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Linares 2007 Final

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It's all over! Three of the four games in round 14 were Queen's Indians, a strange sight. Topalov-Aronian was a quick draw. Ivanchuk-Anand didn't see any real action but Vishy had to work on defense. Morozevich beat Svidler in a French and Leko beat Carlsen.

Viswanathan Anand wins his second Linares trophy and his first #1 ranking at the same time. Congratulations to him on both counts. It's a little strange since his #1 rating on the April list (probably 2785, ahead of Topalov's 2772) won't even be his personal best (2803 a year ago), but #1 is #1 and it's a rare and special thing. That specialness might not last, however. From the looks of the list we may finally be headed into the primus inter pares era that was predicted when Kasparov retired, before Topalov turned into super-Topalov. Aronian will be right up there with Anand, Topalov, and Kramnik now, according to zakki's calculations in the comments.

Getting back to Linares, second place was shared between, amazingly, Magnus Carlsen and, also amazingly but for different reasons, Alexander Morozevich. Carlsen lost to Leko today after missing a long queen maneuver that cost him a pawn. I feel good for Leko getting his only win of the event especially since for Carlsen it's a spectacular result no matter what. It could have ended instantly with 40.Rxf7! but both players were under a minute. Moro was doing well with black against Svidler out of a nicely prepared opening and then won quickly when Svidler went for a dangerous-looking but totally unsound exchange sac. Not really like Peter at all. It completed an astounding -3 to +1 Spanish sprint for Morozevich. He won his last three in a row. Topalov-Aronian was a quick "wouldn't you rather?" "yes, me too" draw. Ivanchuk built up a maximal Maroczy Bind against Anand but decided there was no way to get through and no good reason to try.

Carlsen's stunning +1 is clearly the story of the tournament, with Anand's new #1 ranking ranking #2. That Anand can score +3 isn't exactly big news and it never looked like a safe lead. He really battled hard. Everyone had at least one win and one loss. It was a very balanced tournament and even the players who finished on the plus side took their lumps. As usual, the winners were the ones who made the most of their chances and had a little luck. Anand fought like a tiger and won two inferior positions; Carlsen got a free half-point from Topalov and came back twice after losses to win; Morozevich may have had worse luck than anyone and still came back with an amazing +4 in Spain to finish =2-3 with Carlsen. There were many draws, most with at least some fight, and many wild back-and-forth games.

I doubt Aronian and Svidler are happy with their +1 -1 =12 scores although neither of them lost rating points. Quite a forgettable event for both of them, although their sole wins were very nice. Ivanchuk had a typical Ivanchuk tournament. He played some of the best chess of the event but let two wins slip away in time trouble. Topalov and Leko finished equal in the cellar at -2, a big surprise on both counts. Leko is usually Mr. Consistency but just couldn't get anything going. He was indecisive and that led to time pressure and more trouble. Topalov showed the occasional flash but never put together a coherent effort. Someone who doesn't work as hard as he does at the board could have finished on -4 or worse with such poor form. He's always the strong finisher but his play looked tired from the start. I don't doubt that all the recent distractions have taken some toll on his nerves. Let's hope he can get back to just chess and recover his shape. I think Kramnik knows the address of a good spa.

I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion about whether or not Carlsen's was the greatest performance by a 16-year-old ever. As Anand said in the closing press conference you can't really compare across generations, adding "15 in Bobby Fischer's time is not exactly 15 today." But Linares is Linares, a double round-robin of super-elite only and having an unproven player of any age go +1 is incredible. As I've acknowledged a dozen times a day for the past two weeks, I was way off in saying Carlsen didn't deserve a spot. I'd make the same comment again because it was based on his prior results, but obviously he transformed before our very eyes. Someone as young as Magnus probably hasn't seen the last negative score of his life just yet, but it's safe to say that Levon Aronian really did get shafted. As I semi-joked when the candidates were postponed from October to May, "I'd say Aronian got a raw deal against Carlsen as 16th seed. The teen will probably be 50 points stronger in May than he was in October!" So not all my predictions suck, nyah nyah! Actually Carlsen's rating won't skyrocket because he lost almost as many points at Corus as he'll gain in Linares.

