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Linares 2008 Round 1

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Things have already started out with a bang in Morelia-Linares 2008. That bang was the sound of the Mexico web server exploding even before the round starts at 4:30pm EST. (15:30 local time, 22:30 CET) ¡Viva la crappy server! This does not bode well, and you know how I like my bodes. The official site is here in English, assuming it returns from the great beyond. Everyone but Mark at TWIC seems to be using the rating list that was in effect when the players were invited instead of the current one. It's one thing for the official site to do that, it was put up before the Jan 08 list came out. But I think we should be as current as possible, especially considering how slow the FIDE list is. (Go go real-time ratings!)

Round 1: Shirov-Anand, Carlsen-Ivanchuk, Leko-Radjabov, Topalov-Aronian.

Carlsen beat Ivanchuk in both games at Linares last year. They drew at Corus last month. Shirov-Anand used to be a supertournament staple but Shirov's rating has fluctuated a lot in recent years and he hasn't been getting the invites. This is his first Linares since 2004 despite the fact he represents Spain. This is the second year in a row Spain's Vallejo Pons isn't playing. From 2002-2006 he finished last three times and next-to-last twice, scoring a total of four wins over the five events. Radjabov was supposed to play last year but he freaked out when his laptop was stolen from his hotel room and left the tournament when he couldn't get enough money from the organizers to stay. He was replaced by Ivanchuk. Glad to see him back this time, especially if he keeps playing the King's Indian. Also nice to see Shirov around, though he has an unfortunate habit of coming in last in Linares. I think he's done it four times in nine appearances.

We'll see if Aronian and Carlsen can put together back-to-back solid performances. I'm not so sure either of them are that consistent yet, so the safe money is on Anand, as usual. I also think Topalov is due for a return to form. I don't expect him to throw away many pieces in the opening this time around. I'd give Vishy and Topy the best chances of hitting the +3 that has been enough to win in this age of parity. The shock will be if the winner is not one of those four players. Maybe Radjabov, but I'd qualify the other three as underdogs for different reasons. (Unstable, unstable, too stable.)

Photo report at ChessBase. Opening video by Macauley Peterson at Chess.FM, where I'll be on live busting out some trivia prizes from New In Chess, among other things, assuming the official site can actually get the moves out. (What the heck, we can do trivia even without the games.) All the pairings here at TWIC. Anand-Topalov in the final round might be important...


Wow, what a round. A combative, strange round of chess with three decisive games. The Sicilian is back! 3/4 games, remarkably. Anand played a traditional ..Rxc3 sac against Shirov, who failed to put together any coherent resistance at all. (See Movsesian-Kasparov and countless other games with the thematic ..Rxc3.) He just couldn't find a plan and fell into horrible time trouble before getting mated. Nice play by Anand but this was more of a Shirov loss. He may be feeling some nerves in his first Linares since 2004. Said Anand after the game, "I thought my exchange sac was quite reasonable, but I have to check it now." GM Har Zvi didn't like 18.Bxe7, much preferring 18.Bd2. Aronian also misplayed his clock in absurd fashion. He ended up with ten minutes for 20 moves in a difficult position against Topalov and it all fell apart when cool defense might have saved things.

Radjabov must have missed something against Leko in the Sveshnikov they both know so well. These positions are always held together with tape and wire for Black. 28.Be6! is a nice trick, threatening Nc4. Radjabov took a poisoned pawn on c3 and got mauled instead of playing ..d5 and suffering for a long time. Carlsen looked much better against Ivanchuk. The long grind GM Har Zvi and I were expecting on ICC Chess.FM never materialized when Carlsen apparently missed 29..Qb6 and if anyone is better after the swaps, it's Black. Chucky, of course, was in bad time trouble and it ended abruptly in a repetition.


Nice to see that the organizers of Morelia have worked hard this last year to improve their internet technology. I would have hated to think that it would be like deja-vu all over again. =8-)

Shirov - Anand ½-½
Carlsen - Ivanchuk ½-½
Leko - Radjabov 0-1
Topalov - Aronian ½-½

Who needs games anyway? ;)

Live games somewhere?

Leko 3.0. Hrm.

Topalov has really run out of gas the past year or so; he seemed to be the heir to Kasparov for fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, when those fifteen minutes were up, the old guard (Kramnik, Anand) reasserted themselves and he resumed his place as an ordinary member of the top ten. Of course, in the interim the top ten had all become different people outside of the absurdly talented Ivanchuk and the absurdly steady Leko.

I don't expect anyone but Radjabov and maybe Aronian to challenge Anand in this tournament.

That is pretty funny, too stable !

Topalov seems to be winning his first game. Not his usual style.

