Linares R9: Carlsen and Ivanchuk win, Leko down in the dumps

2/29/2008 – Aronian vs Anand, not without tension, ended abruptly after 27 moves in a draw. Veselin Topalov did not succeed in outmaneuvering Teimour Radjabov and drew in 54. The luckless Peter Leko lost yet another, with White against Ivanchuk. The cliff-hanger was an 80-move effort by Magnus Carlsen, who overcame Shirov's defences to take second place in the tables. Full illustrated report.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The Morelia-Linares tournament is taking place from February 15th to 23rd February in Morelia, Mexico, and from 28th February to 7th March in Linares, Spain. The second half of the event runs from February 28th to March 7th, 2008. It is taking place in the Theatro Cervantes in the Centro Histórica de la Cuidad Linares. The rounds start at 16:00 local time (= CET, 20:30h Chennai, 18:00 Moscow, 15:00 GMT/London, 10 a.m. New York). You can find the starting time at your home location here.

Round nine report

Round 9: Friday, February 29th

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Peter Leko 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov

Another hard-fought round! Aronian-Anand was a slight exception: Aronian sacrificed a pawn in the opening for enduring pressure, but his 25.Qe2 allowed Anand to return the pawn and reach comfortable equality. That kept Anand in first, a full point ahead of Aronian, but Carlsen closed to within half a point by winning an amazing, tragic game against Shirov. The game see-sawed throughout between a big Carlsen advantage and near-equality – 19…c6 and 25…Rfd8 helped Carlsen, while 19.Na3 and 27.Bxd5 made Shirov’s life a bit easier. But Shirov’s stubborn defense led him to an objectively drawn position – albeit one in which a good deal of preliminary suffering was required to achieve the half-point. Unfortunately, his 79…Ke5?? spoiled seven hours of work, and the game ended immediately.

Topalov utilized an anti-Schliemann line that has been advocated by a flock of IMs (John Shaw, Larry Kaufman, Andrews Martin and Greet), and it went pretty well according to the recipe: White had a position where he could torture Radjabov indefinitely with no risk whatsoever. Unfortunately, when Topalov seemed to have a genuine winning chance, it slipped away:

Topalov,V (2780) - Radjabov,T (2735) [C63]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (9), 29.02.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.d3 fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6 6.0-0 Bc5 7.Qd3 d6 8.Qc4 Qe7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 Nd4 12.Bxd7+ Qxd7 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.a4 a6 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.fxe3 0-0-0 17.Rf2 Rdf8 18.Raf1 Rxf2 19.Rxf2 Kb8 20.b3 Qe7 21.Qe4 g6 22.Qf3 Rc8 23.c4 c6 24.dxc6 Rxc6 25.e4 Qg5 26.h3 Qc1+ 27.Kh2 Qe1 28.Rf1 Qd2 29.Qf8+ Rc8 30.Qe7 Qd3 31.Rf3 Qxe4 32.Qxd6+ Ka7 33.Rf7 h5 34.a5 g5 35.Qe6 Rg8 36.Rf6 Rh8 37.Qd5 Qxd5 38.cxd5 e4 39.Re6 Rd8 40.Re5 e3 41.Kg3 g4 42.hxg4 hxg4 43.b4 b6

44.axb6+. 44.Kxg4 e2 45.Rxe2 Rxd5 (45...bxa5 46.Re7+ Kb8 47.Kf4+-) 46.Re7+ Kb8 47.axb6 Rb5 48.Re4 Rxb6 49.Kf5 won. 44...Kxb6 45.Kxg4 Kb5 46.Re4 e2 47.Rxe2 Kxb4 48.Rd2 Kc5 49.Kh5 Rxd5+ 50.Rxd5+ Kxd5 51.g4 Ke6 52.Kh6 Kf7 53.Kh7 Kf6 54.Kh6 ½-½.

Finally, Ivanchuk outplayed Leko on the Black side of the Classical Caro-Kann. It was an impressive performance, and had it not been for his “accidents” in rounds four and eight, he’d have been in the thick of the race for first.

