I guess my diatribe worked. Shortly after my last posting, Linares turned bloody. Kasparov was first to find the murder weapon defeating Grishchuk. It seems to be a tradition that Garry wins his first meeting with rising stars. Polgar also won against Shirov. Today saw 2 more wins, this time by Kasparov against Karpov and Shirov against Grishchuk.
Today was special because, for the first time in over 4 years, we got to see another battle between Kasparov and Karpov. Kasparov.com reported that it was their 172nd meeting. Of course, over 100 of those games were played in 5 epic battles for the world championship of chess. Unfortunately, the game itself was a bit anticlimactic: 1.e4 c6 Karpov sticks with the Caro-Kann, which he has used heavily in recent years. Still, I thought he might trot out the Petroff. 2.d4 d5 3.e5 What do you play against someone you've faced nearly 200 times in serious competition? This is the first time I recall Kasparov playing the advance variation. 3...Bf5 4.Nc3 Of course, it wouldn't be in Garry's style to play the "Short defense" with Nf3 and Be2. 4...e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2 Ne7 7.Nf4 c5 8.dxc5 Nd7 More common is 8...Nec6 as Karpov played against Shirov in a blindfold game in last year's Amber tournament. 9.h4 Nxe5 10.Bg2 Shipov indicates this as the first new move. I found a game Prasad-Prakesh that continued 10.Bb5+ and was drawn in 30 moves10...h5 11.Qe2 N7c6 12.Nxg6 Nxg6 13.Bg5 this developing move is probably better than trying to grab a pawn with 13.gxh5 Nxh4 Bxd5 which looks like it can be met strongly by 14...Nd4 13...Be7 14.gxh5 Nf8 15.Nb5 Nd7 16.h6 Kasparov avoids the obvious leap 16.Nd6+ since after 16...Kf8 the knight is vulnerable with ...Nxc5 looming and 17.Nxb7 Qc7 followed by capturing on d5 when Black should be OK because of his solid central pawn structure. Instead, Kasparov seeks to open more lines. 16...Nxc5 17.Bf4 interposing the moves 17.hxg7 Rg8 also looks strong for White.17...Kf8 18.hxg7+ Kxg7 19.0-0-0 Black's position looks very suspicious. It's hard to believe that it is Karpov operating the Black pieces. 19...Kf8 Shipov indicates this as a blunder. His suggestion is 19...Qa5 with the idea of Rag8 before evacuating the King. At least then the Black rooks would talk to each other, their disconnection puts a serious crimp in the harmony of the Black position. 20.Kb1 sidestepping any ideas of ...Bg5 if Black decided to grab the h-pawn 20...a6 21.Nc7 Rc8 22.Bxd5! finally busting down the Black pawn front 22...exd5 23.Rxd5 Qxc7 giving up the queen for 3 pieces, but Black's army is lacking in coordination 24.Bxc7 Rxc7 25.Rf5 stopping ...Ne6. 25...Nd4 is met by 26.Qd4 with a major league fork. 25...Rd7 26.c3 ruling out ...Nd4 once and for all. 26...f6 Shipov suggests 26...Rh6 as a last chance to hold things together, but Karpov was already in serious time trouble at this point. 27.Rg1 Nd8 28.Qg4 Ke8 29.Rh5 Rf8 30.Rxc5 Bxc5 31.Qh5+ 1-0 Black will only be left with a rook and bishop for his queen and his King faces ongoing woes. A great victory by Kasparov. Anatoly can at least take solace that he will have a chance for revenge later in the tournament. The great rivalry will not be closed out on this note.
