Linares R5: Gashimov, Topalov win, Topalov leads

2/19/2010 – All three games were full of fight: Aronian came close to defeating Gelfand but drew; Vallejo even closer to defeating Gashimov but lost; and Alexander Grischuk had clear winning chances against Veselin Topalov but was outplayed by the Bulgarian in the end. We bring you extensive and deeply insightful commentary on this exciting struggle, provided by GM Anish Giri. Miss it at your own peril.

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February 2010
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Ciudad de Linares 2010

The traditional Linares tournament is taking place in Andalucia, Spain, from February 13 to 24, 2010. It has been shrunk down to six players – in 2009 there were eight, and in previous years there have been up to 14 players. The category this time is 21, with an average Elo of 2757 (and no player below 2700). Time controls as two hours for 40 moves, then one hour for 20, then 20 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30 second increment (starting from move 61).

Round five report

By GM Anish Giri

Round 5: Thursday, 18 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Alexander Grischuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Vugar Gashimov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand

All three games of round five were full of fight: Aronian managed to get a slight advantage out of the opening with a new idea 10.b3!?. It seemed as if Gelfand was on his way to equality after the strong looking 19...Bf6, getting opposite coloured bishops, but in fact with 23.f5! Aronian managed not only to considerably weaken the f7 pawn, but also to win a pawn on a5. However all this this turned out to be not enough to secure a full point, thanks to opposite coloured bishops.

Gashimov has won his first game. He played the Benoni again, and once again the Bf4 variation occured on board. This time he chose more solid 7...a6, and the players soon got a very complicated position. I felt Vallejo was better at some point, but with some energetic play e.g. 19...b5!, 21...Rb4! Gashimov made it tricky enough to fool his opponent. Vallejo missed several opportunities to keep the game level, and in the arising endgame the connected a and b-pawns were unstoppable.


The start of Vallejo vs Gashimov, with Linares dignitaries standing by

Finally we have a clear leader in Linares, and it is no one other than the Elo favourite Veselin Topalov, who today won one of the most exciting games in the tournament so far.

Topalov,V (2805) - Grischuk,A (2736) [B90]
XXVII SuperGM Linares ESP (5), 18.02.2010 [Giri,Anish]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6. Grischuk goes for Najdorf again! 6.Be3 Ng4. A move that was popularized by Kasparov and now is being ocassionally employed by Magnus Carlsen (get the link?). 7.Bc1. Not offering a draw, but just showing that Veselin is not ready...to show what he has against the line. 7...Nf6 8.h3 Nc6!? A rare reply, which however was already employed by Grischuk a couple of times before. 9.g4 Qb6 10.Nde2. The new idea. White's knight is usually quite good on e2 in the g3 systems (h3, g4 is very similar to that line). 10...e6 11.Bg2 Be7








12.b3. A creative move, which is pretty unusual for the Najdorf. White develops his bishop on a3, but I have some doubts if that's good. 12.Be3 Seems more logical. However after Black goes 12...Qc7 and it is not clear whether the knight on e2 is better than on b3. Position is very complex of course. (12...Qxb2? loses to 13.a3!) 12...h6. Preparing the g5 idea that secures the e5 square for the knight and kills bishop on g2 forever (as long as you are not playing against Topalov, as you will see). 13.Qd2!? Strange, very strange, but well, it is just a follow-up to the strange 12.b3. 13...g5 14.Ba3 Ne5








15.0-0-0!? 15.Rd1 would win a pawn, but after for example 15...h5 16.f3 Nfd7 17.Bxd6 Bxd6 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Ke7 20.Rd1 b5 Black get's compensation, thanks to his strong knight on e5 and White's stupid bishop. 15...Qxf2 16.Bxd6 Bxd6 17.Qxd6 Nfd7








Now if White is not able to create some concrete threats Black will be better, thanks to his strong knight on e5 and the dead guy on g2. 18.Nd4! A very strong move, but Grischuk has seen it too... The tricky looking 18.Rhf1 makes little sense, since Black can simply play 18...Qc5 (and even if 18...Qxg2 19.Nd4 Qg3! White's compensation after let's say Nxe6 or first Kb1 is probably only enough for draw.) 18...Qf6! 18...Qxg2? is losing too 19.Nxe6! fxe6 20.Qxe6+ Kd8 21.Qxe5 and you don't even have to be Topalov to mate the black king here. 19.Qa3!? A move that ordinary chess player would make, 19.Na4 cannot so bad. The idea is to answer 19...Qe7 with 20.Qc7! In this case however, then knight on a4 would be a bit oddly placed.; 19.Rhf1 however would be too simple 19...Qe7 20.Qc7 Qc5! and in ending, it is White who will have trouble. 19...Qe7








