Morelia R6: Vallejo defeats Topalov

2/26/2006 – Another shock day at the Linares-Morelia Super-GM: FIDE champion Veselin Topalov went down to tail-ender Francisco Vallejo, with the white pieces! Peter Svidler continued his losing streak, this time against Ivanchuk. Peter Leko drew Aronian to climb a full point ahead of the field. Updated with pictures, video and analysis.

Round six report

Round 6: Saturday, February 25th

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

Standings


The stage before the start of the sixth round


The area for the spectators


Peter Leko blowing dust and lint from the board


Francisco Vallejo with similar problems


Before the start of the game Ivanchuk vs Svidler


Roller coaster ride for Vassily Ivanchuk

Ivanchuk,V (2729) - Svidler,P (2765) [D80]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 25.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5. Psychologically speaking, this is the right choice. Svidler's unpleasant memories from his game against Aronian were fresh still. 4...Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 Deviating from the course of the previous game. The position becomes sharper now. 7.e3 Be6 8.Qb1. Svidler ha d two recent games with this line, but he had no experience against 8.Qb1 . 8.Nf3 Bg7 9.Rb1 b6 10.Nd2 0–0 11.Be2 c5 12.Bf3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nd7 14.Bxa8 Qxa8 with excellent compensation for the exchange, Moiseenko-Svidler, Sochi 2005; 8.Rb1 b6 9.Nf3 c6 10.a4 a6 11.e4 b5 12.Be2 Bg7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Ng5 Bc8 15.f4 f6 16.Nf3 f5 and Black managed to stabilise the situation in the centre in Dreev-Svidler, Poikovsky 2005.

8...c5!? An interesting novelty, returning the pawn in order to obtain counterplay in the centre. 8...b6 is the normal move, when play can continue with 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.Ng5 Bd5 11.e4 when radicasl changes in the pawn structure are to be expected after 11...h6. 9.Qxb7 Bd5 10.Qb5+ Nd7 11.Nf3 Rb8 12.Qa4 cxd4 13.cxd4 Qc8 14.Rc1

Black has considerably activated his play, but the main problem remains that White's centre is quite solid, which ensures him a strategic advantage in the long run. 14...e6. A double edged decision. Since the fianchetto diagonal is safely blocked by White's centre, Black intends to use his bishop along the a3-f8 diagonal. However, the last move brings to life the h4-bishop too, which will allow White create unpleasant threats with the collaboration of the queen. 15.Bxc4 Rb4 16.Qa6 Bb7 17.Qa5 The pressure against the c4-bishop is neutralised by the concentrated fire against the d8-square. 17...f6 This solves the mentioned problem, but weakens the structure in a chronic way. 18.Nd2 Bxg2 19.Rg1 Qc6

#Although we cannot describe this slightly unusual position with the typical "White has completed his development", we should notice that all his pieces are taking active part to the fight. Which makes Ivanchuk's tactical solution quite logical. 20.Rxg2! Qxg2 21.Bxe6 Bd6 22.Rc8+ Ke7 23.Rxh8 Kxe6 24.Qd8 Qg1+ 25.Ke2 1–0. [Click to replay]


Winning again: Vassily Ivanchuk



Etienne Bacrot of France faces Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan

Radjabov,T (2700) - Bacrot,E (2717) [D45]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 25.02.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 e6 6.b3 Bb4 7.Bd2 0–0 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.0–0 Bd6 10.Qc2

Although it cannot be felt yet, the situation in the centre is quite tensioned. Both sides aim to advance their e-pawns in order to provoke a favourable opening of the position, but the preparatory moves are of decisive importance for the further evolution of the game. 10...Re8. More customary is 10...h6 which aims to remove the pawn from the attacked square, for instance 11.Rad1 (Or 11.e4 dxc4 12.bxc4 e5 13.c5 Bc7 with a complex structure) 11...e5; The point behind 10...h6 is that the immediate 10...e5 allows 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.e4 when it is most likely that Black will have to spend a tempo anyway on solving the problem of his h-pawn.

