Topalov wins Linares, remains number two in the world

2/25/2010 – Francisco Vallejo held Alexander Grischuk to a draw in the final round, and for a while it looked as though Topalov had spoilt a very good position against Boris Gelfand to a draw. But the Israeli played the endgame inaccurately, allowing Topalov to take the full point and tournament victory. In the world live rankings he is now one point behind Magnus Carlsen. Illustrated report with commentary.

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February 2010
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Ciudad de Linares 2010

The traditional Linares tournament took place in Andalucia, Spain, from February 13 to 24, 2010. It had been shrunk down to six players – in 2009 there were eight, and in previous years there have been up to 14. The category this time was 21, with an average Elo of 2757 (and no player below 2700). Time controls were two hours for 40 moves, then one hour for 20, then 20 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30 second increment (starting from move 61).

Round ten report (final)

Round 10: Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk

The last round of Linares promised to be replete with drama and action, and chess fans weren’t disappointed. Two players had arrived tied for first, though arriving via very different routes, and even the odd game, where both Aronian and Gashimov were out of contention for top honors, was not the peaceful affair one might have expected.

The decisive game between Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand started with the almost always very quiet and calm Petroff. Topalov went for 5.Nc3 and the players followed the recent Caruana-Kramnik game from Corus. Topalov deviated with the logical h5!?, but Gelfand seemed to have everything under control, until he went astray.

Topalov,V (2805) - Gelfand,B (2761) [C42]
XXVII SuperGM Linares ESP (10), 24.02.2010 [Notes by Anish Giri]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Re8 10.h4 c6 11.h5 h6 12.Kb1 Nf6 13.Bd3 Bf8 14.Rdg1 Ng4 15.Bf4 Qf6 16.Nh2

16...Nxh2? 16...Ne5! or even 14...Qa5!? earlier on for example, would have stopped White's plan of g4! and the position would have remained balanced. 16...Nxh2 17.Rxh2 Bf5 18.Bxf5 Qxf5 19.g4 Qe4 20.g5 hxg5 21.Bxg5

21...Qe2? This only helped Topalov get a winning advantage. 22.Qxe2 Rxe2 23.Be3 Rxe3 24.fxe3. White has won an exchange and with some 40 extra minutes on the clock it seemed to be a matter of technique for him... 24...Re8 25.Rh3 Re6 26.c4 Be7 27.Rf3 Re5 28.Rgf1 Rxh5 29.Rxf7 Re5 30.R7f3 Bf6 31.c3 Re4

32.Rxf6? Something has gone wrong and Topalov decides to give an exchange back. 32...gxf6 33.Rxf6 Rxe3 34.Rxd6 Kf7. Maybe Topalov missed the fact that the pawn ending after 35.Rd7+ is drawn. At this stage I was thinking how remarkable it was that Grischuk had won Linares twice... when I checked the game again and saw that Topalov had kept some winning chances alive with his doubled c-pawns against Grischuk's one on the a-file. 35.Kc2 Re2+ 36.Kb3 Ke7 37.Rd4 c5 38.Rd3 b6 39.Ka3 Rc2 40.Rd5 a5 41.Rd3 Rh2 42.b3 Rc2 43.Ka4 Rxa2+ 44.Kb5 Rb2 45.Kxb6 a4 46.Kxc5 Rxb3 47.Kc6 a3 48.c5

I thought that Topalov still had some winning chances here, but my engines said that the position was drawn in no less than five different ways. Gelfand chose a sixth, which was one of the losing ones however... 48...Ke8?! made it difficult. 48...a2! 49.Rd7+ Ke6 50.Ra7 Rb2 51.Kc7 Kd5! was one of the possible draws, but the position is very tricky and complicated. Still I must say I expected Gelfand to find a draw, since he had a lot of time on the clock. 49.Rh3 a2? was logical, but most likely the losing move. After this there were no more ups and downs, and Topalov went on to win the game and the tournament! 50.Rh8+ Ke7 51.Ra8 Rb2 52.Kc7 Rc2 53.c6 Rb2 54.c4 Rc2 55.Ra6 Rb2 56.c5 Ke6

57.Ra5! On Playchess someone pointed out that 57.Kc8? leads to a draw: 57...Kd5 58.c7 Kxc5 and White can no longer win. 57.Ra5 was an "only move". 57...Rc2 58.Kb7 Rb2+ 59.Kc8 Ke7 60.c7 Ke8

61.Rxa2! Pretty. 61...Rxa2 62.Kb7 1-0. In some games in this event Topalov was a bit lucky, to say the least, but in the end he managed to triumph! [Click to replay]


Stumbled at the finishing line: Israeli GM Boris Gelfand


Victory for the Bulgarian top seed: Veselin Topalov finished half a point ahead of the field


Grischuk arrived in the last round against Vallejo on a high, having avenged his loss to Topalov in the previous round, and caught up with the tournament leader. Though no lightweight, he had to consider the Spaniard a much more desirable opponent for a last round decider than the ultrasolid Gelfand, even if he was black. The game plan wasn’t as clear-cut as he would have liked though, and Paco did what he does best, playing energetic, creative chess, which while not always successful, this time set any number of problems for the co-leader. Grischuk played the 6...Qb6 line in the 6.f3 Najdorf, a system Kasparov had played several times against him a decade earlier, and that he himself later adopted a few years later. As an expert, he must have felt pleased, but Vallejo was the first to innovate.


