Hangin's Mid Linares Report 

3/2/2005 -

   With 7 rounds played, we are at the mid way point of the 2005 Linares Tournament. I got to admit, it has been an exciting tournament. We saw some nice wins and some incredible saves.  Hangin has come up with a new award. Hangin just finished the annual White Knight Awards and he looking to dish out some new honors.  So Linares is the best place to start.  Lets call this new award the ATABOY.  When you get an ATABOY, it's kind of like getting a pat on the backside with a accompanying  "ATABOY".  It's for a job well done. ATABOYS have more to do with hustle then just winning. I am thinking that maybe the ATABOY ought to be used to decide tiebreakers, provided that blitz play off is not used.

 Garry Kasparov:

 deserves 4 ATABOYS. He is in first place with 4 points, with 2 wins, 4 draws, no loses. First place is where we expect the Number one player to be. Kasparov is showing that his win in the Russian Championship was not fluke.  Kramnik said Kasparov is in crisis. I don't see it. But there is plenty of chess to be played.

 1) He's got to get one for leading the tournament by a half of point.

 2) He gets another one for his nice save, with black, against Anand in round 6. Kasparov has nerves of steel. Not many people could handle the pressure that Anand put on Kasparov all game long. Kasparov was able to pull a perpetual check out of his bag of tricks. He needed magic to stop Anand's passer, which was one move from queening. Kasparov was able to offer his bishop and the treat of his own passed pawn to hold Anand at bay.

 3) He gets another for his nice combinational finish to defeat the hometown boy, Vallejo Pons in round 3.  From the black side of the board, Kasparov used several combinational ideas to finish off this young talent. It started with a discovery attack on Vallejo Pons rook. Kasparov then took advantage of  an overworked defender and finished it off with a nice queen fork.   

 4) He gets another for his nice win over Michael Adams in round 5. From the white side of the board, Kasparov won a pawn in the middle game.  Kasparov outmaneuver Adams in a queen and rook


Veselin Topalov:
 He deserves 4 ATABOYS. He is tied for 2nd place with Anand with 3.5 points, with 2 wins, one loss, and 3 draws.  Topalov is definitely an exciting player. He certainly deserves the number 3 rating spot.  He is on Hangin's radar.
 1) He gets his first for his win from the white side of the board against Michael Adams in round 1. Topalov survived Adams dubious Kingside attack. Topalov turns the table and uses his own heavy artillery to force Adams to resign.

 2)  He gets another for his heroic failed effort, with black, against Anand in round 2. You can definitely get an ATABOY in a losing effort. No question about it, Topalov had his chances to win or save that game. It was a rook and minor piece endgame. It was Anand rook and bishop vs.  Topalov's rook and knight. Both sides had connected offside passed pawns.  It was unclear as to who was going to win this one. However it was Anand passer that would dictate the results of this game. Topalov made it very interesting until the very end. His connected passed pawns got very close, however Anand bishop kept then from queening.

 3) He gets another for his heroic drawing effort against Peter Leko in round 4. This was another exciting endgame melee. Topalov, with white, had the toughest defender in the business on the ropes all game long. Had Topalov been playing any other player, I am sure he would have won. Topalov had won a pawn in the middle game. The game evolved into Topalov's  queen, rook, bishop and 4 pawns (2 were offside passers) vs. Leko's queen, rook, bishop and three pawns (1 outside passer). Topalov used his pawns to batter Leko's king position. Meanwhile Leko broke open the A-file and threatened to use his Queen and rook to give mate along the A-file.  Topalov had to  knight a pawn in order to give check to prevent Leko from mating his king.  Topalov was forced to get the heavy artillery off the board by forcing the queens off. This split Topalov connected passers. The game evolved into Topalov's rook and two isolated pawns vs. Leko's rook and one pawn. Leko used his more advanced pawn to keep the game under control and the draw in hand. 

