Linares 3: Kasparov and Shirov (and Topalov!) on the ropes

2/21/2004 – Garry Kasparov ran into a well-prepared novelty by Peter Leko. Alexei Shirov missed his own winning chances to get into difficulties against Veselin Topalov. Radjabov vs Kramnik was uneventful. All three games were drawn. ChessBase Radio listeners got a live report from Linares during the round! We bring you games, pictures and a full report.

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21st International Chess Tournament
Linares Feb. 19 – March 5, 2004

Linares Round 3

Round 3 (Saturday, February 21, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko
½-½
Garry Kasparov
Games – Report
Round 4 (Sunday, February 22, 2004)
Vladimir Kramnik
 
Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov
 
Teimour Radjabov
Francisco Vallejo
 
Alexei Shirov
Games – Report

After three rounds and nine games in Linares we have had exactly one decisive game. That is the statistic that jumps out at you most, unfortunately. The long stretches of drawn games usually come toward the end of an event when the players are tired or in the middle when they are biding their time and waiting for their competitors to falter. Last year there were four decisive games in the first TWO rounds.

At least most of the draws have been of the fighting variety. You can't blame players for not making mistake. You can blame them for not playing much chess, however, so Kramnik's streak of three miniature draws comes in for some criticism. He has played a total of 61 moves so far. Today he equalized easily out of a Petroff with black against Radjabov and offered a draw on move 23.

Lucky enough we had plenty of action on the other boards. Shirov and Topalov swapped winning chances several times in a wild game. These two consummate fighters have played many titanic battles and matches against each other over the years. I (Mig) still remember watching their sensational, if blunderful, duel in the 2001 FIDE KO in Moscow and how absolutely destroyed the normally stoic Topalov looked when he lost the final blitz game. In 2002 Shirov eliminated Topalov in the Dortmund KO and in 2003 Topalov returned the favor in the Corsica Masters.

Diagram: Shirov-Topalov after 33...Qc8

Both players had winning chances today. Shirov's were better and Topalov's came last but both were wasted in the end. Here Shirov played 34.Qe7, but he could have come close to putting the game away with 34.Qf7. This also threatens the discovery Ng5, but on f7 the queen won't be swapped off after ..Qc1+ and Qxe3+.

It was nearly impossible to calculate, and Shirov was already in serious time trouble, but it appears that the white king evades all the checks and maintains his threats. In the game Topalov got enough counterplay with 34...d4! and even got winning chances when Shirov lost a pawn in terrible time trouble.

Leko hit Kasparov with a novelty in his beloved Najdorf and it was good enough to keep the world #1 in a difficult squeeze for the entire game. This was our feature game during the live ChessBase Radio broadcast at Playchess.com and big question was if Kasparov could have broken free with good counterplay on move 18.

Diagram: Leko-Kasparov after 18.Nxa8

Instead of recapturing the knight immediately Black can complicate things tremendously with 18..d5!? But Kasparov was an HOUR behind on the clock and put his faith in kingside counterplay.

He planted a powerful knight on e4 and Leko gave the exchange back to eliminate it. It took considerable defensive accuracy for Kasparov to hold the ensuing queen, rook, and bishop endgame.

It was a strong showing for both players. Leko showed his preparation in Kasparov's favorite line and Kasparov withstood a serious test and looks to be shaking off the rust. He has the bye in tomorrow's round four.

Round 3 Picture Gallery


Awesome (?) with black: Veselin Topalov in round three


Alexei Shirov making his third move against Veselin Topalov


What comes after 2.Nf3? Kramnik about to go for a Petroff


The game of the round, Peter Leko of Hungary and Garry Kasparov of Russia


Peter Leko looks like he has something up his sleeve


Pulling out a novelty...

...to make the Boss suffer

Pictures by Jesús J. Boyero Gabarre

Round 1 (Thursday, February 19, 2004)
Francisco Vallejo
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Alexei Shirov
½-½
Garry Kasparov
Teimour Radjabov
0-1
Peter Leko
Round 2 (Friday, February 20, 2004)
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Alexei Shirov
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Round 3 (Saturday, February 21, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko
½-½
Garry Kasparov
Games – Report
Round 4 (Sunday, February 22, 2004)
Vladimir Kramnik
 
Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov
 
Teimour Radjabov
Francisco Vallejo
 
Alexei Shirov
Games – Report
Round 5 (Monday, February 23, 2004)
Teimour Radjabov
 
Francisco Vallejo
Peter Leko
 
Veselin Topalov
Garry Kasparov
 
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 6 (Wednesday, February 25, 2004)
Veselin Topalov
 
Garry Kasparov
Francisco Vallejo
 
Peter Leko
Alexei Shirov
 
Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 7 (Thursday, February 26, 2004)
Peter Leko
 
Alexei Shirov
Garry Kasparov
  Francisco Vallejo
Vladimir Kramnik
  Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 8 (Friday, February 27, 2004)
Vladimir Kramnik
 
Francisco Vallejo
Garry Kasparov
 
Alexei Shirov
Peter Leko
 
Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 9 (Saturday, February 28, 2004)
Teimour Radjabov
 
Garry Kasparov
Alexei Shirov
 
Vladimir Kramnik
Francisco Vallejo
 
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 10 (Sunday, February 29, 2004)
Veselin Topalov
 
Alexei Shirov
Vladimir Kramnik
 
Teimour Radjabov
Garry Kasparov
 
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 11 (Tuesday, March 2, 2004)
Peter Leko
 
Vladimir Kramnik
Teimour Radjabov
 
Veselin Topalov
Alexei Shirov
 
Francisco Vallejo
Games – Report
Round 12 (Wednesday, March 3, 2004)
Francisco Vallejo
 
Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov
 
Peter Leko
Vladimir Kramnik
 
Garry Kasparov
Games – Report
Round 13 (Thursday, March 4, 2004)
Garry Kasparov
 
Veselin Topalov
Peter Leko
 
Francisco Vallejo
Teimour Radjabov
 
Alexei Shirov
Games – Report
Round 14 (Friday, March 5, 2004)
Alexei Shirov
 
Peter Leko
Francisco Vallejo
 
Garry Kasparov
Veselin Topalov
 
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report

 


Topics Linares
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