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Linares 2010 r3: Brilliant Battles

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Not much time to write tonight, but wow, what a round in Linares. Three interesting fights of the highest quality, all finishing drawn. Gashimov and Grischuk replayed their spectacular game from the World Team Championship just a few weeks ago in Turkey. Grischuk won that early candidate for game of the year by running his king all the way across the board to b2. Here he varied first with 15..0-0 and yet it was Gashimov who seemed to have the better prep. His 18.Rf1 put Grischuk in the tank for a long time. He eventually went with 18..g4, with 18..Nxe4 the main interesting alternative. LarryC ran through dozen of fascinating lines all the way through the endgame that eventually finished drawn.

Topalov was on the ropes in his old favorite, the Benoni, against Aronian. Topalov always finds a way to create counterplay and here he went to the necessary extremes with ..g5! and ..f6 to open up lines for his pieces. The saving drawing tactic at the end is fantastic, with 38..Nd6! and then the a-pawn winning back the piece to reach a theoretically drawn rook and bishop endgame down two pawns! Wow. Instead of trying to blast Topalov's interesting arrangement of ..Re7, ..Be8 apart, Aronian played it in Karpovian style with queenside maneuvering and slow progress. Topalov played a nice Nimzovichian pawn sac with 22..b5, after which all the white firepower is directed against his own pawn on b5. Topalov was probably planning 26..Nb3 and Larry thought maybe he'd missed 27.Rc6, which would have given White a very strong position. It's hard to say if Aronian missed a win somewhere with his pawn pair (33.e6!?) , but it was a hard-earned draw for Topalov, no doubt.

Gelfand put the squeeze on Vallejo and looked set to get back to an even score with the white pieces. The Spaniard's queen went walkabout to h4 and was in danger of getting trapped in all sorts of ways. His king was also in trouble and during the game we thought we might have found a forced win for White with 17.Bxd7+ Kxd7 18.Rd1! and the rook is coming to d4 to discover a shot on the black queen. Tricky stuff, and giving up your bishop for a pinned knight isn't the most human of moves. Vallejo was using a lot of time and erred again with 19..f6, after which he had only bad choices. With his time also getting short, he went for a pragmatic queen sacrifice. It paid off when Gelfand overreached, putting his king into traffic on c7. The more practical 33.Qe3, staying centralized and out of danger, would have been hard to meet. White simply goes after the b-pawn and tries to consolidate. Larry sacrificed a dozen pieces trying to find a mating attack for Black in some lines but it was never there. Gelfand ended up with two pieces for a rook and some small chances and both players looked accurate to the end of the draw. Another great fight.

I'll put up more game notes tomorrow or Wednesday when I have some more time. I have a lot of really cool stuff from Larry to sort out. I'm back on Chess.FM with Jon Speelman Tuesday for round 4: Gelfand-Topalov, Gashimov-Aronian, Grischuk-Vallejo.


Nice job, Mig.

Real nice game by Topalov, and indeed all three draws are replayable.

38...Nd6 was a fantastic move. Really thought that Topa was going to gag on those d and e pawns coming straight down Broadway.

Seemingly the only place with correct moves is http://www.chessdom.com/linares-2010/boris-gelfand-veselin-topalov are the rest sabotaging Topalov? He will win against Anand anyhow I think.

Grischuk has played only 19 moves and has only 38 minutes left!

um... ICC and chessgames.com have the correct moves. But yea Anand will crush him.

Looks to me like Aronian has nicely outplayed Gashimov. Seems like White has the bad side of a QGA structure that Spassky likes with colours reversed. But is it enough to win?
I presume Vallejo had a novelty which caused his opponent to spend so much time, anyone know what it was?

I'm not sure about the moves ( they were available at the official site ) , but it seems to be some sort of "sabotaging" going on against Linares lately, like a lot of emphasis on negative aspects , although some of them are funny :


Others are pretty sad , like this not so constructive comment from chessvibes's Arne Moll:

" Personally, I don’t mind solid and/or quick draws at all, but what I find pretty embarrassing is all this talk about how Linares is a ‘fighting tournament’ and so on, while at the same time the tournament just has 6 players, who can’t even stop themselves from making quick draws in the very first round. Why do the organizers even mention this nonsense about fighting spirit at all? It’s just pathetic."

Apparently , maintaining a prestigious fighting tournament over the years is a very easy thing to do , and Linares organizers would do well to listen to more experienced people.

Tips on "constructive comment" from an unexpected source.

Be on the lookout for tips on:
--concise writing...from Thomas,
--keeping your cool...from frogbert,
--and sportsmanship from...Topalov and Danailov.

"Little bird told me that Simmillion writes just like koster."

"Real nice game by Topalov..."

Simmillion, your feeble attempt to deflect suspicion is unavailing. Screw the little bird, you ARE me, Simmillion, aren't you?! Man up and admit it!

Don't forget "make your point without using sarcasm" by greg koster.

I KNEW I shouldn't have erased from that post "'the glories of capitalism' by acirce."

