Linares R11: Aronian defeats Vallejo

3/7/2006 – Armenian GM Levon Aronian was the only player to draw blood in round eleven, doing it to the local boy Francisco Vallejo. The other games were drawn, all more or less well fought out. Peter Leko remains in the lead, followed by Aronian, the rejuvenated Topalov and Azeri Radjabov. Updated full report with annotated games.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!


Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!

More...

Round eleven report

Round 11: Tuesday, March 7th

Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
1-0
Francisco Vallejo
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Peter Svidler

The only decisive game of this relatively peaceful round was Aronian-Vallejo. Black made only one, far from obvious but fatal mistake in a slightly unusual position. Radjabov played very solidly with White against Topalov, which led to a relatively short draw. In Bacrot-Svidler Black carried out a spectacular queen sacrifice, but the position remained equilibrated. Leko missed one more chance of consolidating his leadership. After having outplayed Ivanchuk with the black pieces, he started to openly play for a draw, faling to notice a tactical trick that would have won a pawn for him and gradually giving up all his positional advantage.

Standings

Radjabov,T (2700) - Topalov,V (2801) [C65]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (11), 07.03.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 Topalov seems to have not been put off by the defeat in the first round of the Morelia half and manifests his intention to play the Berlin variation again. 4.d3 But Radjabov does not seem to be prepared for a theoretical dispute. 4...Bc5. Topalov has played this already against Anand in San Luis. Another common reaction is 4...d6. 5.Bxc6!? Radjabov chooses a quiet plan. After this exchange, White will be left with the more flexible pawn structure, without any danger of losing. Could he have hoped that Topalov will be overdoing it in the attempt of complicating the fight, just as he did in the first game of their mini-match? 5...dxc6 6.Qe2 Bg4 7.Nbd2 Nd7 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 Qe7 10.c3 0-0 11.0-0 Rfe8 12.Re1 Rad8 13.Bd2 Nf8 14.Rad1 Bb6 15.Be3.

15...c5 A slightly paradoxical but entirely adequate decision. Black prevents the thematic oepning of the centre by means of d4, which would leave White with an extra-pawn on the king side. 16.a3 Rd7 17.b4 f6 18.Qc2 Ne6 Consolidating the control of the d4-square. 19.Qb3 Qf7 20.Qc4 Red8 21.Rd2 cxb4 22.axb4 h6 23.Kf1 c6 24.Red1 Bxe3 25.fxe3 Re8 26.Kg1. White's only constructive plan would be to play d4, but this would seriously weaken the e4-pawn. Therefore, the decision whether to offer a draw does not really seem premature. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Aronian,L (2752) - Vallejo Pons,F (2650) [D31]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (11), 07.03.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 The Slav Triangle (or symply "The system" as Botwinnik used to call it) can lead to a great variety of independent openings. 4.e4 Aronian chooses the most restrictive continuation. Black can forget now about the Moscow variation or the Meran System. 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+.

We have reached the definitory position of the system named rather unimaginatively "The Slav Gambit". White's strong pair of bishops and his possibilities of more rapid development compensate for the sacrificed pawn. Practice has shown that Black has chances to beat off the attack only if he maintains the half-closed character of the position. Entering early complications would only allow White display the dynamism of his minor pieces, as a consequence of the vulnerability of the black Royal couple: the king without a safe shelter yet, the queen prematurely emerged in the centre of the board. 8.Be2 Na6. The most logical continuation: Black develops with tempo. True, it might later appear that the knight is not optimally placed on the edge of the board, but for the moment the highest emergency is to just get castled. 9.Bd6. This move started becoming popular after being sucessfully employed by Tal in 1978. Although the presence of the bishop on this weak square does not threaten much by itself, it certainly restricts the a6-knight and, in some cases, the rook's action along the d-file. In the only game where Vallejo had played this variation before, White chose the c3-square for his bishop with 9.Bc3 but failed to obtain an advantage, Gurevich-Vallejo, Dos Hermanas 2001. 9...e5!? Theory holds 9...b6 as the main line. For the sake of rapid development, Vallejo's choice looks more appropriated, although it will most likely cause him lose his extra-pawn back. 10.Nf3 Bg4 11.0-0. The immediate 11.Nxe5 is not likely to offer White any advantage. Allowing such an early exchange of queens would mean to give up the possibility of winning time by attacking Her black Majesty with the minor pieces. 11...0-0-0.

