In case you missed it last week, at the end of the recently concluded Linares Supertournament, Garry Kasparov dropped a bombshell, announcing his retirement from professional chess. Basically, because of the chaos surrounding the future of the world championship he stated that there were no goals left for him. In my opinion, Kasparov has to go down as the most dominant sportsman of all time. No one even comes close. He was on top of the rating list for 20 years and was undisputed World Champion for 16 years. His victory at Linares was the 9th time he won the world's most prestigious tournament. I believe 13 of the current top 20 players (Leko, Morozevich, Adams, Bacrot, Polgar, Shirov, Grischuk, Bareev, Dreev, Ponomariov, Gelfand, Akopian, Vallejo) never defeated him a single game at classical time controls. The number 2 player in the world, Vishy Anand hasn't scored a victory against him in 10 years.
While Kasparov certainly played a major part in causing the current chaos, it is truly sad to see him go. I don't know why FIDE can't just swallow it's pride and accept Vladimir Kramnik as the world champion and create a reasonable system to produce a challenger. Instead, in a all too common occurrence in the history of chess, we must now add Kramnik-Kasparov 2 to the list of great unplayed matches. Kasparov leaves a legacy of brilliant games behind, hopefully his series of books on his great predecessors will conclude with a final volume Kasparov on Kasparov.
With Linares concluded, it is also the time of year for my evaluations of the participants with their Linares score in parentheses.
1. Garry Kasparov (+4) Now and Forever: THE BOSS
2. Veselin Topalov (+4) Clearly the hottest player in the world right now. Could soon be atop the rating list.
3. Vishy Anand (+1) A slight step back on his march towards 2800, but for now will inherit the top ranking.
4. Peter Leko (0) Looked like his old self. Unfortunately that old self was the guy who draws every game.
5. Francisco Vallejo Pons (-4) Time to bring back Shirov as the Spanish representative in Linares.
6. Rustam Kasimdzhanov (-4) Once again showed he can't compete with the elite. This brutal showing by the FIDE champ shows how absurd the FIDE KO system is for producing a champion.
I've discovered a resource in my loss to Aleksandar Stamnov a couple of years ago at the Land of the Sky Tournament. In the diagramed position after 36. a5
I opted to pressure his queenside pawns with 36...Qd5? In the notes I suggested the alternative 36...Qd4 with the idea of 37...Re2, but after 37. Rf1 Re2 38. Qd1, White still has his extra pawn.. Instead, Black can combine both ideas with 36...Qf5! attacking b5 and threatening ...Re2. This seems to lead to complete equality. So it looks like I came up short in both the game and the analysis, but can take some consolation in at least identifying a critical position.