CHESSANYTIME

The second half gets underway in style!

Topalov sacrificed the exchange and later had only one pawn for a piece, but amazingly enough his strong pawns earned him half-a-point.
As draws go this was a particularly dramatic one, and in my opinion a well-played one by both sides.

Topalov just about threw everything including the kitchen sink at Anand in order to try and win with Black, but only obtained half-a-point. An exciting draw in which there was much to analyze, see below.

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

The score after seven games reads: Anand 4 Topalov 3

The primary aim of both players is to get to 6.5 points in the twelve scheduled games.

A particularity of this match is that Anand played with the White pieces again in round 7. They are both scheduled to receive six of each colour, but it's the first time I can remember anyone having a double colour in the middle of a key match.

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The notes to game seven are by Glenn Flear, ably assisted by guest analyst Leicester GM Mark Hebden.

Despite having the black pieces Topalov plays very optimistically. He sacrificed material for activity in a blatantly risky fashion to try and equalize the match.

Anand couldn't find a clear route to an advantage, but nor could Topalov, so it seems that the Bulgarian had sufficient compensation for his sacrificed material, that is, only for a draw.

We couldn't find any clear improvements for either side which suggests that the game was well-played. The opening looks slightly outrageous but presumably isn't that bad at all!

Viswanathan Anand (2787) - Veselin Topalov (2805)

Sofia WCM (7th game) 03.05.2010

Catalan/Bogoljubov (E11)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘f3 d5 4.g3 ♗b4+

The challenger switches systems.

5.♗d2 ♗e7

The idea is that White's bishop has been induced to a not-particularly-useful square on d2.

6.♗g2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.♗f4

Redeploying the bishop and preparing harmonious development with ♘b-d2.

8...dxc4!?

Black can develop his pieces normally with a solid set-up (Topalov has already played both 8...♘bd7 and 8...b6 here) but by nature he likes to mix things if he can!

9.♘e5

9...b5!?

A wild idea that was played for the first time recently by Ivanchuk.

More normal is 9...♘d5 10.♘xc4 ♘xf4 11.gxf4 yielding a pawn structure where White uses his d4 and f4 pawns to maintain a central bind and tries to keep Black's bishops in check. White has a good score from this position as it easier for him to play e.g. 11...♘d7 12.♘c3 ♘b6 13.♘e5 f6 14.♘f3 ♕e8 15.e3 ♕h5 16.♘e4 ♕f5 17.♔h1 ♗d7 (17...♕xe4 18.♘h4 traps the queen) 18.♘c5 g5 19.♘h4! gxh4 20.♗e4, winning the queen as 20...♕h3 allows a decisive attack with 21.♗xh7+!, Tkachiev,V-Van der Wiel,J Cannes 1999.

10.♘xc6 ♘xc6 11.♗xc6 ♗d7

This is Topalov's novelty.

The only previous game continued with 11...♗a6 12.♗xa8 ♕xa8 13.♕c2 ♕c6 14.♗g5 ♗b7 15.f3 e5 16.♗xf6 ♕xf6, as in Gelfand-Ivanchuk, Melody Amber blindfold Nice 2010. To be frank, this speculative exchange sacrifice looks more at place in a blindfold game than in a World Championship match! In that game after 17.d5 ♗xd5 18.♘c3 White was able to bolster his defences but unable to exploit his material advantage and the game was eventually drawn.

12.♗xa8 ♕xa8 13.f3

White has a whole exchange more, but Black has completed development, the bishop pair and a queenside majority. So there is some compensation while White's rooks are dormant, but is it really enough long-term?

13...♘d5 14.♗d2

Another idea is 14.♘c3 e.g. 14...♘xf4 15.gxf4 b4 16.♘e4 ♗c6 17.♕c2 ♗d5 18.♖fd1 ♖c8 when Black certainly has practical chances for the exchange. Two good bishops can often be adequate compensation for rook and knight, but here if White moves his knight and then plays e2-e4 does Black have adequate counterplay with ...c4-c3? This requires further analysis to reach a honest conclusion.

14...e5!?

Opening up the bishops. This won't be the last case of Topalov defying the normal rules about the importance of pieces and pawns!

15.e4 ♗h3!?

Investing even more material.

16.exd5

Instead after 16.♖e1 ♘b4! 17.♗xb4 ♗xb4 18.♘c3 ♖d8 Black is very active.

16...♗xf1 17.♕xf1 exd4

The Bulgarian is now a 'piece for a pawn' down but his central passed pawns have a significant cramping effect.

