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Morelia R4: Topalov implodes, Svidler and Leko skyrocket

2/23/2006 – Reigning FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov is in deep trouble. Today he lost with white against tail-ender Teimour Radjabov, to take his place at the bottom of the table. Meanwhile the two Peters, Leko and Svidler, won their games with sterling 3000+ performances. We bring you a full updated report with pictures, video and annotated games.
 

Round four report

Round 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

Peter Leko 
1-0
Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
0-1
Teimour Radjabov
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler 
1-0
Etienne Bacrot
GamesReport

Standings


Photographers and TV crowd the players at the start of the round.


Vassily Ivanchuk (right) blocking the noise of the photographers


Peter Leko contemplating the Anti-Marshall against Vassily Ivanchuk

Leko,P (2740) - Ivanchuk,V (2729) [C88]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 22.02.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.a4. Being a Marshall expert himself, Leko prefers not to embark in long theoretical discussions. Lately, 8.h3 has been quite popular as a method of avoiding the Marshall, but Leko's choice might have been dictated by the fact that Ivanchuk had preciously lost two games against 8.a4. 8...Bb7 9.d3 d6. The game Shirov-Ivanchuk, Linares 2002 went 9...Re8 10.Nbd2 Bf8 11.c3 Na5 12.Ba2 c5 13.d4 d6 and now a very animated and slightly irrational series of moves was initiated:


Analysis diagram

14.b4 exd4 15.bxa5 dxc3 16.Nf1 Nxe4 17.axb5 axb5 18.a6 Bc6 19.Rxe4 Bxe4 20.Bxf7+ Kxf7 21.Ng5+ Kg8 22.Nxe4 . The position remains chaotical, but White's minor pieces eventually prevailed.] 10.Nbd2 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nf1 Bc8 Black initiates a long regroupment, aimed to consolidate the... f7-square! Not completely unexpected, if we think about Ivanchuk's previous experience with this variation, but the plan is rather time consuming, allowing White take over the control of the d5-square and of the a-file. 13.c3 Bd7 14.Ne3 Qc7 15.axb5 axb5 16.b4 Nb7 17.Bd2 Nd8 18.Bb3 Rxa1 19.Qxa1.

19...Re8. With hindsight, 19...cxb4 20.cxb4 Be6 was a safer choice, although White's position looks better. 20.bxc5 Qxc5 21.Qa2 h6 22.h3 Ne6 23.Nd5 Nxd5 24.Bxd5 Qc8 25.d4.

White's advantage in the centre is obvious now. 25...Bf6 26.Qb3 Bc6 27.Qb4 exd4 28.cxd4 Bxd5 29.exd5 Ng5 30.Rxe8+ Qxe8 31.Bxg5 hxg5 32.Qxd6 Qe2 33.Qc5 Qc4 34.Qxc4 bxc4 35.Kf1 Kf8 36.d6 Ke8 37.Ne5 White is obviously winning. Ivanchuk's move just makes his sufering shorter. 37...Bxe5 38.dxe5 Kd7 Hoping for 39.Ke2 f6. 39.g3! Planning to keep the chain of pawns intact with f4. 1–0. [Click to replay]



At the center of attention: Levon Aronian and Francisco Vallejo

Vallejo Pons,F (2650) - Aronian,L (2752) [A30]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 22.02.2006

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 Without fearing any ghosts, Aronian repeats the variation that led him to defeat against Ivanchuk. 9.Be3 Nbd7 10.Rac1 Rc8 11.b3 a6 12.Rfd1 0-0 13.Qh4 Rc7.

14.g4. White usually advances the g-pawn only after over-defending the g4-square: 14.Bh3 Qb8 15.g4. 14...h6! Now, this calm moves puts a stop to White's king side activity. 15.Bxh6 Bxh6 16.Qxh6 Nxg4 17.Qh4 Ngf6 18.Qh6 The threat Rd4-h4 forces Black to agree to a draw by repetition. 18...Ng4 19.Qh4 Ngf6 20.Qh6 ½-½. [Click to replay]


Paco Vallejo using the same technique as Ivanchuk to block the noise



Veselin Topalov waiting for a tardy Teimour Radjabov in round four


A young fan photographs her chess hero

Topalov,V (2801) - Radjabov,T (2700) [E70]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 22.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 0–0 6.Nge2. We are accostumed already with the FIDE World Champion's practically illimited opening repertoire. While this approach is probably dictated by the desire of enriching his chess knowledgeas as much as possible, it certainly has something in common with the concrete study of the opponent's weak and strong points. A couple of years ago, Radjabov had been outplayed by Ivan Sokolov in this variation. Although Topalov himself improved upon Black's play in 2005, he probably felt that White's last word had not been said yet and decided to enter a territory that was supposed to bring up bad memories to his opponent. 6...c5 7.d5 e6 8.h3 [This is the deviation from the aforementioned games. 8.0–0 Ng4 (8...exd5 9.exd5 Ng4 10.f4 Re8 11.h3 Nh6 12.Bd2 Nf5 13.Qb3 Na6 14.Rae1 and White's advance in development made itself felt in Ivan Sokolov-Radjabov, Sarajevo 2003) 9.Bc2. It remains an open question why Sokolov did not play 9.f4 anyway. 9...Ne5 10.b3 exd5 11.exd5 Re8 12.Bf4 Na6 13.a3 f5 14.Qd2 Bd7 15.Rae1 Nf7 16.Qc1 Nc7 17.a4 Na6 and Black had little to complain about in Ivan Sokolov-Topalov, Wijk aan Zee 2005] 8...exd5 9.exd5 Nfd7 10.f4 f5 Instead of manifesting any early form of activity, Radjabov tries to keep the position closed, in order to avoid that kind of problems he faced against Sokolov.


