- The Washington Times - Friday, March 4, 2005

The 22nd running of the Linares SuperGM Tournament reached the halfway point this week, with pre-tournament favorites Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand setting the pace.

Kasparov, the Russian ex-world champ looking to make a statement at a tournament he has dominated in the past, was alone in first with a 4-2 record, followed by the Indian Anand and Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov at 31/2-21/2.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the Uzbek GM who claims FIDE’s half of the disputed world title, has played tough but conservative chess in his first Linares outing, drawing all six of his first games. He is tied with Hungary’s Peter Leko, another pre-tournament favorite, who also has drawn his first six matches.

Bringing up the rear with six games to be played were England’s Michael Adams, who lost tough games to both Kasparov and Topalov, and Spain’s Francisco Vallejo Pons.

The Bulgarian Topalov probably deserves a special prize for keeping the event interesting, playing fighting chess in virtually every round so far. He engaged Anand in an intricate positional duel in Round 2, succumbing only when he misjudged the highly imbalanced ending.

Topalov does well on the Black side of this Sicilian Najdorf out of the opening, getting good counterplay to offset White’s queen-side initiative. By the time the queens come off with 21. Nxc8 Rxc8 22. Qc4 Qxc4 23. Bxc4 a5, the game boils down to whether Black’s king-side pawn majority will be mobile enough to compensate for White’s heavy queen-side superiority.

In a game filled with roads not taken, a critical fork comes on 32. Bf3 Ra7 33. Rg5, when Black could have preserved his king-side pawns with 33…Ng7!? 34. Rgxa5 Rxa5 35. Rxa5 f5 36. c4 g5 37. Kc2 Rxh2+ 38. Kd3 g4, and it’s an open question who will break through first. Instead, on the game’s 33…f5!? 34. Rxg6 Kf7 35. Rg2 Nf639. Bg2 Rxh2, Topalov only has two passers with which to play, a critical factor in the ensuing ending.

Chessbase.com, in its analysis of the game, says 45. bxa5 Rxc5? is Black’s fatal error, when 45…Ke5! 46. a6 Ra7 47. c6 Nd5 48. Bc4 Nb6 leads to a drawn rook ending. Black may have thought his passed pawns were compensation enough for the lost knight after 46. a6 Nd6 (Rc8 47. a7 Ra8 48. Bb5 Nd5 49. Bc6 Nb6 50. Ra6 Ke7 51. Bxa8 Nxa8 52. Rh6 e3 53. Kc2 Kd7 54. Rh8 wins) 47. a7 Nc7 48. a8=Q Nxa8 49. Rxa8 f4, but precise play by Anand never lets Black back into the ending.

Key is 55. Kd2 f2 (equally frustrating is 55…Ka4 56. Ke3 Ka3 57. Be6 Ka4 58. Bd5 Ka3 59. Kf2 Ka4 [Kb2 60. a4] 60. Bxe4 and wins) 56. Be2+! (and not 56. Ke2? e3 57.Be6 Kb4 58.Bd5 Ka3, and White can’t make progress) Kb4 57. Kc2! Ka3 58. Kb1 e3 59. Ka1!. The White king goes to the very corner of the board, but with the Black pawns frozen, Topalov’s king must give way. Black resigned.

Anand’s marquee matchup with Kasparov four rounds later ended in a draw, but it did not disappoint the fans. Anand has not beaten the Russian in a classical chess game in a decade, but he had his nemesis on the ropes in this game.

In a Pelikan Sicilian, White’s 20. Bb5!? is the first move out of the opening databases, and Kasparov’s minicombination in response — 20… Rxb5?! 21. Qxb5 Nb4 22. Qxa5 Nxa2 23. Qxa2 fxe4 24. b4 — leads to trouble. Black indeed enjoys the two bishops and the half-open f-file, but it turns outs White’s passed queen-side pawns and well-coordinated knights prove to be much more potent factors. After 34. Ned5 (Nxe4? Bxe4 35. Qxe4 Bxf2+ 36. Kh2 Rf4 is good for Black) Qc8 35. Qe2 Bxd5 36. Nxd5 Qc5 37. b6, Black has lost one of his prize bishops, and the White forces coordinate beautifully in support of his pawns.

