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Kramnik-Leko, Anand-Kasparov Drawn. Leko Takes Title

3/9/2003 – According to the traditional Linares tiebreak system of 'fewest draws,' Peter Leko has won his first title of Linares champion! His game with Kramnik was a solid draw and both players finished with 7/12. Anand and Kasparov drew and finished 3-4 with 6.5/12. Ponomariov won against Vallejo. Report and games here.
 

Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 14

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

Round 14 (Sunday, March 9, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Leko, Peter
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Vallejo, Francisco
0-1
Ponomariov, Ruslan

Linares 2003 ended with a whimper, not a bang. The games between the leaders and the chasers were both drawn. Kramnik and Leko played an extremely correct draw with few flourishes but were polite enough to the audience to play down to a dead drawn endgame. Both Leko and Kramnik finished on +2 to tie for first place in Linares 2003. Congratulations to both players!

Peter Leko will get the title and the trophy (left, representing the mining tradition of Linares) on tiebreaks, and he definitely deserves more than a pat on the back for his energetic performance. Twice he was knocked down and twice he got back up to win, showing the heart of a champion. The Hungarian was the motor of the tournament throughout.

Combined with his impressive triumph in Dortmund last year it might be time to start talking about the big four instead of the big three we have had for so many years. And Leko, whose name was becoming synonymous with "draw", took the title on a "fewest draws" tiebreak system! This might even be Leko 3.0, or maybe Leko XP. Leko Linux?!

Vladimir Kramnik played the ideal Kramnik tournament. A few years ago I nicknamed him "Mr. Plus Two" and that's just what he was in Linares this year. Two powerful wins and 10 draws. This is exactly what he scored in Linares 2000, when he shared first place with Kasparov. Usually +2 is not enough to win a tournament with Anand and Kasparov in it, but this time it was. Going undefeated in 12 games against this field is a remarkable achievement by Kramnik even if his +2 was a lot less exciting than Leko's!

Viswanathan Anand deserved better, what else can you say? He won three games and both his losses were quite avoidable. Anand lost one-and-a-half points in endgames and still scored +1. Garry Kasparov shared a similar fate, letting several excellent positions turn into draws. It's hard not to think that the second-round loss from a winning position against Radjabov really rocked him. Kasparov pushed very hard to get a win in the final rounds, but it was not to be. Anand and Kasparov did not play with the confidence we are used to seeing from them. Only a half-point separated the top four and you need every ounce of skill, will, and magic to break out in such a tough field.

This was the end of one of the greatest chess streaks of all time, in my opinion. From Corus Wijk aan Zee 1999 to Linares 2002, Kasparov won 10 consecutive supertournaments. (Just one shared first.) Ten! It is also worth noting that much of the chat you hear now about Kasparov's age is exactly what some people were saying right before that streak started after he finished third in Linares 1998!

Ruslan Ponomariov finished with a sweep of Vallejo to swap places with him in the standings and salvage a few rating points, although he still ended with his second consecutive negative score. Even that last-round loss couldn't ruin things for Francisco Vallejo Pons, for whom this was still a successful event. He failed to improve on his 5/12 score of last year, however. Teimour Radjabov's tournament was all downhill after his stunning win over Kasparov, but it was a high height from which to fall. It will take a few years of work to get his opening repertoire up to Linares standards, but he can clearly compete on this level on sheer talent alone.


The winners drew both their games against each other.

Kramnik-Leko was an exercise in creative piece exchanges that was sucked inexorably down the draw drain despite a couple of tactics. Kramnik offered a piece sacrifice that was introduced by Sutovsky last year but Leko wisely declined. Both players who accepted the sac, including Sutovsky's opponent Smirin, were wiped out in spectacular fashion. After that brief flirtation with excitement the pieces came off quickly.

Kasparov played my dear Accelerated Dragon for possibly the first time in his career in a serious game. As so often happens they ignored recommended lines for a 9.h3 Na5 sideline. It transposed into tame Dragon lines with both kings on the kingside. Kasparov played very aggressively by pushing his e and f-pawns forward and sacrificing a pawn. It looked like Black might have a little something with his two bishops, but Anand's precise play defused the position to reach an opposite-colored bishops ending without prospects.

Vallejo misplayed an endgame that should have been drawn with little fanfare. Ponomariov ended up netting a pawn and won the usually tough R+4 vs R+3 very quickly. It was fitting that the final game of Linares 2003 was yet another theoretical endgame!

Some interesting facts can be gleaned from the final crosstable. In the games between the top four, Kramnik and Leko scored even, Kasparov +1, and Anand -1. Kramnik, Leko, and Anand all beat Radjabov but Kasparov lost to him. (This reminds me of Astana, 2001. Everybody else pounded 'outsider' Sadvakasov but he drew both his games with Kasparov! Does he play down to them or do they play up?) Vallejo had an even score against the big four (!) while Ponomariov was -3 against them.

Photos and comments from the final press conference are coming soon. Thanks to everyone who followed our daily coverage here at ChessBase.com and the live games at Playchess.com! You can download all the games in PGN format here in one file. Most have light variations and supplementary games and lines from the ChessBase Megabase.

Mig Greengard
www.chessninja.com

FINAL STANDINGS

 

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