Morelia R7: Peter Leko leads at halftime

2/27/2006 – The final round of the first half of the Linares-Morelia Super-GM saw Peter Leko draw Veselin Topalov to retain the lead at halftime. The ambitious Armenian Levon Aronian beat Etienne Bacrot with black to come within striking distance of Leko. The event continues on Friday, March 3rd, in Linares, Spain. Updated analysis and photos.

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Round seven report

Round 7: Sunday, February 26th

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

Standings after seven rounds

Picture gallery


Fans waiting for the players to arrive at the Palacio Clavijero


The governor of the province of Michoacán, Lázaro Cárdenas Batel


The two Peters, Svidler and Leko, sharing a joke before the game


A bit of light-heartedness cannot do any harm


Things become serious when the blowing of the pieces begins


Then the face-off, the match of the day


A grimly determined Topalov at the start of round seven


The last round in Morelia is under way

Leko,P (2740) - Topalov,V (2801) [B90]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (7), 26.02.2006
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 h5!?

Last year, Topalov experimented for a couple of times with the early advance of the b-pawn to b4. His last game with it was the win against Leko in the very first round of the World Championship, but his position after the opening looked pretty dangerous. The slightly extravagant advance of the h-pawn is aimed to slow down White's planned attack g4-g5. The idea has been more frequently seen in the variation 7...e5 8.Nb3 Be6 9.f3. 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Na5 10.Bb3 Be7 11.0-0-0 b5 12.Kb1 Bd7 13.Rhe1 b4 14.Nce2 g6 Black's pawn play in this phase of the game is based on two ideas: restrict the enemy knights as much as possible and keep the white king under pressure in order to force the major pieces keep the back rank permanently defended.

15.Nc1 e5 16.Nde2 Nxb3 17.Nxb3 a5 18.Bg5 a4 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Nbc1 Rb8 21.Qxd6 Once the b3-knight has been pushed back, the d6-pawn was not essential already for the fulfillment of Black's aforementioned plan. 21...Rb6 22.Qc5 Qb8 23.Nd3 Rb5 24.Qf2 Be6 Black has placed his pieces on active positions and after getting castled he can start create concrete threats against the white castle. Therefore, White decides to change the character of the position, even though this will leave him with pawn weaknesses.25.f4 0-0 26.fxe5 Bxe5 27.Nxe5 Qxe5 28.Nd4 Rc5 29.Qg3 Qxg3 30.hxg3 Bg4 31.Rd3 Re8 32.Rde3 f6 33.a3 bxa3 34.bxa3

White has made certain progress: his knight is active, he solved the problem of the back rank and even has a passed pawn now! However, his numerous pawn weaknesses do not allow him to hope for an advantage. 34...Bc8 35.Kc1 Bb7 36.Nf3 Rec8 37.R1e2 Rc4 38.Kb2 Rb8 39.Kc1 Rbc8 40.Kb2 Rb8 41.Kc1 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]



Peter Svidler eager to start winning again

Svidler,P (2765) - Radjabov,T (2700) [B30]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (7), 26.02.2006

After a quiet opening, Svidler maintained some initiative until very deep in the endgame. Now, he threatens 35.Nd6, when after the forced 35...Rae2 he can start strengthening his king side position and choose the right moment for winning the a-pawn with Nxe8 followed by Rxe8 and Rxa5. Instead of "collaborating" to such a one sided scenario, Radjabov finds a way to prove that his rooks can display dangerous activity as well. 34...h5!! The point behind this move will become clear later. Black needs to maintain the g4-square under observation. 35.Nd6 Ke7!! The king avoids the mate in order to allow the rooks to their job. 36.Nf5+ [Black's point is that after 36.Nxe8 Re1+ 37.Kg2 Ree2 White cannot avoid perpetual. Crossing the d-file via f3-e4-d5 would be impossible because of Rd2+ winning the d8-rook while after 38.Kh3 g5! it is already time for White to find a way to give perpetual with 39.Rd3 in order to avoid mate on h2.] 36...Kf6 37.Ne3 Nd6 38.Nd5+ Kg5 39.Nf4 Re1+ 40.Kg2 Nf5 41.Re8 Rxe8 42.Rxe8 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


GM Taimour Radjabov with 50%



Francisco Vallejo, picking up after a depressing start

Vallejo Pons,F (2650) - Ivanchuk,V (2729) [C42]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (7), 26.02.2006
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Qe2 Qe7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2. After his dramatic win over the World Champion, Vallejo played a rather unpretentious variation with White. True, he obtained two tempi of advance in development, but given the absence of direct contact between pieces and of immediate threats this had a rather volatile character. Soon, mass simplifications were initiated, making a draw inevitable.

