Linares R9: Grischuk stops Topalov, joins him in lead

2/23/2010 – Alexander Grischuk won his second game in a row, the third in this tournament. He beat the leader Veselin Topalov, avenging a loss to him in the first half. Topalov and Grischuk go into the final round tied for first. Topalov has white against Gelfand, Grischuk black against Vallejo. It's going to be an exciting finish – watch it on Playchess with GM Danny King at the mike. Round nine report.

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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 nine report

Round 9: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

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


Round nine in Linares, with a dozen spectators in the picture

The playing venue may be as good as empty, but chess fans all over the world watching on the Internet were treated to an absolutely enthralling round today, setting up a an almost Hollywood climax for tomorrow.

Francisco Vallejo once again took the less-trodden path, playing a decidedly odd-looking 9...c4 in the Advanced Variation of the Caro-Kann against Gashimov. Though both players were clearly willing to play fighting chess, events seemed to conspire against them, as an initial flurry of tactical slash-and-parry left them with opposite-colored bishops and little room to force the issue. After playing it out a bit more, they resigned themselves to the draw on move 31. [Click to replay]


Top Spanish GM Francisco ("Paco") Vallejo Pons

Both Gelfand and Aronian felt each other out a bit in a Slav, in which Gelfand produced a novelty on move 13, but the game never really took off, and while lasting for 40 moves, truth be told, even the pawns barely budged from move ten onward. [Click to replay]


Israeli GM Boris Gelfand


When taking his place at the board today, Alexander Grischuk must have felt somewhat like being told to go climb Mount Everest with an ice-pick and a few raggedy ropes. It isn’t that Topalov is in any way unbeatable, but consider the situation: there are two rounds left, his opponent is temporarily the highest rated player on the planet, and is leading by a full point.


Alexander Grischuk facing a tough challenge in round nine

Nevertheless, he also had two significant factors in favor of an upset. The first is simply that neither he, nor his opponent, are known for quiet positional chess. The second is related to the preceding day. In round eight Grischuk had scored a clean, comfortable win, in which he had spent a few hours at the board essentialy rolling the win home. This had to have done a lot of good for his morale, even if he realistically knew his chances today were slim.


The leader by a full point before this round: Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov

Topalov on the other hand had also enjoyed a huge position against Aronian the day before, however just when he had positioned himself for the kill, he had a tragic moment of chess blindness and completely missed it. Shaking this kind of situation off can be hard on even the most battle-hardened competitor, and one never knows whether aftershocks will be felt after.


Aspirations for victory: Alexander Grischuk at the start of game nine in Linares

The game started with a Queen’s Indian in which the official novelty took place with 13.0-0, though the last Super-GM reference ended at move nine. A sharp, complex middlegame ensued in which Topalov gave up two pieces for the rook, no doubt hoping to use his connected central pawns, combined with the open files for his rooks, to swing the balance in his favor. While forcing the Russian to eat up time on the clock, actually getting him to blunder away his edge proved to be a very tall order, and try he did.

Grischuk,A (2736) - Topalov,V (2805) [E15]
XXVII SuperGM Linares ESP (9), 23.02.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Rc1 Ba3 9.Rc2 Nc6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Bg2 d5 13.0-0. The new move. 13...dxc4 14.bxc4 Rad8 15.Rd2 Bb4 16.Qb3 Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Na5








18.c5 Nc4 19.Rc2 bxc5 20.Qb3 cxd4 21.Rxc4 Rb8 22.Qc2 Bxc4 23.Qxc4 e5








Topalov is pinning his hopes on the connected pawns in the middle. 24.Qxc7 Rfe8 25.Qxa7 Rb2 26.Re1 g6 27.a4 Rd8 28.Qa5 e4 29.Nd2 e3 30.fxe3








Grischuk has less than ten minutes for ten moves, and Topalov is trying to blitz him. 30...d3?! Objectively 30...dxe3 is probably the "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" move here as all the top engines will tell you. However in a practical sense, Topalov's 30...d3 has to be viewed as superior, as it offers him his best chances for a swindle. Clearing the seventh for both rooks opens a whole new can of worms for Grischuk to deal with, and increases the chances for a reversal. The knot of pieces around his king suggested White has his work cut out for him. 31.Ne4 Qe7 32.exd3 Rxd3 33.Qa8+ Kg7








34.Qc6?! GM Yasser Seirawan discussed this position vigorously on the server and, with the help of the kibitzers, came up with 34.Bf1! which appears to be better than the text move, e.g. (to mention just one line) 34...Rd8 35.Qc6 threat 36.Qc3+ 35...Qe5 36.a5! Qxa5 37.Qf6+ Kg8 38.Nd6 Rxd6 39.Qxb2 Qxe1 40.Qb8+ Kg7 41.Qxd6 Qxe3+ 42.Kg2 Qe4+ 43.Kf2 Qf5+ 44.Kg1 and White should be able to win. 34...f5 35.Nf2 Rdd2 36.Qc3+ Kh7 37.Rf1 Rbc2 38.Qb3 Rb2 39.Qc3 Rbc2 40.Qb3 Rb2








The repetitions make it look like Grischuk had resigned himself to a draw, but he was only doing it to reach the time control safely. 41.Qc4 h5. 41...Qxe3 42.Qf7+ Kh8 43.Qf8+ Kh7 44.Bd5 is winning for White. 42.Qf4 Re2 43.Bf3 Rec2 44.Nd3 Ra2 45.Nb4 Rxa4 46.Nxc2 Rxf4 47.gxf4








Grischuk has held his nerve, made it to the time control with his winning edge still intact and, with everyone watching the game with "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" and "Ahs", simplified the position unexpectedly into one where he held no less than three pieces for Topalov's queen. Many felt that this might make the win more complicated, but Grischuk showed that he knew exactly how he was going to bring home the bacon. After 47...Kh6 48.Rb1 Qe6 49.Re1 Qa2 50.Nd4 h4 51.Be2!








it was clear there would be no miracle perpetual checks, or other surprises, and left to his own devices, White would simply pick off the h-pawn with his king in utter safety. Five moves later, Topalov threw in the towel, setting up a huge showdown for the last round. 51...g5 52.fxg5+ Kxg5 53.Rf1 Kg6 54.Rxf5 Qb1+ 55.Rf1 Qe4 56.Kf2 1-0. [Click to replay]

Current standings

Simultaneous display


On the free day (Monday) Veselin Topalov gave a simul in the Hotel Anibal


The simultaneous master at work – there are many more pictures on our Spanish page

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

Round 7: Saturday , 20 February 2010

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

Round 8: Sunday, 21 February 2010

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

Round 9: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

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

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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