Morelia R1: Svidler beats Topalov

2/19/2006 – The Ciudad de Linares-Morelia tournament began with high drama, with Peter Svidler defeating the reigning world champion Veselin Topalov's Berlin Defence. Peter Leko beat Francisco Vallejo with the black pieces and Levon Aronian won against Teimour Radjabov with white. Full report with games, pictures and commentary.

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Round one report

Round 1: Saturday, February 18th

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

In most of the games the first time control brought wild scrambles, so mistakes after move 30 have to be given some special allowance.


The start of the top board game one, Veselin Topalov vs Peter Svidler

Peter Svidler put a big roadblock in the way of Veselin Topalov winning a third consecutive super-tournament. He played sacrificially to break things open against Topalov's Berlin Defense and soon the FIDE world champion was in desperate shape.


Position after 31.Kxg3

Svidler's ingenious play left Black with nothing better than to give back the material with positional interest with 31...Be6. Passive defense doesn't work because White has a cunning plan to break through. After, say, 31...a4, White has the unstoppable plan of playing his bishop to c7-a5-b4 and infiltrating on e7. The game continued 32.h4 (there's no hurry) 32...Kg8 33.Re5 Bf8 34.Nxe6 (34.Rxe6! was even stronger) 34...fxe6 35.Rd1 Rh7? (35...Kf7) 36.Rxe6 was eventually good enough to win in over 60 moves. 36.Rg5! would have ended things considerably quicker.


The start of the key game of the round

Taking this game along with Volokitin's demolition of Karjakin's Berlin in Cuernavaca a few weeks ago, Mexico might be turning into the graveyard of the much-despised Berlin Wall. Few would mourn its passing.


Etien Bacrot vs Vassily Ivanchuk, about to start

Ivanchuk missed various winning chances against Bacrot. Even if we skip the messy blitz running up to move 40, Black surely could have done better in the endgame. 41...d4 was the clearest win, overrunning the center. And only Ivanchuk knows why he didn't take the b-pawn on move 44.


GM Taimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan

Radjabov looked in serious trouble out of his trademark KID against Aronian. This opening has been under a super-GM cloud since Kasparov gave it up – with good reason. But Radjabov is unconvinced. This game will not be called as evidence for the defense of the defense. Typically, however, the teen's creativity created enough tactical counterplay to confuse the issue.


Armenian GM Levon Aronian

But Aronian had the cutest trick, disrupting the defense with 38.Rb8! Black always has drawing chances in these check-happy queen and pawn endgames, but Fritz can tell you all about it as well as we can.

Peter Leko played a very convincing game with the Black pieces (Garry Kasparov: "Nice play, probably mostly analysis") and is definitely a force to be reckoned with in this tournament.

Mig Greengard

Svidler,P (2765) - Topalov,V (2801) [C67]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (1), 18.02.2006
Commentary by GM Mihail Marin [Click to replay]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 Although he has nice memories in the Najdorf from the previous game against Svidler (San Luis 2005), Topalov opts this time for the rock-solid Berlin Defence. 9.Nc3 Ne7 10.h3 Ng6 11.Bg5+ Ke8 12.Rad1 Bd7.

13.Nd4. Both players had faced this position before. 13.Rd2 Be6 14.Rfd1 Be7 15.Be3 (After 15.Ne2!? Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Bxg5 17.f4 Be7 18.Nd4 Bc5 19.Kh2 Bxd4 20.Rxd4 f6. White's initiative for the sacrificed pawn was sufficient for maintaining equality but not more in Svidler-Kramnik, Dortmund 2004) 15...a6 16.Ne2 Rd8 17.Rxd8+ Bxd8 18.b3 Be7 19.c4 h5 20.Nfd4 Bc8 21.f4 h4 22.Nc3 Rh5 and now, after the careless 23.Ne4? Black missed the opportunity to win a pawn by 23...Nxe5 in the game Polgar-Topalov, Sofia. In the present game, both players remained faithful to their favourite methods of play in this structure: Topalov activated his king's rook by means of h5-h4 and Rh5 while Svidler sacrificed his central pawn in order to open lines and endanger the enemy king.

13...h6 14.Be3 h5N. Previously, 14...Bb4! 15.f4 Bxc3 16.bxc3 c5 had been played. Black managed to hold his own in Shirov-Almasi, Monaco (blindfold) 2002; Capturing the e5-pawn at this stage would make little sense. After 14...Nxe5 White would most likely win the pawn back with, say 15.Bf4 maintaining the better structure and pressure along the central files. 15.f4 h4.

16.f5!? With the black king stuck in the centre, such intuitive sacrifices are just natural. 16...Nxe5 17.f6 Rh5. The position after 17...gxf6 18.Ne4 Be7 certainly looks scary for Black. However, the solution chosen by Topalov, to block the position, will leave White with a huge advantage of space and increase Black's problems of communicating his wings. In spite of succesive modifications of the position, this positional factor will persist for quite a long time. 18.Ne4 g6 19.Bf4 c5 20.Nf3. Exchanging White's only active piece. 20...Nxf3+ 21.Rxf3 Be6 22.Rfd3 c4 23.R3d2 c6 24.Ng5 Bc5+ 25.Kh2 Bd5 26.Re2+ Kf8. Crossing the d-file would result in the loss of the f7-pawn, because the d5-bishop would be pinned. 27.Rde1. This is the type of position White was aiming for. If Black could connect his rooks his position would be simply wining, but the way it is he is reduced to passivity. 27...b5 28.c3 a5 29.a3 Rc8 30.g4! In order to increase his pressure, White needs to activate his last piece, the king. Spoiling his king side structure is not a too high price to pay. 30...hxg3+ 31.Kxg3.

