Bucharest Kings Rd5: Topalov beats Nisipeanu and joins lead

11/12/2012 – With all the razor sharp games and near misses, it was only a matter of time before someone's head was lopped off, and sure enough it was Topalov who did the lopping. In his vintage style, the Bulgarian sacrificed the exchange for the attack against Nisipeanu, and brought home the bacon to join the lead. Caruana also sacced the exchange but could not beat Ivanchuk. Report and GM commentary.

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The Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest is staging a double round robin tournament with four top GMs: Italian Fabiano Caruana, Italy's greatest player since the Renaissance, Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov, former world champion and world number one, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, the best Romanian player. The competition is taking place from November 7th to 13th 2012 in Bucharest, Romania.

Round four report

by GM Dorian Rogozenco

Round 5: Tuesday, November 12, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu


It was vintage Topalov in round five

The fifth round of the Kings Tournament finally brought the second decisive game. Topalov played in his trademark style against Nisipeanu: the former World Champion sacrificed a pawn in the opening and then crushed his opponent's defense with a powerful exchange sacrifice. The Romanian GM was under constant pressure right from the beginning and in spite of tenacious defense, he finally succumbed in time-trouble.


Nisipeanu put up a good fight but was ultimately ovewhelmed

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.12"] [Round "5"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2769"] [BlackElo "2668"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qc2 Bb7 6. Bg2 c5 7. d5 {Only this ambitious move offers White possibilities to fight for an advantage.} exd5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. O-O Be7 10. Rd1 {[#] A popular opening variation lately: White sacrifices a pawn to open files and pressure the opponent's center. It must be said that both players are specialists of this line.} Nc7 ({Below are few examples of the previous games in this line played by present players. Notice that Topalov won his both games.} 10... Nc6 11. Qf5 Nf6 12. e4 d6 13. e5 Qd7 14. Qf4 (14. Qc2 Nb4 15. Qe2 Ba6 16. Qe1 Nc2 17. Qd2 Nxa1 18. exf6 Bxf6 19. Re1+ Be7 20. Nc3 O-O 21. Ne5 Qc8 22. Nc6 Bd8 23. Nd5 Qg4 24. b3 Bb7 25. h3 Qh5 26. Nce7+ Kh8 27. Nf4 {1-0 (27) Nisipeanu,L (2661)-Pelletier,Y (2611) Rijeka 2010}) 14... Nh5 15. Qc4 O-O 16. Nc3 Rae8 17. Be3 Nb4 18. Rd2 Ba6 19. Qb3 Nd3 20. Qa3 Qc8 21. exd6 Bxd6 22. Rad1 Be7 23. Nd5 Nb4 24. Ne5 Nxd5 25. Bxd5 Nf6 26. Bg2 c4 27. Qc3 Bb5 28. h3 Bc5 29. Bxc5 Qxc5 30. Rd5 Nxd5 31. Rxd5 Qc7 32. Rxb5 Rc8 33. Nc6 Rfe8 34. Rb4 Re2 35. Bf3 Re6 36. Rxc4 Rce8 37. Kg2 {1-0 (37) Topalov,V (2803)-Bacrot,E (2716) Nanjing 2010}) (10... Qc8 11. a3 (11. Nh4 Bxh4 12. Rxd5 Be7 13. Nc3 Nc6 14. Qe4 O-O 15. Rh5 g6 16. Rh3 f5 17. Qe3 Rf7 18. Bd5 {1/2-1/2 (18) Nisipeanu,L (2689)-Baklan,V (2618) Germany 2007}) 11... Nf6 12. Bg5 d5 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Nc3 Bxc3 15. bxc3 Na6 16. Nh4 g6 17. Bxd5 Bxd5 18. Rxd5 O-O 19. Rad1 Nc7 20. Rd7 Ne6 21. Qe4 Qe8 22. Nf3 c4 23. Qh4 Nc5 24. Re7 Rd8 25. Rf1 {1-0 (25) Topalov,V (2777)-Anand,V (2798) Bilbao 2008}) 11. Nc3 a6 {[#] The plan with Nc7 and a6 didn't get much praise from Topalov after the game.} 12. Bf4 {A new move in this particular position.} (12. Qf5) ({and} 12. Ne4 {have been played before.