20.Qb2!! Genius idea. White has finally fullfiled the purpose of his extravagant b3 in the opening and is hoping that the queen will make a home run to g7 one day. 20...0-0 21.Nf5!? Topalov has probably had enough of his bishop on g2 and now he wants to give it a new life by giving up his knight. I am not sure some consevative methods could work in this position, although move like 21.Nce2!? with the idea Ng3-f5 made sense. However White is taking some strategic risk with this plan, since if there is no mate on g7, he will be lost. 21...exf5 22.Nd5 Qc5 23.exf5








Here, after looking at the position closely, I finally realized that while I was thinking about mate on g7, Topalov just gave a piece for pawn, and everything has changed. Now the g2 bishop is a killer, and White just wants to slowly squeeze Black with h4, Kb1, etc. 23...a5! A strong, human move that made me realize that it was not a zugzwang for Black and that it would not be an easy win for Topalov. Black wants to go Ra6 and maybe one day disturb White with a4. 24.h4 gxh4 25.Rxh4. Computer move. 25.Kb1! was stronger. It was, however, too difficult for the human Topalov (yes, even though he has 2800 he is still a human!) to see why it is more precise than the immediate Rxh4. 25...Ra6 26.Qc1! is the point ,and White just keeps Rxh4 for later. Black would have hard times here (especially with Grischuk's twenty minutes), although the computer says it's equal. 25...Ra6 26.Kb1. But now Black has... 26...Qf2! Oops, in fact it looks like Black can also threat something in this game... 27.Ne7+








27...Kg7. 27...Kh7! Was just winning according to the computer. The point is that after 28.Rh2 Qg3 29.Rdh1 fails to 29...Nxg4 when the king is not on g7! Well, but to the human eye it is not obvious why Kh7 is better than Kg7. 28.Rh2 f6? 28...Qg3 here would make no sense since after 29.Rdh1 the knight on e5 is pinned.; 28...Re8 would be better 29.Nd5 Rf6!? and Black is holding on the dark squares, although White still has some compensation after let's say Qc1!?. 29.g5. 29.Qc1! gave White an advantage. I have no clue what Topalov missed here. Maybe he overlooked some idea like 32.Bh3!? 29...Nxg4 30.Nxc8 Nc5 31.Rd2 Qxf5 32.Bh3! The whole point! 32...Qxc8 33.Bxg4 and White is better, thanks to his strong bishop and Black's weak king. 29...fxg5 30.Nxc8 Raf6 31.Ne7








Now Black is winning again, but Grischuk was already short of time.. 31...R8f7. The logical move was also the good one: 31...Qg3! 32.Rdh1 Ng4 with a winning advantage. 32.Nd5 Nf3. Again a mistake, but the position was too complicated for a time trouble. 32...Ng4 was still better for Black.] 33.Bxf3! Qxh2 34.Nxf6 [34.Qd4! with the idea Re1 would be stronger. 34...Nxf6 35.a4 Qf4 36.Bd5 Rd7 37.Re1 Qxf5 38.Bc4. Black is better, but White has some threats, and there are still two moves before the time control. 38...Qf2. 38...Qf4 keeping an eye on e5 was better. Black would then have a clear advantage (a pawn is a pawn). 39.Qe5 Qd4








40.Qf5! Now Black has to defend against Bd3. 40...Qg4 41.Qxa5. The time control has passed, and White is slightly better thanks to his bishop against Black's knight. As we learnt in primary school: if there are pawns are on both flanks, than the bishop is better. 41...Rd1+ 42.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 43.Kb2








43...Qd6. From here on, Grischuk slowly gets outplayed. 43...Qd4+ was not only better looking, but probably also better. 44.Ka2 g4 45.Qc7+ Qd7 46.Qe5 Qe8 and Black should survive. 0.00 in all lines is what my engine says. Practically, I think White would still be better. 44.Qa7 Qe5+ 45.Ka2 Qe4 46.Bd3 Qc6 47.a5 Nd5 48.Qd4+ Nf6