Black has managed to get castled, but his king's position is not entirely safe. Besides, he still needs one tempo to complete his development. His main hope is connected with the fact that two of the enemy minor pieces are pinned, which somewhat restricts White's active possibilities. 12.Bd3 We can see that the whole system of pins is flexible and relative at the same time. White has just unpinned his e2-bishop by castling and uses it to unpin his colleague from d6. On the other hand, the pin of the knight becomes stronger now. 12...Qf4. The exposed position of the black king is illustrated by the variation 12...Bxf3? 13.Bxe4 Bxd1 14.Bf5+ winning material, but, fortunately for Black, his queen has just one square at her disposal. 13.Bxe5 Winning the pawn back and continuing to harrass Her Majesty. 13...Qxe5. Generally speaking, it is not advisable for Black to embark forced tactical operations with his development incomplete. However, in this concrete position there are a couple of details that partly justify such a decision. The elimination of the dark-squared bishop and the exchange of queens brings a sudden relief to the black king. Besides, if Black will manage to give endgame contours to the position (rather than queen-less middlegame) his king will be by far more active than White's, which might easily turn tables around. 14.Nxe5 Bxd1 15.Bf5+. This intermediate check removes the bishop from its exposed position in order to prepare the following tactical sequence. In case of 15.Raxd1 Nh6 White would have little chance to prove the superiority of the bishop over the knight in an open position because of the weakness of the d4-square. 15...Kc7.

16.Nxf7!? We are still following the path from Tal's old game. Instead of looking for a microscopical advantage in a symmetrical position, White unbalances the material situation in a radical way in order to maintain the initiative. Sacrificing two minor pieces for a rook was one of the main specialties of the wizard from Riga; the depth and correctness of his concept in this concrete position is demonstrated by the fact that almost three decades later the variation is still submitted to practical testing in top class events. I shall discuss a little bit later about the circumstances that allow a rook to be stronger than two minor pieces. 16...Bh5. With several pieces under attack, it is not easy to chose the best continuation. Vallejo's move is a novelty; previously, Black has preferred to develop his knight. 16...Ne7 17.Bxh7! Bg4 18.Nxh8 Rxh8 19.Rfe1 was better for White in Tal-Dorfman, Tbilisi 1978. White maintained the control of the central files, while the gradual advance of his king side majority was impossible to prevent.; 16...Nh6 seems to put more pressure on White, because it attacks both his minor pieces. After 17.Nxh6 Bh5 18.Bg4 Bxg4 19.Nxg4 Rd2 Black's activity was sufficient for a draw in Bacrot-Tregubov, Corsica 2005. 17.Nxd8! Aronian finds the best way of maintaining the initiative. By capturing the already developed rook, he forces the king to occupy an exposed square, allowing him to win time for the activation of forces. I suppose that it was not easy to refrain from 17.Nxh8 Nh6 18.Bxh7 which bears certain similarity with Tal's game. The main difference is that after 18...Rxh8 followed by ...Rd8 Black would manage to activate his rook along the second rank. 17...Kxd8.

