted as politically incorrect? Damn, I guess I'm just feeling testy today.

Topalov vs. Leko qualifies as the most boruing game of the tourney.

Leon-Hoyas won with black against Cheparinov (Topalov second) a year ago at the Cuernavaca Young Masters. It's a Sicilian Dragon. Black allows an exchange sac, the White queen grabs a pawn next move, and proceeds to slowly spin out of control. Here's a link to the game:


Any updates on the games ?

Top-Leko drawn
Carlsen-Anand: 0-1
The other 2 are still continuing.

what do you people think of svid-chuk? some analysis for a patzer at move 39?

Topalov-Leko, LOL. So where are all these people that critisized Kramnik for playing for a draw with BLACK? Now it seems that your fetish, Topalov, plays for a draw with white. 30 moves of home preparation, shake hands, go home. Good game. Ohh sorry, I have to give credit where credit is due, Top made a valiant attempt to play for the win in the opposite bishop endgame.

Svidler-Chucky looks crazy, but equal, on move 39 and even more so after 40.a5. Chucky could have tried for a great swindle 40...Nf3 41. a6 d4 42. a7? and now d3 wins for black because of the threat Re1#. 43. Be5 Rxe5 44. a8Q+ Kh7. If white spots the trap, it seems to be quite risky for black, for example: 42. Bf4 d3 43. Kc1 Re1+ 44. Kb2 Re2+ 45. Kb3 d2 46. Bxd2 Nxd2+ 47. Kb4. White has some winning chances here. After chucky's move (40...Re3) it looks drawish: 41. Rxb4 Nb5 42. Rxg4+ Kh7 and black will get the a-pawn after ra3.

Carlsen-Anand looked equal or better for White for a long time, just general semi-slav symmetry. Then I thought Anand was losing a Pawn (he wasn't), and the next thing you know, Anand's Rook is active and Carlsen's (though pretty and in the middle of the board and with lots of targets) ends up being useless.

Anand is fun to watch when he's trying.

Does the perrineal #2 have a 2nd?

Topalov credits a lot of his wins to Cheparinov and even Anand was at his most dominant when he was working with Ubilava... I haven't heard of anyone working with him.. has anyone?

Does the perennial #2 have a 2nd?

Topalov credits a lot of his wins to Cheparinov and even Anand was at his most dominant when he was working with Ubilava... I haven't heard of anyone working with him.. has anyone?

Carlsen-Anand looked equal or better for White for a long time, just general semi-slav symmetry. Then I thought Anand was losing a Pawn (he wasn't), and the next thing you know, Anand's Rook is active and Carlsen's (though pretty and in the middle of the board and with lots of targets) ends up being useless.

Anand is fun to watch when he's trying.
-- Posted by: gmc at February 19, 2007 23:46

Yes, it is almost impossible to believe that Carlsen lost from that middlegame position.

Are you sure they said Hoyas will be 'trainer' for Ivanchuk? Maybe it means 'tea-boy' and 'room-guard'?

I love the idea of Anand being the perineal number two. Of course we’ll never really be able to check on this until we get hidden cameras in the toilet bowls. I really think this is the way professional chess needs to go.

Anyone else amused by the rather obvious anti-chemistry between Mig and Jon Speelman last night?! Personally I didn’t feel the exploration of the Topalov-Leko ending went too far from the diagrammed position, and generally would welcome more lines (er, variations, that is) and less humorous chat, but then I’m a bit of a chess geek and not really a disc-jockey kinda guy, so perhaps I’m a statistical outlier. What does anyone else think?

I do wonder why the GM commentators don’t have a laptop running with a machine. I suppose one can do that oneself and it’s arguable it gives a better idea of what the players are thinking. But is there really any point in Jon S groping for ten minutes to find 13 Qxb7 Qd7 14 Qxa8?? Na4 0-1 in Svidler-Ivanchuk, especially when as it happens this has already been published (not a criticism; no-one knows all of theory)?

Carlsen lost like a child again. I suppose he must have just overlooked …hxg5 completely – it would be obvious I think to any strong player that he would have great difficulty drawing after that. Mig’s apparent astonishment when Jon S pointed this out was presumably simulated. (having said that, of course, Anand’s …f4?? allowed an immediate draw with gf4 gf4; ef4 Rd2; Bg6!. A strange miss by both players. Carlsen must have been terribly demoralised to have overlooked this.)

But the intelligent response perhaps is not to castigate Carlsen for lacking a sense of danger (young players generally do and I suspect it might be best for their development if they do – Jon S was good on this last night), but to reflect on the fact that in spite of these very obvious weaknesses in his game his rating is 2698 (or whatever it is), and what talent he must have to achieve this. What might his rating become just by the natural process of growing up and acquiring a few scars and theoretical experience (which will probably fix the sort of thing we’ve seen in his losses recently to Anand and Topalov)?

Anand plays some mind blowing chess when he's in form. As does Chuky. Those two are true geniuses (or genii for the pedantic). Imagine the strength of GK to keep them permanently at bay..

