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Linares 09 r1: The Champ Is Back

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Vishy Anand's first game since retaining his world championship title against Kramnik in October was a fine way to work off any rust he may have accumulated. He played a model positional win against Radjabov to take up in Linares where he left off winning the last two editions. The other three games were drawn, leaving the Indian world champ with the (very) early lead.

It would have been intriguing, GM Jon Speelman said on Chess.FM, to see Anand take a crack at Teimour Radjabov's King's Indian. Indeed, although the new-ish 1.d4 player Anand certainly didn't book up on that in his preparation for Kramnik. There was also no reason to get into a KID mess if he could play 1.e4 and get a nice comfortable squeeze against Radjabov's Sveshnikov. The Azerbaijani relaunched this 15..d5 sacrifice line back in 2003 against Kramnik and despite losing that one tried it again various times. It doesn't seem like he's played it in recent years though and the sac's popularity waned after 2004, probably thanks to a few high-profile setbacks. Radjabov apparently thought enough of the plan with 18..f5 to try it, but very quickly it was hard to see what he was attracted to.

The position after 26.Ne3 was described as horrid for Black by Speelman despite the superficial activity of Black's queen and pawns. Black's king is uncomfortable, the pin on his rook is annoying, and the pawns create holes as they are forced to move. I was impressed and a little surprised by how down on Radjabov's position Jon was, but Anand proved him exactly right with accurate play that didn't require the extraordinary. They followed a 2006 game by Yakovich, an expert in the Sveshnikov, up to move 28, though from the clock times -- both used nearly 45 minutes -- they either weren't aware of that or confident about it. Black definitely has no reason to want to follow this again. Anand made victory appear inevitable as he planted a powerful knight and went to work on Black's weak pawns and king. Proving the old thought about queen and knight working well together, Anand infiltrated and then won nicely against Radjabov's desperate defense. Instead of prosaically winning Black's bishop the world champion played for mate and Black finally resigned. A smooth performance from Anand, who limited the dangerous Radjabov's counterplay to nil. After some bad moments with his KID in Corus this is another blow to Radjabov's adventurous/precarious black repertoire.

Grischuk played the French against Dominguez, an opening he has only lightly experimented with. They went into a wild line in which Dominguez beat Stellwagen at Corus a month ago. Grischuk decided to keep his c-pawn but to ditch his d-pawn. We were ready for the position to finally explode when Black got in 19..f6. Dominguez decided things weren't going his way and ran to get the queens off the board, hastily according to Speelman. Grischuk still had chances to play for the advantage, 26..Rde8+ was indicated, but as it was they swapped pieces and agreed the draw.

Aronian played a very attractive combination against Carlsen to net the exchange out of his favorite Catalan. It's hard to say if Carlsen saw 19.e4 coming. It turned out that Black's position was impregnable. With no way for his rooks to get an open file, Aronian may have even been a little worse. But Black had no way to make real progress either and they split the point. Ivanchuk tried to work some positional voodoo playing the Bogo-Indian against Wang Yue. The annoying 13..Bf5 encourages e4 and the play is all on the queenside. Ivanchuk eschewed the 15..Qd4 previously tried. Wang Yue fended everything off capably and wholesale exchanges led to a drawn rook endgame.

Round 2: Radjabov-Ivanchuk, Grischuk-Wang Yue, Anand-Aronian, Carlsen-Dominguez. It's double-header time on Chess.FM, with Kamsky-Topalov game three coverage beginning at 8am EST and Linares adding to the party at 10am. Larry Christiansen will be rocking the mic.


It's hard to be better at chess than Radjabov, and yet Anand is

(As Mig mentioned the KID): Nothing against Anand's fine game, but if such conclusions can (could!) be drawn from a single game, Van Wely may also be better than Radjabov - which I kinda doubt in a more general context .... .

I doubt Van Wely developed the game into creating a mating net around black's king in that game with just a Queen and Knight and with so much of space around the king. The black queen was always also doing some guard duty.

Very good assessment and summary by Mig of Anand-Radja.

I think at one point when Radja's queen was @ c6, it had too much going on to handle. It had to guard the c-file, e4-a8 diagonal to prevent white queen to enter back rank, protect a6, h6 pawns, defend e5 and bd4 and other mate threats surround king.

what a superlative game by Anand! Smooth smooth smooth! Supreme understanding of Chess displayed there. How much time did take on his clock, does anybody know?

any place where i can watch all the live games from Linares 2009?
The org don't have an english site.. so bad for chess X:(


includes analysis by Rybka

@Blunderstruck > thanks, but i have tried chessdom. They only have live analysis of couple of games. I am interested in following other games too.

