Morelia-Linares Super-GM starts today

2/15/2008 – For the third time this double-round robin tournament, split between Mexico and Spain, is being held, and for the third time we are attending. After a 28-hour trip we have arrived in Morelia, where all eight players are already gathered. The first round is on Friday, with live coverage on the official site and on Playchess.com. We bring you a first pictorial report.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The Morelia-Linares tournament is taking place from February 15th to 23rd February in Morelia, Mexico, and from 28th February to 7th March in Linares, Spain. The participants are:

Name born nat. Elo  w. rank
Viswanathan Anand 1969 India 2801
1
Vassily Ivanchuk 1969 Ukraine 2787
2
Veselin Topalov 1975 Bulgaria 2769
4
Peter Leko 1979 Hungary 2755
5
Teymour Radjabov 1987 Azerbaijan 2742
8
Levon Aronian 1982 Armenia 2741
9
Alexei Shirov 1972 Spain 2739
10
Magnus Carlsen 1990 Norway 2714
17

Average rating = 2756 – Category 21

Super-Tournament in Morelia

Report by Frederic Friedel

We apologise for the delay in posting this report – due to difficulties with the Internet connect. Our current hotel has disabled FTP (and with it the upload of pictures) as well as communications with a secure server (and so our ability to upload reports). They have even disabled cellphones in the rooms. The organisers are most helpful and have promised that we will be moved to a different hotel with unrestricted Internet connection.

For the third time in three years we have travelled to Morelia for the Super-GM that is the first half of the Morelia-Linares tournament. Getting there, as we have described in our previous reports, is an adventure in itself. In our case it involves leaving the house at 5 a.m. in Hamburg, catching a plane to Madrid (via Paris), meeting our colleagues at the airport there, taking the 12-hour packed Boing 777-200 Aeromexico flight to Mexico City and then proceeding by bus to Morelia. Door-to-door travel time: 28 hours.


Arrival at Mexico City airport, after 20 hours in the air (Hamburg-Paris-Madrid-Mexico)


A bevvy of journalists and chess organisers from Spain gather


A mini bus is there to take us on a midnight trip directly to Morelia


Cold drinks, coffee and doritos at a 24-hour Oxxo truck stop on the way


Vendors and open air restaurants in the middle of the night


Greeting us as we enter Morelia at 2 a.m.: the beautifully lit baroque cathedral


Next morning: the familiar landmark in full Mexican sunshine


On the street a political demonstration, same as last year...


... with the same speaker making, we could swear, the same speech.

Press conference


Always such a pleasure: Vishy and Aruna Anand in Morelia


This time clean shaven: the always cheerful and funny Levon Aronian


Also a pleasure: Lékó Péter and wife Sofi before the press conference


The press conference begins, with local TV and news journalists, plus a few internationals


Teimour Radjabov answering a puzzling translated question


Magnus Carlsen playing in Morelia for the second time


Vassily Ivanchuk, who is doing his third Morelia tournament


You don't need to translate, I'll answer in Spanish, says the multilingual GM


Veselin Topalov is fluent – he lives in Spain


Him too: Alexei Shirov in Morelia (didn't we just meet him in Hamburg?)


Chief organiser: the Mayor of Linares, Spain, Juan Fernandez


Another friend standing with the pack of journalist: Magnus' father Henrik Carlsen


We look forward to some interesting discussions with Henrik

Opening ceremony


Players and guests gather for the opening ceremony...


... and slowly fill the theatre where, from tomorrow onwards, the games will be played


Spot Anand, Topalov, Shirov, Leko, Aronian and Ivanchuk in the front row. Behind them Topalov's second Ivan Cheparinov, Shirov's second Manolo Perez and Peter Leko's wife Sofi


Meanwhile Aruna Anand studies the tournament brochure...


