Saturday, March 1

Anand and Carlsen Draw, Still Occupy Top Spots at Linares

(This photo shows Anand playing a charity simul on ICC with the familiar BlitzIn interface.)

The 38 year old Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand continues to lead the world's most prestigious annual chess tournament. The world's #1 rated player presently has a score of "plus 3" or 6.5 out of 10 after four wins, five draws and one loss. Two fellow competitors remain within striking distance of Anand as four rounds remain in the second half of the schedule: Norwegian teenager Magnus Carlsen at 6.0 and Armenian Levon Aronian at 5.5. However, "Vishy" has already faced both rivals, drawing with Aronian in round 9 and drawing with Carlsen in round 10.
  • Aronian 1/2 Anand (9) -- Queen's Indian
  • Carlsen 1-0 Shirov (9) -- Carlsen wins a drawn endgame out of the Ruy Lopez when Shirov accidentally allows him to queen
  • Topalov 1/2 Radjabov (9) -- Ruy Lopez, Schliemann
  • Leko 0-1 Ivanchuk (9) -- Caro Kann defense
  • Anand 1/2 Carlsen (10) -- Highly anticipated game between the two leaders fizzles out in a 22 move draw in the Sveshnikov variation
  • Radjabov 1/2 Aronian (10) -- Semi-Slav defense
  • Shirov 1/2 Leko (10) -- Shirov and Leko continue the theoretical discussion of the Marshall attack in the Ruy Lopez, with black's bishop pair sufficient to draw
  • Ivanchuk 1/2 Topalov (10) -- Topalov finds trouble in his favorite Najdorf variation yet escapes with half a point when Ivanchuk blunders two pawns

(Click on the links to view the moves in Chess Publisher's game viewer.)

The tenth round was the first one to come to a peaceful conclusion in all four games. Perhaps the players wanted some extra time to rest, as the tournament stops for a rest day on Sunday. On the bright side, 20 out of 40 games have been decisive so far, a statistic that is uncommon for events at the world's highest level. Some more observations from the past three days:

  • Ivanchuk has serious difficulty managing his nerves. He obtained excellent middlegame positions against both Carlsen (round 8) and Topalov (round 10), but lost the former due to time pressure and hung two pawns to draw in the latter.
  • On the other hand, Carlsen too often gets dubious positions in the opening. His father admitted on his blog that Magnus forgot theory at move 8 against Ivanchuk. Still, he finds a way to complicate the game and sometimes wins. GM Hikaru Nakamura bluntly said on ICC: "Smallville(GM)(166): Carlsen simply proves that older dudes need to play more 1-minute chess."

The next round begins on Monday morning at 7am PST and the tournament wraps up on Friday. If you're interested in listening to Grandmaster commentary, check out the daily video reports on the ICC ChessFM website (membership required).

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