I am also a bit puzzled that the official site seems to be only in Spanish ... . Still if you click on the 'Linares' hyperlink (in Mig's first paragraph), then on 'Partidas Directo' in the upper left corner, you will see all four games live [in universal Chess language ,:)].

@Thomas/ Thanks will give it a try :) (and we were hoping to make chess an olympic sport!)

@Bootvis : thanks, Chessok.com works

I didn't say Anand's victory wasn't impressive, I just said (reacting to r) that one shouldn't draw too strong conclusions from a single game about who is the better player.
Career score may be something else, just for fun I checked on chessgames. com for all of the Linares participants against Radjabov. I did not filter out rapid, blitz and blindfold games, nor 'older' games when Radja wasn't yet as strong as he is today - anyway, here are the results (in alphabetic order):
Anand +10 -5 =13
Aronian +4 -4 =10
Carlsen +6 -3 =13
Dominguez +1 -1 =8
Grischuk +10 -2 =7
Ivanchuk +12 -7 =20
Wang Yue +1 -1 =2

Bearing the above caveats in mind, several players seem to be 'stronger' than Radjabov, and noone weaker. Just trying to put things a bit in context ... .

And BTW, while I didn't really understand what was going on earlier in the game, at present it is clear (to say the very least) that Anand will not win against Aronian ... [for those who tune in later, we are now at move 53].
Nothing against Anand, but maybe some of his fans became too enthusiastic too quickly (after a single round).

0-1, apparently a big blunder by the champ after achieving a winning position. Not that this patzer had a clue what was going on in the opening, what was the comp for the pawn? Oh well if I understood already at this level, chess would be one dull game :)

Anand lost the plot in the game against Aronian and crashed to defeat. The 2nd time Aronian has taken him out with black....

Thomas mixing up the results in classical class and blitz games is plain stupid.

Jean, I recognized and mentioned this caveat .... however, based on my quick scan there weren't too many blitz (or blindfold) games in the database - if rapid games should be included in the statistics I gave is another story.
Anyway: If you (or anyone else) knows a free online database that includes only 'slow' games - or at least provides separate statistics, please let me know!

Well, for example, Anand is +5 against Radjabov counting all those games (though there is another caveat that the database is quite incomplete and definitely doesn't have all the games even between top players) -- but he is just equal in classical even after yesterday's win. (His only other win is as far back as 2003.) So it definitely makes quite a bit of difference. Also, Grischuk-Radjabov is in fact only 1-0 in decisive classical games... did not check all the others but you get the point.

I am also a patzer .... but out of the opening, white's compensation for the sacrificed pawn was relatively clear to me: strong center, bishop pair, long-term prospects of a kingside attack (if he gets his knight to f5 and maybe a rook on the h-file), black's passive bishop on b7 [he cannot play -c5 any time soon!?]. Several of these are related to the fact that black had to give up his dark-squared bishop to win a pawn.

My questions start later on:
Was Aronian's piece sacrifice forced? Maybe it was, maybe otherwise he would suffer a slow death as Radjabov yesterday against the same opponent.
Why didn't Anand grab another exchange on move 28? Black would probably recapture with the f-pawn, but does he have enough pieces left to create threats against Anand's king?
Was Anand really winning at some stage? Three pawns for the missing piece are at least some compensation ... .

Well, we will soon see lots of (computer) analysis, but I guess it takes more than a few hours to really analyse that game.

Thanks acirce, point taken ... . At least this largely refutes r's claim at the start of this thread (provoking my several replies).
My question in my 2:24PM post stands ... so do my several questions about the Anand-Aronian game ,:).

And - while this belongs in another thread - at least I did a better job in predicting Topalov's next choice against the Grunfeld ,:)

Hi, Thomas. Thanks for your posts. My post was simply meant as a compliment to Anand and to Radjabov.

Based on today's game, I'm not saying that Aronian is better than Anand. But holy smokes Aronian is good.

Anand had a clear win with 33. Rxd4. He blundered instead with 33. Rg3.

It's funny, because Anand is such a genius at grabbing material and then conducting a sharp defense. Not today, I guess.

Anand's chances for winning the tournament seem to have gone up :) didn't he lose to Aronian in 07 and 08 as well)?

True, but he lost to Aronian in Bilbao too and finished last..

There seems to be an undercurrent of anti-anand sentiment amongst some...jealousy because for the first time in history the world champ is not a white guy?

