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Linares 09 r6: Carlsen Beats the Champ

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You knew it would happen eventually. Winter turns to spring, dawn follows darkness, lettuce left in the bottom of the fridge turns to evil brown muck. And 18-year-old Magnus Carlsen scored his first win over world champion Vishy Anand. It doesn't rain on the parade at all that Anand has already lost a game in Linares this week, to Aronian. This was a clash of an entirely different order, prompting Garry Kasparov to state, "It's not every day you win such an elegant game against the world champion!"

Anand hasn't cultivated an aura of irresistibility (Alekhine, Fischer, Kasparov), invincibility (Capablanca, Kramnik), or confounding magic in maneuvering (Karpov) or tactics (Tal). The dazzling speed of play that was once Anand's trademark is largely a thing of the past. He's simply a great player. He's still playing great chess, still the world champion, and this is doubtless a day that even the accomplished Norwegian prodigy will remember. Anand, like Kramnik and assorted other past world champions, hasn't dominated the chess world during his reign, but victories against such icons are to be treasured, especially the first one. It was, I believe, Carlsen's tenth classical game against Anand after four losses and five draws.

Carlsen did in style out of a line of the "Latvian Semi-Slav" ("Semi-Grob"?!,) the 7.g4 lunge developed by Shirov and Shabalov in the early 90s. They don't grab the pawn very often at the top level anymore, however, and the last word on this line was the comically oblique 11..h6 (following the similarly prophylactic 11.h3, naturally) by Morozevich against Aronian two years ago in Linares. Anand again put his endgame defensive skills to the test by voluntarily heading into a depressing technical position for the second day in row. There would be no miracles for the Indian today as Carlsen used his slightly better king, slightly better pawns, and slightly better bishop vs knight to full cumulative effect. Black surely missed a few chances to improve -- 47..Re1+ is one; the tricky 57..Rh1+ gains a crucial tempo to stop the h-pawn and White has a long slog ahead. But really it was a very impressive performance from Carlsen, who breaks his string of draws in a big way.

That big match-up between the heir apparent and the king current stole the spotlight from the more important battle taking place at the top of the crosstable. Alexander Grischuk beat co-leader Levon Aronian to move to a fantastic +3 score and clear first place with one round to go in the first half of the event. It was another razor-sharp theoretical opening, the Anti-Moscow Semi-Slav that was all the rage for a while but has recently ceded ground to the Meran. Aronian is an acknowledged expert, something today's ICC Chess.FM commentator Jan Gustafsson has intimate knowledge of himself. He was eliminated from the 2007 World Cup by the Armenian in just this line. Aronian, now on the black side, played a novelty pawn sac with 15..0-0 instead of taking on b3 as other games had gone, including Grischuk-Karjakin, 2008 (and Volokitin-Gustafsson, 2007). Jan said that previous Grischuk game was considered something of a coffin nail to this line, and he wasn't very impressed with Aronian's attempt to revive it here. He was playing very quickly (and Grischuk very slowly, as usual) and Gustafsson said, "it's either deep preparation or coffeehouse play. With Aronian it's hard to tell; he's a good bluffer. I don't trust the Black position at all." GodGusti rocks.

Grischuk, a pro poker player who knows a few things about bluffing, certainly made it look Starbucks as the game went on. Black's king is extremely loose and his queen way over on h4 isn't staying home reading abstinence literature either. Grischuk gave up a pawn to get his knight over to the kingside to join his queen to powerful effect. But it looked like Black might just survive after all, losing a pawn instead of the king, when 38..Qd6?? passed up the chance to get his knight into the defense with 38..Nf6 and Black was forced to give up the exchange to a pretty combination. Aronian hung on for a while when Grischuk missed a few quick kills, but it was never in doubt.

Wang Yue tried again to beat Radjabov's King's Indian. At Corus he got the better position and eventually lost. Today he got just about nothing and took a draw. They stay at the bottom on the crosstable at -2. Ivanchuk tried to squeeze Dominguez in a Catalan position. The Cuban doesn't enjoy slow defense and if you didn't know that you could have guessed by moves like his wild 17..g5!? The game really would have heated up had he played to win the bishop after 18.Be5 f6 and the cleric has no safe parish. White has considerable compensation after 19.Rab1 Qxc7 20.Nxe6. But Dominguez decided against it and soon it looked like Ivanchuk and his two bishops would clean up against Black's many weak pawns. Ivanchuk began to dither in his usual time trouble but didn't lose his considerable advantage. The bizarre draw, with White still clearly winning, could only have come due to extreme time trouble for Ivanchuk unless many moves are missing or Ivanchuk received an invitation to go out on a hot date with a nice Cuban lady Dominguez happened to know. The obvious 48.e4 in the final position is quickly crushing. The answer to the riddle comes from a Spanish paper on the scene:

The sporting gesture of the round was the draw Ivanchuk gave to Dominguez. Both players were very short on time and Ivanchuk on several occasions knocked the pieces over accidentally. Dominguez, displaying a sportsmanlike attitude, put the pieces back on his own time despite risking a loss. The Ukrainian, in the end, rewarded his opponent with a draw despite having a decisive advantage.