You should have fought then , before the " big erase " took place , now it is too disgraceful and late to try to pick up a fight.
My point about the anti-Linares trend stands , though .

I have this bad feeling that Topalov will defeat Anand. One of those weird situations where A beats B, B beats C, C beats A. I.e., Kramnik beats Topalov, Anand beats Kramnik, and then Topalov beats Anand. Makes sense since we are essential at a point in Chess history where there is simply a first among equals. But perhaps Carlsen will break up the "pack" in a few more years!

Red Alert: Topalov has three whites left!

Laj - Just for the record, Topalov has four whites left - http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=6133

I still don't think he'll win Linares, at least not outright. His play has looked pretty uneven to say the least.

Ugh! Don't even think it noyb. The title is unified only it doesn't matter as it changes hands every year and nothing is settled. Everyone just keeps shouting about who they say is best.

Thanks Mig, it was a good bedtime story. Always a pleasure reading inspired reports, even if I wouldn't understand half of the chess magic behind them.

Topalov has a habit of starting slowly and then powering up in the second half. He hasn't lost in the first 2 rounds so that's ominous for the others.

As for the WCC, I hope it's a feast of superlative fighting chess with no off-board shenanigans. I can't really decide who to root for as I've adored both players for many years.

It must be difficult to prepare against Anand , i never heard of anyone mentioning any weakness on his play . Years ago some people said he had some psychological disadvantages regarding his battles with Kasparov but i dont think anyone could claim something like that nowadays.
The guy is an universal player , nothing seems to make him nervous and his team of seconds worked just great in his last match , not to mention that he can count with the support of almost any other top GM in the top 20 to fight against the Bulgarians .
It will be a tough match for Topa , i hope he makes the best of his chances.

"I still don't think [Topalov] win Linares, at least not outright. His play has looked pretty uneven to say the least."
How has his play looked uneven? Seems to me Topalov has been playing enterprising chess. Yes, he was in trouble vs. Aronian, but his active play pulled him through. Compared to Anand's placid performance at Corus (with the one exception being his game vs. Kramnik), Topalov's play looks promising.

It seems a lot of people assess a drawn result as a tell-tale sign of peaceful chess. Actually, a hard fought well-played draw is often more satisfying than a decisive game plagued with mistakes. Just becuase you see lots of draws does not necessarily mean the players are peaceably inclined. Except for the 1st round of this tournament, I think most of the games at Linares 2010 have been hard fought.

Hi Jim - I don't know what tournament you're watching, but Topalov had lost positions in two games, got lucky and won one he shouldn't have, and drew the last one in insipid fashion. That's what I call uneven.

That's a little harsh on Topalov, noyb. He's playing his usual sharp style, which puts him at risk, but he's kept on the edge without falling off. There was an error exchange with Gashimov near the time control, but it wasn't an undeserved win. He was in control the whole way and Gashimov cracked in a tough position. Topalov was in some danger against Aronian, but probably not losing. Both played excellently. Don't see him as being in any danger in his other three games.

As Laj points out above, sort of, Topalov now has four whites from the six remaining games.

My main man Greg, Gooood Morning to you! Very very nice to meet you here.

All my attempts to prove myself an individual have been erased, they were indeed kind of offtopic so to speak, and by now -next to me- you're probably the only one still believing that I'm not you. Who cares anyway, being your own man is so very 2003, 'paranoid parotting' is the future.

To stay ontopic, R3 was sort of okay, R4 I found rather boring.

"My main man Greg, Gooood Morning to you! Very very nice to meet you here."
You must have some kind of amnesia , the 2 of you already posted on the same thread before ...
Im sure both of you have ultra valid reasons to feel offended by my insinuations , please accept my apologies on confusing you with dishonest posters.

To stay on topic , i like chess.

Amnesia, lack of brainpower, lack of interest, dont know, for me it feels like a first date with greg. Apologies offcourse accepted

I take it you also like Linarian 2010 chess?
I'm not a 'sabotager', but somewhere Im kind of disappointed with Lin 2010 so far.

I think Topa is gonna crush Anand like a bug

¨I take it you also like Linarian 2010 chess?
I'm not a 'sabotager', but somewhere Im kind of disappointed with Lin 2010 so far.¨

Im also a bit disappointed with some of the games , but it is clear to me that the organizers try very hard to make the tournament more and more litigious every year .
Of course i wouldnt expect articles celebrating the high percentage of draws , or the reduced field , but i think most people would agree that Linares deserve more support and concern from certain part of the so called press.
I mean , they implemented Sofia rules , gathered a nice bunch of creative and agressive GMs , became part of a very enterprising project like the Grand Slam , they even tried the 2 continents thing with Mexico that time... at least one cannot accuse them of not trying things.
I would love to see the Bilbao rules implemented on the next edition , and also some very specific improvements on the broadcast and press conferences of the event could make a big difference me thinks.

About Anand vs Topa : I believe Topa is capable of peaking higher than Vishy and i think it would be very good for chess to have him as a champion ,but lets see what happens.

