Three Draws Before the Final Rest Day

3/3/2003 – After eight rounds of brutal brain to brain combat, all three games were drawn for only the second time. None of the draws were of the Grandmaster variety; they were all played out to simplification. With five rounds to play after Tuesday's rest day, Kramnik and Leko remain in the lead at +2 and Anand and Kasparov trail at +1. More...

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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 9

XX International Chess Tournament
Cuidad de Linares 2003 (Cat. XX)

Round 9 (Monday, March 3, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco

Finally, a round without an 80+ move endgame! Not that I don't love a good endgame, because I do, but it's nice to be able to write a round report without having to go through the Cheron, Averbakh, and Speelman literary archeology course. We did have endgame positions in round nine, but this time they ended just when so many of other games really began. The positions had simplified and all the spectators could understand why the draws were agreed this time.


What it's like to have black against Vladimir Kramnik

The battle of the world title holders was the liveliest of the bunch. They infused the typically stodgy Spanish game with f-pawn breaks and a series of witty tactics. In the diagram Kramnik tossed 25.Bg5!? on the board, which deserves the exclam for sheer style points. 25...Bxg5?? 26.e7+ is mate in three.

It was all for naught in the end and after 25...Ng6 26.h4 Nf4 27.Bxf4 exf4 28.g3 f3 29.Rxf3 Rxf3 30.Qxf3 the opposite colored bishops guaranteed the draw.

With the draw Kramnik wrapped up a victory in the mini-match between the classical champion and the FIDE champion. Ponomariov appears to have his feet back on solid ground and after his disastrous start he is +1 in the last three rounds.

Against Anand Vallejo played the Berlin that brought him good results in Linares last year. In 2002 the Spanish teen drew against Anand, Adams, and Shirov with the Berlin in consecutive blacks to start the event. Then he inexplicably switched to the Sicilian in the second half and lost all three blacks.

Anand already had a Berlin warm-up in the first round when he beat Ponomariov. Vallejo did considerably better and held the draw easily. I confess to having very little to say about these short Berlin draws we see so often these days. All I know is that if white gets in g4 and f5 black can lose like Ponomariov did in round one.

Today's opening might be of theoretical interest to those who enjoy the Berlin and its excruciating move sequences like today's 12...Bd7, 13...Be6, 15...Bd5. Who says chess has nothing in common with checkers?

Gone are the days when Kasparov could confidently play for a win with black against 1.d4 with the King's Indian and Grunfeld. Both defenses are in intensive care these days and in need of major theoretical resuscitation. Until then we have to be content with the likes of the Queen's Gambit and the more peace-loving Indians.

Quoting from a Q&A Kasparov gave in 2001, on giving up the KID:

"It’s a difficult opening, positionally it’s very difficult. It’s not fresh anymore. The KID is one of those openings where you have to play only the King’s Indian just to defend the position in different lines. For example, I play the Najdorf. It’s tough, but I spend all my time analyzing it and I’m confident that I can play it with white or black with excellent results. But it’s hard to play anything else.

I could play other openings against 1.e4, but if you play the Najdorf you have to concentrate on it, and when you play the KID you have to concentrate on that. On a practical level it’s a very tough call. I did it in the early 90s, playing both the Najdorf and the KID, but I have more faith in the Najdorf. It creates more counter-chances for black. In the King’s Indian these days white has already established the right patterns. Whatever they play, b4 or other lines, you just can’t win. Basically, what’s the point of having so much trouble when white can play the first twenty moves without risk?

Years ago I had great scores with the King’s Indian, but now there’s little danger for white. Now I can play the Queen’s Gambit and get a reasonable position. Even if it’s a draw, like with Piket and Van Wely in Corus this year, I can push for a win and I don’t have to suffer so much in the opening."

I guess Radjabov missed that one because he's still playing the King's Indian! He hasn't had a chance to do so in Linares because everyone is foaming at the mouth to take a crack at his French after 1.e4.

Speaking of the KID, Kasparov faced the Kid in round nine, Teimour Radjabov. The teen handed Kasparov his first Linares loss in six years in the second round but had lost three games since then, including his last two. It looked like this very correct game would be drawn on move 25, with a knight and bishop each and a completely symmetrical pawn structure. Instead, Radjabov pushed his e-pawn and Kasparov accepted the challenge, playing 26...f6 in the diagram and fracturing his pawns.

Things eventually fizzled out after 27.exf6+ gxf6 28.f4 a5 29.Ke3 h6 30.a3 Kd6 31.g4 e5 32.h4 exf4+ 33.Kxf4 Nc5 34.Bc2 Nxd3+ 35.Bxd3 b4 36.axb4 axb4 37.Bf5 Bb7 38.Bc2 Bc8 39.Bf5 Bb7 ½-½. Kudos to both players for their Linares spirit and playing on until even the playing hall janitor could see it was a draw.

The headline match in round 10 on Wednesday will be Kasparov-Leko. The Hungarian co-leader will have had two days off to prepare. (Just had to toss in a sentence in the future perfect for those ESL readers.) Kasparov brutally crushed Leko with white in Linares last year in a Lopez so Leko might return to his well-prepared ..e6 Sicilians. Or might we finally see what Kasparov has in his laptop against the Sveshnikov?


"Gee, I sure hope Teimour doesn't play the McCutcheon against me, Yuri. Don't tell him I said that." Peter Leko with trainer and father-in-law GM Arshak Petrosian (center) and Ponomariov's trainer, GM Yuri Razuvaev

Kasparov has been avoiding the Sveshnikov like many others lately, playing 3.Nc3 or 3.Bb5 against 2...Nc6. But when Lautier did get a Pelikan against Kasparov in the Moscow Grand Prix last year he only lasted 31 moves. For those of you into irrelevant numerical coincidences, that's exactly how many moves Leko lasted against Kasparov in Linares with black last year. Something tells me he'll do better this time around. After all, this is Leko 2.0!

Ponomariov and Radjabov match up and let's hope we see more moves than we got from them in round three. Their 11-move joke was the shortest game in the Linares supertournament since back in the eighties when semi-retirees like Portisch and Spassky would yawn through 10 moves and head to the tennis court or upstairs for a nap. The only recent Linares <15 movers I can remember were both with Planet Ivanchuk on the white side, so there's not much you can say there. When Chukky's muse leaves him he may just decide he'd really rather be out chasing squirrels through the forest.

Mig Greengard

Standings after round nine

 

Round 1 (Saturday, February 22, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Leko, Peter
Round 2 (Sunday, February 23, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Kramnik, Vladimir
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Round 3 (Monday, February 24, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Leko, Peter
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Round 4 (Tuesday, February 25, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Leko, Peter
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Round 5 (Thursday, February 27, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Leko, Peter
1-0
Vallejo, Francisco
Kasparov, Garry
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Round 6 (Friday, February 28, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Leko, Peter
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Round 7 (Saturday, March 1, 2003)
Leko, Peter
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Kasparov, Garry
1-0
Anand, Viswanathan
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Vallejo, Francisco
Round 8 (Sunday, March 2, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Leko, Peter
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Round 9 (Monday, March 3, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco
Games – Report
Round 10 (Wednesday, March 5, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Kasparov, Garry
-
Leko, Peter
Games – Report
Round 11 (Thursday, March 6, 2003)
Leko, Peter
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Games – Report
Round 12 (Friday, March 7, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Leko, Peter
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Games – Report
Round 13 (Saturday, March 8, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Leko, Peter
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Games – Report
Round 14 (Sunday, March 9, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Leko, Peter
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Games – Report

Topics Linares 2003
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