Grischuk takes full point lead in Linares

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Carlsen-AnandIn retrospect the 6th round of Linares 2009 might become a historical day: 18-year-old Magnus Carlsen beat World Champion Anand for the first time in his life. Grischuk, who entered the tournament after Topalov had to cancel, defeated Aronian and suddenly leads by a full point. There's also the news that next year the first half of the tournament might be held in the United Arab Emirates.

From February 18 till March 8 the 26th Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez Ciudad de Linares takes place. There is no starting fee for the players this time; the prize fund is € 314,000. The winner takes € 100,000, the second place is € 75,000 and the third player earns € 50,000.

Next year: first half in UAE Before we head on to the games, we'll mention some other news concerning Linares first. According to several sources (TopNews has it, but the same story is also at Monster and Critics), a business man from the United Arab Emirates wants to organize the first half of next year's tournament in his country.

Sulaiman Al Fahim is a powerful real estate business man and the architect of the purchase of Premier League club Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He's planning to bring the world's best chess players to the Emirates. "We pay the expenses of players and the prizes, I think around 2 million euros (some 2.5 million dollars)," he is quoted in the reports.

Round 6 Carlsen had a similar start like at Corus, with five draws (at Corus nine!) and then a first win. And what a win! In a "Shirov/Shabalov Semi-Slav" (7.g4), Anand quickly offered a queen exchange that compromised his pawn structure (a doubled pawn, but also two isolated ones!), but apparently he was confident that Black could hold it. Perhaps that was true, but in Fischer's favourite ending, Carlsen showed fine technique and persistance to grind down the Indian in 77 moves.

Just before the time control it looked like the players were repeating moves but the young Norwegian suddenly used a Zugzwang motive to make progress (if Black's rook moves at move 36, White will either seize the c-file or put his rook on g8). By getting in e4-e5 the first stage was accomplished, and then he just used... another Zugzwang at move 44! There 44...Ng5 is answered by 45.Ra1 and so Black can't do without ...f6, after which it looks technically winning. Anand fought hard till the very end (and missed a few chances - 47..Re1+ and 57...Rh1+ were both more resilient), but didn't survive.

An amazing game was Grischuk-Aronian which started as a sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit. Black was in desperate need of a new idea in that line and Aronian had one: 15...0-0 (Black always takes first on b3, including Karjakin against Grischuk, Sochi GP 2008). Two moves later Black suddenly attacked both d4 and h4. Apparently Aronian forgot about his preparation (or he simply wanted to play for a win) because he missed 21...g3! which seems to equalize instantly. Perhaps this is worth a look for our ChessVibes Openings editors! In the game White held the advantage with the nice move 25.e5! and could soon profit from Black's weakened kingside. In timetrouble Black missed 38...Nf6 and had to give an exchange, after which Grischuk had no mercy.

The Russian grandmaster was added to the list of participants when Topalov had to cancel because of this match against Kamsky, and now we find Grischuk leading the field a point clear! We hadn’t seen him in super tournaments for a while, but he did play in all three Grand Prix tournaments last year and was quite succesful in two of them (4-5th place in Baku, 10th in Sochi and shared 1st in Elista). Grischuk had often said that he doesn't really like classical chess, but it's a fact that he happens to be very good at it!

The other two games were hard-fought draws. Wang Yue and Radjabov continued their discussion in the King's Indian with 7.Be3 which was first popularized by Gligoric. Radjabov's 13...Nc5 was a deviation from their game at Corus this year (where 13...Nxf5 was played) and then Wang Yue played the new move 14.b4 (Kasimdzhanov beat Cheparinov with 14.Qd2 at the Elista Grand Prix in December) but some tactics starting with 14...e4! quickly led to an equal position.

Ivanchuk-Dominguez, a Symmetrical English, started with some slow manoeuvering - very slow, until the players suddenly both had about one and a half minute left for the last fifteen moves! White is probably still winning in the final position but offered a draw anyway, and Mig seems to have the answer to this little puzzle. He translated a paragraph from a piece in the Spanish newspaper Marca:

The sporting gesture of the round was the draw Ivanchuk gave to Dominguez. Both players were very short on time and Ivanchuk on several occasions knocked the pieces over accidentally. Dominguez, displaying a sportsmanlike attitude, put the pieces back on his own time despite risking a loss. The Ukrainian, in the end, rewarded his opponent with a draw despite having a decisive advantage.


Radjabov-Smeets revisited, and another act of "fair play", without needing an arbiter this time. Today is the last round of the first half of the tournament.



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