Time has come to evaluate the consequences of White's exchange operation initiated with his 16th move. It would hardly be appropriate to call it "a sacrifice", since the material balance is more or less even now. On the other hand, we cannot consider the position to be just equal. According to concrete circumstances, the evaluation can easily vary within a wide range, between "+-" to "-+". Apart from the fact that he is still incompletely developed, Black has problems coordinating his minor pieces. The physical distance between his a6-knight and the rest of the pieces is the biggest allowed by chess geometry. The optimal situation for Black would be to have the minor pieces grouped in the centre, eventually supported by the king, but for the moment this sounds like pure utopia. Quite predictably, the white rooks will occupy the central files and invade the seventh rank. This will not only win some pawns, but also put the uncoordinated black army in danger. From the point of view of rapid development, Aronian's next move is easy to understand: White just needs the d1-square. 18.g4 Nh6. Relatively best. Instead of retreating with the bishop, Black develops his last minor piece. However, the position becomes now even more suggestive for the lack of coordination reigning in Black's camp: all his pieces are spread along the marginal files, without any possibility of comunication between wings. 19.Rad1+ Kc7 20.Rd7+ Kb6 21.Rxg7 Nxf5 22.gxf5. White has obtained a minimal material advantage, but his pawn structure is not too compact, which strongly requires the maintainance of the initiative. 22...Rf8. Obviously forced. If the f-pawn were allowed to advance to the seventh rank, Black would be in serious trouble. 23.Re1.

White's obvious intention to invade the seventh rank is not easy to meet. 23...Nc5? The fact that such a natural move is the decisive mistake speaks about the difficult character of the position. Black's desire to get his minor pieces coordinated as soon as possible is quite understandable, but the geometric approach of the knight and bishop will paradoxically result in just exposing them to the combined attack of the white rooks. It was essential to eliminate the f5-pawn at once with 23...Rxf5 in order to ensure stability to the bishop on g6 after 24.Ree7 (worse would be 24.Rxh7?! Rg5+ 25.Kf1 Bg6 26.Rh3 Nb4 with initiative.) 24...Bg6 . Play could become very sharp after 25.Rxb7+ Kc5 26.b3 Nb4 27.Rxa7 Kd4. At the cost of considerable material losses, Black would finally get all his pieces together, which would put the enemy king in a slightly uncomfortable situation. At the same time, White's activity along the seventh rank would become sterile already, while the pawns would be not threatening yet. Instead of 27...Kd4, winning back one pawn with 27... 27...Rg5+ 28.Kf1 Bd3+ 29.Ke1 Rxg7 30.Rxg7 Nxa2 31.Kd2 seems less adequate. White would still retain a minimal material advantage, while after the exchange of one pair of rooks his king would be out of any danger. 24.b4! Nd3 25.Ree7 Nxb4. This move is forced, in order to eliminate the danger of mate, but quite unexpectedly, the knight stands very badly on b4. 26.Rxb7+ Kc5.

27.Rg5!! Vallejo must have overlooked (or just underestimated) this simple move. All of a sudden, Black's pieces spread all over the board are helpless against the combined action of the white rooks and f-pawn. 27...Bf3. The bishp has to control the g4- and d5-squares at the same time. In case of 27...Be2 28.f6+ Kxc4 29.f7 the pawn would be unstoppable in view of the threat Rg8, which could only be parried by the placement of the bishop along the a2-g8 diagonal.; 27...Bf7 would just lose the knight to 28.f6+ Kxc4 29.Rg4+. 28.f6+ Kxc4 29.Rf5! Not allowing Black to consolidate and winning a whole piece. The fight is basically over. 29...Bd5. 29...Rg8+ would be strongly met by 30.Rg7. 30.Rf4+ Kc3 31.Rbxb4 Bxa2 32.Ra4 Bf7 33.Rxa7 c5 The counterplay based on the advance of this pawn is too slow to change anything. The white rooks continue to dominate the position. 34.f3 c4 35.Kf2 Kb3 36.Rb7+. 36.Rb7+ In order to avoid Rxf7 followed by Rxc4 with a winning rook ending, Black has to return with his king to c3 when after 36...Kc3 37.Ke3 followed by Re4-e7 white would win easily. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Bacrot,E (2717) - Svidler,P (2765) [D11]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (11), 07.03.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6. The 4...a6-Slav seems to be a common refuge for players whose expectations in the Grünfeld were betrayed by the results, or who simply got fed with it. Kasparov's change of repertoire during his last years of active play is the most notable example and now we see Svidler do the same, at least for this game. The wounds received in the Grünfeld need some time to heal... 5.Nc3 After his loss against Topalov, Bacrot seems to have come to the conclusion that this is the best square for the knight after all. 5...Bf5!? [For years, the main line was supposed to be 5...b5 6.b3 Bg4 but recently Black has been under some pressure after 6.c5 (instead of 6.b3).] 6.Bd3 [In the absence of the moves ...a6 and Nf3, the early development of the bishop to f5 is strongly met by the exchange on d5 followed by Qb3. The flexibility of the system based on .4..a6 is revealed by the fact that 6.cxd5 cxd5 7.Qb3 can be adequately met now by 7...Ra7 . The continuation chosen by Bacrot aims to open play in the centre as soon as possible, taking advantage of the fact that the advance of the a-pawn will be more or less useless in case of such a course of events.] 6...Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.0-0 Be7 9.e4 0-0 10.Be3 dxe4 11.Nxe4 Nxe4 12.Qxe4 Nd7 13.Rad1.

