World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and top Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko shared first place at the traditional grand tournament in Linares, Spain. They drew against each other in the last round yesterday. Kramnik was the only undefeated player in this year's top-rated event. Leko finished with four wins, the most in the tournament. Their future match for the right to play in the unifying world championship later in the year could be tough and exciting.
They were closely followed by former world champions Garry Kasparov of Russia and Vishy Anand of India, who were also paired together. Kasparov made a last risky effort to join the leaders, but Anand held firm and secured a draw. The Indian grandmaster spoiled his chances to win the event by missing draws in rook endgames against Kasparov and Leko and a win against Ruslan Ponomariov. Kasparov won only two games and looked tired.
FIDE world champion Ponomariov of Ukraine scored the only victory of the day against Spanish grandmaster Francisco Vallejo Pons, but could not salvage a disastrous start. Ponomariov has a lot of work to do before his FIDE match against Kasparov in Buenos Aires in June. Vallejo Pons and Teimur Radjabov of Azerbaijan were simply overmatched by the elite players, although they fought bravely.
Final standings: Kramnik and Leko, 7 points in 12 games; Anand and Kasparov, 6 1/2 points; Ponomariov, 5 1/2 points; Vallejo Pons, 5 points; Radjabov, 4 1/2 points.
Radjabov's victory over Kasparov in the French defense was his only win in Linares. But after Kramnik and Leko took the young Azerbaijani apart, he abandoned the French.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 (Named after the American John Lindsay MacCutcheon, who with it defeated the world champion William Steinitz in New York in 1885. It was giving headaches to many strong players, but Leko is alert.) 5.e5 h6 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4 8.Qg4 g6 9.Bd3 Nxd2 10.Kxd2 c5 11.h4!? (Going after black's weak kingside pawns.) 11...Bd7 12.h5 g5 13.f4 Nc6 14.fxg5 Qa5?! (Radjabov shows his fighting spirit, keeping the queens on the board and pressuring white's pawn center. In the game Leko-Short, Batumi 1999, black exchanged the queens 14...Qxg5+ 15.Qxg5 hxg5, but after 16.Ke3 the position was more pleasant for white, although black was able to hold.) 15.dxc5 d4 16.Nf3 0-0-0 (The king escapes from the center, but not from Leko's attention.)
17.Rab1! (A new idea, threatening to double the rooks and attack the pawn on b7.) 17...dxc3+ (The position after 17...Qxc3+ 18.Ke2 Qxc5 19.Rb5 Qa3 20.Rhb1 looks dangerous for black, for example 20...b6 21.Nd2! hxg5?! 22.Nc4 Qe7 23.Nxb6+! axb6 24.Rxb6 Rdf8 25.Ba6+ Kc7 26.Rb7+ Kd8 27.Rb8+! Nxb8 28.Rxb8+ Kc7 29.Rb7+ Kd8 30.Qxd4! with a winning attack.) 18.Ke2 Rhg8 19.Qe4 (Consolidating in the center and x-raying the pawn on b7.) 19...Qc7 (Protecting the b-pawn, black wants to rearrange his light pieces.) 20.g4 Ne7 21.Bb5 hxg5 22.Rb3 Nd5 (The knight is well posted in the center, but white's pressure on the b-file is too strong.)
23.Rhb1 Bc6? (A losing blunder. Radjabov had a fighting chance after 23...f5! 24.exf6 Nxf6 and white has to play precisely to keep an advantage. For example, after 25.Bxd7+?! Rxd7 26.Qe5 Nxg4 27.Qxe6 black has the brilliant 27...Qg3!! 28.Qxg8+ Rd8 29.Qe6+ Rd7 and white has to take a draw. White should play the immediate 25.Qe5! Bxb5+ 26.Rxb5 Rd2+ 27.Ke1 [not 27.Kf1 Rf2+! and black wins] 27...Qxe5+ 28.Nxe5, for example 28...Rg7 29.Nc4 Rxc2 30.Nd6+ Kd8 31.Nxb7+ Kd7 32.Na5 with white's edge.) 24.Bxc6 Qxc6 (After 24...bxc6 comes 25.Qc4!, winning) 25.Nd4! Qa6+ (After 25...Qxc5 26.Rxb7 the black king is not going to survive.) 26.Ke1 Rd7 (Helping white to break through, but it was not easy to protect the pawn on b7.)
27.c6! Rc7 28.Rxb7 Rxb7 29.Rxb7 Nb6 30.Qh7 Rf8 31.Qg7 (Strong enough, but white would have won also with 31.Nf5!; for example, 31...exf5 32.Qxf5+ Kd8 33.c7+ Ke7 34.c8Q+ Qxb7 35.Qf6 mate.) 31...Qa3 32.Qxf8+! (A pretty queen sacrifice, crowning the well-played game. After 32...Qxf8 33.Nb5 Kd8 34.Nd6 Qe7 35.h6 wins.) Black resigned.
Bobby Fischer's Birthday The American world champion turned 60 yesterday. His title match against Boris Spassky in 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland, was recently called "the ultimate sporting metaphor" by the Observer. The British newspaper declared it the greatest rivalry in the history of sport.
Hall of Fame Spassky went to Miami at the beginning of this month when he was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame together with other world champions Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal and Tigran Petrosian. The late International Master Donald Byrne, six-time U.S. champion Walter Browne and three-time U.S. champion Lev Alburt were inducted into the U.S. Hall of Fame. More information about all American inductees is on Jerry Lawson's Web site:www.chesslinks.org/hof/index.html. Solution to today's problem by A. Falk (White: Kd3,Qh8,Ng4; Black: Kg1,P:g3): 1.Qa8! g2 2.Qa1 mate; or 1...Kf1 2.Qh1 mate.