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Linares 09 r4: Fighting with Fire

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A great fighting round again in Linares. Aronian and Grischuk continued to step it up, notching their second wins to keep a tie for the lead on +2. Anand played another position master class to move back up to +1. The only draw of they day was a sharp Grunfeld battle between Carlsen and Ivanchuk, leaving the both with four draws in as many days.

Radjabov built up an impressive attacking phalanx against Grischuk in an offbeat QID line with 6.d5 followed by 7.Nh4. GM Christiansen on Chess.FM was showing great line after great line that put Black on the ropes. Grischuk played closed-quarters defense with complete sang froid and even the computer can't find a knockout with all the material swirling around the black king. White's edge faded entirely after 18.e5; the queens come off and Black's extra pawn looms large. This is where a more circumspect player with white might have started looking for a way to find a draw. But Teimour Radjabov always has total confidence in his ability to outplay his opponent from any position and that is both because he does it so often and why he does it so often. Grischuk's tough defense had cost him dearly on the clock and he was down to 15 minutes with 20 moves still to go before time control. (Along with Aronian-Dominguez we had the strange experience of having two time scrambles just three hours into the round because the times were so lopsided.)

But the former world blitz champion from Russia, who hasn't played in Linares since his first appearance in 2001 as a teen, was more than up to the task of holding on. Soon White's position was desperate and Radjabov found himself in the strange position of being the one to fall apart in his opponent's time trouble. Black picked off another pawn, swapped pieces, and on the final move of the first control Radjabov, still with plenty of time on his own clock, played a final blunder. He resigned without waiting for Grischuk's 41st move. A crazy game that illustrated the old line about how when an attack fails the counterattack will be decisive. (Tarrasch? It's late.) Great creativity from the very start from both players.

Meanwhile it was time for the last couple of Linares champs to show the newcomers a little something about life in the biggest of the big leagues. Anand, two-time defending champ, played an amazing, even Kramnikian, squeeze against Wang Yue. 1.d4! by the way! Black's bishop stays so incredibly bad that it eventually dies without leaving the rectory and the Chinese resigned a move later. It's something of a role reversal to see Anand winning two python crushes without firing a shot while losing a tactical brawl. It took Aronian, Linares 2006 champ, considerably longer to beat Dominguez in another queenless middlegame. 92 moves, in fact, and Dominguez was down to just a few seconds of the final time control. I think the game ended about six minutes shy of the six hour, forty minute max. (No increment in Linares.) One oddity was the black rook going from a6, in front of the a5 pawn, to a4 when we came back to the game. It turned out to be the kingside pawns that won the day for Aronian.

So heading into tomorrow's first rest day (not for Chess.FM; the Kamsky-Topalov match is still on. Game 5 at 8am EST) it's Grischuk and Aronian on +2, Anand +1, Carlsen, Ivanchuk =, Dominguez -1, Radjabov, Wang Yue -2. Round 5 on Tuesday: Radjabov-Dominguez, Wang Yue-Aronian, Ivanchuk-Anand, Grischuk-Carlsen. Ivanchuk and Anand each have three Linares titles. Both born in my year, 1969, they first faced one another at the world U20 in 1985. They have since played over 100 games at various time controls. They drew all five of their classical match-ups last year.


According to the chessgames database Ivanchuk's last victory over Anand in classical time controls was at the Moscow world championship KO in 2001, over eight years ago! that can't be right surely.

I played through Anand's win, and indeed it was an amazing squeeze that is remniscent of Kramnik at his best. Remarkable stuff. I couldnt quite believe that White has a winning edge but Anand makes it look almost effortless.

I am not even sure if Kramnik would have gone for the "ugly-looking" doubled e-pawns .... . BTW, as mentioned on Chessmind, 11.Ne3 (! or !?) was first found by Austrian GM Markus Ragger - but apparently Anand was the first top GM believing in the idea and using it against a 2700+ opponent.

Kramnik has a remarkable ability for distinguishing between what is "ugly" or "pretty" in an illusory sense, and what constitutes true harmony in ones pieces. I would have had no trouble believing somebody if they told me Kramnik played the white side of this game.


you are turning 40 this year? Quite a big step.

Yes Mig, you should have a good think before you take such a decision.

I am from 1967, and I can assure Mig and everyone else (e.g. including my brother born in 1969) that there is life after 40 ... and it isn't even such a big step or difference.
Becoming a father (also both Mig and my brother) is a more important change in life !!?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 22, 2009 11:22 PM.

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