Morelia/Linares 2007, Round 13: Morozevich downs Topalov in a long knight endgame

Morozevich wins a tough endgame battle against Topalov which relegates the Bulgarian to the half a point from bottom of the tournament standings. Other games are hard-fought draws.

Morozevich – Topalov

Morozevich’s c3 Sicilian sidesteps any Topalov-prepared line. Morozevich plays an active positional game after Topalov allows a doubling of e-pawns. The position is reminiscent of a King’s Indian Attack or a quiet anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez. Instead of seeking activity on the kingside, Topalov seeks to neutralise Morozevich’s c-file pressure. As the queenside lines open, pieces get whittled off quickly leaving each side with two minor pieces. Morozevich’s outside passed pawn offers him a small chance of winning. He embarks on risky play on the kingside, sacrificing his e-pawn. Both sides have two passed pawns – Topalov’s is doubled on the e-file, Morozevich’s are on each wing. His a-pawn does a sterling job of holding up Black’s knight. After the exchange of knights the game spirals into a queen and pawns ending, where White’s second passed-pawn gives him a strong advantage. Morozevich shepards the pawn to promotion even after Topalov sacrifices his own.

Anand – Leko

Anand employs the 7. h3 Anti-Marshall system against Leko’s Ruy Lopez. Anand gains a tiny edge, and uses that to create some threats on the kingside. Leko defuses the threats, but is pushed onto the defensive. Anand allows a small combination which brings the game back to a balanced position, and a draw ensues.

Aronian – Ivanchuk

Aronian’s Classical approach to Ivanchuk’s Queen’s Indian Defence does contain a small drop of poison after an early central pawn advance. Aronian infuses tactical complications forcing Ivanchuk to find his way through the thicket of variations – Aronian misses a winning continuation but reaches a better endgame, Ivanchuk’s kingside pawn structure is shattered, but he defends the ending well earning a draw.

Carlsen – Svidler

Svidler adopts a super-solid Slav Grunfeld and establishes equality. Carlsen plays cautiously, until Svidler provokes him into sacrificing a pawn. After a flurry of exchanges, Carlsen embarks on a queenside advance prior to regaining his sacrificed pawn. This allows him to take control of the long white diagonal a8-h1, at the cost of allowing Svidler to develop his rooks. Svidler sparks off another tactical sequence, including Carlsen trading his queen for the two black rooks. The precarious position of Black’s knight allows Carlsen to force a draw by repetition.

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