4) He gets his fourth one for his win, with the white pieces, against hometown boy Vallejo Pons in round 6. This was a wild opposite castling Sicilian. Topalov castled queenside and Vallejo Pons went kingside. Both sides started their pawn storms. In these kinds of position, time is everything. It is usually whoever gets there first wins. Vallejo Pons stormed Topalov king position first. Vallejo Pons sacked knight was sitting on Topalov King's lap. Vallejo had four pieces attacking Topalov's naked king. However Topalov had his own queen-bishop battery ready to give mate. How Topalov survived this attack is any ones guess. Topalov turned the tables on his young challenger and had his own set of pieces attacking Vallejo Pons king. It would be Topalov's storm that would prove more deadly. Topalov ended the game with a pawn advance leading to a  discovered attack, which threatened to give  mate and to win a piece.  

 Vishy Anand:
  He deserves 2 ATABOYS. Anand is tied for 2nd place with 3.5 points, with 1 win, 5 draws, and no loses. He got Kasparov in deep trouble. That game decided the lead so far. Anand will be tested by Kasparov in the 2nd half. Anand is number two in the world and that's where he stands in this tournament. 

   1) He gets one for his nice game with Kasparov. From the white side of the board, Anand got Kasparov in deep trouble in a Sveshnikov in round 6. Anand is one of the few players in the world who can get a Kasparov, Kramnik or Leko in trouble. 
   2) He gets another one for his great win over Topalov. Anand with white won a nice endgame in round 2. This game was already described above. Anand is another cool customer under fire.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov:

 He deserves 1 ATABOY. He is currently sitting tied for fourth place with 3 points, with no wins, 5 draws and no losses.  Kasimdzhanov showed every one at the 2004-Libya KO that he could handle the bottom half of the top 10. Well he's held his own against the top half of the top 10 here at Linares. 

 1) He gets his first one with a nice drawing effort, with black, against the great Garry Kasparov in round 2. Kasimdzhanov hung tough even though he had to sac the exchange for a pawn. The game evolved into Kasimdzhanov's knight and 5 pawns vs. Kasparov rook and three isolated pawns. They fought on until it was Kasimdzhanov's Knight and pawn, two squares from queening vs. Kasparov rook and f2 pawn. Kasimdzhanov advanced passer ruled the day and he  forced the draw. 

 Peter Leko :
  He deserves 1 ATABOY. He is currently sitting tied for forth place with 3 points, with no wins, 5 draws and no losses.  I wonder if Peter is still feeling the affects of his great effort in Corus. 

 1) He gets his first with his heroic effort and goal line stand against Topalov in round 4. This great save was already described above.  Recently in other tournaments and matches, Leko has made some great saves against Anand and Kramnik. He has the reputation as one of the toughest players to defeat in the world.  


Michael Adams :

  He deservers 1 ATABOY. He is currently sitting in sixth place with 2.5 points, with one win, two losses and 3 draws. 

 1) He gets his first one from the white side of the board, with his win over the local hometown kid in round 4. Adams took advantage of the open files that Vallejo Pons created. Adams played on both sides of the board. One of his pigs invaded the 7th rank of Vallejo Pon's queenside. Adams then spearheaded a kingside attack with his queen. His knights proudly dominated from central outposts. Vallejo was able to stop the kingside attack, however Adams had created a deadly offside passer. This proved to be too much for the local hometown kid. 

 Francisco Vallejo Pons:

  He deservers 1 ATABOY. He is currently sitting in last place with 1.5 points. with no wins, 3 draws and 3 losses. 
    Its go to be tough playing the worlds best players, especially  in front of your   hometown fans. Even though  Vallejo Pons is in last place with three draws. He does carry his lunch box to work everyday and puts in a full day at the office. 

 1) He gets his first from the black side of the board in an exciting but failed attempt against Topalov in round 6. I already described this exciting game. 

Most exciting games so far. Listed by round.

1) Anand vs. Topalov round 2 - The battle of the connected passers
2) Topalov vs. Leko round 4 - Leko Goal Line stand
3) Anand vs. Kasparov round 6 - Kasparov saves this one with his nerves of steel
4) Topalov vs. Vallejo Pons round 6 - Pawn storms of opposite castle kings. The first storm to hit loses this race

Hangin's Linares table setter
Worlds Collide - Anand vs. Kasparov
Goal line stand - Topalov vs. Leko
MIG'S Linares report
Chess BASE Reports and Games