Friday, February 16, 2007

Morelia-Linares: a test of strength

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IT is generally accepted that the winner of the Morelia-Linares tournament is the unofficial champion of the year. It is usually played in February with the first half in Morelia, Mexico and the second half in Linares, Spain.

This year’s edition will start Feb. 17-25 in Morelia and the concluding half in Linares on March 2-10. It is sometimes described as the Wimbledon of chess and is one of the strongest tournaments of the year, together with Wijk Aan Zee, which was held last month, the M-Tel Masters in Sofia, and the Dortmund Invitational in Germany.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

In 1998, Linares was changed from a single round-robin tournament to a seven player double round robin event (meaning that each participant plays every other participant twice, once with each color).

Luis Rentero, the sponsor of the tournament, is notorious for being a strong opponent of short draws in chess, to the point that in 1991 he offered cash bonuses for playing longer games.

Previous winners of the tournament are 2000 Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov, 2001 Garry Kasparov, 2002 Garry Kasparov, 2003 Péter Lékó (joint winner with Vladimir Kramnik; but had a better tiebreak score), 2004 Vladimir Kramnik, 2005 Garry Kasparov (with the same score as Veselin Topalov; won on tiebreak because of more wins with black) and 2006 Levon Aronian .

The participants for this year’s edition are Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Magnus Carlsen and Alexander Morozevich. No explanation is given why World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was not invited.

Veselin Topalov, 31, is a Bulgarian grandmaster and former World Champion and currently World no. 1. He won the 2005 Chess Oscar and had the second highest Elo rating of all time at 2813. He played Classical Champion Kramnik in a unification match just recently and the score was tied after 12 rounds. He lost in the tiebreak games. His current rating is 2783.

Viswanathan Anand, 37, is from India and also a former Fide champion. In the latest Fide Ratings, his Elo is 2779, just 4 points behind the no. 1 Topalov. Anand is one of only four players in history to break the 2800 mark on the Fide rating list and he has been among the top three ranked players in classical time control chess in the world continuously since 1997.

Peter Leko, 27, is a Yugoslav, although born in Hungary. His latest rating is 2749, making him no. 6 in the world. He is an extremely solid player and very difficult to defeat.

Peter Svidler is a Russian grandmaster with an Elo Rating of 2728, making him no. 12 in the world. He is a four-time Russian Champion—1994, 1995, 1997 and 2003.

Levon Aronian is from Armenia and is no. 7 in the world with a rating of 2744. An early sign of his playing ability is shown by winning the world under 12 championship in 1994 and the world Juniors in 2002. He won the Morelia/Linares chess tournament last year.

Magnus Carlsen is only 15 years old and considered by almost everybody to be a potential world champion. His major wins were at Wijk Aan Zee in 2004, C group, at the age of 13, and group B a year later at 14.

Alexander Morozevich is currently no.8 in the world with an Elo rating of 2741. In December 2006 he won the Ciudad de Pamplona with an amazing performance rating of 2951.

Cepca news. The February tournament of the club will be this Sunday at Bibo`s starting at 1p.m. There will be two sections class A and class B/C. Format is 5 rounds Swiss with handicaps.

Sponsor of the tournament is Prime Parts fabricators and Sales Inc. in Talisay City.

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