11.Rad1 h6 12.e4 dxe4 The reaction based on ...dxc4 and ...e5 is less appealing now that the black queen is opposed to a white rook along the d-file. However, the capture on e4 looks like a positional concession, leaving White with an easy play. 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 c5 15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.b4 Bf8 17.c5 Qc7 18.Bc3 a5 19.a3 axb4 20.axb4

White is ahead in development and enjoys considerable advantage of space on the queen side. Black faces problems completing the mobilisation of his forces. The radical solution chosen by Bacrot has the drawback of weakening the e6-pawn. 20...f5 21.Bd3 b6 22.Rfe1 Bb7 23.Bc4 Be4 24.Qb3 Kh8 25.Bxe6 Nf6 26.Nh4.

Black's king side is iremediably weak now. White has a consistent advantage. 26...bxc5 27.Bxf6 c4 28.Qxc4 Qxc4 29.Bxc4 gxf6 30.f3 Bxb4 31.Rd7 Rg8 32.Rf1 Rg7 33.Rxg7 Kxg7 34.fxe4 Bc5+ 35.Kh1 fxe4 36.Nf5+ Kg6 37.Ng3 e3 38.Bd3+ Kf7 39.Ne2 Ke7 40.g3 Ra2 41.Kg2 Rd2 42.Bc4 Bb6 43.Kf3 Kd6 44.Ke4 Ke7 45.Rb1 Rd6 46.Kf3 Rc6 47.Bd5 Rd6 48.Be4 Ke6 49.Rb5 Kd7 50.Nf4 Bd4 51.Rd5 Ba7 52.Rxd6+ Kxd6 53.Ng2 Ke5 54.Nxe3 h5 55.h4 1–0. [Click to replay]


Teimour Radjabov


Aronian,L (2752) - Leko,P (2740) [E15]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 25.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0–0 12.0–0 Rc8

13.Re1. A relatively rare move compared to the highly topical 13.e4 . By delaying concrete action in the centre, White aims for a quiet course of events. 13...c5. Black immediately takes advantage of the fact that he was practically been given a free tempo for action in the centre. Compared with the main line, starting with 13.e4, 13...b5?! makes little sense now, because of 14.c5 blocking the position and leaving the a6-bishop terribly misplaced, since there would be no target on the f1–a6 in connection with the thematic ...b4. 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Rc1 Nf6 16.e3 Bb7 17.Rc2

Not wishing to wait until his hanging pawns will be submitted to strong pressure, Leko prefers to switch to a isolani-structure. The fact that the white knight is far from the d4-square certainly favours Black. Besides, the exchange of one pair of rooks is inevitable, which is always a relief for the side having an isolated pawn. 17...cxd4!? 18.Bxd4 Qd7 19.Rxc8 Rxc8 20.Qb1 h5 21.Rd1 Qe6 22.Rc1 g6 23.h3 Rxc1+ 24.Qxc1 Qc6 25.Qb1 Ne4 26.Nf3 Ba3 27.Be5 Qc1+ 28.Qxc1 Bxc1 29.a4 Ba3 30.Bb8 a6 31.Ne5 Be7 32.Bc7 b5 33.axb5 axb5 34.Ba5 Bd6 35.Nd3 Kf8 36.Bb4 Ke7 37.Bxd6+ Kxd6. White has achieved the generally desirable exchange of the dark-squared bishops, but in the meanwhile Black has activated his king. 38.b4. Creating a barrier in front of the king, but weakening the b-pawn. 38...Bc8 39.Ne1 Nc3 40.Nc2 Na2 41.Bf1 Bf5 42.Nd4

Finally, the knight hass occupied this optimal square, but this is more of a warranty for maintaining equality than a chance for advantage. 42...Bd7 43.Nxb5+ Bxb5 44.Bxb5 Nxb4 45.Kg2 Na2 ½–½. [Click to replay]


