Linares 5: Three fighting draws (for a change)

2/24/2004 – Same procedure as in every round (almost). But at least today we can say that all three draws were hard-fought, with local hero Paco Vallejo and Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov pushing hard with the black pieces, while the top encounter Kasparov-Kramnik was a positional battle. We bring you analysis, report and pictures.

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

Linares Round 5

Round 5 (Monday, February 23, 2004)
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Peter Leko
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Garry Kasparov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 6 (Wednesday, February 25, 2004)
Veselin Topalov
Garry Kasparov
Francisco Vallejo
Peter Leko
Alexei Shirov
Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report

Don't be fooled by the table above this sentence. We had another three draws in Linares today and for those who are keeping track that means 12 split points in a row. The only decisive game of the event, that's 1/15, was Leko's win over Radjabov in the first round. But don't be fooled because today's draws weren't like many that we've seen so far.

All three draws were hard fights with chances for both sides. Every game made into the second time control. Kramnik must be exhausted after playing his first game to last longer than 23 moves. He was also under considerable pressure from Kasparov for most of the way. The game was drawn due to a combination of Kramnik's typically stellar defensive play and Kasparov's severe time trouble.

After a long squeeze Kasparov a positional advantage but just six minutes for 12 moves. He reached move 40 safely but he couldn't stop Kramnik's pieces from getting active enough to force a repetition draw.

Diagram: Kasparov-Kramnik after 41...Ng3

Earlier it was White with the raking bishops, now it's Black's that allow Kramnik to draw with an unavoidable knight sacrifice.

42.Nd3 Nxe4 43.fxe4 [43.Nxf4? Nxf2 44.Kxf2 (44.Nxe6? Nd1 45.Nd8 Bd5 46.Bc1 Be7) 44...Bxf4] 43...Qxe4 44.Qg2 ½-½ [44.Qg2 Qe3+ 45.Qf2 Qe4 46.Qg2]

See this and more analysis on the online replay/download page.

Leko decided that what almost worked against Kasparov wasn't good enough for Topalov, or he was just worried about an improvement. He diverged from his round three game against the world #1 and followed a Najdorf line that Topalov defended last year against Anand. This suited the Bulgarian fine and Leko's kingside chances ground to a halt.

Then the Hungarian decided radical measures were necessary and gave up a pawn to activate his pieces. Black accepted the material and looked ready to go into a winning endgame until he was bitten by the move 40 bug. Topalov's last move of the time control allowed Leko to escape into a drawish pawn-down endgame.

As could be expected, Radjabov played much more aggressively against Vallejo than he has against the top-tenners. A combination resulted in the unusual material balance of two rooks versus three minor pieces with queens still on the board. The Azeri was hasty in swapping material and then couldn't hold on to the queenside pawns that provided his only real winning chances in an endgame. Vallejo got an easily drawn knight vs rook endgame to split yet another point.

Just as Kramnik was forced into gear he'll have to consecutive rest days to cool off again! Topalov-Kasparov and Shirov-Radjabov look like great fights on paper; we'll have to see how they come out on the board.

Don't miss our live radio commentary at Playchess.com during the games. You never know who will drop in! During round five former US Women's Champion Irina Krush braved a cold and missed breakfast (at 11:30am!) to share her thoughts on the games, her own tournament experiences, and much more.

The show starts on game days at 10am EST, 1600 CET. (Changes announced.) If you haven't checked out Playchess.com you can go here download and install the software for a free trial.

Pictures from round five


Hungarian GM Peter Leko had a narrow scrape against Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov


The youngest against the local boy


A firm handshake at the start of the top game Kasparov vs Kramnik


The toughest game between the world's number one and two


Spectators watch as Kasparov toils

Pictures by Jesús J. Boyero Gabarre

All results so far

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
Round 3 (Saturday, February 21, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko
½-½
Garry Kasparov
Round 4 (Sunday, February 22, 2004)
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Francisco Vallejo
½-½
Alexei Shirov
Round 5 (Monday, February 23, 2004)
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Peter Leko
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Garry Kasparov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 6 (Wednesday, February 25, 2004)
Veselin Topalov
Garry Kasparov
Francisco Vallejo
Peter Leko
Alexei Shirov
Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 7 (Thursday, February 26, 2004)
Peter Leko
Alexei Shirov
Garry Kasparov
  Francisco Vallejo
Vladimir Kramnik
  Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 8 (Friday, February 27, 2004)
Vladimir Kramnik
Francisco Vallejo
Garry Kasparov
Alexei Shirov
Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 9 (Saturday, February 28, 2004)
Teimour Radjabov
Garry Kasparov
Alexei Shirov
Vladimir Kramnik
Francisco Vallejo
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 10 (Sunday, February 29, 2004)
Veselin Topalov
Alexei Shirov
Vladimir Kramnik
Teimour Radjabov
Garry Kasparov
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 11 (Tuesday, March 2, 2004)
Peter Leko
Vladimir Kramnik
Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov
Alexei Shirov
Francisco Vallejo
Games – Report
Round 12 (Wednesday, March 3, 2004)
Francisco Vallejo
Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov
Peter Leko
Vladimir Kramnik
Garry Kasparov
Games – Report
Round 13 (Thursday, March 4, 2004)
Garry Kasparov
Veselin Topalov
Peter Leko
Francisco Vallejo
Teimour Radjabov
Alexei Shirov
Games – Report
Round 14 (Friday, March 5, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
Peter Leko
Francisco Vallejo
Garry Kasparov
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report

Topics Linares
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