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Linares 08 r4

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The Morelia half of the Linares tournament continued its wild ways in round three. Anand bounced back from his spectacular loss to Aronian to continue his paternalistic relationship with Magnus Carlsen with a fine win on the black side of the hyper-topical Anti-Moscow Semi-Slav. Classical stuff from Vishy: win with black, lose with white. Anand beat Carlsen in both games in Linares last year and last month at Corus. His four wins with two draws in classical play have people talking about Mikhail Tal's initial +4 against Bobby Fischer. (All collected at the 1959 candidates tournament.) Anand and Carlsen occasionally share a second in Peter Heine Nielsen, which might have made preparation somewhat awkward. Carlsen went for 9.Ne5 instead of the usual 9.Be2 and then 10.f3 instead of the h4 Aronian played in his loss to Anand in Mexico City last year. It's easy to say in hindsight (although GM de Firmian was skeptical at the time as well), but these positions look just dandy for Black. He has an extra pawn, a bind on the white bishops, and his only real trouble in these lines is getting mated by the occasional explosive brilliancy. (Grischuk-Svidler, Topalov-Kramnik) Carlsen scrambled for play but his exchange sac didn't get him further than a lost theoretical endgame.

Topalov beat co-leader Ivanchuk to move into clear first place with 2.5/3. It was a very interesting 6.Be3 Najdorf with a surprising shift in the opening. Ivanchuk played the novelty 15..a5 instead of the standard castles, after which white castles long and the usual battle is joined. We figured this would just transpose, but Topalov alertly responded with 16.a3! and proceeded to play on the queenside. But the battling Bulgarian wasn't ready to shift into Ulf Andersson mode just yet. He offered his c-pawn and never gave Ivanchuk time to get his king out of the center. Eventually Ivanchuk decided to sac a pawn in order to castle, but a lost endgame was just around the corner.

The other two games didn't come close to those one-sided efforts. Radjabov equalized against Aronian with the cute shot 14..Nxe3. White kept some Catalan-style pressure but not enough to stop the game from ending in a draw in 24 moves. Yet another Sicilian in Leko-Shirov, yay. Leko preferred the fashionable quiet line with kingside castling, boo. White got just about everything White wants in these positions with a good knight versus a bad bishop and domination against the backwards pawn on d6. (I referred to the position as "Leko porn" on the air at the time.) And yet Black had no trouble at all, as he opened the f-file and just left his bishop on e7. ("Bad bishops protect good pawns" as the saying goes.) It looked like Black's queenside pawns would be vulnerable, but apparently not vulnerable enough. Leko grabbed one and promptly offered a draw. It turns out White has to worry about his knight getting stuck after 37..d5 and Black is probably for choice, so a well-timed offer from Leko.

So Topalov's in the lead and Anand is in clear second. Believe it or not, after three rounds only one player is undefeated, Topalov, and two three players are without a win. Keep putting the chili in the players' food.

Alejandro Ramirez, the 20-year-old Costa Rican GM, came on and talked with us for a while. He just won the Morelia Open. The Morelia organizers said to the Spanish press that they are considering only hosting the event every two years because it's so expensive. Only Salvador Jara Guerrero, the president of the Morelia festival side, was speaking directly, but it sounded like he meant the Linares event itself going biannual. The other possibility he mentioned was having it every year, but rotating cities between years in Morelia. It does sound almost certain it won't be back in the Mexican city in 2009.

There's also an interesting interview with Spanish Linares organizer Francisco (Paco) Fernández Albalate, who explains the reason they split the event with Morelia in 2006. "When Kasparov retired the Linares tournament ran the risk of becoming just another tournament. With Kasparov's absence there was a vacuum and it was as if our tournament had become an orphan, as if it had been decapitated. There are many very strong players but none with the prestige of Kasparov." Albalate, who deeply involved in contracting the players, also talks about when and how they choose whom to invite. He laments that they couldn't invite Kamsky, who was in such great form at the end of 2007, because they'd already sent out all the invites.

About Kramnik not being there again: "He's played in Linares many times and in fact won it, but lately we haven't been able to come to an agreement with him for reasons that are difficult to explain since they belong to the confidential negotiations between the parties. But we will keep trying to get him to return to play. He's one of the best players in the world, but he's not irreplaceable." He went on to answer a question saying he didn't think it had anything to do with Topalov's presence. He added that he was sure the event would continue. He deflected, at length, a question about whether or not the event would be back in Morelia.

