6/3/2005 - Even the best teams have slumps. The 2005 New York
Yankees slumped thru the first quarter of the baseball season. They were
11-19 before they caught fire and won 11 games in a row. Peter Leko
continued to slump in game 3 of his match with Michael Adams. You got
to wonder if this slow start is just a case of Leko feeling his nerves.
recall last September, during game one of the Kramnik vs. Leko chess world
championship match. It was Leko who felt the pressure of the
world watching, he tried to win a game where he had little opportunity to
win. Well this proved disastrous and Leko lost the first game of the world
championship, a loss that proved fateful. Leko failed to win the title and
had to settle for a moral victory when he drew his world championship match.
Sometimes home field advantage can put unneeded pressure on a player. I
recall the 1993 Kasparov vs. Short world championship match.. Short felt the
pressure of playing in front of his home fans and also the pressure of
playing against the world champion. Short missed two winning opportunities
in the first two games of that match. In game one of that match, Short
overstepped on time in a superior position. In game two, short made a
patzer mistake, when he failed to push the unopposed pawn first on his off
side majority. Kasparov quickly capitalized on this mistake and prevented
short from creating a winning outside passed pawn.
I think Leko is
also feeling the pressure to perform in front of his country fans. The first
game Leko took a risky gamble and lost. In game two he never got started and
lost in 25 moves with white. Game three the Leko slump would continue.
In game three Adams played 1.e4 and the players debated the Ruy
Lopez. Adams again made this win look easy. By move 15 .. Bxf3, Leko had
traded his bishop for Adams's king-side knight. This corrupted Adams castled
position when he was force to recapture with 16 gxf3. The key to chess is
take advantage of our compensation. Adams had the bishop pair, a strong
center, and an half open g-file. He took advantage of all of these
advantages. with move 22 f4, Adams had almost complete control of the 5th
rank. He had his d, e, and f pawns all on the 4th rank. His bishops and
queen were pointed towards Leko's castled king. Adams' g-rook commanded the
half open g-file. Leko tried to attack Adams' center and b4-rook with move
Adams took advantage of a chess rule of thumb, if you are
threatened, try to ignore and find a bigger threat. Adams had his own
center, counter punch when he played 23.e5. This move attacked Leko's
queen and central pawn base. This forced Leko's queen to flee to the back
rank and the d and c pawns left the board and an exchange of rooks occurred.
This allowed Adams to play 26 f5., which attacked Leko's knight. Leko
ignored the threat to his knight and decided to exchange bishops with
26.Bxe3. Adams countered with 27 fxe6. Adams pawns were dangerously close to
Leko's position. Leko retreated his e3-bishop to h6 to help
defend his kingside, however he was already lost. Adams countered with 28
Qh5, which had the dual threats of Qxh6 and Qxf7+.
The game concluded with
the exchange of queens on move 31. Adams had an advanced passed pawn on e7.
The game evolved into a rook and bishop vs. rook and bishop endgame.
However Leko had back rank weakness and could not afford to take Adams' e7
pawn. Leko's rook soon came under attack with 33 . Ba4, so Leko resigned on
move 33. Another nice game by Adams. He made it look so easy.
Game 4- Down 3-0, Leko's back was against the wall, and he finally hits
his stride. Could this be the start of a winning streak. He will need one to
tie this match. Today Leko pushed 1.e4. The players debated the closed Ruy
Lopez, Keres Defense. By move 27, Leko had control of the open c-file.
His c7-Knight was deep inside Adams territory attacking Adams a6-pawn.
Adams' d6-pawn was also under attack by Leko's e4-knight. Adams was reduced
to passivity. On move 35, trying to free his position, Adams played Rxe4
sacrificing his rook for the knight and pawn. In an inferior position, Adams
blunders on move 39 ... Qd4. This blunder allowed Leko to set up a winning
combination that wins a piece.
Leko sets up the combination with 40 Qf5+,
this drives Adams king to the back rank with 40.. Kg8. This sequence will
allow Leko the necessary tempo to win a piece. Leko played 41. Qc8
doubly attacking Adams d8-knight and b7-rook. Adams picks up Leko's rook
with 41.. Bxc1. Leko responds with 42 . Qxd8+, picking up the knight and
giving check. This allowed Leko to pick up Adams' bishop with Rxc1.
Down a piece, Adams resigns on move 44. With this win, Leko stops a 3 game
losing streak and now has entered the race. Score is Adams 3 - Leko 1. The
question is "could this be the start of a winning streak?"