White has obtained a stable advantage of space. It will be quite difficult for Black to break the centre, but on the other hand the fact that he has managed to exchange two pairs of minor pieces makes his position entirely viable. 13...Qa5 14.a3 Rad8 15.Rfe1 Rfe8 16.h3 Nf8 17.Qc2 Ng6 18.Bd2 Qh5. This might look like a double edged decision. The queen certainly puts some pressure on the white king side, but it could get into some danger, too. However, the ulteriour course of the game proves that Svidler's evaluation of the situation was correct. 19.Bc3 Rd7 20.Qe4 Red8 21.Rd3 Bf6.

After having activated his position to the maximum, Black threatens to open the position with ...c5 already. This invites White to concrete action. 22.g4 Qh6 23.Bd2 Qxh3. Black's strong concentration of forces ensures the relative invulnerability of the queen. White has no simple way of getting an advantage. 24.Ng5. After 24.g5?! Bxd4 25.Nxd4 Qh5 followed by ...c5, Black recuperates the sacrificed material with a splendid position.; Even worse would be 24.Ne5? because of 24...Qxd3 followed by ...Rxd4, with more than sufficient compensation for the queen.; White's most consistent way to maintain the tension consists of 24.Ree3 , obtaining the complete coordination of forces and renweing the threats against the enemy queen. 24...Qxd3!? Remarkably, Svidler avoids the repetition of moves, which would have been inevitable after 24...Qh4 . In case of 25.Rh3? Black would have a choice between 25...Qxh3 followed by Rxd4 and the immediate 25...Rxd4 with advantage in both cases. I do not know whether his decision was dictated by his fear that after repeating the moves once, White would switch to Ree3 or simply wanted to play on a reatively unbalanced position. 25.Qxd3 Rxd4 26.Qh3 Rxd2 27.Qxh7+ Kf8 28.Nxe6+ fxe6 29.Qxg6 Bd4.

Black's activity ensures him reasonable compensation for the queen, but he can hardly claim an advantage. 30.Rf1 Ke7 31.Qg5+ Bf6 32.Qc5+ Kf7 33.g5 Bxb2 34.Rb1 R8d3 35.Qb6 Bd4 36.Qxb7+ Kg6 37.Rf1 Rg3+ 38.Kh2 Rxg5 39.Qxc6 Kf6 40.Kh3 Rh5+ 41.Kg4 Rg5+ 42.Kh3 Rh5+ 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Ivanchuk,V (2729) - Leko,P (2740) [E15]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (11), 07.03.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Nbd2. Against such an opening expert like Leko, Ivanchuk prefers to play a quiet variation, where the main confrontation of forces usually starts in the middlegame. 5...d5 After the development of the knight to d2, the position with hanging pawns usually offers Black comfortable play, because of the lack of pressure aginst the d5-square. The fact that Black will have to lose a tempo with his queen's bishop is of lesser relevance (a situation we are accostumed already with from the game Bacrot-Topalov). 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Ne5 Be7 8.Qa4+ c6 9.Bg2 Bb7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Rd1 Re8 12.Ndf3 h6 13.Bf4 Bf8 14.Rac1 c5 15.h4. A double edged decision. White intends to increase his influence over the king side, but if his activity will fail to bring in concrete results, the king side will remain iremediably weak. 15...Na6 16.Bh3 Bd6 17.e3.

