Linares R3: three draws, Topalov and Grischuk lead

2/16/2010 – In today's round all games were drawn, but all of them were very interesting! Gashimov continued his opening discussion with Grischuk in the Qd3 line of the Poisoned Pawn Variation; Gelfand-Vallejo was a Slav sideline which led to very dangerous play; and Aronian-Topalov saw both sides miss opportunities to improve their chances. Commentary by GM Anish Giri.

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February 2010
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Ciudad de Linares 2010

The traditional Linares tournament is taking place in Andalucia, Spain, from February 13 to 24, 2010. It has been shrunk down to six players – in 2009 there were eight, and in previous years there have been up to 14 players. The category this time is 21, with an average Elo of 2757 (and no player below 2700). Time controls as two hours for 40 moves, then one hour for 20, then 20 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30 second increment (starting from move 61).

Round three report

By GM Anish Giri

Round 3: Monday, 15 February 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
Alexander Grischuk

In today's round all games were drawn, but all of them were very interesting!

Gashimov continued his opening discussion with Grischuk, by going into Qd3 line of the Poisoned Pawn Variation. Grischuk was first to deviate with 15...0-0 (instead of the creative Rh7 that brought him a nice victory) The game however turned out not to be as exciting as their previous one, when the black king was wandering all over the board. This time they quickly exchanged queens, and after the tactical fire was over, the endgame turned out to be equal. [Click to replay]

Gelfand-Vallejo was no less exciting. In the opening (a Slav sideline) Vallejo clearly made some innacuracies (for example I don't really understand the Ba6-b7 manoeuvre) and after the tricky Qh4!? (preventing White's Qg4) things seemed very complicated. I don't know what happened later, but somehow Gelfand managed to get a winning position, and he even forced Vallejo to give his queen. Vallejo had some compensation, which looked scary, but in fact was not sufficient. However after few inaccuracies from White's side, Gelfand decided to give the queen back, since Black was getting a very dangerous counterplay. After this exchange (I must add that top players still aren't computers, so we shouldn't be too harsh), the ballance was never broken and players drew in a complicated ending. [Click to replay]

The third game was the most interesting:

Levon Aronian - Veselin Topalov [A64]
XXVII Linares Linares/Spain (3), 15.02.2010 [Giri,Anish]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3. Offering to play the Catalan. 3...c5!? Refusing to do so, by getting into a g3 Benoni. 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.h3








So far all main line moves. White wants to transfer his knight to c4 and has restricted Black's play by h3 and a4. Black was just developing. 12...Rb8. Preparing b5. 13.Nc4 Nb6. Protecting the d6 pawn that was attacked by White's last move. Another option was 13...Ne5, but Nb6 is safer. 14.Na3. Exchanging a pair of knights would favour Black. 14...Bd7 15.e4 Nc8. Black is ready for b5 again. 16.Qd3. And White stops it once again.








16...Re7!? This is a new idea. First I thought Black wanted to play Qe8 and b5, but in fact his idea is even more strange looking – Be8 freeing the d7 square for his knight. 17.Rb1 Be8 18.b4. White has decided to create some activity on the queenside, instead of waiting for Black to excecute b5. 18...cxb4 19.Rxb4








19...Rc7! An immediate 19...Nd7 is not good due to 20.Bg5! when Black would have to weaken himself with the ugly 20...f6. 20.Bd2. The standard, solid move. White overprotects his knight on c3, which was (and still is) under some pressure. 20.Bg5 was another interesting option, provoking h6, which often can turn into a weakness in this structure. 20...Nd7 21.Rc1. Now Black's position seems pretty good to me, even thought his pieces are temporarily out of business (look at the triangle e8-d7-c8). Topalov had a few possibilities here.








21...Nc5. The strange looking 21...Rc5! may be quite strong. Black wants to apply some pressure on the knight on c3, by Qc7 or Ncb6 and Rbc8. The point is that after 22.Be3 Black has a very strong reply 22...Qa5! 23.Bxc5 Nxc5 24.Qb1 and here the idea behind the whole show: 24...Nd3! Since 22.Be3 is not dangerous for Black, it can be concluded that Rc5 would give Black at least a comfortable position. 22.Qb1 b5!? Energetic follow-up by Topalov! 22...Bxc3 23.Rxc3 Nxa4 is something the true Benoni player would never play! Black's g7 bishop is worth much more than a pawn. Here White also has a tactical refutation of the idea: 24.Bg5! Qd7 (24...Nxc3 25.Bxd8 Nxb1 26.Bxc7 Nxa3 27.Bxb8+–) 25.Rcc4 with advantage for White.; 22...Na7 however, was possible. Black wants to double on the c-file and even though the knight on a7 looks clumsy, it may support b5 in the future. 23.axb5 a5. The point. These positional sacrifices are a trademark of Topalov! 24.Rb2 Nb6 25.Ra2 a4 26.Ne2 Rcb7