Three rounds of the annual Linares supertournament are in the books, but still no blood has been drawn. Nine games, nine draws. What's going on here? For years, thanks to the efforts of Senor Rentero, Linares was synonymous with fighting chess. So far in this tournament we have seen little of this attitude despite the presence of three great fighters: Shirov, Judit Polgar, and Kasparov. There have been a few battles, but early peace treaties seems to be more of the theme. While the 3 players mentioned above have tried to fight, even the game Kasparov-Polgar was agreed drawn just as it was heating up (I guess Judit was just happy to come away from a game with Garry without getting a bagel). Karpov and Grishchuk may be excused a bit. For Anatoly, he is now most assuredly past his prime, while Sasha is just coming into his. This may lead to some extra caution by these two, but they are actually the two that have come closest to victory so far.
The final participant, Peter Leko, deserves a lot of the blame, in my opinion. Never very exciting on his best days, he seems to be even more boring in 2001. Eleven draws in 13 games at Wijk aan Zee, now 3 more so far in Linares. His move count keeps dropping, too. After a respectable 55 moves against Kasparov (The Boss carried the play in that one), only 29 versus Shirov, then only 23 with Grishcuk before calling it a day. It makes one long for the days when they wrote the Linares contracts to require 40 moves. I'm really confused as to why they even invited Leko to this tournament. Probably his top 6 rating in the world got him in, since they were probably shooting for a superelite tournament again. At least that should be dropping as he piles up draws against lower rated players. This tournament would have been a whole lot more interesting with Alexander Morozevich or Vassily Ivanchuk instead of Leko. Any bets on who will draw first blood in Linares 2001? I'd say not Peter Leko.
I've been a bit busy and unable to update this page lately, but here's a quick addition to the BCE area. I added the correction to #168c where a bishop is fighting against a pawn breakthrough. Fine reaches the wrong conclusion in the first note, meaning Black had two ways to hold.
I played in the 14th edition of the Land of the Sky tournament in Ashville, North Carolina last weekend. I had a bit of a disappointing result with 3 out of 5, the same score I had last year. As can be seen from the crosstable, the open section was fairly strong with over half masters including 2 GMs (Wojtkiewicz and Becarra) and 1 WGM (Fierro).
I got off to a good start with the white pieces against Alex Kvit, who displayed some unusual time management. He took half an hour (the time control was 35/90, SD/1) to play the first 5 moves 1.d4 d6 2.c4 Nd7 3.e4 Ngf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.f4 c5 Next, it took him another 30 minutes to play the next 5 moves 6.d5 Bg7 7.Nf3 0-0 I was pretty happy here, we've reached a fairly normal position in the 4 Pawns Attack, except that he's played the awkward Nb8d7. Plus, I've got a huge edge on the clock 8.Be2 Re8?! I'm not sure what the intent of this move is. Maybe he wants to try 8...e6 9.dxe6 Rxe6 although that doesn't look that great. I noticed that the Nd7 and Re8 were taking some squares away from his knight, so 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.e6 Nde5 if 11...fxe6 12.Ng5 attacking the Ng4, followed by Nxe6 with a large advantage to White. He managed to start picking up the pace a bit, but his position is already suspicious. 12.Ng5 f5?! for better or worse 12...Nh6 had to be tried. Now the White pawns cut a wedge through Black's position leaving his knights with a lack of squares. 13.h3 Nf6 14.Bf4 Qc7 15.0-0 protecting the bishop. Black can't answer both Nf7 and Nb5. 15...Rf8 16.Nb5 Qb8 17.d6 exd6 18.Nxd6 Ne8 19.Nxc8 Qxc8 20.e7 Rxf7 21.Bxe5 1-0 21...Bxe5 22.Qxe5 forks the Rf7 and Be5.
I followed that up with a total disaster in Round 2. After only 13 moves with Black against David Vest, the following position was reached
I had played ...c6 prematurely weakening my d6 pawn, but thought I was OK because of a tactical trick. However, now that the position had actually occurred on the board, I saw that my intended 13...0-0 14. Nxd6 a5 could be met simply by 15.Qc5 since the d6 pawn has been removed from the board. Seeing little compensation there, I looked for alternatives. 13...d5 14.Nc5 looked like a beating with the king stuck in the middle. 13...c5 looked like it would soon be a remake of the classic Murder on the Long Diagonal. So I gathered my courage and played 13...Ke7 guarding the pawn and hoping to eventually castle by hand with f5, Kf7, Re8 or Rf8 and Kg8. This was overly optimistic to say the least. The rest of the game is not really suitable for public viewing. Needless to say, the big fella never made it out of the center and I resigned on move 29.
