The LÉKÓ, Péter GM 2741 versus CARLSEN, Magnus GM 2765 8-game rapid chess match starts today. Here is the official website:

Here is one of Leko’s best games from the website:

Leko, Peter (2751) – Grischuk, Alexandr (2726)
Ruy Lopez [C88], World Championship, 2007 [Notes by Leko Peter]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 b4 9.d3 d6 10.Nbd2 Be6 A very interesting move, but I felt relivied that my opponent had nearly used half an hour to come up with it. Against Anand in the 7th Round he played the “normal” 10…Na5.

11.Bxe6 fxe6 Here I also took some time and started to understand what attracted my opponent’s attention when he chose to play 10…Be6. In return for the spoiled pawn-structure Black has a simple plan with …Qe8 followed by …Nh5 and …Qg6, with nice counterplay.
12.Nf1 Qd7
A very healthy move. Of course 12…Nh5? would be just a big blunder because of 13.Nxe5!. But another interesting alternative was 12…Qe8, when I was planning to continue with 13.Ng3, and if 13…Nh5 then I thought that 14.Nxe5 is the point of my play, but Fritzy points out that after 14…dxe5 15.Nxh5 Nd4 Black surprisingly gets enough counterplay: 16.Ng3 (16.Be3 Nxf3+ 17.gxf3 Qxh5 with initiative) 16…Qc6!. Actually, I had seen this motif, but to be honest I probably underestimated it a bit. After 17.c3 bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3 the position is simply unclear and no more.

13.Ng3 Na5! 14.d4! This is not a very clean move and I was not too happy to make it, but it’s the only princpied way to fight, not for the advantage, but for the initiative. It is remarkable to mention that by this point I had already used up 55 minutes, but my opponent was even ahead of me with one hour and 2 minutes. It definitely looks more natural to play 14.c3, but there is no time for it!: 14…bxc3 15.bxc3 Rab8 (15…c5!? 16.d4 exd4 17.cxd4 c4 is also possible) 16.d4 Nb3 17.Ra2 exd4 18.cxd4 Nxc1 19.Qxc1 Rb4! gives Black more than enough counterplay, and due to many exchanges it would have simplified the game too much.

14…exd4 15.Qxd4 c5 16.Qd3 Nc6 17.c3 White still could not develop the bishop, neither with 17.Bf4?! Ng4!, nor with 17.Bg5?! Ng4!. However, 17.h3!? was the other candidate, stopping …Ng4, but Black also has another nice plan with 17…Ne8!, followed by Nc7, with approximate equality.

17…bxc3?! Black misses his chance to create dynamic counterplay with 17…Ng4!, but Grischuk was facing the same problems as I. If he calculated the very sharp and complicated lines for another 20 minutes, he might run into very bad time-trouble. After 17…Ng4 18.e5! is the critical move and the only one which came into consideration: 18…d5 19.h3 c4 20.Qc2 Rxf3. I think we both saw this idea, but without Fritz it’s not easy to understand that after 21.gxf3 Ngxe5 22.f4 Nd3 23.Qxe6+ Qxe6 24.Rxe6 Black simply plays 24…Rc8, and instead of some compensation Black really has a good position. There is probably nothing better than 25.Nf5 Bf8 threatening Kf7 (25…Bf6 26.Rd6!) 26.Nd6 Bc7 27.Ne8 Rc8 28.Nd6, leading to a boring move repetition!

18.bxc3 Kh8 A typical reflex move. Now the same 18…Ng4 is not exactly the same, with the included capture on c3 favoring White: 19.e5 c4 20.Qxc4 Ncxe5 21.Nxe5 Nxe5 22.Qe2. This leads by force to a pleasant position for White, and I think that only Fritz can assess it is equal, not a human grandmaster!

19.h3! Now Black’s situation will automatically become very unpleasant, not because the position is so bad, but simply because White has a much easier game and can slowly build up the pressure.

19…Qc7 20.Ng5! Ne5 21.Qe2 Qc8 22.f4 Nf7 23.Nf3! I think that White has to avoid exchanging pieces in such a type of position.

23…Rb8 24.c4 Gaining more and more space. The last couple of moves were clearly in White’s favour. Now White has stabilized a clear advantage, but it’s not easy to break Black’s solid position.

24…Qb7 25.Bd2 Qb2 26.Qd3! Qb7 A sad decision, played instantly. The main line was starting with 26…Rb3, but after 27.Rab1! Rxd3 28.Rxb2 the white rook on the b-file will become very annoying combined with the e4-e5 threat: 28…Bd8 29.Rb7 Ra3 30.e5!, with a big advantage.

27.Bc3 Qc6 28.a5 Kg8 29.Rad1 Rbd8 30.f5 Everything was ready for this push.

30…e5 31.Nf1 Rb8 32.g4 h6 33.N1d2 Qc7! A very cool defensive resource! After this move he was left with 3 minutes! The ideal place for the black queen is on d8, to support d8-h4 diagonal.

34.Kh1 Qd8 35.Rg1 Nh7 36.Nf1 Bg5! 37.Ne3 Bxe3! 38.Qxe3 Rb3 39.Rd3 Nhg5? With less than a minute finally my opponent cracked under the pressure. He could have crowned his heroic defense by playing 39…Qf6!, an idea that’s even hard to find with a lot of time! Now White should refrain from playing the thematic h3-h4 and should play positionally: 40.Bd2! Rb2 (40…Rxd3 41.Qxd3 is in White’s favour) 41.Rb3 Rb8 42.Rxb8+ Rxb8 43.Qd3 with a white advantage, but Black can put up a tough fight.

40.Nd2 Ra3 41.h4 Now Black can’t stop the g4-g5 advance anymore and the rest is just a matter of how long can Black hold on after that.

41…Nh7 42.Nf3 Nf6 43.g5 hxg5 44.hxg5 Nh5 45.Bd2! Ra4 Trying to create some counterplay, but for White is already enough to focus only on his own game. If 45…Rxd3 46.Qxd3 Nf4 then the simplest is 47.Bxf4 exf4 48.g6 Nh6 49.Qd5+ Kh8 50.Qd2 and taking on f4 wins.

46.Qe2 46.Qf2 was even stronger, but it does not really matter.

46…Ra2 46…Rxc4 loses immediately after 47.g6 Nh6 48.Bxh6 gxh6 49.Qa2 with a devilish pin.

47.Qe1 Nf4 48.Bxf4 exf4 49.Qh4 Qe8 A desperate attempt, but the total collapse is unavoidable: 49…Re8 50.f6! g6 51.Nh2 followed by Rh3. And after the “most logical” 49…Qe7 50.f6! Qxe4 51.g6 Nh6 52.f7+ Kh8 allows the nice tactical blow 53.Qxh6+, and wins.

50.g6 Nh6 51.Qxf4 Re2 52.Ng5! The last important move.

52…Qa4 After 52…Qxg6 the quiet 53.Qf3 does the job.

53.Qxd6 Qxc4 54.Qd5+ Everything else wins as well, but we were both short of time, so the following moves came out of human reflexes. 54.Qe6+ Qxe6 55.fxe6! (indicated by Fritz, of course!), followed by e7 and Rd8 is unstoppable.

54…Qxd5 55.Rxd5 c4 56.Rd7 c3 57.Ne6 Rc8 58.Rgd1 Rd2 59.R1xd2 cxd2 60.Rxd2 Black resigned, 1-0

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