To be honest, here it becomes clear that Topalov's sacrifice is not the solution for all of Black's problems, even though he obviously has some compensation. Aronian had a lot of interesting possibilities and he chose.. 27.Bf4!? preparting a Rxc5 sacrifice. White will have to give up his important black square bishop, but he will have a strong passed d-pawn in return. 27.Be3 Simply attacking the knight or; 27.Bc3 exchanging the annoying bishop (which is actually quite important, even though it wasn't aiming at anything) were also possible and deserved some consideration. 27...Nc8. A move like Qe7 was possible too, but Topalov already aims his knight to the d6 square. 28.Rxc5! dxc5 29.Bxb8 Rxb8








30.f4! White want's to push his centre and he is obviously right! Here it looked as if Aronian was going for a victory, but it is not for nothing that Topalov has a 2800 rating. 30...g5!? 31.e5 gxf4 32.gxf4 f6. Black is trying to weaken White's pawn chain and to break it or at least block it.








33.Qe4. An ambitious choice: Levon doesn't want his pawns to be blocked, but now he is risking to lose them. 33.e6 is possible too. Now after 33...Nd6 Black has blocked the pawns, but not forever (even though it looks like that). 34.Qc2! White attacks both the a4 and c5 pawns, and one day after a Nc4 he may unblock his strong pawns. White is better here, but it is way too early to say that he is winning. Black has still a lot of possibilities and chances, thanks to his g7 bishop, which will be active again after an eventual f5. 33...fxe5 34.fxe5 Qg5! 35.Nc4. Maybe Aronian has missed Topalov's brilliant resource on move 38, but anyway, 35.e6 would be pretty double edged (my engine is now being very rude: it's laughing at me!) 35.e6 Was the last chance to save the pawns, but now Black already has much more play then three moves ago, when White could have played e6 under better circumstances. 35...Bxb5 36.h4 Qg6 37.Qxg6 hxg6 38.Rb2








38...Nd6! Brilliant resource that saves the game! However, there was also another very nice way to escape. 38...a3! 39.Nxa3 Nd6! Again this move! 40.Nc3 Bxe5 41.Rxb5 And here the surprise: 41...Ra8! 42.Rb3 c4 and however unbelievable it may seem, Black is making an easy draw. 39.Nxd6 a3 40.Ra2 Bxe2 41.Rxe2








41...Bxe5! Now the bishop is untouchable due to a2 and Rb1. The knight on d6 is attacked and Bb2 is a threat, thus Black is making a draw. 42.Nc4 Bb2 43.Nxa3 Bxa3 44.Re6. White wins a pawn, but it is a very easy draw for Black. 44...c4 45.Rxg6+ Kf7 46.Rc6 Rh8 47.Rc7+ Kf8 48.Rxc4 Be7 49.Rc8+ Kg7 50.Rxh8 Kxh8 51.h5








Here Black will just give his bishop for the d-pawn reaching a theoretically drawn postion. A very exciting battle of two sharp players! Topalov could have got much more without even giving a pawn if he would have found (or probably chosen) the clever resource 21...Rc5! Aronian should have tried 33.e6 with a clear advantage. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Current standings

Schedule and results

There has been a change in the schedule: in order to avoid Francisco Vallejo from having to play three games with black in succession the rounds four and five have been exchanged.

Round 1: Saturday, 13 February 2010

Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov

Round 2: Sunday, 14 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov
Alexander Grischuk 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian

Round 3: Monday, 15 February 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
Alexander Grischuk

Round 4: Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Boris Gelfand 
   Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
   Levon Aronian
Alexander Grischuk 
   Francisco Vallejo
Games - Report

Round 5: Thursday, 18 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Alexander Grischuk
Francisco Vallejo 
   Vugar Gashimov
Levon Aronian 
   Boris Gelfand
Games - Report

Round 6: Friday, 19 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Francisco Vallejo
Alexander Grischuk 
   Levon Aronian
Vugar Gashimov 
   Boris Gelfand
Games - Report

Round 7: Saturday , 20 February 2010

Vugar Gashimov 
   Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
   Alexander Grischuk
Levon Aronian 
   Francisco Vallejo
Games - Report

Round 8: Sunday, 21 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Levon Aronian
Francisco Vallejo 
   Boris Gelfand
Alexander Grischuk 
   Vugar Gashimov
Games - Report

Round 9: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Alexander Grischuk 
   Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
   Francisco Vallejo
Boris Gelfand 
   Levon Aronian
Games - Report

Round 10: Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Boris Gelfand
Levon Aronian 
   Vugar Gashimov
Francisco Vallejo 
   Alexander Grischuk
Games - Report

Live commentary on Playchess

Naturally the games of the Linares tournament are being broadcast live on Playchess. In addition to the moves (and live chat with thousands of other visitors) we also have special audio commentary by two well-known grandmasters:


Playchess (and ChessBase Magazine) commentator GM Daniel King
who is famous for his Power Play DVDs


Yasser Seirawan, who has an interesting Best Games DVD

Schedule of commentators

13th Feb  

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

14th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

15th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan  

5:00 p.m.

16th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

17th Feb Free day  

18th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

19th Feb  

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

20th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

21st Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

22nd Feb Free day  

23rd Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan  

5:00 p.m.

24th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


Topics Linares 2010
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