Li Chao leads in Szeged

by Alejandro Ramirez
8/19/2015 – The City of Szeged and the Hungarian Chess Federation organize a six-game match between Leko Peter (Hungary) and Li Chao (China), aimed at helping Leko prepare for the upcoming World Cup at Baku. However it seems to be the Chinese player who is ready for the competition. After two solid draws, Li Chao won two in a row and currently leads by a comfortable. 3.0-1.0...

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Szeged is currently host to a battle between titans. The City of Szeged and Hungarian Chess Federation organize a six-game match between Leko Peter (Hungary) and Li Chao (China) from 14 to 20 August 2015. The match aimed to help Leko prepare for the upcoming World Cup at Baku, and will use the exact same time controls: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

Szeged is the third largest city of Hungary, the county seat of Csongrád County, and the centre of the Southern Great Plain Region. The number of inhabitants is 170 thousand. It is the most important scientific, educational and cultural centre of the region.

Szeged has a vivid cultural life and becomes a city of festivals during summer. The Open Air Festival, first held in 1931, is one of the most attractive cultural events in Hungary. The “Szeged Youth Days” is the oldest pop-rock festival in Hungary, where several thousand young people come together.

An aerial view of the city

The Day of Szeged is celebrated on the 21st of May every year. This time the famous Wine Festival last for ten days, and, at the Bridge Fair, which actually takes place on the bridge, handmade products are presented from all over Hungary.

The Mayor of Szeged came to inaugurate the duel

The Match

The match started with a dull draw, in which every piece came flying off the board and a draw was agreed shortly after. The second game was far livelier, with a sharp Sicilian that could have gone either way. At the end, a queen endgame was reached and eventually drawn.

Li Chao, however, struck out in game three:

The first victory went to Li Chao

[Event "Leko-Li Chao Match 2015"] [Site "Szeged HUN"] [Date "2015.08.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Li, Chao b"] [Black "Leko, Peter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A35"] [WhiteElo "2748"] [BlackElo "2714"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2015.08.14"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 g6 7. Ne4 $5 {In a position that has been reached hundreds of times, Li Chao decides to employ a very unusual move. Clearly, the pawn on c5 is under attack, but Black has more than one way to defend it.} Qb6 (7... c4 8. Qc2 f5 {starts becoming very unclear.}) (7... b6 8. d4 {seems problematic, though perhaps with accurate play Black can equalize here.}) 8. O-O Bg7 9. Qc2 Bf5 (9... Nd4 10. Nxd4 cxd4 11. Nc5 $14 {seems a bit better for White, who has some pressure thanks to the g2 bishop.}) 10. d3 {Somehow c5 is still a problem.} Bxe4 11. dxe4 Ndb4 12. Qa4 Qa5 13. Qd1 (13. Qxa5 Nxa5 14. Rd1 O-O 15. e5 {gave White reasonable hopes for an advantage.}) 13... O-O 14. a3 Na6 (14... Rfd8 {first seemed more logical. Black doesn't have to retreat the knight yet. For example:} 15. Bd2 $6 Bxb2 16. axb4 Qxa1 17. Qxa1 Bxa1 18. Rxa1 cxb4 {and that's a lot of pawns on the queenside rolling forward.}) 15. e5 e6 16. Qc2 Rac8 17. Qe4 c4 18. Bd2 Qb5 19. a4 Qb3 20. Be3 $1 {Almost out of the blue, Black's position is uncomfortable. His queen is not the best placed, the bishops are powerful and g7 is shut down. } Qb4 21. Rfc1 Na5 22. Bd2 Qb6 23. Bxa5 Qxa5 24. Rxc4 Rxc4 25. Qxc4 Qc7 (25... Bxe5 26. Nxe5 Qxe5 27. Qb5 $16) 26. Qxc7 Nxc7 27. Rd1 Nd5 28. e4 Nb4 {Opposite colored bishops, but two pawns are two pawns.} 29. Rd7 a5 30. Rxb7 Nc6 31. Rb5 Rb8 32. Rc5 Rb6 33. Bf1 Bf8 34. Rb5 Rxb5 35. Bxb5 Nb4 36. Nd2 Be7 37. Kf1 Bd8 38. Ke2 Kf8 39. f4 h5 40. Nc4 Ke7 41. Kd2 Bc7 42. Kc3 Bd8 43. Kd4 1-0

Leko seemed to want revenge in the next game. He was able to get a sizeable advantage against Li Chao in the Petroff, but in time pressure things went ugly quickly:

Another legend! Judit Polgar checking out game two.

