For ten years, Viswanathan Anand has spent the end of the European winter in the southern Spanish town of Linares. With rare exceptions, Anand plays well below his full potential at the 'Wimbledon of Chess' but Linares 2000 was probably the nadir for the Indian who is currently ranked as the world number two. While rivals Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik were setting the pace, eventually finishing well clear of the elite six-player field, Anand was languishing at the tail, only a penultimate round win over Alexander Khalifman allowed the 30-year-old Indian to reach a respectable score.
Anand, who saw a possible 1999 world title challenge against Kasparov deferred indefinitely, may have been affected by recent comments by Kasparov suggesting that Anand is playing so poorly that no sponsor could possibly be interested in a Kasparov-Anand match.
Coincidentally, this week the London 'Times' announced that its chess columnist Ray Keene, co-organiser of Kasparov's 1986 and 1993 title matches, was seeking to bring Kasparov's next world title defence to England. Since Anand was completely unaware of Keene's plan, he can only hope that Kasparov is not intending to substitute him for another opponent.
This is unlikely to be Khalifman, the FIDE World Champion, who also struggled in Linares. However Khalifman did have the satisfaction of ending Peter Leko's 60 game undefeated streak with the following impressive display.
Opening: Grunfeld Defence
#1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0 Bg4#
Black's critical choice in this razor-sharp variation.
#13.Bg5 h6 14.Be3 Nc6 15.d5 Ne5 16.Rxb7 e6 17.d6 Rfd8 18.Re1!? Bxf3 19.gxf3 Qa5#
The older 19...Qa3 walks into 20.f4! Rxd6 21.Qc1! Qxc1 22.Rxc1 Nc6 23.e5 Nd4 24.Rcc7!! with White on top.
#20.Rf1 Bf8 21.d7 Qa2 22.Bb5 a6 23.Ba4!?#
In Linares 1998 Kramnik and Kasparov drew after 23.Bd4 Bg7 24.Bxe5 but Khalifman is more ambitious "After 23.Ba4, I think this line is in crisis," opined Khalifman.
#23...Nxf3+ 24.Kg2! Ne5?!#
24... Nh4+ 25.Kh3 g5 is the critical line and looks far from clear. Khalifman later stated that he believed 25.Kh1 was good enough to keep an edge for White.
#25.Bb6 Qc4 26.Qd4! Qxd4?!#
26...Qe2 was the best try, although White keeps an edge.
#27.Bxd4 Nd3 28.Bc6! Nc5#
This cost Leko an hour but there is no saving resource.
#(Diagram) 29.Rc7! Bd6 30.Bxc5! Bxc7 31.Bxa8 Rxa8 32.Be7! Rd8#
Both 32...Bd8 and 32...Kg7 are answered by 33.Rc1!.
#33.Rd1 f5 34.Bxd8 Bxd8 35.exf5 gxf5 36.Rd6 Kf7 37.Rxa6 Ke7 38.Kg3 Bc7+ 39.Kh4 Kxd7#
39...Bxh2 allows 40.Rxe6+! Kxd7 41.Rxh6, winning trivially.
#40.Ra7 Kc6 41.Rxc7+! Kxc7 42.Kh5 e5 43.Kxh6 Kd6 44.Kg5 Ke6 45.h4 f4 46.h5 f3 47.Kg4 1-0#
Linares progress scores:
1eq. Kasparov, Kramnik 5.5/8;
3eq. Anand, Khalifman, Shirov, Leko 4.
Kambah Summer Open
Leading final scores:
1. L.Moylan 6.5/7;
2eq. G.Korda, M.Wei 5.5;
4eq. Ramakrishna, I.Wright 5.
Leading final scores:
1. S.Press 5/5;
2eq. A.Greenwood, M.Wei 4;
4. R.Langdale-Smith 3.5.