Wow. Memo to Radjabov and Mamedyarov. Pity for Ivanchuk though; it was a very nice game. He could publish an impressive "best games" collection made up only of games he drew or lost due to manic time trouble. Note that Dominguez was at Corus for the Radjabov-Smeets piece-knocking controversy and also won the world blitz championship last year in Almaty, where the rules about such things were clearly explained, according to Peter Svidler. But hey, maybe honor isn't completely dead.

Grischuk's leadership of Linares gets a stern test tomorrow as he takes black against two-time defending champ Anand. Carlsen and Aronian are on +1, Ivanchuk and Anand on even, Dominguez -1. Round 7: Grischuk-Anand, Radjabov-Carlsen, Aronian-Ivanchuk, Dominguez-Wang Yue. It's another Chess.FM live coverage double-header kicking off at 8am EST with game 7 of Kamsky-Topalov and then adding the four Linares boards into the mix at 10. Gregory Kaidanov is the piece master du jour.


Awww.....no mention of Petrosian in your praise of past invincible masters?

Kudos to Dominguez and Ivanchuk , triple kudos to both of them.

Another great blog post, packed with ideas, info, analysis (and also some chess analysis). Thanks again!

Ok dont get mad, kudos to you too.

As always great daily dirt! But are you sure that Grischuk should be called a "pro poker player"? As long as he is playing top level chess I doubt that he has the time to play poker as a pro. Or do you have further information about that? Please, I don't want to start a poker discussion!!! Just asking for information about Sasha.

Michael Towns, I too thought that Mig had a typo there and meant to say Capa and Petrosian. I mean Kramnik invincible??

Great game by Magnus, pure class. What is Vishy doing though?? Embarking on a crusade to get the WR for defending the most no. of no-hope-for-a-win-only-a-draw positions?? Or is a match with Topalov/Kamsky on his mind?

What a great post Mig. That bluffer, poker pro and the comes the "loose king" remark. You're brilliant sometimes.

And that Chucky "best games" was classy as well.

There is a life webcam broadcast of the games. When Ivanchuk knocked over the pieces in the game against Dominguez, we should have seen it during life broadcast.

I presume Anand is still using his Kramnik prep to a large degree. So I also presume Kramnik's g4 in the Semi-Slav would have come as a complete shock? Or was he going to defend that miserable ending against him? g4 not really Kramnik's style, but looks like a missed opportunity there, if Carlsen's game is anything to go by. Hope the champ picks up the pace, I for one like to see champs winning! (Of course great stuff from Carlsen too!)

Congrats to Bacrot.

Tatiana Kosintseva! - 13th at Aeroflot is pretty damned good.

If Anand was going to have a problem with the old notion: "The WC can't lose," well, it got blown away this week! That's one bogeyman he won't have to face. So what's to come? Anand will have to play more solidly, and it is hard to catch up playing like that (just ask Kramnik).

Vishy isn't playing very well but neither is he playing too badly. Expected after a long layoff and all the excitement/effort of the match. He still has a decent chance of keeping his trophy if he beats Grischuk today.

Funny there are two King's Indians, by Anand and Ivanchuk! What would be the odds?

Anand has gotten into inferior endings against Ivancuk and Carlsen as if almost voluntarily.
Should be playing sharply with black as he did against Kramnik,

I wonder what Anand had in mind after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 [game so far] d5!?

The anti-smoking variation, 3. f3 d5 4. call the arbiter

Ivanchuk is hot. Finally winning today.

Good point, though somehow I don't believe Anand would go for that line ,:). But if he did, maybe one person on this blog would support him saying "Anand is such a well-known grandmaster with a very high rating, he must have a reason to call the arbiter".
SCNR (worry could not resist)

I'll second playjunior's praise, it's good to see Mig in fine fettle again. By the way, is it just my computer or is freechess.org down?

Maybe people forgot that Linares is still going on ... . Today was another not-so exciting round, but Aronian is still testing Carlsen in a rook endgame. Any experts around (I am not)? Does he really have winnning chances, or is he merely hoping for a blunder from Carlsen (this happened before between the same two players)?

Followup on my previous post: Carlsen-Aronian 0-1 after 93 moves. Was this really necessary? Well, we (or I) will soon find out when analyses of the game start appearing ...

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 25, 2009 8:52 PM.

    Kamsky-Topalov g6; Linares r5 was the previous entry in this blog.

    Kamsky-Topalov g7: Topalov the Challenger! is the next entry in this blog.

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