Linares 2: All games drawn

2/20/2004 – Round two of the supertournament in Linares saw all games drawn. Mig Greengard again did live audio commentary on the Playchess.com server, this time with four-time women's world champion Susan Polgar as a phone-in guest. We bring you results, annotated games and pictures...

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Linares 2004 Round 2


21st International Chess Tournament
Linares Feb. 19 – March 5, 2004

Round 1 (Thursday, February 19, 2004)
Francisco Vallejo
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Alexei Shirov
½-½
Garry Kasparov
Teimour Radjabov
0-1
Peter Leko
Round 2 (Friday, February 20, 2004)
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Alexei Shirov
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Games – Report
Round 3 (Saturday, February 21, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
  Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov
  Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko
  Garry Kasparov
Games – Report

When you have so many elite veterans in the field every round has at least one backstory. In the first round we had the Shirov-Kasparov handshake. In the second round we had Kramnik-Shirov. The Russian played the 2000 world championship match against Kasparov despite losing a 1998 qualifier to the Spaniard. Before and after that they have played many sensational games.

We also had a rematch of the biggest game of 2003, last year's Kasparov-Radjabov shocker that saw the Baku Baby beat the Baku Beast. Branding it even deeper into our memories was Kasparov's closing ceremony temper-tantrum when that game was given the tourney brilliancy prize.


Ice and Fire equaled water today.

Neither game lived up to the hype. Kramnik and Shirov did a little opening dance and agreed to a draw with just about all the material still on the board. Maybe the initial position in chess is drawn after all. We thank them for this advance in researching this theory. Actually all of today's games were extremely "correct." Caution was the word of the day and inaccuracies were hard to find.


The Boys from Baku. Kasparov didn't avenge last year's loss.

Kasparov put the squeeze on Radjabov in a closed Sicilian instead of picking up the Sveshnikov/Kalashnikov gauntlet. As pointed out during the game by our ChessBase Radio guest analyst GM Susan Polgar, the opening contained a rather bizarre sequence of knight tours. In particular Black's seemed like a major loss of tempi. Radjabov played Nf6-d7-b6-d5 instead of Nf6-d5. Kasparov's knight was even more paripatetic in getting to d5: Nf3-d2-f1-e3-d5 by move nine!

It's Grandmaster games like these that chess coaches try to hide from their students. "But Kasparov moved the same piece in the opening five times!" Okay kid, when you're 2800 you can do it too. Until then, develop! Kasparov got a nice pull but Radjabov was up to the task and reached a drawn rook ending after some suffering.

Diagram: Kasparov-Radjabov, final position after 42...Rf6!

Topalov-Vallejo was shaping up into a full-bodied middlegame after a great deal of slow-paced maneuvering. Polgar said she had liked White's position early in the game but thought Topalov had then played too passively, not something often said about the aggressive Bulgarian. Both players covered all the weak spots and then agreed to a draw. It looked like there was still a good amount of chess left in the final position.

These days many players propose a draw with white the instant they feel they don't have an advantage. Black, being black, is likely to accept. Nigel Short's "if your opponent offers you a draw try to figure out why he thinks he's worse" doesn't seem to apply in supertournaments anymore. A more recent Nigel quote seems appropriate: "When games are allowed to reach their natural conclusion, it is amazing what can be achieved." Where have you gone, Luis Rentero?


GM Susan Polgar, pictured here at the Kasparov-X3D Fritz match, was again on hand to give Mig and the Playchess.com Radio audience an analytical assist. This time everyone could hear!  (Photo by Paul Truong)

Speaking of, Susan Polgar once ran into the downside of Rentero's ultra-activist organizing style, but that's a story for another day. Apart from helping us all understand what's going on in the games, Polgar also talked about her return to the chessboard last week in Oklahoma (!?) after a layoff of eight years. Apparently it didn't hurt her too much, she won her first six games in a row! Most of our live Linares coverage will be made available on Playchess.com in the archives, including these fascinating clips with GM Polgar.

For round three we again expect to have some heavyweight Elos in our new online temple of sound. In his search for someone who talks as much as he does Mig tracked down four-time US Champion Yasser Seirawan in his Seattle lair. Now if only we can get him out of bed at 8am Pacific time to do some commentary!

Round 2 Picture Gallery


Alexei Shirov looking slightly embarrassed by the giant mascot for the 36th Olympiad. The organisers write: "Hoy estuvo en Linares "Peonín", mascota de la 36ª Olimpiada de Calvià, que se disputará del 14 al 31 de octubre de 2004. Estuvo acompañado de Antonio Rami, director de Calviá 2004, Javier Ochoa de Echagüen (Presidente de la Feda) y Emilio Caso (Concejal de Deportes de Linares)"


The greatest chess player in this arm of the galaxy


Vlady waiting for his opponent to return to the board


A study in patience


Yes, Vlady, Shirov is serious


The "other board", with Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov vs local boy Paco Vallejo

Pictures by Jesús J. Boyero Gabarre


Topics Linares
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