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Four-way tie for lead at Linares chess tournament with one round to play

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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:06 PM
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Four-way tie for lead at Linares chess tournament with one round to play
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 06:56 PM by Jack Rabbit
FIDE champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, who was floundering near the bottom of the standings half way through the 23rd annual Ciudad de Linares chess Tournament in Andalusia, today moved into a four-way tie for first place by defeating Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko in 71 moves in the next-to-last round of the event.

Leko was in sole possession of first place at the start of today's action with 7 points out of 12, a half point ahead of Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian and a full point of Topalov and 18-year-old grandmaster Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. However, while Topalov defeated Leko, Aronian drew his game with grandmaster Etienne Bacrot of France while Radjabov defeated Russian grandmaster Peter Svidler, giving all four players 7 points after 12 rounds. A player is awarded a full point for each victory while draws are worth a half point each.

It was the first loss of the tournament for Leko, a cautious master of great technical skill considered to be among the most difficult players in the world to defeat. He has three wins and nine draws. It was Topalov's fifth win of the tournament and fourth in the last six games. However, Topalov lost three games during the first half of the tournament, which was played in Morelia, Michoacn near the Pacific coast of Mexico. Radjabov and Aronian each have four wins and two losses.

The co-leaders from earlier rounds: Radjabov playing Topalov; Aronian playing Svidler; Leko against Ivanchuk

The game between Topalov and Leko began when Topalov, playing White, opened with his Queen's Pawn and Leko adopted a Nimzo-Indian Defense, one of several "Indian" defenses to Queen's Pawn openings popularized in the 1920s by such chess luminaries as Aron Nimzovich, Richard Reti and Dr. Savielly Tartakover. The idea is for Black to slow White's advance to the center while not committing any of his own Pawns there until later. The players gradually exchanged pieces; Queens left the board on the twenty-fifth move and on the thirtieth move the players were down to two Rooks, a Knight and five Pawns each. One pair of Rooks were exchanged on the forty-first move and the game appeared headed to a draw. However, Leko played 50 -- Nc4, missing an easy draw which would have followed 50 -- Ke7. Topalov took advantage of the error to push a passed Pawn forward, giving him time to put further pressure on Black's position. On move 58, Leko sacrificed his Knight in an attempt to save and mobilize the Pawn that was obstructing White's last Pawn. However, Topalov captured the Pawn on his sixty-ninth move. Only two moves later, it was clear that stopping White's last Pawn from Queening would cost Black his Rook. Leko resigned.

In the only other game today, grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine defeated Spanish grandmaster Francisco Vallejo.

In tomorrow's final round, Leko will have White against Aronian; Topalov will have Black against Vallejo; Radjabov will have Black against Bacrot; and, in the only game that will have no bearing on the tournament Championship, Svidler will play White against Ivanchuk.

Should Toplaov finish with a share of first place, it would go down as one of the great comebacks by a champion in a tournament since then-world champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker's fabled win in the St. Petersberg Tournament in May 1914. In that tornament, a single round preliminary event was followed by a double round final tournament among the top five from the preliminary with the scores carried forward. Dr. Lasker, from Germany, went into the final event a point and a half behind Jos Capablanca of Cuba. Also competing in the final event were Frank Marshall of New York, Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch of Germany and a young Russian, Alexander Alekhine. Marshall and Tarrasch had each played and lost matches against Dr. Lasker with the world title on the line in 1907 and 1908; Capablanca would defeat Lasker for the title in 1921 and Alekhine would take the title away from Capablanca in 1927. Against this stiff competition, Lasker won six and drew two in the final event, including a marvellous win from Capablanca in the penultimate round, to finish alone in first place.
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-11-06 12:56 PM
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1. Link to live game
Please click here for a live broadcast of the Leko-Aronian game at

Topalov and Radjabov have drawn their respective games, so it all comes down to this one.

As I am writing this, White (Leko) is two Pawns down and appears to be in serious trouble, both on the board and on the clock.
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