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This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Linares: Round 6 Recap

They are consistent, aren't they? Once again, the round's results consisted in one decisive game and two draws, and the players were even consistent in terms of who did what.

First, Peter Leko forced Rustam "Brick Wall" Kasimdzhanov to defend for a long time, but the game wound up drawn just the same - the Spassky approach to the Marshall Gambit is continuing to hold up:

Leko,P (2749) - Kasimdzhanov,R (2678) [C89]
XXII SuperGM Linares ESP (6), 28.02.2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 Qh5 18.a4 Re6 19.axb5 axb5 20.Qf1 Rfe8 21.Bxd5 Qxd5 22.h3 Bf5 23.Qg2 Qxg2+ 24.Kxg2

Of course White has an edge due to the extra pawn, but Black has the two bishops and no weaknesses, so his drawing chances are excellent. 24...R6e7 25.b3 f6 26.Ra2 Be6 27.c4 Bb4 28.Rc1 Bf5 29.g4 Bd3 30.Nf1 Be4+ 31.Kg1 f5 32.Ng3 fxg4 33.Nxe4 Rxe4 34.hxg4 Rxg4+ 35.Kf1 Bd6 36.Ra6 Bf4 37.Bxf4 Rxf4 38.Rxc6 Rxd4 39.cxb5 Rb4 40.Rb6 h5 41.Rc7 Re5 42.Rg6 Rexb5 43.Rgxg7+ Kh8 44.Rgd7 Rb8 45.Rh7+ Kg8 46.Rxh5 Rxb3

And now it's a theoretically drawn position, but as White can poke and prod indefinitely without any risk, the game continues for another 30 moves, though without any real danger to Kasimdzhanov. 47.Rg5+ Kf8 48.Rf5+ Kg8 49.Rff7 Rh3 50.Rg7+ Kh8 51.Kg2 Rh6 52.Rgf7 Rg6+ 53.Kf1 Kg8 54.Rfe7 Rf8 55.Rcd7 Rg5 56.Rd3 Rf7 57.Re8+ Kg7 58.f3 Ra5 59.Kf2 Ra2+ 60.Kg3 Ra1 61.Re4 Rg1+ 62.Kf2 Rg5 63.f4 Rg4 64.Rdd4 Rh4 65.Kg3 Rh1 66.Re5 Rg1+ 67.Kf2 Rg4 68.Kf3 Rg1 69.Re2 Rf1+ 70.Kg3 Rg1+ 71.Kf2 Rg4 72.Kf3 Rg1 73.Rf2 Ra7 74.Rd5 Kf6 75.Rd6+ Kf5 76.Rd5+ 1/2-1/2

Next, Veselin Topalov continued his roller-coaster ride, this time peaking against official tournament tailender Francisco Vallejo Pons, for whom this event probably can't end soon enough.

Topalov,V (2757) - Vallejo Pons,F (2686) [B90]
XXII SuperGM Linares ESP (6), 28.02.2005

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.f3 Be6 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 b4 13.Ne2 Ne8 14.f4 a5 15.f5 a4 16.fxe6 axb3 17.exf7+N [17.cxb3 occurred in the game Ivanovic-Djukanovic, Bijelo Polje 2004 (0-1, 53).] 17...Rxf7 18.Kb1 A very dramatic move, but the idea is clear: White wants to preserve as much pawn cover as he can for his king and only then turn his attention to the loose Black kingside. 18...bxc2+

[18...Qa5 19.Nc1 keeps the lines closed.] 19.Kxc2 [19.Qxc2 is the obvious, "safe" move, but giving up the g5 pawn makes Black's eventual kingside defense a lot easier - the bishop can be active, the knights have access to f6, there's never the fear of a g6 spike from White, etc. But isn't White's choice insane? Is the g5 pawn really worth that much?] 19...Nb6 [19...Rxa2 appears to be the most testing move - not so much to grab a pawn but to prevent White from retreating into a cozy bunker with Kb1 and Nc1. I don't know what Topalov had planned here, but the following might be helpful to start the analytical process: 20.Bh3 (20.Nc1 Qc7+ 21.Kb1 Ra8 22.Qd5 Ra5 (22...Rc8 23.Bd3+/-) 23.Qc4 Nc5=) 20...Nf8 21.g6 hxg6 22.Qxb4 Qc7+ 23.Nc3 Ra8 (23...d5 24.Qb3+/-) 24.Rhf1 Rb8 (24...d5 25.Rxf7 Kxf7 26.Qb3+-) 25.Qa4=] 20.Nc1 d5 21.exd5 Nd6 22.Kb1 Rf3 This threatens ...Nc4 - or rather, seems to - but it also exposes the rook. [22...Nbc4 23.Bxc4 Nxc4 24.Qe2 Nxe3 25.g6 Nxd1 26.gxf7+ Kxf7 27.Rxd1 Bd6=] 23.h4 Na4 [23...Nbc4 24.Bxc4 Nxc4 25.Qe2 Rxe3 (25...Nxe3 26.Qxf3 Nxd1 27.Rxd1+/-) 26.Qxc4 Bd6 27.Qg4+/-] 24.Qe2 [24.Bd3!?] 24...Rg3 Black's position was difficult, but this seems to lose material without gaining sufficient compensation in return. 25.Bf2 Rc3

