Miskolc: Leko narrowly fails to equalise

by ChessBase
6/1/2008 – Two exciting draws in the Rapid Chess match in Hungary. Once again local hero Peter Leko had the audience in the National Theatre trembling with anticipation of a white-piece win over Norway's Magnus Carlsen. But once again victory narrowly eluded him, to the anguish of the public. Commentary by GM Zoltán Gyimesi and a new form of pictorial visualisation of the games. Take a look.

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Peter Leko vs Magnus Carlsen
in Miskolc, Hungary

The year’s most prestigious clash in Hungary is taking place in Miskolc, Hungary. Top Hungarian GM, Péter Lékó is playing eight rapid chess games against challenger, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

The event is taking place from May 28th to June 1st, with the games starting at 16:30h and 18:00h CEST (4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time, which is Central European Summer Time = GMT +2). The arbiter is WGM Zsuzsa Veröci, Head of Communication of the Hungarian Chess Federation.

The games can be watched live on the official site and on Playchess.com. At the end of each day of play there is a short press conference of 10-15 minutes with both players.

Day three report

By GM Zoltán Gyimesi

Day three: Peter Leko's BMW limousine approaches the National Theatre

Peter Leko, wife Sofi and father-in-law-trainer Arshak Petrosian stride into the hall

That's Magnus Carlsen's shuttle to the playing venue

You really have to do this? Magnus and Henrik Carlsen stalked by paparazzi

In the following one paparazzo is providing images of the games as they progressed, with the pictures inserted in their proper places in the notation. At the end of each game there is a link to our JavaScript replay board, where the pictures also appear, and you can follow the games by clicking on the moves. Some of the pictures have motion blur, which is to be expected when you have to shoot with available light, subdued in the theatre, and from a great distance. But we hope you enjoy it.

Leko,P (2741) - Carlsen,M (2765) [B76]
Rapid Match Miskolc HUN (5), 31.05.2008

After the free day they are back again. Peter urgently needs a win to stay in the match. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6. Dragon again - but it is no surprise anymore. 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0. The improvement?! In the first game Leko chose 9.Bc4. By the way Carlsen himself prefers it with white, too. 9...d5 The most principled move. 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5

12...cxd5. Nxd5 is more common. 13.Bg5 Be6 14.Bc4 Qc7 15.Bxf6 dxc4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5

18...Rfe8 19.Qc3 Kg8


So far nothing new, but Magnus was definitely surprised. As he admitted after the game, he did not know about this move, although it was analysed in Informator 77 - quite a long time ago! 20...Qe7. 20...Qxa5 21.Rxa5 e4 22.f4 c3 23.b4! and White will soon round up one of those weak pawns (c3, a7 or e4). 21.Re1


This is the novelty, but already in a bad position. In Parligras-Milu, Romania 1999 Black gave a check, but he was worse anyway. 22.Rdxe5

22...Rxe5 23.Qxe5 Rd8 24.h3 c3 25.Qxc3 Qg5+

26.f4! Qxg2 27.b3

White is a healthy pawn up and also has a big advantage on the clock. So finally Peter is going to equalize the match, isn't he? 27...Qf2 28.Re4 Qg2 29.Rc4 Qd5 30.Kb2. Rc8 or Qf6 were both very strong alternatives, but there is nothing wrong with the text move. 30...Qf5 31.a4 h5 32.Qe3 a6 33.Rc5! Qf6+

34.Qe5 Kg7

Step by step White has improved his position and now has to choose between numerous winning continuations. 35.Qxf6+. Kc3 or Rc6 were both better tries. 35...Kxf6 36.Rc4?! Kc3 made more sense or Rc6+ also came into mind. 36...Kf5 37.b4 f6 38.Kc3 g5 39.fxg5 fxg5

Black will have his own passed pawn, and with that some chances to survive. Meanwhile Peter has used most of his remaining time, so they are entering the never ending time-trouble phase. 40.Rc7

40...Rg8 41.Rh7! It is time to find the best move, and Peter does! 41...h4 42.b5. Rf7+! is the logical follow up. 42...axb5 43.axb5 Kf4! 44.Rd7

44...g4! 45.hxg4 h3 46.Rh7

In the rook endgame Magnus has played excellently and created his own chance to survive from a lost position. But now he makes a mistake. Maybe the only one in the endgame! 46...Kxg4? 46...Kg3! Would have hold the draw! For example 47.Kb4 Rxg4+ 48.Kc5 Rh4 49.Rxh4 Kxh4 50.b6 h2 51.b7 h1Q 52.b8Q Qg1+ 53.Kc4 Qf1+ 54.Kc3 Qa1+ 55.Qb2 Qe1+ 56.Kb3 Qe6+ 57.c4 Qb6+ was a theoretical draw, but not an easy one to find, especially with just ten seconds per move. 47.Kb4. White is winning again. 47...Kg3