Exactly. I thought Toaplov had an outstanding win against Gashimov, in the style of the positional greats. He made things difficult for himself against Aronian, but fought back in inspired style. That he had to find a forcing line that only a handful of people currently on this planet could have found OTB to draw against Aronian is an indictment of the system he was playing rather than his play. The Benoni is an opening like that..

"Topalov was in some danger against Aronian, but probably not losing".

I agree with Topalov having played well so far, but it does look like he was losing if Aronian had played e6 at the first opportunity - Shipov called 33. e6! Nd6 34. Qc2 Nxb5 35. Nxb5 Bxb5 36. Ng3! (not Qxc5) "practically hopeless" for black.

Aronian's probably the player who's really underperformed (or at least performed unevenly) so far. The Chesspro report after round 3 included this: http://chesspro.ru/_events/2010/linares2.html

"It seems to me that Levon Aronian hasn't quite found his game yet.

"The Berlin - playing for a draw?" I asked. And added that when we were discussing the play of some contemporary grandmasters David Bronstein told me that he used the "Berlin variation" when he didn't feel very well, as he knew that "white can't score a goal against the black king without the white-squared bishop". He compared the black king, rushing around the "goalmouth" between c8 and f8, to a goalkeeper. Levon smiled as he heard me out and said that he plays the Berlin so that "his opponents will have a headache".

- For the moment I still haven't grasped that I'm playing in a serious tournament and haven't come to knock out some moves in blitz... - he told me after his first round game with Grischuk.

They spent around an hour analysing the game, which had finished early after mass exchanges.

- Lost? - from time to time Alexander asked his opponent. And Levon only laughed cheerfully. In almost all lines after the correct 10. Rb1 (instead of the monstrous 10. Qxc3) black got a position that was close to absolutely hopeless.

- Well, so why did you play 10. Qxc3? - I asked the FIDE Grand Prix winner and candidate for the world championship.

- It's impossible to explain.

- A blackout?

- Yes, something like that.

And Levon uttered that phrase about blitz..."

"It paid off when Gelfand overreached, putting his king into traffic on c7."

Yeah, running the king to c7 (at least at the time the queen went there), must indeed be classified as "overreaching". King attack!

Yes Topalov was absolutely dead lost Migs comment is bizarre as one look at the position showed he had no compensation at all for the pawn when he tried g5. Playing the Benoni against Anand would be suicidal....

Hi Mig - I'm sorry you feel that's harsh. Going by both general GM commentary on at least two web sites and Engine evals (running Rybka 3 and Deep Shredder 12 on new 64 bit PC), and my own albeit significantly weaker evaluations skills, I have to stick with my comments. Topalov was clearly busted in two different games and got lucky. And his fourth game with Gelfand was insipid. Nobody took anything remotely resembling a chance in that game. Clearly they were just trying to draw and go home while complying with the "Sofia" rules.

But chess is a practical game played between real, fallible humans, not between committees of silicon-assisted humans.

I haven't been following Linares too closely so I might have missed it, but apart from against Aronian when else was Topalov "busted"?

Vasiliev's report is up at Chesspro. http://chesspro.ru/_events/2010/linares3.html

Aronian told him that more likely than not he had a won position against Topalov, but Topalov broke in to say he didn't agree. Aronian just smiles (knowing the computer will have the final say) and Vasiliev's prose waxes lyrical about how we should forget about the metal monsters and how he agrees with Topalov...that Topalov doesn't agree. (I think Vasiliev might have had a touch too much sangria - it's quite a crazy report!)

There's a funny interchange between Aronian and Topalov on the Benoni: "When during their analysis Levon noted with a jovial compassion that the black pieces were all crowded onto the eighth rank Veselin told him:

- But it's the Benoni...

Meaning, well, you don't understand, we're sitting in a deep hole that we've dug for ourselves, what do you expect from us... Levon laughed his loud piercing laugh and, craftily glancing at Topalov, said:

- The Benoni, you say?! Well, if it's as you say then never in my life will I play the Benoni!"

"For more down to earth advice, he [Kasparov] suggests that, with the caveat that each player is different, you can exclude certain lines. “There are dead openings, like, you know, the Benoni.” Everyone laughs. “What would you recommend instead of the Benoni?” asks Andrew.

“Anything!” Kasparov says."


"Topalov was clearly busted in two different games and got lucky"

Topalov drew Vallejo easily in round 1, in the second he won against Gashimov without ever being in trouble and the fourth game was drawn out of the opening. I wonder in which of these games he was clearly busted.

Thanks, Mig. For some reason, my brain short-circuited and thought that Linares was only 8 rounds instead of 10 :D.

Noyb, thanks. I thought Linares was 8 rounds. My main point is that Topalov has won his only white so far. And no matter how busted he was vs. Aronian, there is a big difference between being busted in a dynamic position with play for both sides and being busted in a position where you have no chances. For some reason, Topalov is often busted in the former.

Maybe Topalov didn't want to spoil a "real" opening in a game with a weaker player , considering his forthcoming match with Vishy.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 16, 2010 12:53 AM.

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