Round 4: Anand-Radjabov, Ivanchuk-Aronian, Carlsen-Leko, Shirov-Topalov.


that should be three players without a win.

this must be the only high level tournament where after three rounds only one person stands without a loss - ever!

If Aronian does not lose today then he has real chance to win the whole thing ;)

has there been any other tournament since San Luis where Topalov had 2.5 in first 3? or where he even did well in the first half?

Topalov is just warming up so he's already won :)

@ stringTheory: 2,5/3 only once in classical tournaments:

Corus 2006: 2 out of 3
Morelia/Linares 2006: 1 out of 3
Mtel Masters (Sofia) 2006: 1 out of 3
(Kramnik match: 0,5 out of 3)
Essent (Hoogeveen): 0,5 out of 3
Corus (Wijk aan Zee) 2007: 2 out of 3
Morelia/Linares 2007: 1 out of 3
Mtel Masters (Sofia) 2007: 0,5 out of 3
Chess Champions League (Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain): 2,5 out of 3
Corus (Wijk aan Zee) 2008: 1 out of 3

that should be three players without a win.

this must be the only high level tournament where after three rounds only one person stands without a loss - ever!

-- Posted by: evanhaut at February 19, 2008 04:32

Karpov started 6-0 at the Linares 1994 tournament en route to his unsurpassed +9 =4 -0 performance.

I prefer John Watson's formulation: "bad bishops protect bad pawns, but for good reason."

Well, calling the pawn d6 in the Sicilian "bad" is really a bit inappopriate; it's a very good pawn, that happens to also be a very weak pawn. The d6 pawn in the Najdorf, Scheveningen, etc. is critical to the defence. Hence why Black's concern over playing d6...d5 is not just a matter of playing the move whenever it doesn't lose a pawn...

Anand-Radjabov 1-0
Ivanchuk-Aronian 1/2-1/2
Carlsen-Leko 1/2-1/2
Shirov-Topalov 0-1

You heard it here first.

What is Radjabov thinking he is doing? 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Sc6 3.Bb5 f5!? against Anand!? It looks suicidal.

Tartakower- 'any opening is good enough, if it's reputation is bad enough'.

Hats off to Radjabov for trying the Schliemann against the world champ. This is what makes chess fun.

Wowawiwa, and it is looking good too!

Is it just me, or has Anand bought himself some trouble...

17 f4 seems pretty loose with all of those bishops running around uncloistered. I thought f2-f3, looking to follow with b4-b5, Qd1-c2, and Nd2-b3 to start moving the bishops backwards and make the triple battery look silly. Isn't the c4 pawn dropping now?

Was that Anand game so dead drawn? I thought his passer and f pawn could've kept some pressure on?

Very possible we get our first completely peaceful day. Anand-Radjabov split point. Topalov maybe a little better despite the worse minor against Shirov (Bd8-a5 is available).

Carlsen - Leko sort of looked good for Leko, but the complications didn't end up favoring him (looks dead equal now, though Black is probably a bit better organized).

Ivanchuk is better, but I don't think he's winning yet.

After 25.Rxd6, Ivanchuk is a pawn up for good. I hope it´s a decisive advantage for our mercurial hero.

The funny thing is that Ivanchuk is threatening 26.Rdxg6 with mate to follow.

So, does anyone with a computer handy know why Anand didn't play for a win by Qxd5 cxd5, Nxc5 etc.? I know he needs a tempo to deal with the back rank, and I know it's only one extra pawn and a2 is vulnerable, but it is a pretty mysterious draw offer while still up on the clock.

27.Qf4! It slaves Black rook at f8, defends against ...a4 and prepares a king side attack wit h4.

Delightful chess on all boards...


Ivanchuk lost to Aronian. Where did it went wrong for Chucky???

"Ivanchuk lost to Aronian. Where did it went wrong for Chucky???
Posted by: tsn at February 19, 2008 22:44"

Probably where he lost his bishop... just a wild guess ;)

Chucky lost his cool and lost what seemed like a totally won position by blundering his bishop.

On the other side, vintage Topalov -- when I see him tinkering like this I lose confidence. Strategically, the moment Shirov moved his King to the center the end was pretty much a matter of technique.


