Levon Aronian wins Linares 2006 by ousting tournament leader Peter Leko in the last round. Aronian has fought hard in every game, and certainly deserved to win the tournament. Topalov’s brilliant second half comeback grinds to a halt just short of the mark with a short draw against Vallejo. Ivanchuk suffered from time problems throughout, even gifting Aronian a full point in a position Ivanchuk was winning. Leko started well, but was too amenable to draws. His draw against Vallejo in a very strong position looks to have cost him a tournament victory. Svidler had a great start, beating FIDE World Champion Topalov in the first round, but two losses in his favourite Grunfeld were the basis of an awful string of results. Radjabov showed glimpses of brilliance and again, another tournament fighter – he looks to be another genius from Baku.
Aronian outplays Leko to win Linares 2006. Vallejo holds Topalov to a comfortable draw. Svidler and Ivanchuk fight an intense battle, but split the point.
Leko – Aronian
Leko plays into his favoured a4 anti-Marshall system against Aronian’s Ruy Lopez. Aronian get an f5 pawn break in, and Leko goes wrong in the complications that follow which leaves Aronian with a definite advantage. Materially equal, Aronian controls all the open lines to White’s position. Aronian combines kingside and queenside pressure to force a win of one of Leko’s central pawns. In the double rook and bishop ending Aronian dominates and finishes Leko off.
Svidler – Ivanchuk
Svidler adopts Leko’s a4 anti-Marshall against Ivanchuk’s Ruy Lopez. Ivanchuk’s aggressive counterplay down the queenside looks to give Svidler the advantage, but Ivanchuk gets lots of activity for the sacrificed pawn. Ivanchuk is in time-trouble again, and Svidler initiates complications by sacrificing an exchange for the initiative. Ivanchuk manages to steer his way through the complications to reach time control with the initiative as compensation for his two pawns. Ivanchuk’s pressure in the endgame gets him a draw.
Vallejo – Topalov
Out of a Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit, most of the minor pieces get whittled off, leaving Vallejo with a slight edge. Vallejo uses this edge to attack the Black king, Topalov can do nothing to ward off the perpetual check.
Bacrot – Radjabov
Bacrot repeats Aronian’s variation of the Kings Indian from the first round, but Radjabov meets it solidly. A draw agreed right out of the opening.