18.a4!

Gaining some freedom.

18...♕xd5 19.axb5 ♕xb5 20.♖xa7 ♖e8

The active-looking 20...♗c5 is well countered by 21.♖a5.

21.♔h1

21...♗f8

Black could also consider 21...♕xb2?! 22.♕e1 h6! (22...♔f8?? loses to 23.♖xe7 ♖xe7 24.♗b4) 23.♖xe7 ♖xe7 24.♕xe7 ♕xb1+ 25.♕e1 ♕b3 (25...♕d3?! 26.♕e8+ ♔h7 27.♕e4+ ♕xe4 28.fxe4 ♔g6 29.♔g2 c3 30.♗e1 ♔f6 31.♔f3 ♔e5 32.g4! looks good for White) 26.♕e8+ ♔h7 27.♕e4+ ♔g8, but here White can choose if takes the draw or plays for more with 28.♕xd4 ♕xf3+ 29.♔g1.

I actually prefer 21...♗d6! as that would deny White access to the c7-square and then the plausible-looking 22.♘a3 ♗xa3 23.bxa3 ♕c6 looks far from clear.

22.♖c7!

Forcing a concession from Black.

22...d3 23.♗c3 ♗d6 24.♖a7 h6 25.♘d2

Following 25.♘a3 ♕b3 Black can improve with ...♖e2 whereas White's pieces can't create any serious threats.

25...♗b4 26.♖a1

If 26.♘e4? then 26...♗xc3 (26...f5? 27.♖xg7+ ♔f8 28.♖c7 looks too dangerous for Black) 27.bxc3 f5 would be better for the second player as 28.♘d6 ♕b6 29.♖xg7+ ♔xg7 30.♘xe8+ ♔f7 wins for Black.

26...♗xc3 27.bxc3 ♖e2

Black's initiative is really dangerous!

28.♖d1!

After 28.♕c1? ♕h5 White's king comes under the cosh.

28...♕a4

An extra piece, but by no means a comfortable task to exploit it. Indeed White has to be the most careful and probably isn't even objectively better!

After the inferior 28...♕b2?!,White has 29.♘xc4, although even there after 29...♕xc3 30.♘d6 ♕c2 a draw looks the most likely result.

29.♘e4 ♕c2 30.♖c1 ♖xh2+ 31.♔g1

31...♖g2+!?

Or perhaps 31...♕b2!? 32.♖b1 ♕a2 33.♖a1 with a draw by repetition. Funnily enough even after 33.♘f2 ♖xf2 34.♖b8+ ♔h7 35.♕xf2 ♕a1+ 36.♕f1 ♕xc3 I don't think that White is better. The advanced passed pawns and White's vulnerable king are fully worth a rook!) ; 31...♕a2?! 32.♘f2.

32.♕xg2 ♕xc1+ 33.♕f1 ♕e3+

If 33...d2, then 34.♘xd2 ♕xd2 35.♕xc4 would be drawn. This would have been the most precise, but Topalov may still have (optimistically!) hoped for more!

34.♕f2 ♕c1+ 35.♕f1 ♕e3+ 36.♔g2

Now it is the Indian who is trying for more than a repetition, but Black seems to have adequate compensation.

36...f5 37.♘f2 ♔h7 38.♕b1 ♕e6 39.♕b5

After 39.♕b8!?, Black should avoid 39...d2? 40.♕f4 ♕e2 41.♕xf5+; but both of 39...♕f6 40.♕f4 ♕xc3 41.♕xf5+ ♔h8; and 39...♕d5 40.♕e8 g5; look OK.

39...g5 40.g4 fxg4 41.fxg4 ♔g6 42.♕b7 d2 43.♕b1+ ♔g7 44.♔f1 ♕e7 45.♔g2 ♕e6 46.♕d1 ♕e3 47.♕f3 ♕e6 48.♕b7+ ♔g6 49.♕b1+ ♔g7 50.♕d1 ♕e3 51.♕c2 ♕e2 52.♕a4 ♔g8 53.♕d7 ♔f8 54.♕d5 ♔g7

55.♔g3

Or 55.♕d4+ ♔g6 56.♔g3 ♔f7 57.♕d5+ ♔g7 58.♕b7+ ♔g6 59.♕f3 ♕e5+ 60.♔g2 ♕e6 as in the game.

55...♕e3+ 56.♕f3 ♕e5+ 57.♔g2 ♕e6 58.♕d1

Neither side can break the deadlock.

½-½

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