Leko-Kasparov a Battle for the Ages, but a Draw

2/24/2003 – The kids took the day off and Kramnik couldn't make progress against Vallejo. It was left to Peter Leko and Garry Kasparov to provide the show, and they did that and more. Leko had a fine position until Kasparov pounced with a rook sacrifice. An incredibly difficult Queen and pawn endgame arose and it seems that Kasparov missed several winning attempts in the seven hour marathon. More..

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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 3

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

Round 3 (Monday, February 24, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Leko, Peter
½-½
Kasparov, Garry

It looked for a long time like Garry Kasparov was going to bounce back and give us another "Black" day in Linares. His game with Peter Leko was a battle for the ages that went all the way to seven hour limit before being drawn! Kasparov came out of an inferior position and turned the tables with a rook sacrifice right before the first time control. Then came the long torture as he tried to find a winning line in a queen and pawn endgame.

I was commenting on the game live at Playchess.com and the consensus was that here 56...g4 was a winner for Kasparov. Instead, he started checking, probably to get to the next time control. The difference is that with the white king safely off the third rank, Black doesn't have the move ..Qf3+. That is critical because then the black queen then covers the h5 square and eliminates the chance of a perpetual check!

For example: 56...g4 55.a6 g3 56.a7 Qf3+ 57.Kb4 g2 Qg5+ Kh7 and there's no perpetual. Kasparov checked Leko's king up the board starting with 56...Qc1+ and the active white king became a factor in several perpetual check lines.

For a while it wasn't clear whether or not Kasparov had found something deep or if the win had slipped from his grasp. The checks continued until Kasparov had to start pushing his g-pawn and the race was on. The Playchess.com crowd eagerly anticipated a four-queen spectacle!

Just when the draw looked inevitable, it was Leko's turn to slip after a heroic defense. 71.Kc7 looked like the best chance to hold the draw. Instead, 71.Qd5 allowed Kasparov get a winning position, that is, if he had access to endgame tablebases! 71...Qxd5 72.Kxd5 g1(Q) 73.Kxe5 is checkmate in 62 moves according to Fritz and the Nalimov tablebases! Yes, I said mate in 62. Check the replay page if you don't believe me.

Of course it's a bit of a moot point as to whether or not Kasparov would have been able to grind out that win against Leko with a few minutes on their clocks. It is easier to defend or win that queen endgame in time trouble? I hope I never have to find out!

It would have been best for Leko to take the pawn, no matter what a tablebase says. It would have been much easier for a human with black to win with two pawns than with one. Kasparov did try to win an inferior version of the one-pawn endgame (dead draw according to the tablebases) as they banged out moves with seconds left. The game finally ended with a three time repetition claim by Leko (who was down to his final minute) and there was some loud talk with the arbiter at the conclusion. Whew! It was an exhausting game to watch and to commentate, I can't imagine how the players feel. What a show!

Kasparov will have two days off in a row now. He has the bye tomorrow and then there's the first off day. He'll need it both mentally and physically. Coming so close to a win and a 50% score has to hurt, and he has two days to froth over his -1. Over at the kiddie table, Radjabov looked tired and Ponomariov wasn't going to disagree with a short draw with black after two losses. Still, their 11 move draw was a bit insulting even if Radjabov got nothing from the opening. If we can't get fighting chess from teenagers, what are we to do?

Vallejo again showed his solidity by drawing effortlessly against Kramnik with black. The world champion's 13.Qb3 (diagram) appears to be a new move, and Vallejo shrugged it off nicely with 13...Be6 14.dxe5 Qxf3! 15.Bxf3 Bxb3.

Kramnik has the most points, but his co-leader Anand had the day off to prepare for their clash in round four. It's been a long time since Anand has beaten Kramnik in classical chess (~five years?!) and doing it in Linares for the tournament lead would be a heck of a way to break that streak.

The two outsiders meet in round four and if Vallejo is looking to get a win on the scoreboard in Linares, Radjabov's adventurous play might give him that opportunity.

Mig Greengard

Standings after round three

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
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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