Anand and Leko Start Strong in Linares

2/23/2003 – Vishy Anand continued where he left off in Wijk aan Zee by beating Ruslan Ponomariov in the first round of the Linares supertournament. Peter Leko kept pace by outplaying youngster Teimour Radjabov in the endgame. Kramnik-Kasparov failed to live up to expectations and fizzled to an 18-move draw. Paco Vallejo had the bye. Report, results, online game replay, and more...

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Linares Super GM 2003

Round 1

Round 1 (Saturday, February 22, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Leko, Peter

Don't call it a comeback! Despite a discreet few years in classical chess, Viswanathan Anand of India has hardly been off the radar. While top rivals Kasparov, Kramnik, and Ponomariov exchanged press releases and made headlines with world championship negotiations, Anand has been winning just about every rapid chess event in the world, including the massive Prague Eurotel knock out and the recent World Cup. So you couldn't really call it a comeback when Anand took clear first place in a very strong Corus Wijk aan Zee field last month.

Having served notice, Anand is clearly ready to continue his winning ways in Linares, where he got his only title win in 1998, ahead of Shirov, Kramnik, and Kasparov. Today he beat Ponomariov's Berlin Defense with the witty and sharp tactical endgame play we have come to expect from the Indian star.

In the diagram he played 47.e6! c3 48.e7+! Ke8 49.f6 and the black king, and the game, were sealed. If 47...fxe6 then 48.f6! is a winner. If 48...Kxe7 49.f6+ wins the knight and the a-pawn will eventually win the game. As is his custom, 2001 FIDE champion Ponomariov played on to the bitter end, finally resigning on move 64.

Super Mariov finished a very strong second place in Linares 2002, ahead of Anand and behind Kasparov, but has to regain respect after a sub-par Wijk aan Zee performance last month. In round two he'll have white against Kramnik and he'll be hoping to repeat his win over big Vlad from Wijk. That game was also in round two!

The other round one winner was world championship challenger Peter Leko of Hungary. He might be feeling increased expectations after his tremendous run in the 2002 Dortmund qualifier and his status as official challenger for Kramnik's classical title. But 15-year-old Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan shows no respect for titles or challengers! Radjabov played sharply for the win with the shot 27.Nxf7! If Black takes the knight his king is in deep trouble and the white h-pawn rolls: 27...Kxf7 28.Bxf6 Rxd3 29.Qxd3 gxf6 30.Qg6+ Kf8 31.Qxh6+ Ke8 32.Qg6+ Kd7 33.Rd1+ Kc6 34.Qe8+! Kc5 35.h6. Spectacular stuff!

But Leko is Leko and White's initiative didn't last long. I've been saying it for years, one of the best ways to lose a game is sac a piece against Peter Leko. Radjabov ended up in a lousy endgame and Black's passed b-pawn was a monster. The wunderkind is finding out what is needed to win a game at this level, and it doesn't stop with tactical alertness. Radjabov's even score at Corus was another big step and even if he doesn't win a game in Linares it will be a huge education for him.

Strange to leave a Kramnik-Kasparov tussle for last, but it is deserved. Kramnik ordered a big plate of chicken and offered a draw on move 18 in a very interesting position. The players entered a sharp variation of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, which Kasparov tried against Kramnik in the Botvinnik Memorial just over a year ago. Just when things were starting to heat up and it wasn't clear if Kramnik had real chances against the black king, the game was over.

Kasparov has dominated Linares for over a decade and he won't have much trouble continuing that domination if he can get short draws with black against his toughest opponents. He will be looking to start his march to defend his title when he takes the white pieces into action against Radjabov tomorrow in round two.

Mig Greengard

Standings after round one

Official site
Player bios and Linares intro

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