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Linares 09 r13: Ivanchuk Wins, Carlsen Slips

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Vassily Ivanchuk and Levon Aronian continued their torrid rate of decisive games between them in round 13 of Linares today. This time it was Ivanchuk's second win of the tournament and his second win of the tournament against Aronian. That brought the Ukrainian wizard up to +2 undefeated and a share of the lead with Alexander Grischuk, who had lead alone since beating Aronian in the sixth round. Grischuk came close to moving back to +3 in a wild game against Anand in what turned into a spectacularly rich day of chess. All four games were slugfests with chances for both sides. Perhaps the best of the lot was also the most disappointing when Carlsen played his second fabulous effort in a row only to needlessly rush in the endgame and allow Radjabov a miracle save. Wang Yue and Dominguez battled it out to the bitter end in sharp Grunfeld despite playing mostly for pride and Elo at this point.

Ivanchuk worked up winning chances very quickly against Aronian's oddly slow and meandering play. This and his atrocious loss to Radjabov the other day were really far below his level. The Armenian #1 spent a long time considering ways to sac the exchange on move 18 before humbly moving his rook. Then he decided to pitch a pawn that Ivanchuk was happy to grab. Just a few moves later Black was on the brink of a spectacular catastrophe when he played 24..Qe7? All the computer kibitzers went berserk at this point, but Ivanchuk played the human, and strong, 25.Nxf6+ instead of the fantastic shot 25.Nf5!! gxf5 26.Nxf6 Qxf6 27.Bxe5 Rxd1 28.Bxf6 Rxc2 29.Rxc2 and Black loses the bishop on b8 because of the mate threat. Ivanchuk's fans started getting a little nervous when he later missed another quick win with 28.f4. But he kept things under control and was spared having to convert his extra pawn when Aronian blundered on move 31.

What to do about this Carlsen guy? He plays with the inconsistency of a teenager for chrissakes! After a great effort to gain a big advantage against Radjabov in a Bb5 Sicilian, he got all the way to a winning, if quite tricky R vs N endgame before his youthful impatience reached over and punched his Mozart talent in the face. 50 seconds says it all. That's how long he took to turn a beautiful win into an agonizing draw with 47.Kf3? instead of 47.Kf1. To bore you with more comments from an old politician, I got Kasparov's input on this game at two moments. First, right as the players made the time control and he gave a few lines that looked like wins for White in the endgame, which isn't simple at all. Rooks are bad against connected passers and White has to watch out for knight sacs. We were still on the line when Carlsen played 43.h6 and Garry was very surprised he had made such a committal move so quickly. He was soon convinced that it was the best move, however, and this, he said, showed Carlsen was concentrating well. He gave a longish winning sample line I relayed on the ICC with White eventually playing f5 to push his g and h pawns with mate threats before the black pawns arrive. The computers concurred, if with a different winning method. Carlsen had his own plan that was also winning, and with less risk than the early f5 idea. His rook froze the pawns and then his king had time to come over to help. It was with that last bit that the aforementioned trouble arrived. 47.Kf3? allows a threatened knight fork to save the day and Radjabov jumped at it. Miracle save. 47.Kf1 avoids the check and Black can resign or wait for 47..b2 48.Rb4 Nc4 49.Ke1 Kg8 50.f5! and the white pawns end the show.

The next time I talked with Garry it was well after the game was over and he was equal parts angry and horrified at how such a brilliant effort could have been thrown away with such an incautious and over-confident slip. (When I say angry I don't mean at Carlsen as such. He has a low tolerance for what you might call "crimes against chess," and squandering such a good game like that is felony caliber.) The 50-second blunder cost Carlsen more than a great game. He would have gone into the final round tomorrow in a three-way tie for first. Now he goes in a half-point behind and with black against Anand.

Speaking of the world champion, GM Kaidanov was at first elated by his game with Grischuk, then disillusioned, then elated again. I had to leave early so I don't know how he felt at the end. The Poisoned Pawn Najdorf isn't played much at the top level anymore, mostly because Black had been getting too much poison for the pawn. So we wondered what Anand had up his very long sleeves. Then Kaidanov realized that Grischuk, in the lead and smarting from a tough loss, might be heading into one of the forced drawing lines computers have found in these variations. (I think Kasparov stopped playing it after ceding two draws in nearly identical games back in 2004 when his opponents were happy to get a half-point with white.) That's where we were going until Grischuk took a very long think before dropping the 20.Bd3 bomb on the board. Suddenly all three results were possible. The silicon insanity of 23..Qd5!? would mean having to see 24.Rh3 Rg7! 25.Be2 Be7!! Though even there White is probably winning after the comical 26.Rh5. Getting back to the game, Anand sent his queen to rehab via a5 and set up a decent defensive perimeter in exchange for the exchange. Grischuk couldn't find a way in against Anand's precise defense after declining to grab a pawn with 27.Qxc6. Anand offered a draw when he was getting the exchange back. An unexpectedly wild game; hats off to both players.

