The great double round robin in Linares, Spain, ended in a dramatic victory for world championship challenger Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Like a crafty pitcher who wins without his best stuff, Topalov succeeded without revealing any opening secrets he had prepared for his April match against champion Viswanathan Anand. Two of his four wins came from inferior positions, and only once did he outplay his opponent thanks to an advantage in the opening.
Topalov’s legendary determination highlighted the final round. His cautious opponent, Boris Gelfand of Israel, reached an obviously drawn endgame, yet Topalov induced an almost imperceptible error that he exploited with an artistic and original finish. See today’s puzzle!
Scores: Topalov, 6 1/2 -3 1/2 ; Grischuk, 6-4; Levon Aronian (Armenia), 5 1/2 -4 1/2 ; and Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan), Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain) and Gelfand, each 4-6.
Grischuk, who won the 2009 tournament in Linares, played the highest-quality games, but he spoiled a promising position against Topalov in the fifth round. He did win the ninth-round rematch. Aronian was the only undefeated player.
Topalov’s victory boosted his rating seven points, not quite enough to displace Magnus Carlsen of Norway from the top spot on the rating list. According to the unofficial rankings at liverating.com, Carlsen is rated 2812.9, while Topalov is 2812.2. Next are Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), 2789.9; Anand (India), 2788.7; Aronian, 2783.5; and Grischuk, 2769.6.
Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov of Kentucky and Judit Polgar of Hungary tied a four-game match in Hilton Head, S.C., where Black was required to play the Sicilian Defense. The result was discouraging for Sicilian Defense advocates — four consecutive wins for White. In a blitz tiebreaker, White won the first two games and then Polgar took the match by finally winning with Black.