Teimour Radjabov arrives seven minutes late to his first win in this tournament

11.0–0. If Topalov had known in advance that he was going to sacrifice a pawn with g4 in this game, he might have tried it at once. In fact, this had been played before: 11.g4 Qh4+ 12.Kd2 Nf6?! (Black chickens out. 12...fxg4 13.hxg4 Qxg4 14.Kc2 was critical. Although White's king side initiative could become dangerous, Black is able to fight.) 13.g5 (13.Kc2 or 13.gxf5 came into consideration) 13...Ne8? (After this move, Black will be doomed to passivity. Good or bad, he should have sacrificed a pawn with 13...Ne4+ in order to open lines and diagonals.) 14.Qg1 Na6 15.a3 Kf7 16.Kc2± with a crushing advantage of space, Ftacnik-Voronova, Lubniewice 1994. Such courageous wandering with the king in order to reach certain strategic advantage was employed with success by Viktor Kortschnoj along his remarkable carrier. He did it when he was young still (for instance, in 1969 with Plakhetka) and does not refrain from it now, when approaching his 75th birthday (see Kortschnoj-Carlsson, Gibraltar 2005). 11...Na6 12.Be3 Nc7.

This placement of knights can be achieved also by Nb8-d7 and Nf6-e8-c7. However, this hadly has any relevalnce for the position itself. A horse is a horse, come it from the East or from the West. 13.Qd2 Re8. Strictly speaking, this is a novelty, since earlier only 13...Nf6 has been played. However, this small difference does not change the character of the position; the real novelty will come on the 15th move. 14.Bf2 Nf6 15.a3 a5!

This is a new idea in this position. In all the previous games, Black allowed White to win space with b4, with a considerable advantage. Now, White has to work hard to breakthrough. 16.Bh4 Bd7 17.Kh1 Qe7 18.Rae1 Qf7 Black regroups in optimal way. By increasing the pressure against the d5-pawn, he creates the strong threat of ...b5. 19.a4 White decides to freeze the queen side, having in mind active operations on the apparently stable king side. 19...Na6.

20.g4!? Mathematically speaking, this spectacular sacrifice should be entirely sound. White's concentration of forces on the king side is impressive, while the a6-knight and the a8-rook are slightly out of play, dynamically speaking. However, this does not mean that White has an advantage yet. His king's position will be weakened, giving Black certain counterchances. It is also obvious that White had no other idea to play for a win at his disposal. 20...Nb4 It is useful to activate the knight before accepting the sacrifice.

21.Bb1 fxg4 22.f5 Bxf5 23.Bxf5 gxf5 24.Rxf5 Qg6 25.Ref1 Rf8 A strong move, preparing the activation of the other rook on e8 and creating some sort of pin along the f-file. Topalov might have overlooked or underestimated the latter aspect. 26.Ng3 Apparently, Black is in trouble. The threat Rg5 followed by Nf5 looks very strong. However, in view of Black's strong reply, 26.Bxf6 deserved attention. White would have activated his knights with Ne4 and Nf4, aiming to take advantage of the weakness of the e6-square.

26...Nh5! Solving all Black's problems. The insufficient defence of the f1–rook allows Black simplify the position. 27.Nce4?! Topalov mechanically continues the affluence of pieces towards the king side. A better chance to maintain equality consisted of 27.Rxf8+ Rxf8 28.Rxf8+ Bxf8 29.Nxh5 Qxh5 30.Qe1 gxh3 31.Qe6+ Qf7 32.Qxh3 when the weakness of the d6-pawn as well as the exposed position of the king would have made Black's task of converting his extra-pawn rather difficult. 27...Nxg3+ 28.Nxg3 gxh3.