I bounced back in the evening round with White against Neal Harris. This was another 4 Pawns Attack game with an early e5 and e6 push. In this situation the question was if he could destroy my center before the attack crashed through. I need to analyze things much further to understand completely what was going on, he played several moves that I did not expect. He finally managed to destroy my pawn center, but at the cost of a piece and all his kingside pawns. His bare king then stood no chance.
The next morning I played Justin Daniel (no relation to the Knoxville player Justin Daniels). I played pretty well to a point where he felt obligated to sacrifice the exchange for a pawn. I got the pawn back and should have had good winning chances when the following position was reached
Here, I broke rule number 1 of the endgame, DON'T RUSH. In this case it was doubly bad since this was the last move of the time control. Instead of improving the position of my King with 35...Kg8, I found a combination that lost a pawn 35...Na7? 36.Bxa5 Nxb5 37.Rxb5 not 37.axb5? Rc5 and the b-pawn falls since 38.Bb4 is met by 38...Rcxb5 pinning and winning. Now, I realized that after 38...Rxb5 39.axb5 39...Rc5 could be met by 40.Bb4 and the resulting ending with all pawns on the same side of the board is a draw. Instead, I tried to keep the game alive with 39...Rc1+ 40. Ke2 Rb1 but was unable to make any concrete progress and the game ended in a draw.
The last game to finish was Fierro against Rusty Potter. They had started the game late, but didn't take any time off of their clocks so that they only finished at 2:15 when the next round was supposed to start. Of course it was my luck to get paired with Potter who was granted until 2:45 to start the final round. I half-heartedly protested this to the TD since they hadn't compensated for starting late, but really didn't expect to win my case. What I really didn't understand was why they got a full half hour when only 15 minutes were scheduled between the time round 4 and round 5 if maximum time was used from the scheduled start of the round. I was thinking back to the previous tournament in Clarksville where I had two long games to start the tournament and got no delay (although I didn't ask for any, is that the trick? I'm not sure that Potter and Fierro did either since they spent 15 minutes after their game analyzing). Anyway, after that rambling introduction, there was actually an interesting chess game played. For the third time in the tournament, the 4 Pawns Attack appeared on the board. By transposition we arrived at the position from Bereolos-Barber 2000 Knoxville City Championship after 17.Kh1
Here, instead of the usual 17...Qxa1, he played a new move 17...Nc6!? I reacted with the fork 18.Nc7 and he played 18...Bd7?! Instead, 18...Qxa1 is very complicated. Now White can grab the advantage after 19.Rb1 b6 but I faltered with 20.Bd5?! Instead, interposing 20.Nxa8 Rxa8 and only then 21.Bd5 would have left him in some difficulties. I thought that taking the exchange allowed his bishop use of the defensive square e8, but 21...Be8? would lose to 22.d7, so it looks like he would have to try something like 21...Rf8 22.Be7 Rc8 23.Rxf7 Kh8, but White should be much better. Compare this position to how the White pieces end up in the game. 20...Re5! Black finds the right way to generate counterplay. 21.Bxf7+ 21.Rxf7+!? Rxd5 is another complex line. 21...Kh8 I had a long think here, sensing that the position was turning the wrong way for me. I finally settled on 22.Qxd4 22.Be7!? also deserves attention 22...Nxd4 23.Nxa8 Rxg5 and after another long think went for the sacrifice 24. Nxb6!? The alternative 24.Nc7 Bc6 25.Rf2 Be5 may be playable, but Black rounds up the d-pawn and has a comfortable game. 24...axb6 25.Rxb6 Be5 26. Bd5 Now, the threats of Rf7 and Rb8-b7 look pretty good for White, but he found a tactical resource. 26...Nf5! 