MTel R1: All games decided, Bulgarians lead

5/8/2008 – The first round of the MTel Masters brought three decisive games. Both the "home boys", Veselin Topalov and Ivan Cheparinov, won their games against Levon Aronian and Bu Xiangzhi respectively. And Vassily Ivanchuk scored a shock black-piece victory over Teimour Radjabov. The event is being held in an "aquarium" – a revolutionary concept that just might represent the future of chess.

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Participants (with world ranking and April 2008 ratings)

 4 Veselin Topalov BUL 2780    11 Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2740
 6 Levon Aronian ARM 2763  22 Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2708
 8 Teimour Radjabov AZE 2751  27 Ivan Cheparinov BUL 2695

The tournament is a double round-robin (all play all, with white and black). The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves + 1 hour to the end of the game. Starting time: 15:00h local time (12:00h UTC), except the final round, which starts at 14:00h.

Special rules: players may not talk during the games; additionally they cannot offer draws directly to their opponents. Draw offers are only allowed only through the chief arbiter (Joaquin Espejo of Spain), and only in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions. The chief arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases. He will be advised in his decisions throughout the tournament by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, FIDE Vice President.


The venue: the Central Military Club, a three-storey building which features a coffeehouse, an art gallery, a number of refined halls varying in size, as well as an imposing concert hall with 450 seats.


The Central Military Club is located on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard

Round one report

Round 1: Thursday, May 8, 2008

Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Ivan Cheparinov 
1-0
 Bu Xiangzhi
Teimour Radjabov 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk

Aronian-Topalov: 0-1

This game between the top seeds was a Symmetrical English resulting from an unusual sequence of moves. White gave up the bishop pair in return for an isolated black pawn on d5.

Aronian,L (2763) - Topalov,V (2767) [E00]
4th M-Tel Masters Sofia BUL (1), 08.05.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 Nc6 8.Bc3 0-0 9.0-0 d5 10.Nd2 Bd7 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 exd5 13.Qb3 Bf6 14.N2f3 Bg4 15.Rfd1 Rb8 16.Qa4 Bxf3 17.exf3 Bxd4 18.Bxd4 Qd7 19.b4 b6 20.Rac1 Rbc8 21.Bb2 Rfd8 22.Rc2 Ne7 23.Rxc8 Nxc8 24.b5 Ne7 25.Qb3 Nf5 26.a4

Let the hostilities begin. After a fair bit of manoeuvring Black, in typical Topalov style, moves away from any thoughts of a peaceful settlement of this encounter. 26...h5 27.h3 Qe6 28.Kg2 Qe2 29.g4?! A strange decision by White, which allows the knight to re-deploy and really participate in the attack. 29...Nh4+ 30.Kg3 Ng6 31.gxh5 Ne7 32.Kg2 Nf5 33.Bd4 Qe7 34.Qd3 Qg5+ 35.Kh2 Re8 36.Bb2? Not a good idea – 36.Qd2 was the essential defensive move.

36...Re3!? Computers want to continue with 36...Qf4+ (with a substantial advantage for Black). Topalov's move really confuses his Armenian opponent. Fire up Fritz and see if Black can do any real damage after 37.Qxd5. The lines go 37...Qf4+ 38.Kg1 Qg5+ 39.Kh2 Qf4+ 40.Kg1 Qg5+ 41.Kf1 Ng3+ 42.Kg2 Nf5+ and draw since 43.Kh1 immediately loses: 43...Re1+ 44.Rxe1 Ng3+ 45.fxg3 Qxd5. What White must not do is take the rook: 37.fxe3? Qg3+ 38.Kh1 Qxf3+ 39.Kg1 Nxe3 40.Rd2 Qg3+ 41.Kh1 Qxh3+ 42.Kg1 Qg3+ 43.Kh1 Qe1+ 44.Kh2

Topalov is in his element, really enjoying the attack: 44...Qxd2+ 45.Qxd2 Nf1+ 46.Kg2 Nxd2. Black has two extra pawns which in knight vs bishop is not always decisive. But the Bulgarian GM knows how to play these endings. 47.Be5 Ne4 48.Kf3 Nc5 49.Ke3 Nxa4 50.Kd4 Nc5 51.Kxd5 a6 52.bxa6 Nxa6 53.Kc6 Nc5 54.Bc7 Kh7 55.Bxb6. Black wins back the pawn: 55...Ne4 56.Be3 [56.Bd4 Nf6 57.Bxf6 gxf6–+] 56...Nf6 57.Kd6 Nxh5 58.Ke5 Kg6 59.Bd2 f5 60.Be1 Kg5 0-1. [Click to replay]