Levon Aronian, now in second place (with Svidler)



Topalov vs Vallejo after Black's 8th move

Topalov,V (2801) - Vallejo Pons,F (2650) [D43]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 25.02.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 h6. The Anti-Moscow variation of the Slav Defence is a rare guest in Vallejo's games as Black. Prior to this game, he achieved his most notable success with it in 1999, at the age of 17, by defeating a living legend of chess, the former FIDE Vice-World Champion Jan Timman. Chosing this opening against an extremely aggressive opponent like Topalov might look like a dangerous experiment, especially that this same variation had led Vallejo to the edge of the precipice just two rounds earlier in his game against Radjabov. On the other hand, Topalov can stirr up complications in any kind of positions, so why not come to meet him halfway? 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Ne5 h5 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Be5 Rh6

14.f3!? A surprising move in this type of position, where White is supposed to take advantage of his better development by opening play in the centre as soon as possible. And yet, the main drawback of such a plan is that it leads to a direct confrontation of forces, making the position suitable for thorough analysis assisted by the computer. One of Topalov's main trumps in San Luis and other recent tournaments was that he regularly chose "anti-computer" variations, very difficult to exhaust during home analysis and which allowed him to display his huge practical strength. Apart from suiting this approcah, the modest advance of the f-pawn consolidates White's centre and increases the mobility of the dark-squared bishop, which could eventually be transferred to f2 if chased away with moves like ...Nd7 and ...h4. The direct contact between the enemy armies is delayed until a more favourable moment. The more aggressive 14.f4 was seen in Radjabov-Vallejo, Morelia 2006.

14...Qe7 15.a4 White puts the b5-pawn under pressure, in order to prevent an eventual break in the centre based on ...c5. 15...a6 16.Qc2 By connect ing rooks, White has completed his development in a natural way. We can hardly say the same about Black, whose rooks do not have any possibility of getting connected in the near future. Topalov had faced a similar situation against Svidler in the first round of the tournament, when his lack of space and the badly placed king prevented him from establishing a communication between the h5- and the c8-rook. Could he have been inspired by that game when choosing the opening against Vallejo? In any case, Black's position is slightly more flexible here than in the aforementioned game. 16...Rd8. Not being submitted to immediate pressure, Black plays a normal move of development. The attempt to cut the retreat of ths bishop with 16...h4 in order to attack it with ... Nd7 has the drawback of weakening the g4-square, which can be felt after 17.f4 (17.h3 would unnecessarily weaken the g3-square, when Black could play 17...Nh5) 17...g4 18.f5 g3 (In case of 18...Nd7 19.Bf4 White would win the g4-pawn.) 19.h3 when White would dispose over two diagonals and the f-file for his attack. 17.Rad1 Nd7 18.Bc7 Rc8 19.Bg3 e5 Finally, Vallejo decides to start concrete action in the centre. He might have feared that after having placed his pieces on optimal squares Topalov intended to start his attack by means of f4. 20.d5

The capture on e5 would have left Black with a relatively stable position in the centre. 20...b4. Just as against Radjabov, Vallejo answers the advance of the d-pawn with an attack against the c3-knight. Compared with Radjabov's 17.f5!!, White has a much simpler way here to ensure the d5-square to his knight. In view of the comment on White's 23rd move, the intermediate 20...h4 would have made some sense, although after 21.Bf2 b4 22.dxc6 Rhxc6 23.Nd5 Qe6 the bishop has a nice diagonal at its disposal. 21.dxc6 Rhxc6 22.Nd5 Qe6.