Fancy, but remember: this is chess, not checkers - White doesn't need to capture! 26.Qxe5! Nxb2 27.Bd4! [27.Kxb2? Qa5 28.Kb1 Qa3-+ 29.Qxe7? Rxc1+ 30.Rxc1 Qxa2#] 27...Bf8 28.Kxb2 Rf3 [28...Qa5 is pointless here due to 29.Bxc3] 29.Bd3 Kh8 30.Qe2 Rf4 31.Qh5 Nf5 32.g6 [32.g6 h6 33.Bxf5 leaves White up two pieces and a pawn and threatening 34.Qxh6+ to boot.] 1-0

Finally, the marquee match of the day: Anand-Kasparov. Kasparov put aside his signature Najdorf variation for the day and essayed one of the current fads, the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Anand chose the more positional approach with 9.Nd5 (9.Bxf6 gxf6 leads to a messy position where Black has some kingside weaknesses, but the extra f-pawn gives Black more central play than occurs after 9.Nd5) and sprung a new move on move 19. A typical Sveshnikov situation arose, where White's control over d5 and queenside advantage were challenged by Black's possession of the bishop pair and kingside counterplay. Perhaps Anand had an edge for a while, but Kasparov's typically active play sufficed for the draw.

Anand,V (2786) - Kasparov,G (2804) [B33]
XXII SuperGM Linares ESP (6), 28.02.2005

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 0-0 12.Nc2 Bg5 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bc4 Rb8 16.Ra2 Kh8 17.Nce3 g6 18.0-0 f5 19.Qa4N

[19.exf5; 19.Re1 and; 19.Qd3 were already known to theory.] 19...Bd7 20.Bb5 Rxb5 [20...Nb4 forces White to sac the exchange, but apparently both players felt that White would have sufficient compensation after 21.Bxd7 Nxa2 22.exf5 However, I'm not sure what Anand's deep idea was, as Black seems to have at least a small edge after the following: 22...Rxb2 23.Nc4 Nxc3 24.Nxc3 Rb4 25.Qc6 Rxc4 26.Qxc4 Qxd7 27.fxg6 hxg6=/+] 21.Qxb5 Nb4 22.Qxa5 Nxa2 23.Qxa2 fxe4 24.b4

Now White is definitely better, but it's not easy to see how White can convert his edge - the only passer is the b-pawn, the knights look good but may be semi-frozen, and f2 could become weak if too many White pieces start to stray. So it's a lot of work for White to try to win this. 24...Be6 25.c4 Qc8 26.Qb3 Kg7 27.Rb1 [27.Qc2 Bxe3 (27...Qb7 28.Qxe4 Bxe3 29.fxe3 Rxf1+ 30.Kxf1 Bxd5 31.cxd5 Qa6+ 32.Kf2 Qa2+ 33.Kg3 Qe2 34.h3 Qe1+ 35.Kh2 Qe2 and just sitting might be Black's best defensive try.) 28.Nxe3 d5 holds the pawn, but White's in great shape after 29.cxd5 Qxc2 30.Nxc2 Bxd5 31.Ne3+/-] 27...Rf7! 28.Rd1 h5 29.Qc2 Qa8 30.h3 [30.Qxe4 Bxe3 31.Qxe3 Bxd5 32.cxd5 Qa4 33.Qd2 Qb3 34.h3 Rb7 35.Rc1 Qxb4 36.Qxb4 Rxb4 37.Rc6 Kf6 38.Rxd6+ Kf5 is drawing - I think.] 30...Bh4 31.Rf1 Qf8 32.b5 Bc8 33.Nc3 Bb7 34.Ned5 Qc8 35.Qe2 Bxd5 36.Nxd5 Qc5 It's amazing how Kasparov always manages to coordinate his pieces so well! 37.b6 Qd4 38.Qc2 Kh7 39.Kh2 Rxf2 40.Rxf2 Bxf2

41.Qc1 [41.b7 Bg1+ 42.Kh1? (42.Kg3 Bf2+! 43.Kh2 (43.Qxf2 h4+ 44.Kh2 Qxf2 45.b8Q Qg3+ 46.Kg1 Qe1+=) 43...Bg1+) 42...Qa1 not only holds but probably wins: 43.Nc3 Ba7+ 44.Nd1 (44.Kh2 Qg1+ 45.Kg3 Qe1+ 46.Kh2 Bg1+ 47.Kh1 Bf2+ 48.Kh2 Qg1# is a mating pattern everyone should be familiar with.) 44...Qd4 45.c5 dxc5 46.Nc3 Qb4 47.Nxe4 Qxb7 and Black should win the ending.] 41...e3 42.b7 Qa7 43.Qb1 e2 44.Ne7 Bg3+ [44...Bg3+ 45.Kxg3 Qe3+ 46.Kh2 Qf4+ 47.Kg1 Qd4+ 48.Kh2 Qf4+ etc.] 1/2-1/2

Standings after Round 6:

Kasparov 3.5/5
Anand, Topalov 3/5
Kasimdzhanov 3/6
Leko 2.5/5
Adams 2/5
Vallejo Pons 1/5

Pairings for Round 7:

Vallejo Pons-Leko
Kasimdzhanov - bye


  • At 10:49 PM, Anonymous mbagalman said…

    I don't know that 19.Qa4 is a novelty. Apparently it has happened in correspondence chess, and according to my database, the exact same position occured (by transposition) after 20.Qa4 in Novik-Filippov (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1994, 1-0 in 48 moves). In fact, that game continued the same as Anand-Kasparov all the way through 24.Qxa2 (still with a one move lag) when Filippov continued 24...f4, which may well deserve a "?" (or at least a "?!" as being dubious).

    Anand-Kasparov was certainly exciting to watch live. I was amazed that Kasparov managed the draw, especially with the time element.


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