I'll put up a transcript of Anand's press conference in a bit. Macauley Petersen (there for the ICC and sending reports to uschess.org) sent me a recording and I've transcribed it. It was mostly in Spanish and had some nice bits on his own performance and Carlsen's. Many spectacular games were played, although only a few of them were sound. Morozevich-Leko, Aronian-Anand, and Anand-Carlsen have to make any shortlist for the best game prize. Carlsen's win over Topalov was a great game, but Topalov resigning in the drawn final position is just too weird. Carlsen-Morozevich was also fascinating most of the way, if marred by Moro's dreadful endgame play.

Melody Amber (rapid/blindfold) is next on the elite calendar. The MTel tournament begins in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 9 but I don't think the field has been released yet, at least not beyond Topalov. (I'm now told it's Topalov, Adams, Mamedyarov, Kamsky and Nisipeanu with one more TBA. Also told that quite a few top players declined.) The Topalov site said they were going to release the list last month. Then the candidates matches begin in Elista at the end of May. That takes us right into Dortmund, where Kramnik will be in action.


Perceptive comment by Anand. Carlsen's rating is basically back to around where it was before Corus, but I'll bet his confidence rating is much higher.

Oops, posted that prematurely. Various additions made.

The Anand inteview is also available here:


To start the 16-year old talk, how about Kamsky's debut at Tilburg, where, if memory serves me, he was untitled(!) and tied for first with Ivanchuk.
The two big K's were missing from that field, but a stunning debut nonetheless.

I believe this will be the top ten on the next rating list:

1. Anand 2785 (-1.5 Corus, +7.8 Linares)
2. Topalov 2772 (+7.7 Corus, -18.6 Linares)
3. Kramnik 2772 (+6.0 Corus)
4. Mamedyarov 2764 (+6.4 Sadvakasov match, +3.4 French league)
5. Morozevich 2762 (+15.0 Pamplona, +5.8 Linares)
6. Aronian 2760 (+15.2 Corus, +.4 Linares)
7. Radjabov 2747 (+18.2 Corus)
8. Ivanchuk 2744 (-5.8 Linares)
9. Leko 2738 (-10.8 Linares)
10. Svidler 2735 (+3.3 Corus, +4.0 Linares)

I agree with Anand's observation on comparing performances of teenagers in those tournaments. Carlsen's performance was impressive, but taking into account that nowadays it is much easier to find teen grandmasters, this kind of result is not very unexpected and it was clear that something like this could happen. On the other hand, in Fischer's or Kasparov's time, those impressive results might have more shocking effect, even if the opponents might be weaker in average. So, everything at its time.

Kudos to Morozevich, he needed to justify his presence in Linares in the future with a good result this year, and that's exactly what happened. I guess he realized that and did his best (and unlike the first half of the tournament, this time he had someone acting as his second).

I have a question: For those who are doing rating calculations, are they sure the league games (French, Bundesliga) will/will not count in April's list?? Mamedyarov's presence right there looks surprising, given the fact he has collected a lot of rating points in minor events, similar to Morozevich years ago, so he is surely the overrated player in the list. Aronian (despite an unsatisfactory tournament), has confirmed his stability as a top 5 player, right there with Anand, Kramnik and (who knows if the bad streak continues) Topalov.

This is probably the strongest level of play by a 16 year old ever. Of course it's helped by computers, but the level is still the best- the players in this tournament are objectively some of the strongest ever.

The amazing thing to me is that Carlsen comes from an economically developed European country. Someone who at just sixteen and three months can compete with some of the best players ever.And do it while still looking like a European teenager. He only started playing chess with any real focus six or seven years ago.

He's a powerful example of how players in similar countries could rise to the higher sections of the world ranking with a bit of support.

French league games are usually submitted for rating after each weekend of action, while most leagues only submit after the season has ended.

Not trying to start a flame war guys but I can't help pointing out that about a year or so ago, Topolov wanted to use his rating difference as justification not to play Kramnik. Now according to zakki there the same, give or take a few points, and Kramnik is the Unified World Chess Champion. Yepperdoddle.

Just reading up on some chess history... when he was 16 Anand was just getting his IM title.


I understand what your saying, but that was still quite an accomplishment in its own right for Anand. That was still before computers had become so influential at that level and India at that time didn't have the kind of backing for chess that it provides now for it's young. I think Anand is to India's chess what Fischer was to America's in his time.

Just came across this story: "Anand to retire at 45."


Mig, why was my post withheld for review? No questionable words (unless it was "came").

Spam filters are weird things. Apparently an eight-number sequence junked it automatically. It should be up now.

