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Linares 09 r2: Amazing Aronian

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[Hah, left this saved on the server but not published last night and didn't notice till now, with round 3 in progress. Sigh.] Continuing the thought from yesterday's report, in round two Anand got just the sort of game you don't want if you are worried about a little rust! Aronian, who is turning into something of a nemesis with black for Anand, played a wild piece sacrifice in a Semi-Slav. If computers can see a way through the complications we usually assume Anand can, too, but the crazy lines against his open king were too much even for him and he went down in a hail of enemy fire. Well, actually he went down in a blizzard of enemy pawns, seven (!) (!$*%&) for the piece at one point! Going back to Linares last year, Aronian has scored 3.5/4 with black against Anand. Amazing.

Anand sacrificed a pawn in a sharp line known to both players. White gets dangerous changes on the kingside for the material. Aronian isn't the kind to defend passively and he came up with an ingenious idea to lift a rook and counter-sac a knight to get at the exposed white king. I've often called Anand the world's best tactical defender, but just like he did in his loss to Aronian in a wild Marshall kingside assault in Linares last year, Anand blundered when it looked like his defense was going to hold. Here the culprit was 33.Rg3, which allowed Black a remarkable rook maneuver that left the remaining White forces in chaos. The liquidation required to break the pressure left far too many black pawns for White to handle. As complicated as the position is, Anand couldn't have missed anything deep. The position after 35..Rg4 is lost. 33.Rxd4 looks best for White, though he still has unpleasant moments to come. If 33..Rg4 34.Ne3 Rxh4 35.Nxg2 Rh2 36.Rxd7 Bc8 37.Rc7 Rxg2 and with the bishop pair and Black having only two pawns for the piece White should even be better. 33.Rxd4 Ne5 looks very menacing but the nullifying move 34.Rd8 keeps White in control.

A remarkable achievement by Aronian, who takes a share of the lead. The other leader is Grischuk, who beat Wang Yue in a very aggressive show and a well-played endgame. Very nice to have Grischuk back to showcase his talents. Carlsen-Dominguez followed the spectacular 9.Qa4 move from Aronian-Leko at Linares last year. It's been tried a few times since then, often leading to spectacular games, so all the top players must be booked up on it deeply. Dominguez surely was, offering up his a8 rook without a pause to breath. Carlsen, on the other hand, played quickly at first and then suddenly decided he wasn't at all sure he was where he wanted to be. So instead of all the incredibly wild and woolly lines GM Christiansen was busting out on the Chess.FM analysis board with 15.e4 or 15.e3 we got an immediate repetition draw. Hard to fault Carlsen for the decision since it not at all clear he's better even with best play, and knowing your opponent had such a deadly sharp position in his computer the night before is a big factor. It's more his preparation that should be criticized in equal measure to praise for Dominguez's. A repetition a few moves out of theory in a famous line isn't what we expect in Linares! Ivanchuk gave Radjabov a taste of his own KID medicine and earned a textbook draw with the early ..Bxc3 pawn-doubling idea.

Round 3: Aronian-Radjabov, Ivanchuk-Grischuk, Dominguez-Anand, Wang Yue-Carlsen Official Linares site.


Good article Mig , thank you for the update , very interesting game of Aronian indeed

Yes, thanks for posting a much more realistic take than all the "Anand had completely outplayed Aronian and was totally winning until he made this inexplicable blunder" nonsense around.

Yah, I didn't see that stuff at CB until today. What a bizarre take on a tremendously complicated game. Rg3 was a blunder, no doubt, but over the board it's still almost even money after Rd4, I'd say. Very difficult position and there are always chances to get an endgame with two or three pawns for the piece and hang on to draw.

Watching live with GM commentary usually gives a very different impression from zipping through it with computer help later, that's for sure. I mean, there was a reason Anand blundered. It wasn't a crazy wacky nutty chess blindness move. He made a mistake in a dangerous position; i.e. he got outplayed. No crime there.

indeed, nice to see Grischuk on top again. I love this guy. Hope it wont end like the last time we said that on a supertournment - WC Mexico 2007. He then had 3.5/6, but later collapsed with 2/8 the rest of the way, to finish last.
Go Sasha!

Mig, whenever you give some variation, would it be possible to also give a diagram? Do you really expect people to open chessbase, open the game and then check the variation? Or do you expect everybody to know the game by heart and replay the variation blind? I realize it is more work and migh mess up the nice layout. ;)

I can't believe Anand lost against Aronian.

I appreciate the suggestion, but I really don't consider this an analysis venue or a 'full-service' site with diagrams, photos, etc. There are plenty of places out there with replay, diagrams, etc. I toss in a few lines here and there when I'm doing live coverage on Chess.FM, but simply don't have the time or willpower to do diagrams or put up replay boards here. I also don't want the Dirt to become what it's not: work!

Whether Anand outplayed Aronian or not can only be told by the counter-play left for Aronian after Rxd4 and to some extent by the truth in that position. It is debatable. There is good reason to believe Anand outplayed Aronian unless it is Aronian's home brew and he chose to go the sacrificial path, and was not forced into. Anand's moves upto that point was extraordinary. Anand's Rg3 was certainly a blunder, a move even a 2000 would realize that he would lose material. It must be the thinking that his clock is running out would have made Anand to make a quick judgement there to go for a queen trade without fully analyzing it. Aronian gets full credit for his preparation and for forcing the World champion to do that. However, Anand did more than ok in 1.d4 and his OTB play is a notch above anybody else!!

Still on Anand-Aronian: Maybe things will become a bit clearer if the players themselves disclose their thoughts during the game - assuming they are honest doing so, somehow I have little doubt for those two super-GM's.

It is interesting to compare the two most detailed Internet analyses available so far (unless I missed something), I give only brief quotes on two critical moments:
GM Rogozenko on Chessbase:
23.g4! The World Champion shouldn't be asked twice. Anand simply follows the strongest plan for White
25...Nxg4. A wise practical decision from Aronian. Objectively it doesn't change the evaluation
FM Monokroussos on Chessmind:
23.g4!? VERY risky ... pawns not moving backwards ... Case in point: this game.
25. - Nxg4! Of course .... White may be better, but ... a single error can cost him the game.

I suggest the difference in playing strength is relatively irrelevant, but comments _may be_ influenced by their respective own styles - and Rogozenko's by computer analysis (of limited relevance to what happens over the board), Monokroussos' by the eventual result of the game.

And @Mig: I agree with you that there are several sites with comprehensive analysis, and have no problem whatsoever if you don't have time and/or ambition to come up with something similar.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 20, 2009 2:25 PM.

    Linares 09 r1: The Champ Is Back was the previous entry in this blog.

    Kamsky-Topalov g3-4: Even at the Half is the next entry in this blog.

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