Linares R6: Topalov wins again, leads world rankings

2/20/2010 – It was a very complicated game, and with Veselin Topalov pressing hard and Francisco Vallejo in terrible time trouble the Spaniard, who had had winning chances, blundered a full rook. This third victory put the Bulgarian GM a point and a half ahead of the field – and two points ahead of Magnus Carlsen in the live world rankings. Game with 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 six report

By GM Anish Giri

Round 6: Friday, 19 February 2010

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

Today in sixth round two games were drawn: Gashimov couldn't get anything against Gelfand's Petroff. His new idea idea 16.a4 was too harmless.


Boris Gelfand of Israel


Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan

Grischuk however came close to beating Aronian. It was some kind of Ragozin Defence (the variation that was recently employed couple of times by Kramnik) and Aronian got a passive but solid position. Levon simplified things with 16...b5!?, but I think that it was 20...a6 and 21...Qb5 that was to blame for the bad endgame that he found himself in (20...Rc8 should have been level). Grischuk had rook and knight against bishop and knight, with three against four pawns, but Aronian managed to save it. I don't know if Grischuk had a win or a better try in the endgame. [Click to replay]

Topalov won his third white game – this time he beat Vallejo – and now he is virtually world's number one again!

Topalov,V - Vallejo,F [A29]
XXVII Linares Linares/Spain (6), 19.02.2010 [Giri,Anish]

1.c4. English Opening. A logical choice for Topalov, who just wants a game, not a theoretical battle. 1...Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6. This is one of the main position of the English opening. 7.a3!? Not the very main move in this position, but also a logical one. White wants to advance a3, b4, even before castling. 7...g5!? A fairly well-known idea which in this position turned out to be a novelty. Black just wants to advance g4, h5-h4, using the fact that bishop on c1 is still not in the game and the position is semi-closed. Recently in Wijk aan Zee, Shirov tried the same plan against Van Wely and achieved success. 8.d3 g4 9.Nd2 h5 10.b4 h4. That's what I told you, right? 11.Bb2. The black plan is a bit risky, because he has lost four tempos and it's not entirely clear whether he is actually treatening anything with those scary looking pawns on g4, h4. 11...Rh6!?








When White put his bishop on b2 (even though Topalov won yesterday, he has probably realized that bishops on b2 are better than queens) Black decided to move his rook away from the x-ray. 11...Bg7 would be another way to solve the a1-h8 problem, but then Black would have a slightly stupid bishop, and the c5 square could be weak (Nb3-c5). 12.Nb3. 12.Nc4! seems a bit more logical to me, and now I don't know what Topalov disliked and what Vallejo intended, but White seems to be better. For example: 12...Nd4 (12...Bg7 looks a bit strange after Black just playd Rh6. However it might be the best. So I am not sure if Rh6!? was as strong as it looks.) would fail to 13.e3 h3 14.Be4 f5 15.Nxe5! with advantage. 12...Nd4. The interesting 12...a5! could be very strong. Now after 13.Bxc6+ (13.b5 Nd4 and a5, b5 is clearly in Black's favour, since White has no c5 square anymore.; 13.bxa5 Nxa5 14.0-0 is possible too, but it doesn't impress me.) 13...bxc6 white has Nxa5, bxa5 or even Bc1!?, but I believe Black has at least enough compensation for the pawn. 13.Nc5. Consistant, but I think that the simple 13.0-0! was stronger. Now White wants to exchange on d4, followed by Ne4-c5, and after eventual e3 Black would be in trouble. And since Black can't evacuate his king, White should be better. A sample line could be: 13...hxg3 14.hxg3 c6 15.Nxd4! exd4 16.Ne4 followed by e3 and an advantage for White. 13...c6 14.e3 Ne6








15.0-0!? A pawn sacrifice, but in fact there is no other way for White to fight for initiative. 15.Nxe6 Bxe6 16.0-0 and black has a comfortable position, after Qg5-h5 and 0-0-0. 15...hxg3. There is no point in waiting anymore, since White has castled. 16.fxg3!? A very logical move. Now the rook on f1 is smiling at the f7 pawn. 16.hxg3 could be possible too 16...Nxc5 17.bxc5 Bxc5 18.Ne4 Bd6 and now some move like 19.a4!? with compensation. However looking at the rook on f1 I understand why Topalov took 16.fxg3! 16...Nxc5 17.bxc5 Bxc5 18.Qe2. 18.d4 Seems more energetic, but Black is more than okay either after the simple 18...exd4 (or after a bit more clever 18...Be7!? ) 19.Ne4 Be7 20.Bxd4 Be6








