Leko, Peter (2736) - Vallejo Pons, Francisco (2629)
Ciudad de Linares (Linares, Spain), 02/27/2003

Round 5 [Khalifman,A]

This game is quite important for both players. Peter has a chance to take sole lead in the tournament and he had time to recover (day-off after 2 marathons with Garry and Ruslan was just in time). Paco has shown very good play by now but does he have enough ideas to resist Peter's excellent opening preparation after 1.e4? Let's see...
1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. d4 cxd4  4. Nxd4 Qc7 Brave but risky choice by Paco. Leko has a lot of positive experience in Sicilian Paulsen.
5. Nc3 e6  6. Be3 a6  7. Qd2 Just according to tournament situation. This "kinda English Attack" is just a dangerous weapon against the line chosen by Black.
7. ... Nf6  8. O-O-O Bb4  9. f3 Ne5  10. Nb3 b5  11. Bd4 Be7  12. Qg5!? A new move. Morozevich played 12.Kb1 against Anand in 2001.
12. ... Ng6  13. Qg3 An interesting conceipt. Leko is very-very good in complicated endings.
13. ... Bd6 Fairly understandable. Queen exchange would lead to rather miserable ending for Black.
14. Qf2 Now the "Fritzy-move" is 14...Bxh2. Isn't it worth a try?!
14. ... Rb8 A human choice. However, it took a long time.
15. Kb1 O-O Now Black wil l face really dangerous pawn attack. In time-trouble it might be a real problem. Still comp-like 15...Bxh2 was an option. Now 16.g4 and push!
16. Bc5 But Peter has his own ideas about this position. He still aims for liquidation in order to demonstrate his technical superiority.
16. ... Bxc5  17. Qxc5 Now he forces the transposition to the complicated ending. It's still better for White but still what was wrong about 16.g4!?
[17. Qxc5 Qxc5  18. Nxc5 Rb6! is a good defending move. It protects important square d6 and Black is close to equality.]
17. ... Qxc5  18. Nxc5 Paco is losing more and more time... It's a bit risky! What's wrong about 18...Rb6?
18. ... Rb6  19. a4! White's best chance! He attacks queenside weaknesses.
19. ... Rc6 19...d6 was still worth a try...
20. Nd3 bxa4  21. Nxa4 Quite a natural move but intermediate 21.e5!? was very tempting.
21. ... d5! Good move but very bad itme on Paco's clock.
[21. ... d5  22. Nb4 Rd6  23. exd5 a5  24. Nc6 Bd7  25. Nc3 might give White some advantage but will it be enough to win?
25. ... Bxc6  26. dxc6 Rxc6 ]
22. exd5 Nxd5 Now White can be just very slightly better
23. Nc5 Ne5  24. Rd4 Nd7  25. Nxd7 Bxd7  26. Bc4 Slowly but surely... However, Black must be able to defend if not this terrible time-trouble...
26. ... Nf6
[26. ... Ne3 was very tempting but who can play like this being so short of time?]
27. Re1 Now it might start getting worse and worse.... Re1-e5-a5 is coming
27. ... Rc8  28. Bd3 Kf8  29. Re5 Rc7  30. Ra5 Bc8 Now Black is very passive - Leko can show his technical skills.
31. b4 Nd5  32. Kb2 g6  33. Kb3 Ne3 probably too late - White has now many comfortable ways to prove his advantage, like 34.c4!?, for instance.
34. Nc5 Ra7  35. g3 Ke7  36. f4 f6  37. Be4 Rb6  38. c4 e5  39. fxe5 fxe5  40. Rd3 Nf5 Leko has s hown his technical skills very convincingly - just some accurate moves are remaining, 41.Kc3!?, for instance.
41. Na4 Also good enough - White's position is not so easy to spoil.
41. ... Re6  42. b5 These pawns can't be stopped - good technical game by Leko although Vallejo didn't use all chances in the ending. Anyway now Linares has a sole leader - he fully deserved it!
42. ... Nd4+  43. Kc3 Black resigned - just in time - he can't avoid massive material loss.
[43. Kc3 Rd7
(43. ... Ne2+  44. Kd2 Nd4  45. b6 Rd7  46. Nc5)
44. Nc5]