@zakki, re: 19:08 post: oh man, good one

Few things of interest in this Linares and world chess.

- It was the closest supertournament I have seen in my lifetime. All participants lost and won at least one game each and all scores were between +3 and -2. Amazing! Has it happened before in this era?

It is also after a long time that the top 10 are very close to each other (within 50 rating points). That's also a sign of coming of age of the new generation (Carlsen, Aronian, Rajda, Shak etc.)


It seems on the available evidence that Topalov's recent success is largely due to good opening preparation (thanks at least in part to his seconds) and computer assistance later on (thanks to Danailov).

One thing that other players should do is to push Toppy into the endgame as Moro and others did. He he has been below avaerage in the middlegame and endgame when Danailov hasn't been around. Don't play for a draw or accept a draw just because Toppy got an advantage out of the opening. Don't ever resign unless it is clearly lost (the huge mistake Anand made resigning from a drawn position in Corus).


If people knew how little focus there is on chess and raising supertalents in Norway (compared to for instance Russia) they would be even more stunned by Carlsens performance. And as already mentioned he didn't really start playing before he was around 9 or 10.

It only takes one ambitious father, and one talented child, in order to create the conditions for developing a prodigy. There may be little focus on raising supertalents in Norway, but there is a lot of focus on Magnus Carlsen, and his successes. Carlsens exploits regularly make the front page of the Aftenposten.

Carlsen may be the first Norwegian chess prodigy, but he suely won't be the last. All you need to do is chart the sales of chess equipment< and training software for kids.

"If people knew how little focus there is on chess and raising supertalents in Norway (compared to for instance Russia) they would be even more stunned by Carlsens performance. And as already mentioned he didn't really start playing before he was around 9 or 10."

I'm told that MTel is starting May 9, not the 5th, and that it's Topalov, Adams, Mamedyarov, Kamsky and Nisipeanu with one more TBA. Apparently not a few top players declined. Adams and Kamsky will go directly to the candidates matches in Elista.

Mig; I believe you have made it all even again concerning your former Carlsen comments ...
Thanks anyway..

MTEL sounds like a bit of a dud this year compared to the previous editions.

Obviously Adams and Kamsky are using MTel to get back in the groove so-to-speak right before the candidates.

--"but there is a lot of focus on Magnus Carlsen, and his successes. Carlsens exploits regularly make the front page of the Aftenposten."

Is there a lot of focus on Magnus Carlsen in Norway? By now, I think most ppl might have heard his name and know roughly what he does ("plays chess").

I'm wondering though, what "regularly" means above. How many front pages of Aftenposten have featured Magnus Carlsen, do you reckon, in 2007?

Aftenposten has 2 issues daily, mon-fri, and one issue each of the days in the weekend.

Is it 0-5,5-10,10-20 or more?

What are the dates of Melody Amber? Any website up yet ?

Last years website: http://nhchess.quinsy.net/

It usually starts on the third saturday of March, so probably only six days away.

Congrats to Moro and quite unfortunate for Chucky.

Good to see Anand win this and becoming #1 in the rating list.

Last but not least, great performance by Carlsen.

The comments regarding Magnus in Aftenposten is ridiculus. A quick search for reveals 13 mentiones of Magnus i the last year, whereof 8 are small articles from the Norwegian championship.

Just two about Morelia/Lineares.

Do not be deceived by Topalov's "poor" performance at Linares.

Remember how Kramnik faked that whole arthritis thing so Topalov would take him lightly? Topalov is playing the same game. He deliberately "tanked" in Linares and may do so, as well, in Sofia.

Kramnik will then be super-motivated to win the Mexico WCC--so that he can play a "weak" Topalov in a 2008 match.

But it'll be a healthy, well-rested, confident Topalov waiting for him in 2008; ready to wipe out Kramnik AND all his chess-retarded FSB-agent henchmen.

Good show Anand!! Anand should improve his opening repertoire and also start playing 1.d4 to increase his chances of winning.

greg you guessed right! :-)

At what point does Topalov's "Bad Streak" become his playing level?

He certainly has proven recently he does not deserve - nor holds - any world title.

And Greg Koster - That is a fantastic comedy routine you got working in that last post.

Simply hilarious!

Let me see if I can get this right...oh yes...


2006 - lost world title
2007 - lost world #1 rating
My guess....
2008 - .... a patzer ?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 10, 2007 3:29 PM.

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