Peace Now! At Least in Linares

3/6/2003 – We're out of draw jokes, but for the second round in a row all games finished without a winner. The organizers were checking their watches. Over so soon?! Leko was in a mess against Kasparov but solved the puzzle to draw. Radjabov abandoned the French and it almost paid off against Ponomariov. Vallejo-Kramnik gets the round's pollo award for lasting just 13 moves. More..

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Linares Super GM 2003 – Round 10

XX International Chess Tournament
Cuidad de Linares 2003 (Cat. XX)

Round 10 (Wednesday, March 5, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Leko, Peter

With much of the world talking about war and peace these days, the participants in this year's supertournament have come down firmly in the peace camp over the past few days. As in rounds three and four, all the games in rounds nine and ten split the available points. This brings the draw percentage up to 64%. That sounds high, and it would be nice to stay under 50%, but it's almost exactly what it was last year and the year before that. Apart from the occasional non-game of <20 moves, this just shows that players at this level are very hard to beat.


Another flashy Leko jacket on display today.

Nobody did any beating on Wednesday. Maybe a little around the bush, perhaps a little of the chest, but nothing that would change the standings. For his second black in a row Leko came out of a Bb5 Sicilian with a total mess on his hands. This time it was Kasparov with the white pieces and after a dozen moves it looked more like they were playing Go than chess. Four pawns on the d-file!

Kasparov had some pressure on the e-file but the position was just too tangled to make any progress. Leko set up a nice bishop barrier in the center and met Kasparov's exchange sacrifice with one of his own to maintain the dynamic balance. Kasparov's queen got behind the Hungarian lines but there just wasn't anything there. It was a stern test for Leko, who comes through with his share of the lead at +2 intact. Kasparov only has three games left and only one with white, against Vallejo in the 13th round.

Sadly, even this curious position is far from unique in chess praxis. Having four pawns on the d-file (and a bishop stuck on c4) in this formation was all the rage back in the 19th century when the Four Knights opening was common. That's what you need to have the required exchanges on d4 and d5. There is even a line in the Lopez that leads to our four in a row: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.d3 Be7 8.c4 bxc4 9.Bxc4 0-0 10.Nc3 d6 11.a3 Nd4 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5.


Combined age of Ponamariov and Radjabov: 34. Make you feel old, too?

We could even have seen it twice in today's round! If Radjabov had played 21...Bd4+ against Ponomariov, 22.Nxd4 cxd4 would have been quadruplets. It definitely looked ugly for Leko for a while, the problem will be finding improvements for white. Ugly does not mean losing unless you're trying to pick someone up at a bar.

Ponomariov played another offbeat line against the Sicilian, this time putting his bishop on c4 instead of b5. As he has been doing all tournament he pushed his g-pawn forward two squares with his king on the g-file feeling the breeze. After looking at Pono's disasters in the Bb5 Sicilian against Kramnik and Leko, Radjabov finally decided to give up his French! It almost paid off, too. Black had the better position with a potential passed a-pawn and a more active rook.

Then came 25...Qd6 26.Kf2 b4 27.Re1 f6 28.Rxe8 Bxe8 29.Qc4 Bf7 d4! Oops. Now, five moves later, Radjabov's cerebral cortex returned from what must have been a little trip to the Bahamas and Black is scrambling to force the draw! Sometimes you just have to chop some wood and not be too cute. Radjabov kept things under control and set up a perpetual check to draw, but he had definitely been hoping for more.

Speaking of hoping for more, Vallejo decided that gaining a few rating points might make the cellar a nicer place to be and offered Kramnik a draw after 13 moves. 3.e3, 4.a3, 5.d4 isn't exactly going to strike fear into anyone, so it was pretty clear from the start that this wasn't going to last long. Kramnik wasn't going to play for a win with black when he's leading the tournament. Vallejo is getting considerable respect from the heavyweights. Kasparov also refused to take any undue risks on the black side against the Spaniard.

Kramnik has the inside track to his second Linares victory. (He shared first with Kasparov in 2000.) He has white against Anand on Thursday and then white in the final round against current co-leader Peter Leko. In an uncertain world there is little more you can ask for than to control your own destiny.

After a year of inactivity, other than his eight-game match against Fritz in Bahrain, Kramnik was very unstable at Corus Wijk aan Zee last month. He's already looking back in his immovable object form. +2 usually isn't enough to win a tournament in which Kasparov and Anand are participating, but it could definitely be enough for a share of first this year.

The final round also brings Anand-Kasparov, which is usually a lively Sicilian battle. After two full days of draws, anything with some binary results will good to see. Kasparov has the bye on Thursday so he'll have an extra round to prepare something for his black against Ponomariov. The only question: will Pono play Bb5 or Bc4!?

Mig Greengard

Photos by Robert Huntington

Standings after round ten

 

Round 1 (Saturday, February 22, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Radjabov, Teimour
0-1
Leko, Peter
Round 2 (Sunday, February 23, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
0-1
Radjabov, Teimour
Ponomariov, Ruslan
0-1
Kramnik, Vladimir
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Round 3 (Monday, February 24, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Leko, Peter
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Round 4 (Tuesday, February 25, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Leko, Peter
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Round 5 (Thursday, February 27, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Leko, Peter
1-0
Vallejo, Francisco
Kasparov, Garry
1-0
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Round 6 (Friday, February 28, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Anand, Viswanathan
1-0
Leko, Peter
Kramnik, Vladimir
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Round 7 (Saturday, March 1, 2003)
Leko, Peter
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Kasparov, Garry
1-0
Anand, Viswanathan
Ponomariov, Ruslan
1-0
Vallejo, Francisco
Round 8 (Sunday, March 2, 2003)
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Leko, Peter
1-0
Radjabov, Teimour
Round 9 (Monday, March 3, 2003)
Radjabov, Teimour
½-½
Kasparov, Garry
Kramnik, Vladimir
½-½
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Anand, Viswanathan
½-½
Vallejo, Francisco
Round 10 (Wednesday, March 5, 2003)
Vallejo, Francisco
½-½
Kramnik, Vladimir
Ponomariov, Ruslan
½-½
Radjabov, Teimour
Kasparov, Garry
½-½
Leko, Peter
Games – Report
Round 11 (Thursday, March 6, 2003)
Leko, Peter
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Games – Report
Round 12 (Friday, March 7, 2003)
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Radjabov, Teimour
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Leko, Peter
Ponomariov, Ruslan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Games – Report
Round 13 (Saturday, March 8, 2003)
Kasparov, Garry
-
Vallejo, Francisco
Leko, Peter
-
Anand, Viswanathan
Radjabov, Teimour
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
Games – Report
Round 14 (Sunday, March 9, 2003)
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Leko, Peter
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Kasparov, Garry
Vallejo, Francisco
-
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Games – Report

Topics Linares 2003
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