}) 12... O-O 13. e3 Ra7 14. Rd2 Ne6 15. Rad1 Nxf4 16. exf4 Qc8 17. h4 {[#] White has good positional compensation for the sacrificed pawn. Combined with the pressure on his center, Black must always reckon with Nf3-g5.} d6 ({In such positions Black should always consider eliminating the potentially very dangerous knight on f3. Therefore} 17... Bxf3 {deserved serious attention.} 18. Bxf3 Nc6 {although it seems that this doesn't fully solve the problems:} 19. Nd5 Bd8 (19... Qd8 20. Qe4 Bf6 21. Nxf6+ Qxf6 22. Rxd7 Rxd7 23. Rxd7 Nd4 24. Bg2 Rd8 25. Rxd8+ Qxd8 26. Qb7 {wins a pawn for White.}) 20. h5) ({According to Topalov the best was} 17... h6) 18. a3 {A somewhat unexpected waiting move. Clearly, taking away the b4 square from the black knight is good for White, but the question is whether he can allow himself to play such quiet moves.} ({Strong looked} 18. Ng5 Bxg5 (18... g6 19. Nge4) 19. hxg5 Nc6 ({Both} 19... Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Nc6 21. Rh1 g6 22. Nd5 {and}) ( 19... Re8 20. Rxd6 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Nd7 22. Qf5 {are just bad for Black}) 20. Nd5 Qd8 21. Be4 h6 {Black is obviously playing with fire. White has more than one way to achieve an advantage} 22. Nf6+ $5 (22. gxh6 Nd4 23. Rxd4 cxd4 24. hxg7 { is also dangerous for Black}) 22... gxf6 23. Rxd6 Nd4 24. Rxd8 Nxc2 25. Bxc2 { White is better}) ({According to Topalov} 18. Nd5 {is also good.} Bxd5 19. Rxd5 Nc6 20. a3) 18... Nc6 ({Again a principled option is} 18... Bxf3 19. Bxf3 Nc6 { when White can consider playing something like:} 20. Bxc6 Qxc6 21. Nd5 Bd8 22. Qe4 {(threatening a check on f6)} Qe8 23. Qf3 {with good compensation for the pawn thanks to the mighty knight on d5.}) 19. Nd5 Bd8 20. Ne3 Bf6 {[#]} 21. Rxd6 ({Both players agreed after the game that} 21. Nf5 {was a worthy alternative.}) 21... Nd4 22. Nxd4 Bxd4 23. Bxb7 ({White is also better after} 23. Rxb6 Bxg2 24. Kxg2 Qd8 ({In case of} 24... Rb7 25. Nf5 $1 {White remains a pawn up in all variations.}) 25. Nc4) ({or} 23. Nf5 Bxg2 24. Kxg2) 23... Rxb7 24. Nf5 Qb8 (24... Bxb2 25. Rxb6 $1 {and due to the Nd6 threat White wins. Black cannot take the rook in view of the fork on e7.}) 25. Qe4 (25. Rd5 { avoids the exchange of pieces and also deserved attention}) 25... g6 {[#]} 26. Ne7+ $1 {Connected with the following exchange sacrifice, a very strong idea from Topalov.} (26. Nxd4 {brings little:} Qxd6 27. Qxb7 cxd4 (27... b5 28. Qc6 Rd8 29. Qxd6 Rxd6 30. Kf1 cxd4 31. Ke2 {leads to an unpleasant rook endgame for Black.}) 28. Qxa6 Re8 29. Qd3 Qd5 30. Kh2 Re4 {and Black has little to fear according to Topalov.}) 26... Kg7 27. R1xd4 $1 cxd4 28. Qxd4+ f6 29. Nc6 Qc8 30. Kh2 $1 (30. Qd5 Qh3 {allows unnecessary counterplay.}) 30... Rc7 31. Qd5 {[#] White doesn't have concrete threats, but he is playing for domination. Considering that Nisipeanu was in time-trouble, Black's position is extremely difficult.} Re8 ({Probably more tenacious was} 31... Qb7 32. h5 gxh5) 32. Nd4 Rce7 {[#]} 33. f5 ({Topalov regretted not going for} 33. Rxb6 { but in fact the game move is stronger, since Black plays} Rd7 $1 34. Ne6+ Kh8 { followed by Rd2 with counterplay.}) 33... Qc1 $2 ({The only move was} 33... Re5 {after which White still keeps better prospects with the precise} 34. Qf3 $1 ( 34. Rd7+ R8e7 $1 35. Ne6+ Kf7 {and surprisingly White has no more than a repetition in spite of the discovered double-check:} 36. Ng5+ Kg7 37. Ne6+ Kf7 38. Ng5+ Kg7 $11) 34... gxf5 35. Rxb6) 34. Ne6+ {Now White is winning.} Kh8 ({ Or} 34... Kh6 35. Qd4) 35. Qd4 Qc2 36. Qxf6+ Kg8 37. fxg6 Qxg6 38. Qxg6+ hxg6 39. Nf4 Rg7 40. Rxb6 a5 1-0


The post-mortem with Topalov and Nisipeanu


If Caruana wins in the last round, and Topalov and Ivanchuk draw, the three will decide
the title in a rapid tiebreaker.