27.Rb8+ I didn't find anything better since he is threatening to take the d-pawn. 27...Kg7 28.Rb7 Ng3+ the point 29.hxg3 It doesn't make any sense not to take the knight 29.Kg1?? Bd4+ 30.Rf2 Bxf2+ 31.Kxf2 Nh1+! and Black wins. 29...Rh5+ 30.Kg1 Bd4+ 31.Rf2 Bxf2+ This is better than trying to keep the pin with 31...Rxd5 since after 32.Rxd7+ the Black king can't come to the f-file. 32. Kxf2 Rxd5 33.Rxd7+ Kf6 34. Ke3 Ke6 35. Rd8 Rg5 I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to show why 35...Rxd6? loses. 1/2-1/2 It's a repetition after 36.Kf4 Rf5+ 37.Ke3 Rg5 and the White king would be sadly out of play after 36.Kg4?! h5+
Wijk aan Zee is history for another year, and for the 3rd year in a row The Boss, Garry Kasparov, was the clear winner. Kasparov's winning totals have slowly dropped from +7 to +6 to this year's +5, but Garry showed that he is back (did he really ever go away?) after losing his title last year. Clearly, he is still a force to be reckoned with. Braingames needs to spell out their championship format so we can see Kramnik-Kasparov II next year.
Vishy Anand was clear second at WAZ. After going +1 for the first 10 rounds and looking tired after winning the FIDE championship, he put on a burst by winning his last 3. World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was another half point behind in third tied with Vassily Ivanchuk (back near the top after a few years of middling results). After his explosive start, Alexei Shirov lost 3 games down the stretch to finish tied for 5th with Adams and Morozevich.
The rest of the pack did about as expected with a few shining moments. Leko finished with an even score after being ill most of the tournament. Topalov played some exciting chess, but could only manage one win to go with his 3 losses. Likewise, Federov won a couple of nice attacking games in the Dragon, but had too many losses.
The tournament had to be a disappointment for the Dutch crowd. The 4 Dutch players occupied the bottom 4 places in the tournament standings and were swept by both Anand and Shirov. van Wely had the best result at -3, but I don't think he made his case for being the best Dutch player, and his 2700 rating will now be a thing of the past. Piket was at -4 along with Tiviakov who pulled out of what was looking like a disastrous tournament. Bring up the rear was Jan Timman at -5 who really seems to be fading fast after many years at the top.
Unfortunately, we won't get to see a double round robin battle between the elite in Linares this year. Disputes over appearance fees are keeping both Kramnik and Anand away. As newly crowned title holders they rightfully expect fees on par with Kasparov. The whole problem with these supertournaments is that the appearance fees overwhelm the actual prizes). Despite the absence of these two superstars, I think Linares will still be a very interesting tournament. Kasparov and Shirov will be on hand to continue their to this point one-sided duel. The young Hungarian stars Peter Leko and Judit Polgar will be there (although I would have rather seen Morozevich, Adams, or Ivanchuk rather than Leko). The even younger Alexander Grishchuk will get his first baptism in a supertournament. Alot of people will be interested in how he does after his impressive showings in the Olympiad (+5) and the FIDE championships (semifinalist). Rounding out the Linares field this year is The Man, The Myth, The Legend, The 12th World Champion of Chess Anatoly Karpov. It's been awhile since we've seen Anatoly in a top flight tournament and his rating has slipped so that he is out of Club 2700. Still, I think he will be hungry to show that he still has it and we could be in for a repeat of Linares 1995 when Karpov showed the world that he was still a Major Force. He's pale, he's rested, he's ready, and he's my dark horse (or should that be light horse 8-) pick to win in Linares.
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