Its sad Vishy lost the game . This is the second time he is having a winning position and losing to Aronian . Feels a bit dissapointing !

Thanks "Rybka" - in the meantime this has been pointed out at several site, with or without credit to you ,:). I had missed this because (in my irrelevant opinion) in similar positions white would normally recapture on d4 with the knight or the bishop (the latter is of course illegal here, the bishop is pinned).
BTW, there is an interesting anonymous comment on Susan Polgar's blog (any site can have good comments): "What is most shocking to me is the fact that Anand always played the Rybka move and twice a even better one (!). That is Rybka had a move as best with eval 0.51 for white, Anand played a different move (Qb3) and eval jumped to 0.88 - really scary."
That person probably means 29.Qg3, and how significant is the difference between 0.51 and 0.88? Of course, Anand didn't have any help from Rybka during the game - certainly not at the critical moment when he needed it ,:) [so 'always' in the above quote is wrong]

"There seems to be an undercurrent of anti-anand sentiment amongst some...jealousy because for the first time in history the world champ is not a white guy?"

I haven't noticed that at all, Mehul. Anand is pretty much universally liked and respected.

The only real antagonism in chess at the moment (except perhaps in the Caucasus) is centred around Topalov. His supporters became rabidly anti-Kramnik after the Elista match. It looks like some of them might have transferred their allegiance
to Anand - as the "enemy" of their enemy - though Anand certainly wouldn't want their brand of support. I suppose if we get to a Topalov-Anand match then the Bulgarian propaganda machine will switch to attacking Anand. Something to look forward to...

I'm impressed though with Anand's play. I know he will soon learn to adjust himself to handle "his" time pressures. High precision play once again until he blundered.

Go Anand Go!!

Commentators who rely on their computers see a one-sided near-perfect game up to a tactical blunder, and then a lost endgame.
Commentators who rely on their own brains see a fantastic battle of material imbalance and tactical blows by two supreme tricksters.

@r: Your second comment was clearly tongue-in-cheek, I wasn't sure about the first one (thanks for clarifying!). Anyway, it is interesting to compare Anand-Radjabov with Anand-Aronian:

The first game seemed a rather one-sided affair (at least in hindsight), and Anand made it look easy!? Throughout most of the game, any mistake or inaccuracy could make the difference between winning or drawing (for white) or between drawing or losing (for black). Various sources don't agree with each other just where Radjabov made the last/final/decisive mistake, beyond the fact that the entire opening line is now under a cloud. And here human beings (Anand, Speelman, live comments on Chessdom) could evaluate the position more accurately than Rybka and colleagues, still some hope left for mankind ,:).

The second game was, at some stage, objectively winning for white but unclear - not a contradiction, but the difference between the analytical truth and having to find the best moves over the board. Here any mistake could (and did) mean losing a full point, not half a point. And here computers were probably better than humans - I am reasonably sure that Aronian would have lost against Rybka after his piece sacrifice ,:).

@Mehul: I agree with mishanp's reply. And while your comment was addressed at 'some' (i.e. not anyone in particular) - if it was (also) me, all I tried to do was balance the strong pro-Anand sentiments after his first-round win.

Suggesting racist tendencies is even more "huh" .... and on the verge of having some sort of minority comple, let alone being paranoid.

Hey Thomas, was not Anand's play impressive upto the point where he blundered? I will be more concerned about Aronian's play than Anand's play if you take this particular game. I know Anand is not used to this "his" time pressure which he will used to soon anyway.

We are into a new era of high precision chess! Is this an overstatement if I say Anand just stands apart from all players of past and present? :)

@mishanp & Thomas:

With his comment, Mehul established himself as nothing more than a troll, one that needs desperately to be ignored. Feeding a troll with ANY reply only encourages it.

I will first answer your second question (probably a joke anyway): YES it is ... an overstatement. He played a fine game against Radjabov and an almost-fine game against Aronian (see below). But other people can also play "high precision chess" - maybe Kramnik (on his better days) is best known to convert += endgames and make it look easy. Generally a different type of endgames, queenless ones ... .
You (or someone else) may say "what about the Bonn match?". Those weren't his better days, but one fine example is Kramnik-Anand, Corus 2007.

And your first question: Yes, Anand played many strong moves, but one weak move was sufficient to turn the tables. And like it or not, 0-1 is the only thing that matters in the end. Topalov fans can also claim that he was better in his first two Elista games against Kramnik, clearly winning in one of them - yet the result was 0-2.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 19, 2009 8:09 PM.

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