Facing Ivanchuk, Caruana also sacrificed the exchange for better control over light squares. As the young Italian said afterwards: "Visually it looked strong, but it is not clear White can reach an advantage after that".  Both opponents missed a tactical possibility for White at move 25, after which Black's chances already started to look preferable. However, on move 30 the players suddenly agreed to a draw.


Hard to say who had the better chances in Ivanchuk's game against Caruana

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.12"] [Round "5"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Qd2 Nbd7 9. O-O-O Be7 10. f4 b5 11. Kb1 O-O 12. f5 {[#]} Bc4 ({If immediately} 12... Bxb3 {then after} 13. cxb3 {White can later prepare g2-g4 with Be2. If Black continues} b4 14. Nd5 Nxe4 {then} 15. Qxb4) 13. g4 {A well-known pawn sacrifice. However, it didn't bring Black problems in practice and the present game confirms that Black should be doing fine after accepting the sac.} Bxb3 ({ By taking immediately on b3 Ivanchuk wanted to avoid a possible improvement from his opponent over the following game:} 13... Nxg4 14. Rg1 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 Bxb3 16. Qh6 ({Here White can play} 16. cxb3 {which transposes to our main encounter, so in any case Ivanchuk's immediate 13...Bxb3 makes perfect sense, since it limits White's options.}) 16... Bxc2+ 17. Kxc2 Bf6 18. Rxd6 ({ Ivanchuk was worried about} 18. Rd3 $5 Kh8 19. Qh5 {but apparently Black defends here with} h6 $1 20. Rh3 Kh7) 18... Kh8 19. Qd2 Ra7 20. Kb1 Qc7 { Nisipeanu,L (2668)-Karjakin,S (2694) Khanty-Mansiysk 2007}) 14. cxb3 Nxg4 15. Rg1 Nxe3 16. Qxe3 Kh8 17. a4 {[#] Caruana would like to get the c4-square for his bishop in order to increase control over the light squares.} d5 $1 {A strong idea by Ivanchuk, who doesn't want to hand the initiative to his opponent. The tactical justification is that White's queen and rook are on the a7-g1 diagonal.} 18. Rxd5 (18. Nxd5 $2 Bc5) (18. exd5 $2 Bc5) ({If} 18. Qg3 { Ivanchuk wanted to activate his bishop with} Rg8 19. Nxd5 Bc5 20. Rg2 Bd4) 18... b4 {[#] This was Black's idea: to drive away the knight from the d5-square.} 19. Rxd7 $5 {With this positional exchange sacrifice Caruana establishes full control over the light squares in the center. However, with accurate play Black has little to fear.} Qxd7 20. Nd5 Qd6 21. Bc4 a5 {[#]} 22. Rd1 ({Caruana rejected} 22. Qg3 Rg8 23. Ne3 {in view of} Qd4 {but this was better than the game, since} 24. Bxf7 Qxe4+ 25. Ka2 Bh4 26. Qh3 $1 {is good for White. Black cannot save the exchange:} Rgf8 27. Rg4 {is winning.}) 22... Bd8 23. Rd3 Rc8 24. Qg3 Rc6 {[#]} 25. Bb5 ({With} 25. Nb6 Qc7 26. Nd7 {White could win back the exchange, keeping slightly better prospects. The point is that} Re8 {runs into} 27. Nxe5 $1 {and Black cannot recapture the knight due to the back rank weakness. Both opponents were short on time though and this resource may have escaped their attention.}) 25... Rc8 26. Bc4 Rc6 27. Ne3 Qc7 28. Qg2 Qe7 29. Nd5 Qh4 30. Rh3 Qe1+ {[#] A somewhat unexpected draw.} ({After } 30... Qe1+ 31. Ka2 Qc1 32. Rg3 h6 33. Qe2 Bg5 {Black is better.}) 1/2-1/2


Caruana and Ivanchuk analyze their game

Thus, before the last round two players lead with 3.0/5: Ivanchuk and Topalov. In the last round they'll face each other to decide the winner of the tournament. Theoretically, if they draw and Caruana beats Nisipeanu, the Italian GM can join the leaders. In the event of a tie, the winner will be decided in a rapid match.

Standings after five rounds

All photos by Pascal Simon and Macauley Peterson


Schedule and results

Round 1: Wednesday, November 7, 15:30h
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Round 2: Thursday, November 8, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 3: Friday, November 9, 15:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Round 4: Sunday, November 11, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 5: Tuesday, November 12, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Round 6: Monday, November 13, 15:30h
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
   Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Veselin Topalov

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