Leko Rejoins the Lead with Sweep of Radjabov

3/2/2003 – It was a deja vu round in Linares. Leko beat Radjabov again. Kasparov and Kramnik drew again. Anand lost a half-point in an endgame again! Radjabov's lines the French are looking very Maginot so far in Linares and he took another beating today. Vishy was in mop-up mode against Ponomariov when the mop slipped from his hand at the final moment. Full report and analysis here.

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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 8

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

Round 8 (Sunday, March 2, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Leko, Peter
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour

Many good things can be said about France, and most of them are said regularly by the French, saving the rest of us the work. Where would we be without their wine, their bacteria-laden cheeses, their incomprehensible films, their cute little accents? (I'm friends with someone whose roommate's boyfriend is French, so I can be considered an expert.) In 1834 a team from Paris defeated a London team in a correspondence match, largely thanks to their use of the relatively unknown 1...e6 in response to 1.e4. The French Defense was duly baptized, although the 19th century insult for it, "king's pawn sneaks one" has more charm.

At 15 years old, Teimour Radjabov has not had much time to develop an opening repertoire. Kasparov and Anand have games in the Informant older than Radjabov. The youth's almost total dependence on the French against 1.e4 is making life very difficult for him in Linares. (Of 51 games against 1.e4 in the past few years Radjabov has answered 1...e6 in 40 of them.) Yes, he did get a win against Kasparov, but his position was losing early on. Kramnik demolished Radjabov with a kingside attack in the sixth round and today it was Leko's turn to swing for the French fences. This time the crushing white attack found Black's king on the queenside, but it was just as effective. Leko's win put him right back into a tie for first place with Kramnik at +2.

The Hungarian finished with a flourish, ending the game with a nice queen sacrifice. 32.Qxf8+! 1-0. It's lights out after 32...Qxf8 33.Nb5.Qc5 34.Nd6+ Kd8 35.c7+ Qxc7 36.Rxc7 Kxc7 37.h6. Those pawns will get you in the end!

By the way, the round eight replay page and PGN download file have been updated with some new analysis of all three games.

Try to wrap your lips around this sentence: "Peter Leko has the most wins of any player in Linares." If Dortmund was a coming out party for the new and improved Leko, Linares is a confirmation party (Catholic joke). You may remember how our spies dug up the secret training plan that keyed Leko's transformation from gecko to Godzilla.

Radjabov still has blacks against Ponomariov and Anand coming up. He might consider a change of defense unless he wants to be the best-known French martyr since Joan of Arc. He has white tomorrow, but against a Kasparov who will have the eyeball death rays set on 'high' for this one. Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but I don't think Kasparov would turn down a piping hot plate of vengeance tomorrow.

Speaking of cold revenge, Kramnik held Kasparov to a draw after some entertaining complications. Kramnik defended well and Kasparov decided to force a repetition draw that ended the bout on move 33. The opening was a classical Ruy Lopez, previously unseen in Kramnik's praxis. This odd line, a Spanish game without c3, has been played several times at the top level recently. 13...c6 was a strong and interesting plan by Kramnik, playing for his own central takeover.


Post-mortem: Kramnik's seconds stand behind their man, GMs Malakhov and Illescas. Kasparov's second Dokhoian is on the far right. Center is the legend of Russian chess publishing and editor of the famous Moscow-based magazine "64", Alexander Roshal. (See our first Linares photo report for more on Alex.)

Ruslan Ponomariov might consider gluing his g-pawns to the board for the rest of Linares, at least when his king is behind them. Or put them in little glass boxes with "Only break in case of emergency" signs. His wild g-pawn push rebounded on him almost immediately against Kasparov and against Anand today he watched it get snapped off the board five moves after he launched it forward.

The endgame that developed around move 22 was a tough one to evaluate at first, but it got easier. Anand played for activity, giving up pawns and collecting them later with a stronger position each time. By move 39 it was clear that White was in serious trouble.

Here Anand played 39...Nf4 40.Bxf4 gxf4 41.Nf2 Rc3 42.Rf8 Rc2 43.Rxf4 Ree2 44.b6 and surprisingly forced an immediate draw with 44...Bxf2. First off, it looks like Black could have won a piece in the diagrammed position with the paradoxical 39...Nb6!, moving the knight away from the action but leaving White without a home for his knight. 40.Nf2 now loses instantly to 40...Bxf2 41.Rxf2 Rc1+ and the other choices aren't very appetizing.

When the game ended many spectators in Linares thought Ponomariov had resigned until Anand told them it had ended in a draw. He seemed a little surprised that everyone had assumed he was completely winning.

Ponomariov found the only possible defense, using his b-pawn as a decoy to free his pieces from their terrible bind. But it seems that Anand could have grabbed a pawn, stopped the b-pawn in its tracks, and still maintained a considerable, if not winning, advantage. At the very least it would have been a test of Ponomariov's defensive skills.

In the diagram Anand played 44...Bxf2 and offered a draw. White gets the piece back after 45.b7 even after the tricky 45...Bg3 46.Rf7+ Kg6 47.R1f6+ (lifting the mate threat) 47...Kg5 48.hxg3.

But 44...Rxa2 45.b7 Rab2 keeps the bind and leaves Black with a dangerous c-pawn. White still has excellent drawing chances, particularly since in a few lines he can try to give up his knight for the c-pawn and leave black with a rook pawn and the wrong colored bishop. 46.Rf5 Kg6 47.Rf8 Rxb7 48.Nd3 and White can finally dream of some counterplay.

So the shouts of "Anand missed a win!" here were definitely overstating the case, but he did miss a chance to play on for a while with some winning chances. The win was missed back on move 39. Anand is clearly not in his best form, yet is still only a half-point back at +1. We should all have such bad form!

Round nine brings another clash between the two world title holders, Kramnik and Ponomariov. (Don't get me started here on whether or not one or both titles have expired by now. I'm too tired from all these endgames!) The Boys from Baku face off and Kasparov will try to hand Radjabov his third loss in a row. Anand will be looking to rejoin the leaders with the white pieces against Vallejo, the only winless participant. Last year Vallejo waited until the final round in Linares to get his only win, so maybe only Ponomariov should be concerned!

Mig Greengard

Standings after round eight

 

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
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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