Actually, Ivanchuk had a totally won position at move 29 just because Aronian blundered badly at move 28 with f5??. If I am not wrong, 29.Qxf5 would have won a piece inmediately, but Ivanchuk played 29.h4, which is not terrible, but could be considered a warning that thay might blunder again as happened when Ivanchuk blundered his Bishop at move 38 (at that time they had less than one minute before passing the time control).

I guess it is not usual to see this kind of games at top level, but it is quite illustrative that there must be a connection of energy between players sitting in the same table. Aronian must have a very good "poker face" in order to not show negative emotions when he blundered and Ivanchuk didn't realized the blunder. I suspect Ivanchuk lost his cool right after he realized the missed opportunity he had a few moves earlier and this affected his play at the end.

No Qxf5 does not win a piece. But h4 does threaten Qxf5. White has a weak bank rank and so cannot play Qxf5, hence h4 which threatens Qxf5 and also commences a K side attack

Thanks all for the input regarding Chucky's loss. I only saw the final position prior to my previous post.

Never thought of Aronian's poker face impacting Chucky, as Chucky seems to always stare away from the board, as if in a world of his own. Except this time around, he was in the wrong world.

Four rounds played and everyone has lost at least once! Also note the two youngest players have not scored a win yet. Makes me wonder which of these next gen players will become the blue ray one (not counting out Karjakin of course)..

to TheAnalyst: 30.Qxf5 does either win a piece or the exchange (+2 pawns), so it's a ridiculously easy win for white. So in fact 30.h4?? was a terrible blunder.

Aronian has all the chances to win overall. He has played with black against the strongest players already (Anand, Ivanchuk, Topalov).

you got a point there, besides i think he hasn't played exactly his best chess until now, so very probably he'll start to do it from now on.

his destruction of anand is not his best? common people? please learn to appreciate chess, will you?

A case can be made Anand self-destructed more than he was destroyed, artyom.


Anand didn't self-destruct willingly. It was under some enormous pressure by his opponent I guess.

It's been an exciting tournament so far. I hope to see more quality games like this (and the nice endgame in Shirov-Topalov) in Linares-Morelia.

Does Anand have winning chances in this ending? And is Carlsen channeling Fischer?

--engineless at the office

Hmm: I missed the strength of 31.b4, and will now keep my flawed opinions to myself :-)

And I also missed 31...Kf4!

I think Anand wants to extract revenge for that famous Linares rook ending (circa 2003) every time he plays Leko.

now I will really be silent


Magnus is incredible! To play Alekhine Defence at this level and against Topalov, no less - and then to destroy him in such a style! A brilliant game!!!

What is incredible is that Carlsen was able to avoid Topalov's opening preparation (Topalov was probably expecting a Ruy Lopez or a Sicilian) and get such a comfortable position after move 18. At that point is was clear he had no chances to win the game and was in danger to lose it if he wasn't able to find the right defensive plan, which happened at the end.

It is not common -and particularly for Topalov- to see a SuperGM game where black gets such a comfortable advantage in the opening before the 20th move without playing any strong theoretical novelty.

Yeah long live the king Magnus, to beat Kramnik and Topalov (in a Capablanca style) with Black in back to back tournaments is very special. Seems only a matter of time b4 he wears the crown. But I was still pulling for Leko and Chucky for their last runs at the title.... no hope????

Please try to refrain from such absurdities as "Magnus beating Topalov in a Capablanca style" etc. The fact is that once again Topa self-destructed in his unique manner. If this game was shown to analysts without naming the players, none of them would believe that there was a supergrandmaster playing white. In all likelihood they would conclude that white was an untitled player!

Topa probably went astray after realising too late that dxc5 can be answered with Nxc3. But to have lost that position so quickly is simply incomprehensible.

You people complain about the state of US chess and yet the Frank Berry US Chamionship qualifier is going on RIGHT now without ONE word. Shame on you, you purpose to be promoting US Chess..I think NOT, it is an outrage for you supposed US journalists not to be following this day by day if nbot move by move. Daily dirt...lmore like monthly fertilizer..be ashamed...be very ashamed.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 19, 2008 12:46 AM.

    Morelia/Linares 08 R2-3 was the previous entry in this blog.

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