Francisco Vallejo Pons in round ten


Keen to win the game and the tournament: Alexander Grischuk

Vallejo Pons,F (2705) - Grischuk,A (2736) [B90]
XXVII SuperGM Linares ESP (10), 24.02.2010 [Notes by Anish Giri]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3!? Qb6 7.Nb3 e6 8.Bf4 Qc7 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bg3!? Vallejo introduces a new idea, getting a very atypical position for a Najdorf. 11...Be7 12.f4 Ned7 13.Be2 e5!? An interesting and strong idea, not letting White play e5 himself. 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Bf6 16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Rhf1 Qe7 18.Kb1 0-0

19.Na5!? Bd7 20.Qb4!? Interesting moves by Vallejo, making it difficult for Grischuk to find a good plan. 20...Rab8?! 21.Rde1 b5?! I must say I really don't like these two moves by Black. Now Vallejo should have probably played 22.Bf3! making the threat of Nc6 even stronger. Instead he played 22.Nc6 immediately and while retaining an advantage, was probably not enough to win. 22...Bxc6 23.dxc6 Qc7 24.Qe4 Rbe8 25.Qd5 Re6

26.Bg4. At first sight this looks very strong, but Vallejo in fact has only forced a draw. 26...Nxg4 27.Rxe6 fxe6 28.Qxe6+ Rf7 29.Qe8+ Rf8 30.Qe6+ Rf7 31.Qe8+ Rf8 32.Qe6+ ½-½. [Click to replay]


Aronian arrived in the last round on 50%, with nine draws in nine games, but the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale, and even though one would expect a player of his calibre to be doing better, he was actually very fortunate to be doing even that well. He had gotten himself into trouble in more than one game, and could be counting his blessings for surviving his encounters against Vallejo and Topalov. Gashimov on the other hand, had had a difficult baptism in this Super GM tournament, playing with plenty of spirit, but watching his Benoni take a drubbing. What would Aronian have planned for him?

Sure enough, the opening veered once more into the Benoni with Aronian choosing the Bf4 system. Though both players went about their plans consistently, one must wonder how Gashimov will explain to his students that while they themselves must never place a knight on a corner, he is allowed the luxury of doing it twice. Nevertheless, the game developed logically until both players missed something at move 24.

Aronian,L (2781) - Gashimov,V (2759) [A61]
XXVII SuperGM Linares ESP (10), 24.02.2010 [Notes by Anish Giri]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.Bf4 a6 8.a4 Bg7 9.h3 0-0 10.e3 Ne8 11.Be2 Nd7 12.0-0 Qe7 13.Re1 h6 14.a5 Nc7 15.Rc1 f5 16.Qb3 g5 17.Bg3 Rb8 18.Na4 b5 19.axb6 Na8 20.Ra1 Naxb6 21.Nc3 Na8 22.Qc2 Nc7 23.Bc4 Rb4 24.b3

24...Nf6? 25.Ra5? Missing 25.Ne5! when White would have a winning position. 25...Nd7 26.Na4 Kh8 27.Nb2 Rb6 28.Rd1 Nb5 29.Bd3 Nc3 30.Rd2 Ne4 31.Bxe4 fxe4 32.Ne1 Bxb2. I did not like this move – perhaps 32...Ne5!? could have kept the game more or less level. 33.Qxb2+ Kg8. 33...Qg7 was stronger. After this Aronian played extremely well and Gashimov had no chance. 34.Nc2 Nf6 35.Na3 Ne8 36.Nc4 Rb5 37.Ra4 h5 38.Na5 h4 39.Bh2 Bf5 40.Nc6 Qb7 41.b4 Bd7 42.Qc2 Bf5 43.bxc5 Rxc5 44.Qd1 Rb5 45.Ra1 Bc8 46.Rc1 Bf5 47.Nd8 Qe7 48.Ne6 Bxe6 49.dxe6 Qxe6 50.Bxd6 Nxd6 51.Rxd6 Qf5 52.Qh5 Rb7 53.Rg6+ Rg7 54.Rh6 Rh7 55.Rxh7 Qxh7 56.Qxg5+ Qg7 57.Qxh4 Qg6 58.Rc5 1-0. [Click to replay]


Statistics

Of the 30 games played in this event:

  • White won eight games = 27%
  • Black won one game = 3%
  • 21 games were drawn = 70%

Schedule and results

Round 1: Saturday, 13 February 2010

Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov

Round 2: Sunday, 14 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov
Alexander Grischuk 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian

Round 3: Monday, 15 February 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
Alexander Grischuk

Round 4: Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Alexander Grischuk 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo

Round 5: Thursday, 18 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Alexander Grischuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Vugar Gashimov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand

Round 6: Friday, 19 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Alexander Grischuk 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand

Round 7: Saturday , 20 February 2010

Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo

Round 8: Sunday, 21 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand
Alexander Grischuk 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov

Round 9: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Alexander Grischuk 
1-0
 Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Levon Aronian

Round 10: Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk

Links

The games were broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


Topics Linares 2010
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