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A Black Day in Linares! Radjabov Defeats Kasparov

2/23/2003 – Ah, they grow up so fast, so very fast. Teimour Radjabov became the youngest player ever to defeat the world's number one player in tournament play. He beat Kasparov with the black pieces in a wild tactical affair out of the French Defense. Kramnik joined Anand at the top of the standings by adding to Ponomariov's woes. Vallejo entered the action and held Anand to a draw. Full report.
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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 2

XX International Chess Tournament
Cuidad de Linares 2003 (Cat. XX)

Round 2 (Sunday, February 23, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Kramnik, Vladimir
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan

When Teimour Radjabov was 12 years old it was already clear that he had world championship potential. But he was so young that his fellow Grandmaster from Baku, a certain Garry Kasparov, could afford to treat the kid in paternalistic fashion. This impression was reinforced a few months ago in the Moscow Grand Prix Rapid tournament in which Kasparov easily dispatched Radjabov in the final. Ah, kids today, they grow up so fast! In the second round of the Linares supertournament Radjabov shocked the world by beating the world number one with the black pieces in a tremendous game.

GM pundits predicted disaster for the Azerbaijani teen when he played a novelty in the French, eliminating his own counterplay against d4 with 10...c4. Kasparov may have returned the favor by overpressing with 14.f5, allowing Black the elegant tactical escape 15...Nf6. Radjabov wasn't done with the tactical show. His knight sac against Leko in the first round was not accepted, and Kasparov also decided to decline a Radjabov knight sacrifice! White was still doing fine in the complications until 24.Qg4? allowed the shot 24...g5! and Black grabbed the initiative.

The pawn is immune as Black wins after 25.Bxg5? Rdg8. Kasparov had to retreat with 25.Bd2 Rde8 26.0-0-0 Na5. Now 27.Kb1 still leaves a lot of game ahead, but Kasparov produced a rare blunder with 27.Rdf1?? and lost a piece by force. With his Bd2 unprotected by the rook, 27...Nb3+ forced his king into traffic and the lethal threat of ..Qg6 meant he couldn't recapture on g3 after 28.Kd1 Bxg3.

Kasparov played on hoping Radjabov would go wrong, but the extra piece was far too much and Radjabov made history on move 39 when Kasparov resigned. Any loss by Kasparov is news, any loss by him at Linares is big news (who even remembers his last loss at "his" tournament?), and this loss to the teen sensation couldn't have been foreseen by anyone. Kasparov won't get the bye until round four. He has to play black against a rested Peter Leko tomorrow in round three.

Classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik evened a score with his FIDE counterpart Ruslan Ponomariov. Pono won their first serious encounter last month in Wijk aan Zee. Kramnik was unimpressed with the Ukrainian's passive Bb5 Sicilian opening and soon had the initiative with black. Kramnik continued to gain space on all flanks and set the stage for a very attractive rook sacrifice.

Here Kramnik ignored the pressure on a7 and played 29...d3!, winning in excellent fashion after 30.Rxa7+ Kf6! 31.Rxa8 Rxa8 32.Rxa8 dxc2 and the pawn is unstoppable. A powerful effort from Kramnik, who is showing no sign of the rust he displayed at Corus Wijk aan Zee last month.

As for Ponomariov, what to think? A year ago it looked like he was nearly invincible. Only a dramatic loss to Kasparov relegated him to second place in Linares last year and the sky was the limit. His feud with FIDE definitely distracted him in his terrible Wijk aan Zee, but now he has started off with two losses in Linares and it's not going to get much easier. True, those losses were to Anand and Kramnik, but those are the guys he has to show he can play with. The KKA Triangle has held off all challengers for a remarkably long time.

Local hero Francisco "Paco" Vallejo Pons (let's just call him Vallejo so I don't have to type so much) entered the field after a first-round bye. He played solidly against Anand's Queen's Indian and enjoyed pressure with a big knight on e5. Before anything could come of it, Anand chopped off the knight with an exchange sacrifice. The Spaniard decided he didn't like the looks of the new situation and quickly offered a draw. Peter Leko had the bye.

Kasparov's last loss in Linares was way back in 1997, against Ivanchuk. That made 62 Linares games in a row without a defeat until today! With 10 games still to play it is early to count anyone out, let alone the world number one. +3 will probably win first place in such a balanced field, so Kasparov has his work cut out for him. Radjabov has white against Ponomariov in round three. Another knight sacrifice? Don't bet against it!

Kasparov was a big favorite to win in the ChessNinja.com message board poll, with 58% of the votes over Anand's 28% and Kramnik's 11%. A single person voted for Radjabov to take the title. Almost 60% of voters said that Radjabov would finish with a negative score. Hmm, I wonder if that single vote came from a computer somewhere in Baku...

Mig Greengard

Standings after round two

Round 1 (Saturday, February 22, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Leko, Peter
Round 2 (Sunday, February 23, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Kramnik, Vladimir
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Games – Report
Round 3 (Monday, February 24, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Leko, Peter
-
Kasparov, Garry
Games – Report
Round 4 (Tuesday, February 25, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Leko, Peter
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Games – Report
Round 5 (Thursday, February 27, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Leko, Peter
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Kasparov, Garry
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Games – Report
Round 6 (Friday, February 28, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Kasparov, Garry
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Leko, Peter
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Games – Report
Round 7 (Saturday, March 1, 2003)
Leko, Peter
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Kasparov, Garry
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Games – Report
Round 8 (Sunday, March 2, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Kasparov, Garry
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Leko, Peter
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Games – Report
Round 9 (Monday, March 3, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Kasparov, Garry
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Games – Report
Round 10 (Wednesday, March 5, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Kasparov, Garry
-
Leko, Peter
Games – Report
Round 11 (Thursday, March 6, 2003)
Leko, Peter
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Games – Report
Round 12 (Friday, March 7, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Leko, Peter
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Games – Report
Round 13 (Saturday, March 8, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Leko, Peter
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Games – Report
Round 14 (Sunday, March 9, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Leko, Peter
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Games – Report
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Topics Linares 2003

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