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Anand steadies the ship.

After two games, where Anand lost his way late in the day, many commentators were suggesting that he was showing signs of fatigue.
Here there was no evidence of this as he defended rather well and nullified any hopes Topalov had of converting a nominal advantage.

Anand plays the Grünfeld for the second time in the match and with a happier outcome than in game 1.

His move order was unusual and an unprepared Topalov didn't get anything out of the opening. Later in the endgame the Bulgarian could claim a pull, but nothing that ever seemed to put black in danger.

GameWhite--Black--ResultOpeningmoves
1Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27871-0Grünfeld defence30
2Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28051-0Catalan opening43
3Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Slav defence46
4Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28051-0Catalan opening32
5Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Slav defence44
6Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Catalan opening58
7Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Catalan/Bogoljubov58
8Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27871-0Slav defence56
9Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Nimzoindian defence83
10Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Grünfeld defence60

There are two games remaining with the score all-square at 5-5.

Tired and disappointed yesterday, relieved today! @ official site.

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You may be wondering who would be favourite if the match went to a play-off. Look at the following table:

Rate of PlayAnandDrawsTopalov
Previous Classical102311
Sofia 2010262
Rapidplay (inc. Blindfold)12243
Blitz120

It seems that these two players are evenly matched at the longer time limits of Classical chess, but when it comes to shorter time limits Anand has been dominant in previous meetings.

With the distinct possibility that the match will be tied at six apiece, and consequently the title being decided by rapidplay play-offs, this is worth bearing in mind.

Here's the game:

Veselin Topalov (2805) - Viswanathan Anand (2787)

Sofia WCM (10) 07.05.2010

Grünfeld Defence (D87)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 d5 4.cxd5 ♘xd5 5.e4 ♘xc3 6.bxc3 ♗g7 7.♗c4 c5 8.♘e2 ♘c6 9.♗e3 0-0 10.0-0 b6!?

A rare and somewhat provocative move.

It's natural for Anand to try out a different system from round 1 where 10...♘a5 11.♗d3 b6 12.♕d2 e5 13.♗h6 led to a White win.

11.♕d2

Topalov sticks to his thematic plan. Taking the pawn with 11.dxc5 is recommended by some, based on an old game and analysis. After 11...♕c7 12.♘d4 ♘e5 13.♗e2 Portisch,L-Ftacnik,L Wijk aan Zee 1985, led to a White advantage after 13...♗b7 (as Black didn't get enough for his pawn). It's not really topalov's style to grab such pawns but in any case he probeably decided that Anand must have had an improvement prepared, for example 13...bxc5!? (although Simic and then Sakaev still prefer White slightly following 14.♘b5 ♕c6 15.♕d5 ♕xd5 16.exd5 a6 17.♘a3).

11...♗b7 12.♖ac1 ♖c8

Anand develops rapidly, as opposed to what happened in round 1 when he lagged badly in that department.

13.♖fd1 cxd4 14.cxd4 ♕d6 15.d5

White gains space in the centre, where he often retains the better chances in the early middlegame. Black relies on his queenside majority to offer him counterchances especially later on if White's centre is successfully neutralized.

15...♘a5 16.♗b5 ♖xc1

Exchanges ease Black's defensive task.

17.♖xc1 ♖c8 18.h3 ♖xc1+ 19.♕xc1 e6

Anand takes the opportunity to nibble at White's centre.

20.♘f4 exd5 21.♘xd5 f5!

After 21...♗xd5 (apart from the tempting check on c8) White has 22.♕d2 when he will regain the piece with some pressure. The passed d-pawn will then play an important role.

22.f3 fxe4 23.fxe4 ♕e5 24.♗d3 ♘c6

Anand resists the temptation to snatch the d-pawn with 24...♗xd5!? 25.exd5 ♕xd5 26.♕c2 (26.♕c8+ ♗f8 27.♗h6? ♕c5+ exchanges queens and thus favours Black) 26...♕c6 27.♕e2 which wouldn't be that clear. The bishops offer good 'visual' compensation, but I suspect that Black is fine.

After the move played in the game, White's knight is well-posted on d5 but otherwise Topalov doesn't seem to have any particular pressure on Black's position. Anand will no doubt aim to blockade the e-pawn leaving White with few attacking options.

25.♗a6!

The most complicated, as slow play offers nothing.

25...♘d4

Or perhaps 25...♗xa6!? 26.♕xc6 (White's queen is active but Black can now simplify) 26...♕a1+ 27.♔h2 ♗e5+ 28.♗f4 ♗xf4+ 29.♘xf4 ♕e5 30.♕a8+ ♔f7 31.♕xa7+ ♔g8 and a draw looks on the cards.

26.♕c4

Threatening a deadly double check.

26...♗xd5 27.♕xd5+ ♕xd5 28.exd5 ♗e5

Now Anand sets about blockading the d-pawn. Two bishops are generally superior in open positions to bishop and knight, but if Black can maintain a grip on d6 then he would hope to have good practical chances to hold.

29.♔f2 ♔f7 30.♗g5 ♘f5 31.g4 ♘d6 32.♔f3 ♘e8

It seems odd that the now that the knight has found the blockading square it moves away! However, Anand has an alternative piece disposition in mind.

33.♗c1 ♘c7 34.♗d3 ♗d6 35.♔e4 b5 36.♔d4 a6

The pawns are placed on light-squares (the opposite-colour scheme to his bishop) in order that Black can blockade across the board. For example, White lacks any sort of entry route on the queenside for his king.

37.♗e2 ♔e7 38.♗g5+ ♔d7 39.♗d2 ♗g3 40.g5

Topalov fixes the black pawns on light squares where they may be vulnerable to attack by White's light-squared bishop, if that is, Black's king stays in the centre. If Black's king then goes to the right-hand side of the board (to cover them) then Topalov will angle to invade in the centre, perhaps including a timely exchange of dark-squared bishops.

40...♗f2+ 41.♔e5 ♗g3+ 42.♔e4

Here 42.♔f6 would be too risky: 42...♘xd5+ 43.♔g7 ♗f4 44.♗xf4 ♘xf4 45.♗g4+ ♔e7 46.♔xh7 ♔f7 and White's king is locked into the corner.

42...♘e8 43.♗g4+ ♔e7 44.♗e6 ♘d6+ 45.♔f3 ♘c4!?

Not wanting to stay totally passive.

46.♗c1 ♗d6 47.♔e4 a5!? 48.♗g4 ♗a3

Forcing the exchange of bishops and thus diminishing White's pressure.

49.♗xa3+

Or if 49.♗f4 then simply 49...♗d6 50.♗c1 ♗a3 and so on.

49...♘xa3 50.♔e5 ♘c4+ 51.♔d4 ♔d6 52.♗e2 ♘a3

53.h4?!

A rather tame way to continue. Surely 53.♗d3 (to restrict the knight) is correct. 53...b4 54.h4 a4 55.h5 is then critical, but with best play the draw would still be the logical result: 55...gxh5 56.♗xh7 ♘b5+ 57.♔c4 ♘c7 58.♗e4 (58.g6? ♘e8! wins for Black!) 58...b3 59.axb3 a3! 60.g6 a2 61.g7 a1♕ 62.g8♕c1+ Black will take a perpetual check.

53...♘c2+ 54.♔c3 ♘b4 55.♗xb5 ♘xa2+ 56.♔b3 ♘b4

The d5-pawn falls and the draw is assured.

57.♗e2 ♘xd5 58.h5 ♘f4 59.hxg6 hxg6 60.♗c4

White puts his bishop on e8 and Black cannot make any progress despite having an extra pawn.

½-½

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