Grischuk and Topalov win in second round Linares

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Three draws in first round LinaresAlexander Grischuk and Veselin Topalov both won their White games in Linares today, after their opponents erred in close to equal positions. The two share the lead after two rounds.

The 27th Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez “Ciudad de Linares" takes place February 12-25 in Linares, Andalucia, Spain. As a result of the financial crisis, the event went back to the (nowadays almost universal) formula of six players, double round-robin.

This year Veselin Topalov (2805), Levon Aronian (2781), Boris Gelfand (2761), Vugar Gashimov (2759), Alexander Grischuk (2736) and Francisco Vallejo Pons (2705) play. The rounds start at 16:00 CET; rest days are on the 17th and the 22nd. The rate of play is 2 hours for 40 moves, then 1 hour for 20, then 20 minutes for the rest of the game, wit 30 seconds increment starting from move 61. The Sofia rules for offering a draw apply in Linares for the first time.

Round 2 report by Rick Goetzee



Blood has been shed The reactions to the first round in Linares were not very positive. Disappointment about the diminished number of participants, unhappiness with the uneventful draws and frustration with the tournament website. Grumbling chess lovers all over the Internet, probably spoiled too much by the Corus coverage. There was also confusion about the 26 move draw in Aronian-Grischuk. What about the Sofia rules? This was clarified during the day. The players had asked the arbiter for permission to declare the game drawn. A more lenient version of the Sofia rules seems to be used in Linares, which makes a lot of sense.

Hopefully the reactions to the second round will be more positive as blood was shed in two of the three games. Defending champion Grischuk beat World Cup winner Gelfand from a Nimzo-Indian opening. It seems the Nimzo is making a revival at the top level; 3.Nc3 is being seen more and more. On ICC Chess.FM, GM Jan Gustafsson joked that he thought 3.Nc3 was indeed a good move, although he preferred 3.Nf3 avoiding the pin.

GM Varuzhan Akobian praised Grischuk's energetic play starting with 14.Qe4 and said that Gelfand will have mixed feelings about taking with the knight on the 13th move. In the middlegame Gelfand kept White's advantage to a minimum, until he made a big mistake on move 29. White's threats of Qh4, Rg3 and Bh6-g5-f6 had to be answered by 29...Rc7. Grischuk's 32.a5! was surprisingly strong as Black was suddenly in some kind of Zugzwang. Black's last chance was to give the queen, but that looks winning for White too.

grischuk-gelfand

Topalov beat newcomer Gashimov in an untheoretical Chebanenko Slav. Akobian commented that White's set-up must be one of Topalov's back-up openings and that he will choose sharper systems in the match against Anand. Still, the Bulgarian slowly increased the pressure on his opponent and was able to exploit the unsafe position of Gashimov's king in a queen and rook endgame.

topalov-gashimov

Vallejo and Aronian drew a Berlin Wall, "old style". Aronian went for the old main line 9...Ke8 and his follow-up with ...b6 and ...Bb7 is yet another (but more than 30 years old) idea in this intriguing ending. The Spaniard had a slight advantage because of Black's undeveloped rook on h8. After Aronian found a way to free his rook (especially 18...g6! was accurate) an opposite-coloured bishop ending arose with a worthless extra pawn for Vallejo.

vallejo-aronian

Photos © María José Sánchez Rivera



Finally a word on the playing venue which is Teatro Cervantes in the heart of the city. For many years the playing venue was the ballroom of Rentero's Hotel Anibal. Since 2008 they have moved to Cervantes, which is a more suitable venue for players and press. In Anibal there was always a pillar in the way if you wanted to follow all games at the same time. A shuttle service is in place to bring the players from the hotel to the playing venue but most make the 15 minute journey by foot.

Games round 2 with brief annotations



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Linares 2010 | Pairings and results




Linares 2010 | Round 2 Standings




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