...and gives us a grin behind tournament arbiters Faik Gasanov and Juan Vargas


Sponsors, organisers and dignitaries on the stage, preparing for the drawing of colours


Anand starts it off by selecting a king – the number attached to its base is the 8


Alexei Shirov draws the 1 – this means he plays Anand with white in the first round

Schedule and results

Round 1: Friday, February 15th

Alexei Shirov 
   Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
 Peter Leko 
   Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
   Levon Aronian
GamesReport

Round 2: Saturday, February 16th

Vishy Anand 
   Levon Aronian
Teimour Radjabov 
   Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Peter Leko
Alexei Shirov 
   Magnus Carlsen
GamesReport

Round 3: Sunday, February 17th

Magnus Carlsen 
   Vishy Anand
Peter Leko 
   Alexei Shirov
Veselin Topalov 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
   Teimour Radjabov
GamesReport
Monday, February 18th
Free day

Round 4: Tuesday, February 19th

Vishy Anand 
   Teimour Radjabov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Levon Aronian
Alexei Shirov 
   Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen 
   Peter Leko
GamesReport

Round 5: Wednesday, February 20th

Peter Leko 
   Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
   Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian 
   Alexei Shirov
Teimour Radjabov 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
GamesReport
Thursday, February 21st
Free day

Round 6: Friday, February 22nd

Veselin Topalov 
   Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
   Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
   Magnus Carlsen
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Alexei Shirov
GamesReport

Round 7: Saturday, February 23rd

Vishy Anand 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Alexei Shirov 
   Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
   Levon Aronian
Peter Leko 
   Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
Sunday, February 25th
Transfer to Linares, Spain

Links


Interview with Vishy Anand

Q: On February 14th you begin the defense of your Linares-Morelia title. Who is the favorite for you?

A: There are eight players of the highest level but if I have to pick someone I'd say Levon Aronian, who just won in Wijk aan Zee. I prefer to take it round by round. There's no dominant player, like when (Garry) Kasparov was around. Now you have to fight tournament by tournament.

Q: But the Elo list marks you as the favorite.

A: When you sit down to play the differences between one player and another don't appear on the Elo list. Just look at Aronian and Carlsen, who aren't in the top eight on the rating list but nevertheless just won Wijk aan Zee.

Q: What do you think of the youngster Carlsen? At 17 does he already have the qualities to be world champion?

A: Magnus has developed very quickly. He will be a great champion, without a doubt. He plays with great maturity, not like a lad of 17. He has a huge talent, but I'd still say Aronian is the favorite, although just by a bit.

Q: It seems like Mexico gives you good vibes.

A: Yes indeed. I've won all three tournaments I've played in this country and I feel very comfortable here. I like everything: the people, the climate, the food, and, above all, the chess fans, who treat me very well.

Q: How do you prepare for tournaments?

A: Along with theoretical study, which I usually do in the afternoons, I spend two hours in the gym in the morning. One day I do resistance exercises and the next day strength exercises. Sometimes I ride a bicycle. As a fan I like soccer – I'm a Real Madrid supporter – car racing, and tennis.

Q: Do you consider yourself a "child" of the historic Fischer-Spassky encounter in Reykjavik in 1972?

A: I was three years old then and I wasn't precocious enough to follow it, but later, once my mother (Susila Viswanathan) taught me to play when I was six, I studied those games and Fischer the man as well. I consider him a genius who confronted a gigantic country like the Soviet Union on his own.

Q: Do you consider him the greatest ever?

A: He was a genius, and his game, along with having great beauty, was very simple to understand; he did everything easily. He and Kasparov were the greatest in history, but I judge Kasparov as a little ahead. Fischer was a phenomenon from 1970 to 1972 while Kasparov was on top for many years.

Q: You became famous for the speed of your play. Have you lost speed over the years?

A: I'm still winning rapid tournaments and I have better results than Kasparov himself in rapid games. I think I've kept my speed. Even when I spend more time thinking I don't find better moves.

Q: In October you'll have to defend the world championship crown against Kramnik in Bonn, in twelve games. Kramnik gives the impression that he's not at his best these days.

A: But in October he'll be a powerful rival because he's very strong in matches. He knows how to prepare very well to come up with ideas at home. I'll also be studying in order to surprise him with a few novelties.

Q: Is it necessary to be a little crazy to become a great chess champion?

A: No. That's a myth. What happens is that the media focuses a lot on the exceptions, but the great majority of players are normal people.

Q: Fischer, Korchnoi, and others used to always bring up scandals about trifles like the chair, the lights, and the nearness of the audience. Do you have any such manias when you sit down at the board?

A: I don't think so. If anything, I might use the same pen that I used when I won a great victory, or wear a special shirt that Aruna puts out for me, but I couldn't care less about the chairs, the table, the board, and the pieces. I have a great ability to concentrate and nothing disturbs me.

Original in RPP Noticias – Translated by Mig Greengard in Daily Dirt


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