18...Be7. Fearless 18...f5! would be more powerful and strong. Now I think White would be left with no compensation. So we should conclude that 13.Nc5 was not a very good move. 19.Rad1. 19.Ne4 was interesting with the idea 19...f5 20.Nf2 Qd6 21.e4 and complicated play.; But the strongest was a little computer move: 19.a4! a5 is practically forced and now 20.Ne4 is a slightly more favourable version, since the a4 square is covered and also the knight on b6 is a bit weakened. Both details could be important in complications some five moves later. the position is complicated and more or less balanced. 19...f5! is still strong. 20.Qf2 Be6 21.e4! trying to complicate matters. 21...Rh5 22.Ne2 Qc7 23.exf5. 23.d4 only looks strong, in fact after 23...Nc4 followed by Bg5! Black is much better. 23...Rxf5 24.Qe3








24...Na4. 24...0-0-0 was simpler and safer. After 25.Rxf5 Bxf5 26.Bxe5 Qd7 Black is clearly better (the threat is 27...Nc4!), but if White will not blunder the fight will go on. 25.Qh6! Now Black has to move his king, without touching his rook (I mean he cannot castle, because of Qxe6). This is always psychologically unpleasant especially in time trouble, which Vallejo was in. 25...Kd7 26.Rxf5. 26.Ba1 saving the bishop was possible, but then Black could consolidate with 26...Raf8! 26...Nxb2 is liked by computer, but now Black will have some problems with his light squares. 27.Rdf1 Bxf5 28.Rxf5 Nxd3 29.h4!








Here Vallejo was very short of time, and even though objectively he had an advantage, the result was unpredictable. The fact that Paco had a lot of more or less equally strong possibilites was on the Bulgarian's side. 29...Qd6. 29...Qb6+ was the strongest, but it is hard to see that after 30.Kh2 Qb2 31.Qe3 Qxa3 32.Be4 Black gets a big advantage with the only 32...Nb2! 30.Qg7 Qxa3 31.Kh2! Very practical, even though objectively Qxg4 was probably strongest.








31...a5. Vallejo had just some seconds for the remaining nine moves and obviously it was very hard not to make a mistake in this highly complicated position. 31...Qb4!? taking the e4 square away and protecting the g4 pawn seems to give Black an advantage in view of 32.Rf7 Re8 33.h5 Qc4! 34.h6 Ne1! but in fact, 32.Rf1! with idea of Rd1 gives White a lot of counterplay. 32.Rf7. 32.Be4 was objectively best, but I think Veselin was already trying to flag Paco, so he tried to make some not very obvious tricky moves. After 32.Be4 the position would be dynamically equal. 32...a4. Here 32...Qb4! was also strong, but here too White gets some play with the clever 33.Nc3! although if Black would not be too much shocked by this move he would find 33...Ne1! 34.Be4 Nf3+ 35.Bxf3 gxf3 36.Rxf3 Re8 with an unclear position, where White's h-pawn is trying to compensate a5, b7 and c6. Objectively Black is better, but White is maybe surviving. 33.h5. Topalov finally got the chance to get an advantage, but now he blew it with this simple and logical move. Maybe he was a bit too concerned about the last seconds that were slowly disappearing from Vallejo's clock. I am sure he could have found 33.Nc3 Here Black seems to be in trouble, since now the white knight enters the game and the black monarch would be feeling very uncomfortable. The threat is in fact unobvious Qxg4 Kc7 Qc4 and even the clever 33...Nf2 does not help Black (33...Re8 34.Ne4 Kd8 35.Nf6 is also bad for black.) 34.Qxe5! and Black is doomed. 33...Ne1. Again 33...Qb4 was the move. Black would be better again.








34.Qxg4+. 34.Be4! was strong, with simple idea of Bf5+. Maybe Veselin didn't like the fact that now his king was a bit exposed. Now Black can choose which material he wants to give. The best choices are: 34...Re8 (34...Nf3+ 35.Kg2 Nd4 36.Nxd4 exd4 and here both Bf5+ and h6 would give White the advantage, although Black is able to fight on in both cases.) 35.Qxe5 Qd6 36.Bf5+ Kc7 37.Qa5+ Kb8 38.Qxe1 Qd5 and Black is fighting, but after Bg6 White is probably able to stop the a pawn. 34...Kc7 35.Qe6 Re8 36.Qxe5+ Kb6 37.Rf5. Threatening mate in one. Sounds funny, but with four seconds on the clock for four moves it is a serious threat. 37...Qb4. Not blundering ... yet. 38.Qe3+








38...Bc5?? There was no reason to give up a whole rook, but with 2-3 seconds for three moves everything can happen. 38...Kc7 would be equal 39.Qe5+ Kb6 40.Qe3+ Kc7 White can try 41.Nc3 Nxg2 42.Kxg2 but Black should be ok. Guess what my engine says? Yes! 0.00.

39.Qxe8 Nxg2 40.Kxg2 a3. Well, this highly interesting game was far from ideal, but it was very complicated and tense (like Topalov-Grischuk from previous round). The game was basically decided by the horrible time trouble of Vallejo, but it was Topalov who forced his opponent to think so much. 1-0. [Click to replay]


Leader by a point and a half after six games: Veselin Topalov

Current standings

Schedule and results

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

Round 5: Thursday, 18 February 2010

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

Round 6: Friday, 19 February 2010

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

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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