Monday, March 13, 2006

Linares / Morelia 2006

Veselin Topalov seems to be making a habit of come-from-behind performances at super-GM tournaments of late. His comeback at Corus is a case in point: after dropping an early game to Mickey Adams, he returned to form late in the event to make an even score with Anand (who took first place on tie-breaks). And at the recently concluded Linares / Morelia Super-GM tourney he did it again, dropping two games in the first four rounds but then mounting a strong comeback that concluded with a victory over tournament leader Leko in the penultimate round to gain a four-way tie for first going into the final. In the final round, however, he played into a drawing line against tail-ender Vallejo Pons which allowed Aronian to take sole first place (with a nice win over Leko, annotated today by Kavalek).

World Champion Topalov certainly made it quite interesting for chess fans. In many ways, I find it easier to admire Topalov the underdog and "come-from-behind kid" than I did to embrace the completely dominant Kasparov when he was World Champ. Topalov's early losses humanize him, while his strong finishes still convincingly demonstrate that he is deserving of the title. As an ordinary chess fan, you gotta love that.

You can easily get your fill of annotated games from the tournament, which can be found all over the internet. Here is my selection of four favorites with links to annotations:

1) Topalov - Leko, Round 13
--Sakaev, Topalov-Leko at e3 e5
--Good annotations, translated into English, by the Russian GM.
--Malcolm Pein, Morelia / Linares 2006, Round 13, at TWIC
--"The Incredible Topalov Comeback" at Chessbase, where you'll find a great report with pictures and video.

2) Svidler - Topalov , Round 1
Despite my admiration for the champ, I must admit I often prefer the games where Topalov loses to those he wins. His first round loss to Peter Svidler was one of the highlights of the event for me, interested as I am in the theory of the Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez / Spanish. It is also among the most widely annotated:
--Dennis Monokroussos, Linares Round 1, from The Chess Mind
--Malcolm Pein, "Moreia / Linares 2006, Round 1" at TWIC
--Maxim Notkin, Round 1 Games, at ChessPro
--Robert Byrne, Svidler Gives Topalov Trouble in the NY Times.
--This first loss of Topalov's is also among several games commented on at the Convekta website by IM Alexander Alpert

3) Aronian-Vallejo, Round 11
This was among my favorite games since its opening was so tactically intricate and interesting.
--FM Jorge Fernández, Aronian - Vallejo at InforChess.
--Sergei Shipov, Aronian - Vallejo, at ChessPro.

4) Ivanchuk - Svidler , Round 6
A success for Ivanchuk's anti-Gruenfeld weapon Bg5!? which was also used by Aronian in this tournament.
--Hector Leyva, Ivanhuk-Svidler, Morelia Ronda 6, at Inforchess
--Lubmir Kavalek in his Washington Post column (February 27, 2006) along with Leko - Ivanchuk.
--Malcolm Pein, Morelia / Linares Round 6, at TWIC

You can explore other postings by the writers above to see additional annotated games (usually by changing the round number in the URL). Other information about the tournament can be found at the official Morelia site and the official Linares site.


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