But with his back to the wall, Black finds an inspired riposte: 34…Qd4 38. Qc2 Kh7 39. Kh2 (see diagram) Rxf2! 40. Rxf2 (b7? Rxf1 41. b8=Q Qg1 mate) Bxf2. It now appears that 41. b7 Bg1+ 42. Kh1 (Kg3 Bf2+ 43. Qxf2 h4+ 44. Kh2 Qxf2 45. b8=Q Qg3+ 46. Kg1 Qe1+ only draws) wins for White, but now Kasparov has the saving 42…Qa1!! (with the threat of 43…Bf2+ 44. Kh2 Qg1 mate) 43. Nc3 Ba7+ 44. Nd1 Qd4 45. Nf2 e3! 46. Nd3 e2 47. Qxe2 Qg1 mate.

White tries 41. Qc1, but Black has prepared a second tactical blow: 41…e3 42. b7 Qa7 43. Qb1 e2 44. Ne7 (b8=Q Qxb8 45. Qxb8 e1=Q 46. Nf6+ Kg7 47. Nxh5+ gxh5 48. Qc7+ Kg6 49. Qxd6+ Kf5 and the Black king will escape the checks; White now threatens 45. Qxg6+ and 46. Qh6 mate) Bg3+!.

It’s a draw now on 45. Kxg3 Qe3+ 46. Kh2 (Kh4?? Qf2+ 47. g3 Qf6 mate) Qf4+ 47. Kg1 Qe3+ 48. Kh2 Qf4+. The two players split the point.

• • •

GM Yury Shulman defeated reigning U.S. champ Hikaru Nakamura in the final round to notch a tie for first in last weekend’s Millennium Chess Festival in Virginia Beach. Shulman and GM Jaan Ehlvest finished at 41/2-1/2, a half-point ahead of GMs Pavel Blatny and Alex Wojtkiewicz and FM Bryan Smith.

The Millennium tournament attracted an impressive 216 players in five sections in its sixth year. We’ll have a more complete rundown and a game or two next week.

XXII Linares SuperGM Tournament, Linares, Spain, February 2005


1. e4c531. Ra4Ra8

2. Nf3d632. Bf3Ra7

3. d4cxd433. Rg5f5

4. Nxd4Nf634. Rxg6Kf7

5. Nc3a635. Rg2Nf6

6. Be3e636. Re2Rh3

7. f3b537. Bh1Ng4

8. g4h638. Kb2Kf6

9. Qd2b439. Bg2Rxh2

10. Na4Nbd740. Bf3Rxe2

11. 0-0-0Ne541. Bxe2Ne3

12. b3d542. c4e5

13. Bf4Bd643. c5e4

14. Bxe5Bxe544. b4Rc7

15. Nc6Qc745. bxa5Rxc5

16. Nxe5Qxe546. a6Nd5

17. Qxb4dxe447. a7Nc7

18. Nb6Rb848. a8=QNxa8

19. Kb1Qc749. Rxa8f4

20. Qa4+Kf850. Rf8+Ke5

21. Nxc8Rxc851. Bg4f3

22. Qc4Qxc452. Rf5+Kd4

23. Bxc4a553. Rxc5Kxc5

24. Ba6Rb854. Kc3Kb5

25. fxe4h555. Kd2f2

26. gxh5Nxe456. Be2+Kb4

27. Rd4Nf657. Kc2Ka3

28. Be2Nxh558. Kb1e3

29. Rh4g659. Ka1Black

30. Rg1Ke7resigns

XXII Linares SuperGM Tournament, Linares, Spain, February 2005


1. e4c523. Qxa2fxe4

2. Nf3Nc624. b4Be6

3. d4cxd425. c4Qc8

4. Nxd4Nf626. Qb3Kg7

5. Nc3e527. Rb1Rf7

6. Ndb5d628. Rd1h5

7. Bg5a629. Qc2Qa8

8. Na3b530. h3Bh4

9. Nd5Be731. Rf1Qf8

10. Bxf6Bxf632. b5Bc8

11. c30-033. Nc3Bb7

12. Nc2Bg534. Ned5Qc8

13. a4bxa435. Qe2Bxd5

14. Rxa4a536. Nxd5Qc5

15. Bc4Rb837. b6Qd4

16. Ra2Kh838. Qc2Kh7

17. Nce3g639. Kh2Rxf2

18. 0-0f540. Rxf2Bxf2

19. Qa4Bd741. Qc1e3

20. Bb5Rxb542. b7Qa7

21. Qxb5Nb443. Qb1e2

22. Qxa5Nxa244. Ne7Bg3+

Draw agreed

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washington times.com.

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