At first sight, this might look like suicide in a solid position. However, in case of a waiting black strategy, White would have had such a plan at his disposal: h4, Bc7-a5-b4 (please not that the black queen's rook is busy preventing make on the back rank and cannot cross the bishop's plans) exchanging the dark squared bishops in order to invade the enemy position through e7. Black cannot meet Ba5-b4 with Bd6 and c5 because this would chronically weaken the d-file.

31...Be6 32.h4 Of course, White is in no hurry to capture on e6, snce this would bring Black some relief. 32...Kg8 33.Re5 Bf8 34.Nxe6 fxe6 35.Rd1 Rh7 [Black takes his chance to recycle his rook. The exchange on e5 would be followed by Td7 with a winning position, while 35...Kf7 36.Bg5 Rc7 would leave the king's rook out of play again. White could open a new front of action with 37.a4!?] 36.Rxe6 Rb7 37.Re4 Kf7 38.Bg5 Re8 39.Rxe8 Kxe8 40.Kg4

In spite of the mass simplifications, White retains a huge advantage of space. 40...Rh7 [40...Rd7? would lose instantly to 41.f7+!; Black had no time for the generally desirable blockade of the queen side with 40...a4 because of 41.Bf4 threatening Kg5. After the text move, the retreatof the bishop can be met by Rh5.] 41.Re1+ Kd7

42.a4! Now that the black rook is temporarily isolated on the king side, White puts the opposite wing under pressure. It is quite isntructive to follow how Svidler will manage to carry out his partial plans until the end of the game by just one tempo. If allowed to play a4 himself, Black would have chances to defend his fortress. 42...bxa4 Black's coordination is too poor to maintain the tension on both wings. After 42...Bd6 43.Ra1 Bc7 44.h5!! the white king would penetrate with decisive effect, for instance 44...Rxh5 (or 44...gxh5+ 45.Kf5) 45.f7 Rh8 (45...Bd6?! 46.Rd1!) 46.Bh6 Bd6 47.Kg5 and the f-pawn will decide soon the outcome of the battle. 43.Re5 c5 44.Bf4 Rh8 45.Bg3 Bh6 46.Re7+ Kc6 47.Bf4 Clearing the way for the king. 47.f7 looks pretty strong, too. 47...Bxf4 48.Kxf4 Rh5 49.Re5 Rxh4+ 50.Kg5 Rh5+ 51.Kxg6 Rxe5

52.f7 Re6+ 53.Kg5 Re5+ 54.Kg4 Re4+ The theme of systematic pursue of the king is known since the game Fenton-Potter, London 1875 and was succesively developed into a nice study by Potter, Saavedra and finally Barbier in 1895. 55.Kg3 Re3+ 56.Kf2 a3

57.f8Q! Last accuracy. 57.bxa3 Rxc3 58.f8Q Rxa3 looks quite difficult (probably impossible) to win. 57...axb2 58.Qc8+ Kb5 Or 58...Kd5 59.Qb7+ and Black has no way to defend his rook. Now it is a forced mate. 59.Qb7+ Ka4 60.Kxe3 Ka3 61.Qb5

It's all over now. White's king is too close to allow a last moment escape. Topalov sat there grimly in the theatre and played on "until mate". 61...a4 62.Qxc5+ Kb3 63.Qb4+ Kc2 64.Qxa4+ Kxc3 65.Qa5+ Kc2 66.Qf5+ Kc1 67.Qf1+ and it's mate in five. 1–0. [Click to replay].

Picture gallery


The news photographers can spend five minutes on the stage


The spectators have to stay behind the rope barrier


In the playing hall every last seat – about 300 in all – is taken


Outside in the giant hall of the Morelia Open


Many hundreds of chess players enjoying the festival


After the games the fans mob the players


The atmosphere is more like after a rock concert...


...with Etienne Bacrot in his silvery suit fitting in very nicely.

All pictures by Frederic Friedel

More photos from round one are available on our Spanish news page!


Schedule and results

Round 1: Saturday, February 18th

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

Round 2: Sunday, February 19th

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

Round 3: Monday, February 20th

Peter Svidler 
  Peter Leko
Etienne Bacrot 
  Francisco Vallejo
Levon Aronian 
  Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
GamesReport
Free day: Tuesday, February 21st

Round 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

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

Round 5: Thursday, February 23rd

Etienne Bacrot 
  Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
  Peter Svidler
Teimour Radjabov 
  Francisco Vallejo
Vassily Ivanchuk 
  Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
Free day: Friday, February 24th

Round 6: Saturday, February 25th

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

Round 7: Sunday, February 26th

Peter Leko 
  Veselin Topalov
Francisco Vallejo 
  Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler 
  Teimour Radjabov
Etienne Bacrot 
  Levon Aronian
GamesReport
Transfer to Linares, Spain

Links


Topics: Linares 2006
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