This is the position both players have been aiming for. Black has managed to connect his rooks in a rather atypical way, but his general coordination is rather poor. The rooks lack mobility, the light-squared bishop is restricted by its own colleagues, while the knight is quite far from the critical d4- and f4-squares. Black's only trump is the strong queen side majority, but even this strength is relative. The c4-pawn needs permanent protection, while if advanced to c3 it would become weak. White's position is much more harmonious; his central knight dominates the position. 23.Qd2 It is hard to criticise this move, which, by attacking two pawnssimultaneously, forces Black to weaken his c-pawn. However, with his pieces placed on optimal squares it looked more logical for White to increase the pressure with the help of the pawns. 23.h4!? f6 (This move, aiming to maintain the control of the f4-square, fails tactically. Giving up the tension with 23...gxh4?! 24.Bxh4 would leave Black with problems finding an adeequate defence against the pawn break f4.; In case of the relatively better but not really appealing 23...Qg6 White could play 24.Kh1 in order to prepare Ne3-f5, hxg4, Bh4, etc.) 24.hxg5 fxg5 25.f4! Given the restrained position of the enemy king, White needs to open lines and diagonals. 25...Bc5+ (Black clears the f8-square with tempo. 25...exf4 26.Bxh5+ Kd8 would allow 27.Rxf4!) 26.Kh1 exf4 27.Bxh5+ Kf8 28.Bxf4! Kg7 (After 28...gxf4 29.Nxf4 Black would have no satisfactory way to maintain the knight defended.) 29.Bxg5 Rh8 30.Qe2 and White is a pawn up already, maintaining the attack at the same time.] 23...h4 24.Bf2 c3 25.bxc3 bxc3

26.Qxg5? But this is too greedy already. White should have returned with 26.Qc2 safely blocking the pawn and planning to surround and eliminate it by means of Rb1–b3, Rc1, etc. Black would have had to look for a way to simplify the position or start a counterplay. Otherwise, his position after the fall of the c3-pawn would remain worse in view of White's more active pieces. 26...c2 This pawn will cost White dearly. 27.Rc1 h3 Weakening the white king's position. 28.g3 Qh6 29.Qf5 After this move White will lose an important amount of material, but his position would have been bad in the case of exchanging queens, too. Although Topalov's desire to keep his strongest piece on board is understandable, it should be noted that the queen alone does not threaten anything from f5. 29...Qd2 30.Rfe1 Ba3 Brutal and efficient. 31.f4 Bxc1 32.Bh5 Rg6 33.Bxg6 Bxd5 34.exd5 Qxe1+ Just winning a rook. 35.Bxe1 Be3+ 36.Kf1 c1Q

Objectively speaking, White is just lost; Black's material advantage is too big. However, the position retains rather irrational contours, which increases the risk of halucinations for Black, if we take into account the tireness after 4 hours of play and the possible relaxation induced by the feeling that the most important part of the job has been done already. 37.Qxf7+ Kd8 38.Ke2 Bb6 39.Bd2 Qc4+ 40.Kf3 e4+ 41.Kg4. 41.Bxe4 would allow a problem-like win of the queen with 41...Ne5+ 42.fxe5 Qf1+. 41...Kc7 42.a5 Bd4 43.Bf5 Rg8+ 44.Kh4 Rh8+ 45.Kg5 Qb5 46.Be6 e3 47.Be1 e2 48.g4 Rf8 49.Qh7 Be3 50.Kh4 Bxf4 51.g5 Qa4 52.Kh5 Bxh2 53.Bxh3 Be5 54.Qd3 Rh8+ 55.Kg6 Nf8+ 56.Kf7 Kd8

The exacerbated activity displayed by the white king has finally led him to inevitable mate on e8. 0–1. [Click to replay]


Postgame analysis after the game Topalov-Vallejo


The audience is allowed to approach close to the players


The discussion continues in spite of the late hour.

Game analysis by GM Mihail Marin
Pictures by Frederic Friedel and Nadja Woisin


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

Round 5: Thursday, February 23rd

Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
1-0
Peter Svidler
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Free day: Friday, February 24th

Round 6: Saturday, February 25th

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

Round 7: Sunday, February 26th

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