Linares R7: Ivanchuk beats Aronian, Grischuk leads at half-time

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Carlsen-AnandThe first half of Linares is over and it's Grischuk who leads the field at 5/7, a point clear of Ivanchuk and Carlsen. In round 7, the Russian grandmaster drew Anand with Black while Ivanchuk inflicted a loss on Aronian - the second in a row for the Armenian. Carlsen drew with Radjabov and Dominguez-Wang Yue saw the same result.

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.

Round 7 In the only decisive game of the round, Ivanchuk defeated Aronian with Black in a King's Indian. The Ukrainian had also played it earlier in the tournament when Radjabov played 1.d4 against him, and apparently he had enjoyed the experience. Ivanchuk plays so much openings that it's almost something special when he tries something the second time in the same tournament!

The new trend seems to be Gligoric's 7.Be3 and in this game Black opted for the modest-looking 7...c6, which used to be the main line a long time ago. It was played by Kasparov in his World Championship Match against Karpov in 1990, but also for instance by Ivanchuk himself against Kasparov playing White, Reggio Emilia 1991/92 (!) which went 8.Qd2?! Nbd7 9.Rd1?! (White waits for Rf8-e8 before playing d4-d5 so that the rook will be misplaced for the f7-f5 break, but the criticism comes from Kasparov himself) 9...Re8 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 and now Black could have played 11...Ng4! 12.Bg5 f6 13.Bh4 h5 with a slight plus, as was given by Nunn & Burgess in their The Main Line King's Indian from 1996. Forgive me for bringing back some good KID memories!

Back to 2009, when Aronian-Ivanchuk was about equal for a long time but White probably chose the wrong plan in the middlegame, as Black was more comfortable with his e5 and f4 pawns, threating ideas like Rf8-f5-h5 or bringing the knight to f4. However, it seems like there was no need to panic (31.Nxf4) yet as 31.Qe1 holds things together for the moment. After a few more inaccuracies, Black's extra piece was decisive.

Grischuk was put under pressure by Anand, but held his own nicely. His slow manoeuvering in the opening provoked the World Champion to go for 11.h4 and then the question was: why is g2-g4 better with Black's knight on e7 than when it is on c6? Not easy to answer, but we think that in the position a few moves later it allows White to take on d4 with the bishop (if Black plays ...exd4). In the game Black's counterplay with ...e5 and ...b5 was typical of the opening and precisely what was needed to prevent being taken off guard completely. The rest was accurately played by both players and so we can speak of a correct draw.

Radjabov hasn't been very successful with the Scotch lately, and so he went for the Guioco Piano against Carlsen. (Wonder what puts him off the Ruy Lopez?) It was another game with typical manoeuvres for the opening, and a balanced position from A to Z. White could have tried 31. (or 33.) Qf3 Kg8 32.Re4!? to continue the attack, but instead repeated moves. The Petroff in Dominguez-Wang Yue lasted longer than expected, but at move 57 the Cuban gave up his attempts to tear down the Chinese Wall.

And so Grischuk leads comfortably at half-time, and with a 2917 performance he must be the happiest Russian in the Ja?©n province of Andalusia during the second rest day. Ivanchuk has clearly recovered from his bad form in Wijk aan Zee and Carlsen plays about the same. In a packed field like this, scoring a solid plus one is normally enough to stay favorite for first, but if Grischuk continues like this... Anand has been underperforming slightly so far and needs his Bonn 2008 form in the second half to win the title for the third time in a row, and the fourth time in his career. Dominguez, Radjabov (!) and Wang Yue are still waiting for their first win.

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