Linares R10: favorites falter

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Carlsen-AnandFavorites Aronian and Carlsen are having a very unpredictable and unstable Linares tournament so far, interchanging wins with losses. In round 10, the former lost to Radjabov while the latter went down against Wang Yue. Grischuk-Ivanchuk and Anand-Dominguez were drawn.

From February 18 till March 8 the 26th Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez Ciudad de Linares takes place. There is no appearance 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.

Round 10 Carlsen started with five draws in Linares, but in the next five rounds he added just one more, plus two wins and two losses. In this round he lost to Wang Yue, who thus scored his first win of the tournament. The Chinese has had a disappoint year so far, after his amazing undefeated streak in 2008, but clearly he's still a very dangerous opponent.

In a Chebanenko Slav, Wang Yue went for an IQP position where Black gets active play on the kingside. It was enough compensation in the game, perhaps also because of the knight on a4 that was totally out of play. Perhaps still shaking because of the 24...Rxb6 blow, Carlsen missed a better defence at move 26 and had to walk with his king all the way the b5. In timetrouble he got one more chance (38.Qd7 wins an important tempo because of the back rank mate) after which the Chinese made no mistake - clearly his best game of the tournament so far, and a deserved win.

Radjabov also won his first game; he defeated Aronian and one could add: "in the style of his opponent". This time Radjabov didn't go for the sharp stuff, but instead he played a quiet, not very dangerous set-up. Still, he managed to get a very promising position right out of the opening after inaccurate play by Aronian, who perhaps had dozed off already!

Black couldn't find a good way to put pressure on White's d-pawn and when he went for 19...h6, he missed that after 20.Bh3 he cannot play the natural 20...Rd8 because of 21.Bh5! as was explained by Radjabov after the game. So from that moment Aronian had to do with a pawn less and confidently liquidating to a double rook ending, Radjabov finished the game as strongly as he had started it.

Despite the Petroff start, Grischuk-Ivanchuk was not bad at all - these two players can create great stuff from any position, or so it seems! The Ukrainian had the same position on the board as the round before, when he had come up with the new move 16.a4, and was also well prepared for Grischuk's copy of a Jakovenko game. 24...hxg5 looks very good for Black; after that the position was equal.

Anand also looked at a position he had played himself at the other side of the board: a blitz game from '93! Dominguez' new move 12...Ng4 doesn't seem to equalize fully, but after allowing 25...e5! White's small advantage vanished quickly.

Grischuk has been leading the field since round 2, and has been at clear first place since round 6. With just four more rounds to go, and the favorites faltering, he's getting pretty close to a sensational Grand Slam victory.

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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