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Linares 08 R6

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Another unpredictable round in Morelia. Anand continued his perfect streak with black by beating Leko in an endgame. Carlsen performed an even less likely act by playing 1.e4 Nf6, Alekhine's Defense, against Topalov and being up a clean pawn by move 20! As Shaggy used to say, Zoinkers! Aronian and Shirov played a flashback 90's opening and drew out of mutual fear on move 18 in an interesting position. Radjabov-Ivanchuk was a sharp one as well, eventually drawn by repetition.

I had high hopes for Leko when he started out the event with a win. Now he's down to a minus score and losing advantageous endgames. You can only admire Anand's ability to create winning chances even when it looks like he's on the ropes. He almost never defends passively. Leko played an antique line against the Najdorf (Mecking-Evans, San Antonio 1972!) to reach a slightly superior endgame with bishop and two rooks versus knight and two rooks with pawns on both sides of the board. Having gotten what he wanted, play with no risk and and endgame at move 20, Leko soon proceeded to be outplayed by Anand, who had also played quite quickly through the opening. White must have decent chances with the connected pair of passers and a bishop, but Leko dawdled and couldn't seem to find a plan. Several lines looked quite promising for White, especially 34.Rc8 Rxc8 35.Bxc8 Ne1 36.Kd1!, which just looks winning. Black probably has to try 34..Ra7 and pray. Instead of pushing his pawns Leko wasted time grabbing the h7 pawn and moving his king. Anand happily accepted the tempi to push his e-pawn, which was quickly triumphant. Three wins in three blacks for Vishy, reviving memories of Kasparov's "black death" Linares in 1999, where he scored +5, 6/7 with the black pieces (plus two wins with white for 10.5/14).

Speaking of Black Death, Carlsen surprised Topalov with 1..Nf6, although he played the Alekhine's frequently at the recent World Blitz Championship. It was excellent psychological planning by the teen star, as he told us on the air after the round on ICC Chess.FM. "It's a line where he's not going to have a lot of preparation. And he has to play sharply to have any chance for advantage." (The same philosophy that led Kasparov to play the Dragon against Anand in their 1995 match. It's part bluff, but it's dangerous to accept.) Topalov's not usually one to back down from a challenge, but here he paid for trying to avoid the most challenging lines out of respect for potential prepared nastiness. Carlsen took advantage with aggressive play, getting everything Black can hope for with ..Bg4 and ..c5. Topalov probably missed the tactic 12..c5! 13.dxc5 Nxc3! The endgame was miserable for White and Carlsen again showed his formidable technique in grinding out the win. It's a little surprising Topalov didn't try to find a better way to give up the pawn. Perhaps 14.h3 or 14.Qb3. 15.h3 also looks better than the game, although Black keeps pressure.

I told Carlsen that he was making it look too easy with wins like this one and he confessed that it wasn't a very hard day for him, "mostly because of my opponent, not myself." He mentioned that he was particularly happy because he doesn't have very good record of recovering after losing his first decisive game in an event. I was a little surprised he would notice a stat like that. He went to a local sports club on the off day yesterday. GM Benjamin and I also spoke with Alexei Shirov after his short draw with Aronian. He spent a lot of time trying to remember this sharp old line from his preparation over ten years ago. He said he's feeling better after starting out with that horrible loss to Anand. He added that he got a little lucky against Topalov in the 4th round and confirmed our suspicions that there was nothing for White if Topalov doesn't blunder with ..Kg8. Great job by Macauley Peterson for grabbing them both and thanks to them for coming on live. Very cool. We also had a few words from IM Manuel Leon Hoyos, the young Mexican player who is seconding Ivanchuk again. He said Ivanchuk wasn't as angry as he thought he'd be after turning a win into a loss against Aronian in time trouble.

After five wild rounds, with at least two decisive games in each, Vishy Anand is in the clear lead on +2. Aronian is in second with 3/5. Shirov, Carlsen, and Topalov have even scores, the Bulgarian after losing his last two in a row. Radjabov is now the only winless player and is on -1 with Leko and Ivanchuk.

Round 6: Topalov-Anand, Aronian-Leko, Radjabov-Carlsen, Ivanchuk-Shirov. Topalov needs to bounce back, but in the words of Peter Svidler back in Linares 99 when he was about to play white against Kasparov, "it appears I have the wrong color." Macauley's awesome videos at the ICC; Great photo reports and hasty analysis at ChessBase.

Tidbits: Leko and Aronian also went to the Tres MarĂ­as sports club on the off day. Aronian with his trainer Sargissian and Leko with his wife Sofia. One Morelian reporter who followed them describes Aronian as somewhat tennis-challenged and more interested in bashing the ball around than trying to get it to land within the lines. He also adds that unlike last year, this time the players had to pay a small entry fee to get into the club. The local papers can be good for color but are amusingly unreliable for moves and game comments. One has this post-game comment from Carlsen: "This win was very important for me. In the last few games I'd lost a little confidence in myself so winning today is great. Probably he [Topalov] didn't play his best chess. Maybe he wasn't in his best form and I had more confidence. When I played king to f4 I knew I was winning." Unfortunately, Black never played ..Kf4 in the game, leaving us to wonder if he said ..f4 or ..Ke4, both of which could qualify.


Thanks for the report Mig!

So, Mig, who are you pulling for in the tournament? My loyalty is with Magnus and Chucky.

Anand looks better (again!) against Topalov, and Aronian threw Leko into the think tank at move 9 (!) by allowing Qxf2+...

Don't see how Anand stands better. The game looks pretty drawn with a teensy advantage for white, IMHO

What happened in the game Radjabov-Carlsen??? I look at the TWiC and It simply disapears !!!...

Sorry, I refresh the link and the things returned to normality... Radja wins!

hey mig, thanks for the informative commentary. is the score sheet available for anand/leko game?
i'd really love to play it in it's entirety.
thanks again,

walt sims jr


I'm surprised at you. Shaggy used to say, "Zoiks!"

Yep... great videos by Macauley! The one with Ivanchuk's blunder is really classic. We all have been there.

hey mig, why you write the round report in the day the other one is going on? and why name it after the current round? is it any memory trick, so you keep remiding past games with fresh ones coming over the top? :)

It's fairly random, depending on when I post the item. Mostly I do it to keep the comments during the rounds under the right title. Not a big deal, but that's less confusion in the long run.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 22, 2008 3:23 PM.

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