Loek who's leading in Wijk!

1/18/2003 – The Dutch players traditionally occupy the back ranks in the Super-GM tournament in Wijk aan Zee. They are normally outclassed by the -ovs, -chucks and the odd -and. But this time one player came to the Corus tournament ferociously well prepared and raring for a fight. Today Loek van Wely ground down Evgeny Bareev, after beating Topalov yesterday, both times with the black pieces. Here's Mig Greengard's round six report.

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Corus Wijk aan Zee

Round 6 (Saturday, January 18, 2003)

Round 6 (Saturday, January 18, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Polgar, Judit
Bareev, Evgeny
0-1
Van Wely, Loek
Krasenkow, Michal
1-0
Shirov, Alexei
Timman, Jan H
0-1
Topalov, Veselin
Karpov, Anatoly
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour

ROUND 6: KingLoek turns it around! Loek van Wely has been the top Dutch player for several years now. And every year he comes to the top Dutch tournament and gets absolutely killed in front of the supporting home crowd. This year he trained harder than ever to try and turn things around. Apparently Chuchelov and Topalov were involved in getting him into fighting shape.

This collaboration seems to have worked better for van Wely than for Topalov. After six rounds van Wely shares the lead after scoring a win over last year's champion Evgeny Bareev. A wild game full of tactical tricks both on the board and in the notes left the Dutchman in a tie for first with Polgar and Anand at +2. The parity of the field was well demonstrated when tail-ender Krasenkow defeated leader Shirov. The Pole neatly nipped a pawn and then only increased his advantage as Shirov struggled to regain the material.

Strangely enough, Shirov is the only player with a +1 score and a pack of five players are stuck at 50%. These include draw kings Grischuk and the strangely moribund Ivanchuk, whose last four games add up to a total of 69 moves. Today's 13-mover against Anand didn't help his average. Kramnik-Grischuk was another miniature draw, with Grischuk showing some innovative preparation in an extremely hot opening line.

Topalov moved back to an even score with some sensational play against Timman, who is now firmly in the cellar. A half-dozen moves after Timman declined to administer a perpetual check, he resigned.

In the diagrammed position Topalov showed his penchant for the spectacular with 53...Qc4!, winning instantly. If white takes the queen, the f-pawn queens with check and takes the rook on the next move. And after 54.Qa8+ Ke7 55.Qxa7+ Bc7 Timman resigned, as the pawns are unstoppable after 56.Qx7+ Qxc7 57.Rxc7+ Kd6.

Timman usually plays much better in the beginning of these long tournaments than toward the end, so he may be working on the creation of very unpleasant memory if he can't bounce back.

I just spent 30 minutes wracking my brain for the Topalov game this one reminded me of. Finally one of my convoluted Chessbase searches paid off and I dug up Topalov-Zvjaginsev, Tilburg Fontys, 1998. But it was Topalov who was the victim of several spectacular queen offers, although he was winning at several points and went on to draw the game.

In the diagram Zvjaginsev played the lovely 34...Qg1! and then left the queen en prise for four moves until moving it to c1! 35.Qxd6+ Kxf7 36.Qd5+ Ke7 37.Nf5+ Kf8 38.Qd6+ Kf7 39.Qd2 Qd1 40.Qg5 Bf6 41.Rh7+ Ke6 42.Nd4+ Qxd4 43.Qf5+ Kd6 44.Qxf6+ Kc5 45.Rxc2+ Kb4 46.a3+ ½-½

Karpov escaped an inferior endgame against Radjabov but he had to go through a rather undignified process to get his half point. Karpov sacrificed his knight for two pawns to reach ye olde R vs R+B endgame. Unless the attacking king already has its counterpart backed up against the wall this should be drawn, but many Grandmasters have managed to lose this ending over the years. If you discount rapid and blitz games, and those positions in which the defending king was already in a losing position, this endgame is drawn around 85% of the time in games between players rated over 2500.

In rapid chess, Short, Adams, van Wely, and Polgar have all been on the losing side. (Judit belongs to that special club that has lost both R vs R+B and R vs R+N.) Karpov has won this endgame himself, but Radjabov was obviously enjoying the chance to toy with a former world champion. Not only did he play on well after Karpov had demonstrated he knew how to defend, but he went all the way to move 113 and forced Karpov to claim a draw by the 50-move rule! This is an endgame worth learning!

Mig Greengard

Standing after round 6

More information: Corus web site

Previous rounds

Round 5 (Thursday, January 16, 2003)
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Topalov, Veselin
0-1
Van Wely, Loek
Shirov, Alexei
1-0
Kramnik, Vladimir
Radjabov, Teimour
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Bareev, Evgeny
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Karpov, Anatoly

Round 4 (Wednesday, January 15, 2003)
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Timman, Jan H
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Bareev, Evgeny
½-½
Topalov, Veselin
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Karpov, Anatoly
0-1
Polgar, Judit
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Shirov, Alexei
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Krasenkow, Michal

Round 3 (Tuesday, January 14, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Van Wely, Loek
Shirov, Alexei
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Polgar, Judit
1-0
Timman, Jan H
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Karpov, Anatoly
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Bareev, Evgeny
Krasenkow, Michal
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Topalov, Veselin

Round 2 (Sunday, January 12, 2003)
Bareev, Evgeny
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Topalov, Veselin
0-1
Anand, Viswanathan
Van Wely, Loek
½-½
Polgar, Judit
Timman, Jan H
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander
Karpov, Anatoly
½-½
Shirov, Alexei
Ivanchuk, Vassily
½-½
Krasenkow, Michal
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Kramnik, Vladimir

Round 1 (Saturday, January 11, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Bareev, Evgeny
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Ivanchuk, Vassily
Krasenkow, Michal
0-1
Karpov, Anatoly
Shirov, Alexei
½-½
Timman, Jan H
Grischuk, Alexander
½-½
Van Wely, Loek
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Polgar, Judit
½-½
Topalov, Veselin

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