White's concentration of minor pieces on the king side looks impressive, but has a rather sterile character in view of his impossibility of opening files for the rooks. 17...Qe7 18.Ng4 Ne4 19.Bxd6 Qxd6. After the exchange of the bishops Black gets almost perfect stability on dark squares. White's knights start feeling a bit uncomfortable. 20.Bg2 Nc7 21.Nge5 Qf6 22.Qc2 Ne6.

Having been carried way by his king side operations, White slightly neglected the situation on the other wing. Concretely, his queen has no comfortable square at its disposal. With his next move, Ivanchuk tries to solve this problem. 23.b3? Rac8? Leko missed a unexpected tactical resource, based on the lack of stability of the white knights: 23...cxd4 24.exd4 Nxd4!! 25.Rxd4 Rac8 26.Qb2 Rxc1+ 27.Qxc1 Rxe5 winning a pawn because of the vulnerability of the f2-square. He might have decided already to simplify the position in order to reach a draw, which is proven by his next move, too and is partly justified by his favourable tournament situation. 24.Qb2 cxd4?! There was no need to release the tension in the centre. Black could have consolidated his advantage of space with 24...a5. 25.exd4 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Rc8 27.Rxc8+ Bxc8 28.Ng4 Qe7 29.Ne3.

As a consequence of the simplifications prematurely provoked by Black, the knigth has obtained this excelent square. White's position is more pleasant already and Leko had to struggle for 35 more moves, although he never got into concrete danger of losing. 29...Bb7 30.Bh3 Nc7 31.Nf5 Qd8 32.Ne5 Nb5 33.a4 Nbd6 34.Qc2 a5 35.Ne3 Nf6 36.f3 Nde8 37.Kf2 Qc7 38.Bf5 Qxc2+ 39.Bxc2 Nd6 40.g4 g5 41.Nf5 Nxf5 42.Bxf5 gxh4 43.Nd3 Ba6 44.Nf4 b5 45.axb5 Bxb5 46.Ng2 a4 47.bxa4 Bxa4 48.Nxh4 Ne8 49.Ke3 Kf8 50.Kf4 Ke7 51.Bd3 Ng7 52.Ke5 Bc6 53.Bh7 f6+ 54.Kf4 h5 55.Nf5+ Nxf5 56.gxf5 Be8 57.Bg8 Bf7 58.Bxf7 Kxf7 59.Kg3 Kg7 60.Kh4 Kh6 61.f4 Kh7 62.Kxh5 Kg7 63.Kh4 Kh6 64.Kg4 Kg7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Commentary by GM Mihail Marin
Pictures by Jesús J. Boyero


Schedule and results

Round 8: Friday, March 3rd

Peter Leko 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
Peter Svidler
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
Etienne Bacrot
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Levon Aronian

Round 9: Saturday, March 4th

Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Etienne Bacrot 
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Peter Svidler 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo

Round 10: Sunday, March 5th

Peter Leko 
½-½
Peter Svidler
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
Etienne Bacrot
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
Levon Aronian
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
Teimour Radjabov
Free day: Monday, March 6th

Round 11: Tuesday, March 7th

Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
1-0
Francisco Vallejo
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Peter Svidler

Round 12: Wednesday, March 8th

Peter Leko 
  Etienne Bacrot
Peter Svidler 
  Levon Aronian
Francisco Vallejo 
  Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
GamesReport
Free day: Thursday, March 9th

Round 13: Friday, March 10th

Veselin Topalov 
  Peter Leko
Vassily Ivanchuk 
  Francisco Vallejo
Teimour Radjabov 
  Peter Svidler
Levon Aronian 
  Etienne Bacrot
GamesReport

Round 14: Saturday, March 11th

Peter Leko 
  Levon Aronian
Etienne Bacrot 
  Teimour Radjabov
Peter Svidler 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
  Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
End of Tournament

Links


Topics: Linares 2006
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register