Leko,P (2753) - Ivanchuk,V (2751) [B19]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (9), 29.02.2008
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bf4 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Bb4 13.c3 Be7 14.c4 Qc7 15.0-0-0 Ngf6 16.Kb1 0-0 17.Rhe1 a5 18.Bc1 Rfd8 19.Qc2 a4 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.dxe5 Rxd1 22.Qxd1 Nd7 23.f4 Nc5 24.Ne4 Rd8 25.Qc2 Nxe4 26.Rxe4 Qb6 27.Qxa4 Qg1 28.Qc2 Rd1 29.Re2 Rf1 30.a3 Bc5 31.Qd2 Rd1 32.Qc2 Bd4 33.c5 Rf1 34.Rd2 Rxf4 35.Ka2 Rf2 36.Rxf2 Bxf2 37.g4 Bxc5 38.Bf4 Qd4 39.Qd2 Qe4 40.Ka1 Bd4 41.Qh2 c5 42.Ka2 b5 43.Qd2 Qd5+ 44.Kb1 b4 45.a4 b3 46.Qd3 c4 47.Qe2 Qh1+ 48.Bc1 Qa8 0-1

Summary by Dennis Monokroussos of Chess Mind


Carlsen-Shirov, the battle of the day

It is 01:00h in the morning, and after the seven-hour marathon between Magnus Carlsen and Alexei Shirov, we have been doing some quick analysis of this incredible game. While it was in progress a controversy broke out about the prospects of a win for White with 30.Rxc7 (instead of the more conservative 30.Qg4) chosen by Magnus Carlsen. Most analysts, and obviously Magnus himself, thought that the first alternative led to a draw. But looking at the position more intensely we cannot entirely concur. We can only admit that it was a horribly complicated position to work out in real time on the board. Here for what it's worth is our midnight analysis:

Carlsen,M (2733) - Shirov,A (2755) [C78]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (9), 29.02.2008
1.e4. In his chess blog Magnus' father Henrik writes: "Magnus was again a bit uncertain about the opening choice. He went for 1.e4 and Shirov responded e5 as expected. However, Magnus did not expect Shirov to go for the same variation as the one in which he lost against Leko in Tal Memorial." 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.Na3 0-0 11.axb5 axb5 12.Nxb5 Bg4 13.Bc2 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Nh5 15.f4 Nxf4. Magnus had not really prepared this line, as he considered that after 15...Nxf4 White should in principle be somewhat better. 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Qg4 Qf6 18.Ra6. The Norwegian GM liked this idea, which takes advantage of the inactivity of the black bishop. He thought Shirov would be prepared for the 18.b2-b4 seen in Leko-Shirov, Moscow Tal mem Moscow (1), 10.11.2007. That game continued: 18.b4 Ne7 19.Na3 Ng6 20.Nc4 Bxd4 21.cxd4 Qxd4 22.Na5 Qd2 23.Bb3 Ne5 24.Nc4 Nxg4 25.Nxd2 Rxb4 26.Rfc1 Ne5 27.Rxc7 g5 28.Bd5 g4 29.Nc4 h5 30.Nxe5 dxe5 31.Re7 1-0.

18...Ne7 19.Na3. Here Shirov thought for some 70 minutes. 19...c6 20.Nc4 Bc7 21.Ra7 Rbc8 22.e5. After this move, Henrik Carlsen tells us, "Magnus felt he was comfortably better. Most of blacks subsequent moves are forced and White's position looks overwhelming." 22...dxe5 23.dxe5 Qh6 24.Rd1 Nd5 25.Be4 Rfd8 26.Rd3 g6

Magnus has achieved a very strong position against Shirov's Archangelsk/Möller and is clearly playing for a win. But going for the c-pawn at this stage may not have been the best way to continue. 27.Bxd5?! cxd5 28.Rxd5 Rxd5 29.Qxc8+ Kg7

A critical position, and a critical question: can White take the bishop with his rook? This is only possible if there is no mate for Black, so one has to examine things very carefully – which is what Magnus did at the board. to give you an idea of what he had to go through in his head here is a line: 30.Rxc7 Qg5+ 31.Kf1 Rd1+ 32.Ke2 Qg1 looks bleak, but White has a dramatic resource: 33.Rxf7+! Kxf7 34.Nd6+ Kg7 35.Qd7+ Kh6 36.Nf7+ Kg7(!) 37.Qxd1


Analysis diagram

Black is a knight and two pawns down, but he can play on quite enterprisingly: 37...f3+ 38.Kd2 Qxf2+ 39.Kc1 Qe3+ 40.Qd2.

Now Black has a difficult choice to make: 40...f2 41.Qxe3 f1Q+ 42.Kc2 Kxf7 doesn't look at all appealing; and 40...Qg1+ 41.Kc2 f2 (after 41...Kxf7 42.Qd7+ Kg8 43.e6 Qxh2+ 44.Kb1 the king finds safety and White can use his e-pawn to win) 42.Ng5 Qxg5 43.Qxg5 f1Q 44.Qf6+ with a win for White. So Black will probably play 40...Qa7 threatening ...f2, ...f1Q and after Qxf1 Qa1+ with Qxf1+–. White continues 41.Qg5 (41.Qh6+ is met by 41...Kg8) 41...Qxf7 42.Kd2 Qa2 43.Qf6+ Kg8 44.Qd8+ Kg7 45.Qe7+ Kg8 46.Qb4 and now Black can defend with 46...f2 47.Ke2 Qf7 48.Kf1 Qf3 and White has good chances to win.

