Leko Takes the Lead, Kasparov Strikes Back

2/27/2003 – Hungary's Peter Leko broke his streak of epic draws with a positional crush of Vallejo. Kasparov got his first win with a kingside attack against Ponomariov, who gave up a pawn to get the queens off the board. The endgame offered no relief and Kasparov quickly pushed his king up the board to collect the full point in person. Radjabov-Anand was a 25-move draw. More..

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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 5

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

Round 5 (Thursday, February 27, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Leko, Peter
1-0
Vallejo, Francisco
Kasparov, Garry
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan

Peter Leko took the lead in round five by beating Francisco Vallejo Pons, but his fellow world championship challenger (different title), Garry Kasparov, stole the show. The world number one blew FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomariov off the board in impressive fashion. Ponomariov gave up a pawn to break the attack, but Kasparov made the endgame win look very easy. Radjabov got nothing with white against Anand.


Time warp! Photo from Linares 2002. Same result: 1-0

When Kasparov plays 1.d4 against you (or, more precisely, anything other than 1.e4, since he actually started with 1.Nf3 today), it's time for a deep think about holes in your repertoire. Anand once expressed his admiration for Kasparov's ability to find the weakest spot in your opening book and then, as Vishy put it, "it's off to the beach!" Ponomariov saw the sharks in the water decided he didn't want to go to the beach today. Instead he played a line of the Queen's Indian that he has no experience with, according to the MegaBase.

We can call this the Garryuri Effect: "When your opponent, fearing the destruction of one his usual opening lines, plays something he doesn't have any practice with in an attempt to also get you out of your preparation." It's debatable as to which player is usually worse off in this situation. In Linares today, it was definitely Ponomariov. His 12...Na6 was either a transposition of moves (..Na6 usually comes a move earlier instead of 11...Nxc3) or a dubious attempt at a novelty.

As he so often does, Kasparov showed the flaw of Black's idea immediately with 13.e4 (12...Re8 would have forestalled this), initiating complications that meant Ponomariov would never have time to get in the ..c5 break. Kasparov passed up an interesting tactical sideline after 13...dxe4 14.Nd2 g5!? when he could have tried 15.Nxe4!? Bxe4 16.Bxe4 gxf4 17.Qh5 Re8 18.Qxh7+ Kf8 19.Bb7, recovering the piece. But Black is active and the opposite colored bishops will make it difficult to convert the extra pawn.

Kasparov played 15.Be3 Re8 16.f4! and stirred up a vicious attack against Ponomariov's king. The black kingside is full of holes and the knight sits on a6 like a monument to Tarrasch. With White's pieces swarming around his king, Super Mariov gave up his f-pawn to get some pieces off the board.

Kasparov was not dismayed by the queen exchange, he had an extra pawn and one piece of royalty left. His king marched up the board like there was free beer on the eighth rank. When time trouble was over the curtain came down quickly. Black is simply left without any moves that don't lead to a completely lost pawn endgame.

43.Rf6! Nxf6 and Ponomariov resigned before his rook could be humiliated after 44.gxf6 and 45.Nh6. The loss dropped Ponomariov to -3. He also hit that low point in Corus Wijk aan Zee last month, but then won three games in a row. Quick, someone invite van Wely, Timman, and Karpov to Linares! The good news for the Ukrainian is that he can't lose tomorrow. He has the bye.

Unless Ponomariov can strike back with white in the second half, this will be a lasting message from Kasparov to the current FIDE champion until their FIDE title match this summer.

Kasparov moved back to an even score and was just a point behind the leaders for about 20 minutes. That's when Vallejo resigned against Peter Leko, who moved up to +2 and clear first place. Leko played an interesting novelty against a very topical line of the Taimanov Sicilian. Kasparov, Leko, and Vallejo (!) have all played the white side recently.

Leko's 12.Qg5 is a departure from the usual g4-h4 opposite-side-castling pawn race insanity typical in these lines. Instead, he pushes the black knight back to g6, takes the queens off the board, and wins on the queenside with positional play! Did he think he was playing against Deep Junior? I don't think Vallejo invested much time in thinking about grabbing the h-pawn with 14..Bxh2. After g4 White has several tempi and an extra open file compared to the normal lines.

It was an almost absurdly smooth game by Leko against the very solid young Spaniard, who picked up his first loss after three draws. White took his kingside pawn majority and a small edge in development and slowly but surely turned it into a decisive position. It was reminiscent of a good Karpov game.

This is the final position, and it's hard to believe it came from a Taimanov Sicilian! Black is being pushed off the board on the queenside and moves like b6 and Nc5 are going to be the final eggs in the tortilla. Black is going to lose either the a-pawn or the e-pawn and then the c-pawn is a winner.

Still, there is no question that many players, Ponomariov for example, would have played on with something like ..Rd7 and tried to find a way to give up the exchange for a tough endgame.

Radjabov's didn't make any progress against Anand. Both have big games tomorrow. Anand will challenge for the leadership of Linares with white against Leko. Kramnik is coming off two days of rest and will have white against Radjabov.

The schedule shows that it's still anyone's tournament to win. Kasparov still has games with white against Anand, Leko, and Kramnik. He will be looking to kick Vallejo while he's down when they meet in round six tomorrow.

Quite a few people have written in to say that there is a mistake in the computer analysis of the mate in 62 I mentioned in the Daily Dirt at ChessNinja.com that could have occurred in the round three Leko-Kasparov game. They are all sure that move 104...Qb3 would force the queens off the board and win much quicker than 104...Kc1 given by the tablebases.

I'm impressed that so many people played through all the moves, but less impressed with their knowledge of queen endgame tricks! In the diagram 105.Ka8! breaks the pin and black can't take the queen without stalemate. A good trick to know, although the position is still completely lost.

So far Linares has been an ongoing endgame lesson for the world. Quite a few games have had fascinating endgame play both on the board and in the notes. I take this as yet another argument for why classical chess IS chess and faster controls are just entertaining diversions that shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Mig Greengard

Standings after round five

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
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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