Svidler-Ivanchuk was a lot of fun. I enjoyed Notkin's analysis at chesspro, sorry to all the non-Russian speakers, but I think that guy provides one the most entertaining analyses. It was also the kind of game which I really wanted to see go the distance, wouldn't have objected to it playing out till there was insufficient material.

rdh: you can read about what Carlsen was thinking on his dad's blog.

Apparently Anand conciously gambled that Magnus wouldn't see the drawing line (which he didn't).

Simsan, many thanks. Call me what you like, but I wonder if that's true?! Players often say strange things after the game. I find it hard to believe Anand truly took that gamble when - at any rate to the patzer eye - he still had good chances of a squeeze. An alternative possibility is that he truly missed it but didn't feel that admitting as much would be desirable, either from amour propre or a desire not to admit weakness in the face of the enemy, with future battles in mind. It can't have done Magnus' confidence much good to know the top players toy with him in that way (assuming he believes it himself).

Of course it may just illustrate a tendency I've rather noticed - the elite don't seem to think of simplified positions as offering good chances or not in quite the way we do - they say either 'it's a win' or 'it's a draw' much more readily. I'm sure they are in fact very aware of what positions do truly ofer them 'good chances' in practice against a given class of opponent, but there is a larger class of positions where this is not the case than there is for us punters. So maybe Anand really did think that the other way Carlsen would be able to find the moves he needed to find and he might as well gamble. I doubt it though.

I don't follow chess games in much detail anymore but happened to be watching Topalov's 2nd round game against Chucky. I was shocked and confused to see Topalov's losing move - Qf7. Shocked because of the obvious oversight and confused because I wasn't sure if the relayer had made a mistake. And then I wasn't sure which relayer. Maybe Danialov meant to scratch his ear but got a genuine and uncontrollable nose itch :-) ...and we talk of man having made progress in communications and coding! :P


"Anand is fun to watch when he's trying."

Anand is always fun to watch. Big belly, great chess !

"suppose he must have just overlooked …hxg5 completely – it would be obvious I think to any strong player that he would have great difficulty drawing after that."
according to his father's blog, Carlsen offered a draw after 20.Bb2 and didn't realize the danger he was in.

Yes, I saw that, JaiDeep. I find that very surprising: it looked obviously horrid to me. But of course Carlsen sees far more than me: it just means he saw more of his defensive resources than I did, but perhaps not some the attacking resources, which no doubt also passed over my head.

rdh, thank you for the comment on "perineal". I hope I am not the only one who (actually) laughed out loud.

d, the pedantic differentiate between "geniuses" and "genii".

Response to rdh;
Thanks for your elaborate and analytical contributions re Anand-Carlsen and Carlsen's future.
But, I happened to be present at the post-mortem analysis and I can tell you that you're wrong about Anand's sincerity, and if you knew him, you wouldn't doubt his statements.
My impression is that most of the top players are generally very friendly towards each other.

charley oh yes, spelling mistakes on a blog. Thanks for pointing that out.

Henrik C: I wouldn't say I know Anand, but I've been present at post mortems with him too - a long time ago - and he seemed like a nice lad at the time, certainly. I also have the same impression as you (from my vast distance, but as far as one can tell from magazine interviews and the like) about the top players' attitude to one another.

I still think however that it's unwise to take at face value any statement about their inner mental processes made by any top sportsman to a long-term rival. I remember Bent Larsen in his book on (I think) Baguio 1978 (and others: Flohr on Karpov-Korchnoi 1974) making the same point about public pronouncements by the players about their thoughts - of course those were matches and Karpov and Korchnoi and very different personalities from Anand, but still.

In case it appeared otherwise, by the way, I didn't intend 'lost like a child' to sound critical. It was a reference to Magnus' own rather witty remark after losing to Kasparov some time ago. My point was that this is the sort of game young players lose which they don't lose once they get older.

rdh reveals himself to be thick as well as pompous. The two go hand in hand frequently of course..

Anand was absolutely sincere when he said ...f4 was a last try for a win. Someone queried him along the lines that rdh suggested (i.e. that he could have tried to squeeze rather than gamble on ...f4) and he replied that, despite Black's pressure, such positions are simply not winnable without queens or knights.

d, I wasn't referring to spelling mistakes at all, just to the (useful) distinction between geniuses and genii.

I fail to understand what "on a blog" has to do with any of this, by the way.

Ok, please tell us all clearly, dear Miachael: Why can´t we have livegames realtime from Moralia?
I am frustrated. I can´t event follow them at the ICC. Is it my fault in any way?


Jens Kristiansen

Thanks, tassie devil. Interesting comment of Anand's. I've never seen it verbalised before, but once it's said you can see what he means. I remember Kramnik beating Topalov in a pure knight ending which was almost exactly symmetrical (abcfgh pawns) without any visible errors. You couldn't do that with a bishop.

Anand is very good at these lucid observations. I was impressed by his best games book in that regard.

I could follow the games fine at ICC, jens? Well, except when the relay went down for 30 minutes.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 19, 2007 11:30 AM.

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