Shirov - Anand 0-1
Carlsen - Ivanchuk ½-½
Leko - Radjabov 1-0
Topalov - Aronian 1-0

Evidently you do jk...

Topalov wins convincingly against IM Aronian.

acirce why don't you go flog yourself

Sorry. It just looked like Aronian was so far away from his normal strength. Perhaps all credit goes to Topalov.

Anand played a traditional ..Rxc3 sac against Shirov, who failed to put together any coherent resistance at all. (See Movsesian-Kasparov and countless other games with the thematic ..Rxc3.)

-- Mig



Thanks for the link....

Nice prep by Aronian. 12... Qc7?! is already dubious. Instead 12... Nba6! should be tested.

Anand's exchange sacrfice wasn't as convincing as Kasparov's at the time. Shirov missed a couple of opportunities:

17.f5 [17.fxe5! Nd5 18.Bxe7 Nxc3+ 19.Ka1 Nxd1 (19...Kxe7 20.Qh4+! Ke8 21.Rd2 Bd5 22.Qb4+/=) 20.Bb4 Nc3 21.Bd6+/=

18.Bxe7?! [18.Bd2=]

22.Qg5+?! [22.Qh4+! N7f6 23.Rf2=]

I mean preparation by Topalov ofcourse... :(

Where's the edit function Mig?

Leko followed Khalifman's recommendation from
'opening for white according to anand 10'
The line in book says
23. .. Qc7 24. Bf1! freeing the c4-square for the knight.

The secret of great (Judith's for instance) chess achievements unveiled :

Testosterone and Chess Competition
Allan Mazur, Alan Booth, James M. Dabbs Jr.
Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 pp. 70-77 doi:10.2307/2786687

The hormone testosterone (T) has a central role in recent theories about allocation of status ranks during face-to-face competition. It has been methodologically convenient to test the hypothesized T mechanism in physically taxing athletic contests, where results have been supportive, although their generalizability to normal social competition is questionable. Competition among chess players is a step closer to normal social competition because it does not require physical struggle, and it is the arena for tests of the T mechanism which are reported here. We find that winners of chess tournaments show higher T levels than do losers. Also, in certain circumstances, competitors show rises in T before their games, as if in preparation for the contests. These results generally support recent theories about the role of T in the allocation of status ranks.


The Great Ovidiu is back!

The Morelia web server: What a sad, sad, situation.

When I played the Sveshnikov, that line from Leko-Radjabov had always seemed a little annoying for black because, although he is basically equal, he has very little winning chances and some serious losing chances with inaccurate play. Maybe this is just a Tournament Joe's point of view and this line is a dream for black because it is not too challenging, but it seems ideal for Leko. It doesn't seem like a very long-term threat to the Sveshnikov, though.

Aronian beats Anand with black. Wow.

Yeah. After 28..Qh5 I thought Aronian had the usual good light-square Marshall compensation with about equal chances. The very next thing that happens is that Anand plays the losing 29.Nd2 :) Not easy for a human to see WHY it loses...but it does!

Fantastic game! Aronian played some apparently counter-intuitive moves (I guess more than one person saw Aronian playing f5 and thought ... what is Aronian thinking?) and nobody was thinking he could win, but Anand seemed to underestimate Aronian chances and was out-calculated. As acirce mentioned, it is not easy to see why 29.Nd2 loses. Of course, the last moves saw Anand walking into a forced mate at the end and this might bring the impression that Anand just blundered badly, but it was Aronian adventurous play what made the difference. It reminds me the game against Carlsen-Aronian in Corus, with the difference Anand this time couldn't see more than his opponent. As it happened last year in Linares, Aronian out-calculates Anand in one of the best games of the year.

To put into perspective, the last time Anand lost with white in the Ruy Lopez Marshall was in 1990 (against Nunn) if I am not wrong. So time would highlight the merits of this game.

Does 29. Nd2 really lose? I thought it was the next move -- 30. Nf3?? 30. Bh4 vacates the back rank for a rook check to get a perpetual for Anand...

i don't see how ra8 is perpetual with bf8

Anand - Aronian 0-1
Shirov - Carlsen ½-½
Ivanchuk - Leko 1-0
Topalov - Radjabov ½-½

Standings After Round Two (have no clue about tiebreaks):

1. Aronian 1.5
2. Ivanchuk 1.5
3. Topalov 1.5
4. Anand 1.0
5. Carlsen 1.0
6. Leko 1.0
7. Radjabov 0.5
8. Shirov 0.5

It's not easy for a human to see why 29. Nd2 loses ... because it doesn't. 30. Nf3 was the losing move.

noyb, do the calculations next time please, nd2 is losing in all variants.