49.Qe5! Taking control all over the board and stopping the black pawns from advancing. 49...Kf8. 49...Kf7 is said to be better by my chess engine, but I don't feel the big difference. 50.c4. 50.Kb2 slowly improving was more unpleasant. Now Black is not only lacking a move, but Bb5 is a threat. 50...g4 51.Bf5 Kf7








52.Qb8! Now Bc8 is a threat. 52.Bxg4 is nice, but only leads to a draw after 52...Nxg4 53.Qh5+ Qg6 54.Qd5+ Ke7 55.Qxb7+ Kd8 and someone will give perpetual. 52...Ne8. 52...h5 53.Bc8 and even though my engine gives 0.00 (as it almost always gives) it seems dead lost for Black to me. But okay, I am just a human, as Grischuk is. 53.Qf4! Winning g4. 53...Qc5. 53...Nf6 was his last chance: 54.Qxh6 Qa6 and even though it must be lost too, Black's g4 pawn is clearly more dangerous than the one back there on h6. 54.Bxg4+. The rest was easy. 54...Nf6 55.Qf5 Qd4 56.Bf3 Qf2+ 57.Ka3 Kg7 58.Ka4 b6 59.axb6 Qxb6 60.c5 Qa7+ 61.Kb5








White is not only a pawn up, but his bishop is clearly superior. 61...Qb8+ 62.Kc4 Qg8+ 63.Kc3 Qe8 64.b4 Qe1+ 65.Kc4 Qf1+ 66.Kb3 Qb5 67.Bd1 Qc6 68.Bc2 Kf7 69.Bd3








A very crazy game, thanks to Topalov's Nf5!?. It was, however, Grischuk, who was winning a couple of times before the control. But his time trouble didn't allow him to find some precise moves, and after the time control Topalov managed to outplay Grischuk in a slightly better and very tricky ending! 1-0. [Click to replay]


Our GM commentator Anish Giri [photo Frits Agterdenbos]

Current standings

Schedule and results

Round 1: Saturday, 13 February 2010

Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Alexander Grischuk
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov

Round 2: Sunday, 14 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Vugar Gashimov
Alexander Grischuk 
1-0
 Boris Gelfand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian

Round 3: Monday, 15 February 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
Alexander Grischuk

Round 4: Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Boris Gelfand 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Alexander Grischuk 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo

Round 5: Thursday, 18 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Alexander Grischuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Vugar Gashimov
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Boris Gelfand

Round 6: Friday, 19 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Francisco Vallejo
Alexander Grischuk 
   Levon Aronian
Vugar Gashimov 
   Boris Gelfand
Games - Report

Round 7: Saturday , 20 February 2010

Vugar Gashimov 
   Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand 
   Alexander Grischuk
Levon Aronian 
   Francisco Vallejo
Games - Report

Round 8: Sunday, 21 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Levon Aronian
Francisco Vallejo 
   Boris Gelfand
Alexander Grischuk 
   Vugar Gashimov
Games - Report

Round 9: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Alexander Grischuk 
   Veselin Topalov
Vugar Gashimov 
   Francisco Vallejo
Boris Gelfand 
   Levon Aronian
Games - Report

Round 10: Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Veselin Topalov 
   Boris Gelfand
Levon Aronian 
   Vugar Gashimov
Francisco Vallejo 
   Alexander Grischuk
Games - Report

Live commentary on Playchess

Naturally the games of the Linares tournament are being broadcast live on Playchess. In addition to the moves (and live chat with thousands of other visitors) we also have special audio commentary by two well-known grandmasters:


Playchess (and ChessBase Magazine) commentator GM Daniel King
who is famous for his Power Play DVDs


Yasser Seirawan, who has an interesting Best Games DVD

Schedule of commentators

13th Feb  

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

14th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

15th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan  

5:00 p.m.

16th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

17th Feb Free day  

18th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

19th Feb  

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

20th Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

21st Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan

5:00 p.m.

22nd Feb Free day  

23rd Feb

GM Yasser Seirawan  

5:00 p.m.

24th Feb

GM Daniel King

6:00 p.m.

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


Topics Linares 2010
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