If the final round is half as exciting as this one we're in for a good show tomorrow on ICC Chess.FM with GM Joel Benjamin. All the contenders have black though, which isn't usually a good sign. They are happy with draws and the guys with white are usually focused more on not chalking up another zero. But the fighting spirit has been high so far so let's be optimistic. Macauley Peterson is on the scene in Linares for Chess.FM and you shouldn't miss his videos and other goodies at the ICC Blog. Round 14: Radjabov-Wang Yue, Dominguez-Ivanchuk, Anand-Carlsen, Aronian-Grischuk. Hmm, Dominguez is the only player without a win and Ivanchuk the only one without a loss. Fate?


"The Poisoned Pawn Najdorf isn't played much at the top level anymore, mostly because Black had been getting too much poison for the pawn."
I am not a top player and cannot look into their brains ,:) but I guess the other reason [indeed mentioned two sentences further down] is at least as important: many lines are analyzed to a forced draw.
For what chessgames.com statistics (and statistics in general) are worth - yes, I am aware of caveats mentioned by myself and others at earlier occasions: white seems to be slightly less successful in the Poisoned Pawn variation compared to other lines of the Najdorf.
And at least in one recent top-level game black preferred 7.-Qc7 over 7.-Qb6 in a must-win situation (Anand-Kramnik, last WCh game).

Summing up: I would question the word 'mostly' in the quote by Mig - otherwise great stuff as usual!

Lets not forget that Kaspy was once 18 too. How would we have acted watching all his games on the internet with silicon monsters screaming this move or that move when he was that old?

All the greats know that greatness comes with time. Maturity will even out Carlsens games, and when that happens, look out.

so Magnus, don't disappoint the master again! :)

Carlsen seems to be fighting hard for a win every game, and deliberately taking risks to do so.

That's something noticeable about this field: everyone's a fighter, despite the high percentage of draws.

Ivanchuk drew and is #1 at least for the time being - Grischuk may be a bit worse and struggling against Aronian, and he is in time trouble as usual.

Nice Tournament it was. I'm glad Grishchuk held against Aronian.. Seemed like he was going down in flames at one point. And in time trouble too,


Congratulations to Grischuk!

Yes (I agree), but apparently Ivanchuk is first on tiebreak and presumably gets the Bilbao invitation - though Grischuk may (should IMO) qualify for a wildcard.

Grischuk is first on tiebreaks. The official site confirms it.


And yes, congratulations! To both the Chuks, although particularly the younger of them.

Congrats to Grischuk! Hopefully this will motivate him to train harder and concentrate more of his time on chess (instead of poker) in the future. He has the talent to be as good as anyone. Always been the case, just a question of dedication, said to be a lazy trainer.

And Magnus... you would have won the tournament, had you not blitzed against Radjabov! Why oh why did you do it? (Also ruined what would of been the best game of the tournament!) a 50,000 euro lesson for the young man! Wiser and more humble in the future we hope.

Grischuk wins the tournament (most wins), gets the invitation for the grand slam final; but apparently the two chuks split the prize money (each 87.500 euro).

Ivanchuk would have won on traditional tie-break points, but in Linares the number of wins decides.

Hooray for Grischuk and the lucky brown suit!

There is an interesting quote in the guestbook of the Linares tournament page, even if my Spanish isn't quite sufficient to fully understand or translate it:
"el madridista y el pokero,se me divide el corazon XD.la pena es ver a lenier de farolillo rojo"

¨My heart is divided between the guy from madrid (but actually meaning fan of Real Madrid) and the poker player, it pains me to see Lernier as a red lamp.¨
Where ¨farolillo rojo¨(little red lamp) is a denomination for last place in Tour de France.

Thanks Manu - I got (or guessed) almost everything right, just didn't know the meaning of 'farolillo' ... . But wouldn't "guy from Madrid" be 'Madrileno', with the other term more or less reserved to football fans?

I can even learn Spanish here, not only English ... on Chessvibes Chessgirl already taught me "end of the world" in Spanish ... .

I think the correct spelling would be ¨madrileño¨ , and ¨madrilista¨ is a spelling ¨mistake¨ made on purpose to describe Chucky´s love for the spanish soccer team.
BTW and to not make this completely off-topic , it will be a joy to see Grishuk in Bilbao this year , but i hope they invite Ivanchuk as well .

Regarding Mig's comment about Garry's low tolerance for blunders in chess, I think it is pertinent to quote the 19th century French statesman Talleyrand who said: "This is worse than a crime, it's a blunder.”

Yes, I agree - my comment yesterday 1:54PM also works the other way around: Grischuk deserves the Bilbao invitation, but Ivanchuk also deserves (a wildcard). But so would IMO Anand, Carlsen and Aronian (based on past achievements) - yet the number of spots is finite, and we already have two surprise names ... .
And to add a bit of off-topic stuff, which can be fun after all: I still couldn't pronounce the Spanish quote properly, but maybe you couldn't either (for the Spanish person who posted this) ,:)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 6, 2009 11:42 PM.

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    Linares 09 Final: Draws Enough for Grischuk is the next entry in this blog.

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