Linares resumes, Aronian beats Carlsen

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Carlsen-AnandIn the first round of the second half in Linares, Levon Aronian recovered from two losses in a row with an excellent win over Magnus Carlsen, who missed a chance to reach a theoretically drawn f+ h rook ending. All other games were drawn and so Grischuk retained his one-point lead.

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 8 Despite good fights on all boards, like in the previous round there was just one decisive game: Carlsen-Aronian 0-1. The Norwegian chose the same Latvian Slav with which he had beaten Anand, but Aronian was well prepared for it, since he plays it often with White too. Carlsen didn't react in the best way to the novelty 14....c5! and soon found himself in a difficult ending, where he had to give up a pawn. Black was probably winning at some point, but after the game Aronian said he shouldn't have exchanged the bishops.


Smyslov in 1947

Eventually a rook ending was reached with two connected pawns (f+g) for Aronian versus a h-pawn for Carlsen. With reversed colours, a classical example is Gligoric-Smyslov, Moscow 1947, in which the later world champion showed the way to draw: sacrifice the h-pawn at the right moment to force the famously drawn f+h rook ending! (Two years later, Smyslov also drew this rook ending against Keres - both games can be found below today's Linares games).

Carlsen missed this idea, after which Aronian had no trouble winning the game. And so history repeated itself: at the 2006 Tal Memorial, Carlsen also lost a totally drawn (f+e pawns vs f-pawn) rook ending against Aronian.

It was remarkable to see that the players with the White pieces were all in trouble today - even Ivanchuk, who faced a Petroff played by Wang Yue! In the tabiya for the 5.d4 main line, he managed to come up with a new move (unless I'm missing something here), 16.a4, where 16.h3, 16.Bg3, 16.Bd3, 16.Qa4, 16.Qc1, 16.c4, 16.Bf1 and 16.Nd2 have all been played.

Petroff players need not worry - White got nowhere close to an advantage and in the ending he actually soon stood slightly worse. Apparently Ivanchuk was confident enough to hold the rook ending with a pawn down when he went for 32.Bxc4 and indeed - the way he held it was instructive (creating a weakness on h6 himself). A good round for studying rook endings!

Tournament leader Grischuk escaped with White against Dominguez. The players followed an old Jussupow-Timman game and once more the Cuban showed that his openings are more than all right. He proved "Delroy" (pawn d6) to be more weak than strong, and with 24...Kg8! he could have picked it up with no compensation for White. Later on 28...Re6 would have been strong.

The last game, Radjabov-Anand, was certainly not the least. Like his opponent, Radjabov has incorporated 1.d4 as an important part of his repertoire but here too he goes for the sharp stuff. Anand knows his king-in-the-center Slavs and was more than OK after the opening. The blow 24.Ne5!? was answered by the counter-blow 25...g4! (after 25...Qc7 White's idea is 26.Bxb7 Qxb7 27.Rxe6!+ Kf8 28.Qh6+ with perpetual) which led to a slightly better rook ending for Black, but it wasn't enough to win.

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