8...Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Nd4 Nbd7 11. Bf4 Ne5 12. h3 Bd7 13. Rae1 Rfe8 14. Bd1 Nc6 15. Nxc6 Bxc6 16. Bd2 Bf8 17. Re3 Nd5 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. b3 Re7 20. a4 Rae8 21. Rfe1 b6 22. Kf1 a5 23. Bf3 Bxf3 24. Rxf3 Rxe1+ 25. Bxe1 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Vassily Ivanchuk, who ended the first half at 50%



Levon Aronian before the start of a fairly critical game

Bacrot,E (2717) - Aronian,L (2752) [E21]
XXIII SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (7), 26.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 Ne4 6.Qd3 Qa5 7.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2+ 9.Nxd2 Nc6 10.dxc5 b6!?

11.Bg2 [If White accepts the pawn sacrifice with 11.cxb6 Black can cause him problems with the development of the king side with 11...Bb7 threatening Nd8.] 11...Bb7 12.Qf4 bxc5 13.Qd6 Qb6 14.Ne4 Nd4!? [A very interesting novelty, leading to unusual play. 14...Qb4+ 15.Qd2 Ke7 was more or less equal in Priehoda-Hiebel, Germany 1994. Bacrot might have intended 15.Kf1, leaving Black with problems with defending his weaknesses and getting castled.] 15.Qxb6 axb6 16.Nd6+ Ke7 17.Bxb7 [A safer continuation would be 17.Nxb7 when White would maintain a some advantage after 17...Nc2+ 18.Kd2 Nxa1 19.Rxa1 Ra7 20.a4 Rb8 21.a5 Rbxb7 22.Bxb7 Rxb7 23.a6 Ra7 24.Kc3 Kd6 25.b4 cxb4+ 26.Kxb4 Kc6 Black will have to play Ra8-a7 for a long while. The only question is whether White can get any concrete advantage by advancing his king side pawns massively. The idea would be to open a file and then abandon the a-pawn in order to transfer the rook to the other wing.] 17...Nc2+ 18.Kd2 Nxa1 19.Nxf7 Rxa2! Of course, Black did not play this line just to reach a rook ending with a pawn down. 20.Nxh8 Rxb2+ 21.Kd3

The position remains very unclear in spite of White's considerable material advantage. The h8-knight can not easily get out, but it is also not easy to attack. 21...Rb3+ 22.Ke4 It would be a pity to agree to a draw by repetition at this stage of the game, of course. However, by placing the king in the centre White leaves the king side unattended, allowing Black obtain powerful counterplay on that side of the board. 22...Nc2 23.e3 b5! A very economic way of getting things started. White cannot capture on b5 because he would soon lose his knight to Rb8. 24.Kf4 bxc4 25.Be4 Nb4 26.Bxh7 Finally, White has opened an emergency exit for his knight, but is far behind yet in the pawn race that will be the main issue in the next phase of the game. 26...Nd3+ 27.Kg5 Nxf2 28.Rf1 Rb2 29.h4 d5 30.Ra1 Kd7 31.Nf7 c3 32.Kg6 Ng4 33.Rg1 Re2 34.Kxg7 Rxe3 35.h5 d4 36.h6 c4 37.Bc2 Nxh6 38.Nxh6

White has increased his material advantage, but his pieces are not collaborating at all. Meanwhile Black's mass of pawns continues to advance. Optically speaking, Black seems to be better already, but only ulterior analysis will give a definitive evaluation. 38...d3 39.Ba4+ Kd6 40.g4 Kc5 41.g5 Kb4 Black's king is by far more active than his white colleague, who just blocks the way of his own pawn. The bishop has problems finding a good square now. 42.Ng4 Re4 43.Nf6 Re5 44.Bd1 d2 45.g6 Re1 It's all over now. Black's pawns have won the race. 46.Kf7 Rxg1 47.g7 Ka3 48.Bg4 Rxg4 49.Nxg4 d1Q 50.g8Q Qd7+ 51.Kf6 Qd4+ With these intermediate checks, Black has put the knight under domination, preventing it to interfere with the advance of the c-pawn in any way. 52.Kxe6 c2 53.Qa8+ Kb2 54.Qb8+ Kc1 55.Qg8 Kd1 0-1. [Click to replay]


Etienne Bacrot took last place on the table after his loss to Aronian

Pictures by Frederic Friedel and Nadja Woisin
Analysis by GM Mihail Marin


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

Round 2: Sunday, February 19th

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

Round 3: Monday, February 20th

Peter Svidler 
½-½
Peter Leko
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Levon Aronian 
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Free day: Tuesday, February 21st

Round 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

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

Round 5: Thursday, February 23rd

Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
Peter Leko
Levon Aronian 
1-0
Peter Svidler
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
Francisco Vallejo
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Free day: Friday, February 24th

Round 6: Saturday, February 25th

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

Round 7: Sunday, February 26th

Peter Leko 
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler 
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Etienne Bacrot 
0-1
Levon Aronian
GamesReport
Transfer to Linares, Spain
Games begin March 3

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Topics: Linares 2006
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