I suppose it is easy to see with the help of Fritz that nd2 is losing in all variants. Ahh, computers make everything seem trivial. How could Vishy make such a mistake?? tsk tsk

Oh, and Aronian cannot possibly be leading with 1.5 points when he just lost to Topalov yesterday.

I haven't calculated everything out, but Nd2 didn't feel correct to me, because I felt like there would soon be a Rook check on g2 and a gloomy outcast for the King somewhere. When Anand played it, I wondered if there was some resource that I had overlooked, but alas, it turns out that there might not have been one at all.



noyb's list needs an amendment - Aronian 1.0...the total number of points after 2 rounds then becomes 8 as it should be after 8 games.
But what a scorcher by Aronian- relentless attack.

30 Nd2 loses - it moves a 2nd minor piece away from the defence just count the number of attackers versus defenders. Anand needed to clear the back rank with 30 Bb6 meeting Re2 with 31 Ra8+ Kf7 32 Ra7+ etc drawn (if 31 ..Bf8 32 Bc5) Earlier 25 Qb3 is a better way for white eg: 25 ..Qf7 26 Bg5 Re4 27 Bxh4 f4 28 Qd1 - although black has sufficient compensation to hold the draw because whites rook cannot effectively get in the game. Clearly 24 ..f5 was a good (thematic)move but Anand did not play well (by his standards) after this. Even world champions have an off day.....

I have to say the FM commentary was a bit well ..lame? The Fed's comments were on the short repetitive side "the marshalls a draw never play it myself" - "carlsen's turned a sicilian into a french defence" "the Berlins is not Topalovs style" and variations on this theme

Round 2 was probably the worst day of commentary since I've been doing it. (Barring the occasions on which Speelman has been eating in my ear while also writing a chess column and answering the door and phone while doing analysis.) An excruciating round. The games were very, very slow for the first two+ hours. Even when they started moving it was clear they were following the basic plans that the Fed had outlined in the first half and hour. Not surprising, as that's the nature of the Berlin and the Marshall, entirely thematic play. Same goes with the Ivanchuk-Leko game. You can only add a few variations after each move but it was really just "white's going to try and escape and black's going to try to keep mating pressure on the light squares" for two hours. Ugh. You just can't keep repeating the same plans over and over with nothing to chew on without letting the boredom seep into the show.

When something finally happened it was Anand blundering and losing in the span of around 10 minutes. And we certainly didn't realize how strong Aronian's attack really was at the time. It went by so quickly that we never got to look at many lines after 26.Bxh4 until it was practically over. Timing is everything, and if you happen to be on the 'wrong' game you end up missing key moments. But that was a turkey. We were expecting Anand to have good winning chances around 10 minutes before he resigned!

If, after taking the h-pawn, Anand has to play Bd8, isn't his position getting kind of ugly? What kind of place is that for a bishop?

I like the Fed, but LarryC would've been great at analyzing Aronian's attack. Larry might have approved the whole thing from the start, rather than dismissing it.

That's not to knock ChessFM. It's the best thing since Prairie Home Companion!

Have you looked at any Christiansen games? He thinks every attack works...

Fed does okay, it's hard to keep focusing on variations rather than silly stuff when you're talking live.

It seemed to me that the reason the commentary was boring is that you and Fed made very little effort at it and preferred to spend time whinging about Leko and how there weren't any Sicilians. If you don't accept top-level chess and find it interesting for what it is then frankly they should get commentators who do. This constant kvetching about Leko, for example, does not credit to anyone.

You must be prepared with all kinds of other stories, if the chess gets excruciatingly dull. That's what the "color commentator" is there for, to say things like, "Well back in the 90s when Fed played that line against Kasparov..."

And you can always have a dozen or more "news bits" ready, so you can say, "In other chess news..." or "While we await development of these games, I'd like to mention..."

Having these stories and bits prepared ahead of time will give you more confidence in these situations, too. You'll say to yourself, sure I can fill 2 boring hours with chess news. Right here on my notecards, it says... .

And perhaps you'll be blabbering about something and miss Aronian's attack - but the critique will not be "He was so bored by the game that he missed the attack" but rather, "He was so busy describing Irina's lucky sweater that he missed the attack."

rdh is right. Who cares about the sicilians. And there should be a limit on how many Leko jokes are allowed in each broadcast. Like, you can only imply Leko is boring 25 times in one broadcast, but not more.

I think part of it was that Fed for some reason seemed to be more interested in talking about sports than about the chess games on that particular day. I think with Fed you sometimes have to sort of direct him back towards the games and ask questions - perhaps more so than with LarryC, for example. I think Fed is more of an intuitive player than LarryC, that is why asking questions about concrete lines is good.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 15, 2008 1:46 PM.

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