Linares underway!

The small town of Linares in Andalucia has long been associated with this top level event.
World number two Veselin Topalov starts as favourite but Levon Aronian is the highest rated amongst his rivals.

This year all the games will take place in Linares (a few years ago the event was split between Linares and Moralia in Mexico) in southern Spain. There are only six players but they will play each other twice making ten rounds in total.

The first round saw three draws.

Lev AronianARM27810.5-0.5Alexander GrischukRUS2736Nimzo-Indian SämischE25
Boris GelfandISR27610.5-0.5Vugar GashimovAZE2759Modern BenoniA61
Francisco Vallejo PonsESP27050.5-0.5Veselin TopalovBUL2805Spanish BreyerC95

Grischuk seemed to equalize quite easily against Aronian's surprising opening choice, and Vallejo Pons-Topalov didn't yield anything new, with Black nullifying White's opening advantage without any problems.

The most interesting game was Gelfand against Gashimov. The Azeri playing a somewhat risky pawn sacrifice but held his own in the complications that followed.

All the players have more than 2700 Elo points. It will be interesting to see how well the local player 'Paco' Vallejo Pons (rated a lowly 2705!) will fare in this company. If Topalov has an excellent tournament he could conceivably overtake Carlsen in the virtual World rankings (he needs to gain 8.5 rating points).

Grischuk is fifth seed, but his recent performances have been better than Gelfand and Gashimov and so his unofficial rating places him above them in third place.

World RankingNameCountryRatingVirtual RatingPoints
2Veselin TopalovBUL280528050.5
5Levon AronianARM27812782.30.5
6Boris GelfandISR27612750.40.5
7Vugar GashimovAZE27592740.20.5
15Alexander GrischukRUS273627560.5
31Francisco Vallejo PonsESP27052708.20.5

Magnus Carlsen is World number one with a rating of 2810 (virtual rating of 2812.9).

The official site will give additional information:

Linares official site

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