Championship Rounds 
at Linares 2005


3/7/2005 -
    It's an off day today at Linares. So it give me some time to reflect about the championship rounds that lie ahead. I've already made a strong case for boxing being a close relative to chess. Not to long ago, world championship boxing matches used to go 15 rounds. Boxing great, Muhammad Ali always talked about the last few rounds of a fight as being the championship rounds. It was often rounds 12,13,14, and 15 that decided who was champion. These rounds help decide who was the strongest and the fittest of the two. The true champions rise to the occasion in the late rounds. Both fighters are tied, but it's the fighter who wants it more that perseveres and wins the last few rounds. He's the one who usually becomes champion. Well we are at the championship rounds at Linares. With only 3 rounds left, the 12th, 13th,  and 14th, I am wondering how it will all shape up?

  Garry Kasparov is the clear leader. He is alone at the top with a +4 score. He has a one-point lead over Anand. It could be very risky for Garry to sit on this lead. Boxing great, Oscar De La Hoya made a similar mistake in his 1999 bout against Felix Trinidad. De La Hoya was leading in points, however he decided to dance the last few rounds instead of fighting. This strategy cost Oscar the match and he wound up losing the fight and title on points. Kasparov has only one white left. It's against Anand.  It could be the most decisive match of the whole tournament.  Garry can seal a first place finish, if he defeats Anand in round 13. A Kasparov victory over Anand would quiet the pundits who proclaim Anand as the new king of chess. 

 Vishy Anand is sitting at +2. He will have white against Vallejo Pons and Adams. IF he takes both of these games, he could win this tournament. Anand should be looking to build on his 11-round win over Kasimdzhanov.  Anand will have another showdown with Kasparov in round 13.  If Anand wins this match up, he will tie for first. However, this will be a tough task with the black pieces. No doubt, Anand will have his hands full with a rampaging Kasparov. 

Peter Leko is sitting at +0. He is probably tired from his October world championship match and his brilliant performance in Corus this past January. He has not won or lost a game yet.  He is sitting tied for third place with 10 draws. He has a bye in round 12. With two games left, he will have a good shot at taking 3rd place. He has a black against a battered Kasimdzhanov and a white against a shaky Vallejo Pons. Leko could save this tournament with two last rounds wins. 

Vaseline Topalov is sitting at +1. He played the most exciting chess for the first half of Linares. He has two wins and a loss. He is currently tied for third with Peter Leko. Topalov has two whites left. The first white is against a beat up Kasimdzhanov in round 12. The 2nd white is in the 14th round against Garry Kasparov. In the 13th round Topalov, with black, takes on Vallejo Pons. Topalov has a good shot of taking 2.5 out of 3. This would allow the number 3 rated player in the world to finish third. 

Michael Adams is sitting at -1 with two losses and one win. He has a tough draw with his white against Garry Kasparov in round 12. Adams will have a rest day in round13, and he will need it. He closes out with black against Anand. Adams will have his hands full with the number one and two players, however he should hold on to the 5th spot. 

Rustam Kasimdzhanov is sitting at -3. He has no wins and three losses. He currently sits in 6th place. Only a half a point separates him from last place. He only has two rounds left. He could use a day off, but his bye is in the 14th and last round. He has black in round 12 against Topalov and a white in round 13 against Peter Leko. Rustam has to find a way to pick himself off the canvas after three knockdowns in 4 rounds. I hope GM Robert Hubner, Rustam's second, is a good cut man and can stop Rustam bleeding. If Rustam doesn't want to finish last, he will have to find a way to hold off the 3rd and 4th ranked players in the world.

Francisco Vallejo Pons is sitting at -3. He has 1 win and 4 losses. He is in last place, trailing Rustam Kasimdzhanov by a half point. He has two blacks left, one in the 12th round against Anand, the other in the 14th round against Peter Leko. Vallejo Pons will have his best shot at a win in round 13. He will have the white pieces against the very tough Topalov. Vallejo Pons has a very good chance to climb out of the cellar by passing the fading Kasimdzhanov. However it will not be easy.

Chess Base Round 11
Down goes Kasimdzhanov, Down goes Kasimdzhanov, Down goes Kasimdzhanov
Mid Linares Report 
Linares 2005 Report - the table setter
Garry "Apollo Creed" Kasparov vs. Rustam "Rocky" Kasimdzhanov
Leko's goal line stand 
Chess and Boxing - Hangin take 
Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad Fight
Muhammad Ali - Greatest fighter ever 
Here is MIG's report on Linares