White's minor pieces are stuck now and Black can consolidate his position. 29.b3 Rae8 30.Kh2 Rxf5 31.Rxf5 Re5 32.Qg5 Qxg5 33.Bxg5 Nc2 34.Bd8 Nd4 The same answer could have followed on the relatively better 34.Bf4. Finally, the previously passive knight reached a dream square. 35.Rf4 Re3 36.Rg4 Kf7 37.Re4 Rxb3 besides his huge material advantage, Black has concrete threats against the king already. Therefore, Topalov resigned. 0–1. [Click to replay]


(4) Svidler,P (2765) - Bacrot,E (2717) [C42]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 22.02.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3

This method of play against the Petroff becomes more and more popular. Instead of trying to prove (and, what's even more difficult, convert) a strategic superiority in the main lines, White aims for rapid piece development in a position with open centre. 6...Be7 7.Bf4. This move is aimed to prevent a further knight jump to e5. Svidler has nice memories with 7.Be3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0–0–0 Ne5 10.h4 Re8 11.h5 Bf6 12.Kb1 a6 13.Nh2 b5 14.Be2 Bb7 15.f4 Nd7 16.Bf3 Bxf3 and now the paradoxical 17.gxf3!? led to an interesting fight in Svidler-Kramnik, Moscow 2005, which eventually ended with White's win. 7...0–0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0–0–0 Nc5 10.Be3 Now that the knight has defined its plans, the bishop retreats to a more stable square. 10...Re8 11.Bc4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Nxe6 13.h4 An important element of White's plan. White intends to activate his rook by means of either Rh3-g3 or Ng5 and if N(B)xg5, then hxg5. 13...Qd7 14.Qd3 Qa4 15.Ng5 Nf8.

16.Qd5. A strong novelty. White allows the exchange of queens, but improves his structure of pawns dramatically. 16.Kb1 c6 17.Qf5 f6 18.Ne6 Nxe6 19.Qxe6+ Kh8 20.Qf7 Qe4 21.h5 Rf8 was OK for Black in Todorovic-Antic, Kopaonik 2005. 16...Bxg5 17.hxg5 Qe4 18.c4 Qxd5 19.cxd5 In spite of simplifications, White retains a huge advantage of space on both wings. This will allow him to radically activate his rooks. 19...Nd7 20.Rd3 f6 21.Rc3 Rac8 22.Rh4 Re7 23.Rhc4 Nb6 24.Bxb6 axb6 25.gxf6 gxf6 26.a4.

There are several elements that define White's clear advantage: his active rooks, Black's numerous weaknesses as well as the already mentioned advantage of space. 26...Kf8 27.Kd2 Rg7 28.g3 Ke8 29.Rf3 Rg6 30.Rh4 h6 31.Re4+ Kd7 32.Re6 Rf8 33.c4 h5 34.Rf5 Rg4 35.b3.

35...h4 Possibly fearing the activation of the white king, Black decides to abandon his passivity at the cost of one pawn. 36.gxh4 Rxh4 37.Rfxf6 Rxf6 38.Rxf6 Ke7 39.Re6+ Kf7 40.Re3 Rh1 41.Rf3+ Ke7 42.Ke3 Re1+ 43.Kf4 Kf6 44.Rh3 Re2 45.Rh7 Rxf2+ 46.Ke3 Rb2 47.Rxc7 Rxb3+ 48.Kd4 Rb4 49.Rd7 Rxa4 50.Rxd6+ Ke7 51.Rxb6 Ra7 52.c5 Kd8 53.Ke5 Kc7 54.Rh6.

With a normal placement of pieces, Black should hold this position. However, with such an extremely passive rook, he is just lost. 54...Ra5 55.Rh7+ Kb8 56.Rh8+ Ka7 57.d6 Rxc5+ 58.Ke6 Rc6 59.Ke7 1–0. [Click to replay]


Arturo Xicotentatl from the news agency EFE and the
original initiator of the Linares tournaments, Luis Rentero


The hall, with the first three rows reserved for seconds and VIPs, the next two for the press, and the rest for the 100 or so spectators.


The playing hall with the first rows of spectators


Nadja Woisin being interviewed by Spanish TV on the ChessBase reporting, the Playchess broadcast, Mexico and chess in general.

Commentary by Mihail Marin, photos Frederic Friedel


Schedule and results

Round 1: Saturday, February 18th

Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Peter Leko
Peter Svidler 
1-0
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Teimour Radjabov

Round 2: Sunday, February 19th

Peter Leko 
1-0
Teimour Radjabov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
Levon Aronian
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
Etienne Bacrot
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
Peter Svidler

Round 3: Monday, February 20th

Peter Svidler 
½-½
Peter Leko
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Levon Aronian 
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Free day: Tuesday, February 21st

Round 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

Peter Leko 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
  Teimour Radjabov
Francisco Vallejo 
  Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler 
  Etienne Bacrot
GamesReport

Round 5: Thursday, February 23rd

Etienne Bacrot 
  Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
  Peter Svidler
Teimour Radjabov 
  Francisco Vallejo
Vassily Ivanchuk 
  Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
Free day: Friday, February 24th

Round 6: Saturday, February 25th

Levon Aronian 
  Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
  Etienne Bacrot
Vassily Ivanchuk 
  Peter Svidler
Veselin Topalov 
  Francisco Vallejo
GamesReport

Round 7: Sunday, February 26th

Peter Leko 
  Veselin Topalov
Francisco Vallejo 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler 
  Teimour Radjabov
Etienne Bacrot 
  Levon Aronian
GamesReport
Transfer to Linares, Spain

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