One has to remember that 17-year-old Magnus Carlsen was going through all the above lines – and possibly a number of even more complex variations – in his mind. He decided to go for a "safer win".

30.Qg4?! A pragmatic choice, but one that led him into a theoretically drawn ending: 30...Bxe5 31.h4 Bb8 32.Rb7 Rd8 33.Kg2 Kg8 34.Qg5 Qf8 35.Qf6 Re8 36.b4 Re6 37.Qd4 Qc8 38.Rd7 Qc6+ 39.Qd5 Qxd5+ 40.Rxd5 Rc6 41.Nd2 f3+ 42.Nxf3 Kg7 43.Rd8 Bc7 44.Rd7 Rxc3 45.Ng5 Kg8 46.Ne4 Rc4 47.Nf6+ Kf8 48.Nxh7+ Ke8 49.Nf6+ Kf8 50.Nd5 Be5 51.b5 Rxh4 52.b6 Rd4 53.Kf3 Kg7 54.Ke3 Ra4 55.b7 Ra3+ 56.Ke4 Bh2 57.Nc7 Rb3 58.Ne6+ Kf6 59.Nd8 g5 60.Rxf7+ Kg6 61.Rd7 g4 62.Ne6 g3 63.fxg3 Bxg3

This is a tough endgame to win, since Black can sacrifice his bishop for the b-pawn, knowing that the rook and knight vs rook ending is drawn. At this stage Magnus was quite disappointed with himself but decided to continue with the strategy he has been using so well in recent times: keep the position volatile, do not deny your opponent any chances to blunder. Especially when he is in zeitnot. 64.Kd5 Rb1 65.Kc6 Rc1+ 66.Nc5 Bb8 67.Rd5 Ba7 68.Kd7 Bb8 69.Ne6 Kf6 70.Rc5 Rb1

Just to show you the kind of thing you have to watch out for (after almost seven hours of play): 71.Kc8? Rxb7! 72.Kxb7 Bd6=. Did you see that? Magnus did: 71.Nd8 Bh2 72.Rc6+ Ke5 73.Rc1 Rb3 74.Rc2 Bf4 75.Kc6 Kf5 76.Rc5+ Kf6 77.Kd7 Rb1 78.Kc8 Bh2 79.Rc6+

Here it comes, the blunder at the end of the seventh hour of play: 79...Ke5?? 80.b8Q+ 1-0. Alexei Shirov, one of the finest endgame players in the world, must have been quite devastated by this outcome. Magnus is to be lauded for grit and determination, the hallmarks of a great champion. [Click to replay]

Frederic Friedel

Current standings


Picture gallery


The playing hall in the Theatro Cervantes at the start of round nine


Arbiter Faik Gasamov starts the clock


Coming back after his “accidents” in rounds four and eight: Vassily Ivanchuk


The quirky Ivanchuk demonstrates the fine art of top-level chess


Peter Leko, playing the negative tournament of his life


Keeping his cool: Vishy Anand held Levon Aronian to maintain his lead


A quick tough draw against Vishy Anand: Lev Aronian


Veselin Topalov will pressure Teimour Radjabov, but to no avail


The start of the longest, toughest round nine game


After his victory second place behind Vishy Anand: Magnus Carlsen, 17 years old

All pictures by Nadja Woisin in Linares


Schedule and results

Round 8: Thursday, February 28th

Vishy Anand 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Veselin Topalov

Round 9: Friday, February 29th

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Peter Leko 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Alexei Shirov

Round 10: Saturday, March 1st

Vishy Anand 
   Magnus Carlsen
Alexei Shirov 
   Peter Leko
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
   Levon Aronian
GamesReport
Sunday, March 2nd
Free day

Round 11: Monday, March 3rd

Teimour Radjabov 
   Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
   Alexei Shirov
Peter Leko 
   Magnus Carlsen
GamesReport

Round 12: Tuesday, March 4th

Vishy Anand 
   Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen 
   Veselin Topalov
Alexei Shirov 
   Levon Aronian
Vassily Ivanchuk 
  Teimour Radjabov 
GamesReport
Wednesday, March 5th
Free day

Round 13: Friday, March 7th

Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Vishy Anand
Teimour Radjabov 
   Alexei Shirov
Levon Aronian 
   Magnus Carlsen
Veselin Topalov 
   Peter Leko
GamesReport

Round 14: Friday, March 7th

Vishy Anand 
   Veselin Topalov
Peter Leko 
   Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
   Teimour Radjabov
Alexei Shirov 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
GamesReport
Sunday, February 25th
Transfer to Linares, Spain

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