[Event "Leko-Li Chao Match 2015"] [Site "Szeged HUN"] [Date "2015.08.18"] [Round "4"] [White "Leko, Peter"] [Black "Li, Chao b"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2714"] [BlackElo "2748"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2k1r3/p1pb4/2pp1Q2/8/8/1PPR1N1q/PKP2P2/8 b - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2015.08.14"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 27... Qg2 {Up until this point Leko has been playing quite well. He is up a pawn, but Black has some counteplay and is still in the game. White has to somehow solidify, consolidate his position and then use his passed f-pawn to cause real problems.} 28. Qd4 (28. Nd4 $1 $14 {Centralizing the knight rather than the queen was rather important. Black cannot kick out this knight easily as Nf5 would follow, with a nice repositioning.}) 28... Kb7 $1 29. Nd2 c5 30. Qf4 $6 {After this White loses f2, and the doubled major pieces on the second rank are powerful.} (30. Qd5+ Qxd5 31. Rxd5 Re2 32. f3 Be6 33. Rd3 {is nothing for White. Black can even force the perpetual immediately with Bf5-e6.}) 30... Re2 31. f3 $6 {stubborn, but not good.} (31. b4 $1 {Creating some counterplay.} Rxf2 32. Qe4+ Qxe4 33. Nxe4 $11 {White threatens the rook, so after} Rf4 34. Nxc5+ dxc5 35. Rxd7 cxb4 {the draw is clear.}) 31... Bb5 $1 {Vert precise!} ( 31... Be8 32. b4 {is simply not the same.} Bg6 $6 33. Rd5 $14) 32. c4 Be8 { Black is trying to remaneuver his pieces and cause the white king a lot of grief, especially thanks to the c2 pawn weakness.} 33. Ka3 $2 (33. a4 Bg6 ( 33... Qg7+ $1 $17) 34. Rd5 $11) 33... Bc6 $2 (33... Bg6 34. Rd5 Qh1 {is surprisingly lethal. White has no good way of covering against Qc1+.} 35. Qf6 ( 35. Ne4 Bxe4 36. fxe4 Rxc2 $19) 35... Rxd2 36. Rxd2 Qc1+ 37. Qb2 Qxd2 $19) 34. Kb2 Qg7+ 35. Rc3 a5 36. Nb1 Qh8 37. a4 {White's position is still very unpleasant.} Be8 (37... Re1 $1 38. Nd2 Kb6 $1 {And White has problems finding a move.}) 38. Na3 Kb6 39. Qg5 Bc6 40. Qf4 $2 (40. Qg1 $17) 40... Rf2 {Move 40 is reached and Leko is lost. There is no way to prevent Rxf3.} 41. Qc1 Rxf3 42. Nb1 Qf6 43. Qd2 Rh3 44. Qe2 Rh1 45. Nd2 Qd4 46. Qe3 Qg4 $1 {Whites pieces are paralyzed and are helpless against the simple threat of Qd1.} 0-1

Leko has to win the two remaining games to even the score.

Standings

Game:
Rtg
01
02
03
04
05
06
Score
Leko, Peter 2714
½
½
0
0
   
1.0
Li Chao 2748
½
½
1
1
   
3.0

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Topics Szeged

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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runawaypawn runawaypawn 8/21/2015 10:42
Yeah I figured that its probably because of the world cup, but in that case he's not gonna have any success there either. I don't know why do we even have this time control anyway? Six or seven hour long games are rare and people who watch it they don't mind and people who don't watch it not gonna start just because its an hour and a half or so shorter. In the meantime its seriously affects the quality of the game.
gmwdim gmwdim 8/21/2015 04:51
@runawaypawn I think Leko wanted to use this match to help prepare for the World Cup, which uses 90-min time control. But if the result is any indication, he needs to get better at converting his opportunities - he had the advantage in games 4 and 5 but only scored 0.5/2.
runawaypawn runawaypawn 8/20/2015 09:44
I don't know why Leko agreed to the 90 min time control. He hates that. And someone who is prone to bad decisions in time trouble should avoid that whenever he can. And he clearly has some pull with the organizers, so he should have just insisted on the classical tc...
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 8/20/2015 04:27
Li Chao continue to improve his games if he beats Leko who is a World Champ challenger then he could be a world champ challenger too, unless Peter is not in his top form in this match.
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