Shanky Scores v. Leko!!!

Shanky Scores v. Leko!!!

IM dpruess
Aug 28, 2011, 8:07 AM |

My good friend Sam Shankland, who many on here will know from his video lessons and Chess Mentor Courses and Articles-- or from his chess playing-- has just had one of the most amazing sporting moments in his chess-playing career:

a win against Peter Leko!!

Sam is playing in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, a 128-player elimination competition. Each match is a 2-game match, and if the match is tied they have increasingly rapid 2-game matches to determine who advances. In the first round, Sam was paired with Peter Leko, a legendary chess player. Leko became a GM at age 14, at the time the youngest player in history to hold the GM title. Among a million accomplishments, like winning Linares, or top board prize in the Chess Olympiad, he notably won the Candidates cycle in 2002, raising his ranking to #4 in the World and earning the right to challenge World Champion Kramnik. That match ended in a 7-7 tie, which left Kramnik the title, but also showed how incredibly close Leko was to being the best player in the world at that time.

Just to play him would be the highlight of many chess careers. But Shanky is a great competitor, as you will see from the game, and he scored a win with black in their first game. The second game will be tomorrow, and Shanky will have white, and need a draw. Sam is usually pretty confident that he can draw with white if he wants to, but Leko is another level of opponent, so we shall see how Sam fares.

Here is today's game, with some very light comments:



Overall, Sam's opening seemed acceptable, but then he got outplayed in the middlegame, and had to go for a bad endgame to relieve the pressure. In the ending, I think Leko misevaluated something when he went for the pawn grab. Clearly Sam had not been despondent and was fighting as hard as he could, because as soon as he got this chance, he pounced on it with relentless technique.

[game 2 of the Shankland-Leko match]