48.c4. Why not b6? That pawn is more dangerous! 48.b6! h2 49.c4+–. 48...Rg6! Very clever! He does not let b6 come again! 49.Ka5 Rg5 50.Kb4. A repetition just to win some time. But it was better to move forward! 50.Kb6! Rg6+ 51.Kc7 Rg5 52.Kc6 Rg6+ 53.Kd7+– winning easily. 50...Rg6

p>With just seconds left Peter decided to finish the game in style... 51.Rxh3+?? ...and gave up his rook! BUT WHY? After the game he immediately realised, that Black is in a kind of zugzwang, so a little waiting move with the rook would have won, because then he can take on h2! [51.Rh8! h2 52.Rxh2! Kxh2 53.c5 Rg4+ 54.Kc3! Rg1 55.c6 Rc1+ 56.Kd4 Kg3 57.Kd5 Kf4 58.Kd6 Rd1+ 59.Kc7 Ke5 60.b6 Rc1 61.b7 Kd5 62.b8Q Rxc6+ 63.Kd7 and mate in 28 (if computers are playing against each other)] 51...Kxh3. Incredibly it is a draw, but Black still needs to find the only moves. And Magnus is just perfect, he did not falter again! 52.c5

52...Rg4+! The only saving move! 53.Ka5

Now 53.Kc3 does not work, because the black king is near enough! 53...Rg5 54.Kd4 Rg4+ 55.Kd5 Rb4! 56.Kc6 Kg4 57.b6 Kf5 58.b7 Ke6=. 53...Rc4! And again! 54.Kb6 Kg4 55.Kc6 Kf5 56.Kd5 Rc1 57.b6 Rd1+ 58.Kc6 Ke6 59.b7 Rb1 60.Kc7 Kd5 61.c6 Rb2 62.Kd7 Rb6 63.c7 Rxb7 64.Kd8 Rxc7.

1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

This game was a good example for perfect opening preparation, perfect middlegame play and perfect endgame technique. But not from the same player...

Carlsen,M (2765) - Leko,P (2741) [E00]
Rapid Match Miskolc HUN (6), 31.05.2008

1.d4. For the first time we see something different to 1.e4! 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3. A Catalan?! Last year Kramnik was in Miskolc to play against Peter, but they did not have this opening! 3...c5! Clever decision! Magnus has no practice in this position (yet)! 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Nc3. In Peter's only previous game of this position Gelfand protected the pawn with Nd2, back in 2000, and they drew. 6...a6 7.Bg2. Magnus is not afraid to sacrifice (or lose) a pawn for the fourth time (!) against Peter in this match! 7...Qxc4 8.0-0! Nc6 9.Nb3 d5 10.Bf4 Be7 11.Rc1 Qb4 12.e4

12...Nxe4! Here is the novelty and the improvement! Last year Alekseev took with the pawn against Gelfand and drew rather quickly (but White could have played better). 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.a3 Qb5 15.Bxe4 0-0 16.Qc2 h6 17.Rfd1

Look at the position! How nicely White has developed all his pieces. But a pawn is a pawn, Black is not worse! 17...e5 18.Be3 Be6. Finally his "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" bishop came into play. 19.Nc5 Bxc5 20.Qxc5 Rfd8! It would be too greedy to take the second pawn. After 20...Qxb2 21.Rb1 Qe2 22.Rd2 Qh5 23.Rxb7 White has enough compensation with his pair of bishops. 21.Qxb5 axb5 22.Bb6 Rxd1+ 23.Rxd1

Is this really the same game? What happened with White's attractive pieces? And he is still a pawn down. But okay, since there is a good chance to have opposite coloured bishop endgame, he can still hold the draw.

23...Ra4 24.Bc2 Ra6 25.Bc5 Ra8! It was a typical manoeuvre by Peter, going back and forth with the same piece, forcing his opponent to make a concession. 26.Be4.

The difference is that the bishop is no longer on b6, so after... 26...f5 27.Bxc6 bxc6 ... he cannot exchange rooks at once with Rd8! But unfortunately this is still not enough to outplay the big endgame expert Magnus. 28.Rd6


29.Rd7. White has enough counterplay on the dark squares. 29...Bf3 30.Kf1 Ra4

31.Bb4 c5!

It looks as though Black is getting his rook closer... 32.b3! ...but no, he has to go back. Peter did it, and offered draw, which was naturally accepted.

32...Ra6. Instead he could try 32...cxb4 33.bxa4 b3 but after 34.Rd2 bxa4 35.Rd6 Kf7 36.Rb6 he might risk losing. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

All photos by Frederic Friedel in Miskolc

Current standing

Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen


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