Cheparinov-Bu Xiangzhi: 1-0

Bu in French is the passed participle of boire, to drink. If you try to read the Europe Echechs notes with a computer translator do not be disconcerted if they refer to Black as the Drunk Xiangzhi. The game beween the allegedly inebriated Chinese GM and local talent Ivan Cheparinov, who are 22 and 21 years old repectively, was a predictably aggressive Sicilian Najdorf. Our mechanical translator tells us "The Friend" (Dutch GM Erwin L’Ami), who is assisting Cheparinov, played the line in the previous year, and that Drunk was playing quickly (we must remember to brush up our French and avoid these silly translators). The game is quite spectacular to follow – we bring you a memorable moment from the final phase.

Cheparinov,I (2696) - Bu Xiangzhi (2708) [B90]
4th M-Tel Masters Sofia BUL (1), 08.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.f3 Be6 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a5 11.Qe1 Qc7 12.Bb5 Nbd7 13.Qf2 Rfc8 14.Kb1 Bc4 15.g4 Bxb5 16.Nxb5 Qc6 17.a4 Ne8 18.Rd3 Qc4 19.Nc3 Nc7 20.Bb6 Nxb6 21.Qxb6 Qb4 22.Qxb4 axb4 23.Nd5 Nxd5 24.Rxd5 Rxa4 25.Rb5 Ra7 26.Rxb4 g6 27.Rd1 f5 28.gxf5 gxf5 29.Rd5 fxe4 30.fxe4 Kf7 31.c3 h5 32.Na5 Rc7 33.Nc4 Ke6 34.Ne3 Bd8 35.Nf5 Rd7 36.c4 b6 37.Rb3 Ra4 38.Rbd3 Be7 39.b3 Ra8 40.Rg3 Bf8 41.Kb2 h4 42.Rg6+ Kf7 43.Rg4 Rda7 44.Rxh4 Ra1 45.Rh7+ Ke6 46.Rh8 Re1 47.Ng3 Kf7 48.Rh7+ Ke6 49.Rb7 Rea1

White is a distant pawn up, Black is trying to find checking resources. 50.Nf5 R8a2+ 51.Kc3 Rc1+. It is worthwhile looking at alternatives starting with 51...Rxh2 or 51...Re1. 52.Kb4 Rb2 53.Rb8 Rcb1 54.Rd3 Kf7 55.Rf3 1-0. [Click to replay]


Radjabov-Ivanchuk: 0-1

This game must be fairly traumatic for Radjabov, who just three days earlier finished his final game in the Baku Grand Prix, where he finished eighth with a very disappointing minus one score.

Radjabov,T (2751) - Ivanchuk,V (2740) [E15]
4th M-Tel Masters Sofia BUL (1), 08.05.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb7 6.Bg2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 a5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qc2 d6 10.Nc3 Nbd7 11.Rfe1 Bxc3 12.Bxc3 Be4 13.Qb2 Re8 14.Bh3 Bb7 15.Nd2 e5 16.Rad1 h6 17.f3 exd4 18.Bxd4 Ne5 19.Nf1 Nh5 20.Bxe5 Rxe5 21.e4 Qf6 22.Ne3

White controls the center and Black is feeling the heat. He decides to sacrifice the exchange for a pawn and neutrality in the center: 22...Qxf3 23.Bg2 Qf6 24.Ng4 Qe7 25.Nxe5 dxe5 26.Qf2 Bc6 27.a4 Qc5 28.Qxc5 bxc5 29.Re3 Kf8 30.Red3 Ke7

White decides to return the exchange and regain the pawn, but he ends up in a bit of hot water himself. 31.Rd5 Bxd5 32.Rxd5 Nf6 33.Rxc5 Kd6 34.Rb5 Ra7 35.h4? Nd7 36.Rd5+ Ke7 37.Bh3 c6 38.Rxd7+ Rxd7 39.Bxd7 Kxd7 40.c5

White has finished exchanging down to material equality but finds, after having made the time control, that the endgame is lost by force. If he has any doubt, his veteran opponent is willing to dispel them. All of the following black move are the best according to our state-or-the-art engines. 40...h5 41.Kf2 g6 42.Ke2 f5 43.exf5 gxf5 44.Kd3 Ke6 45.Kc4 f4 46.gxf4 exf4 47.Kd4 Kf5 48.Kd3 f3 0-1. [Click to replay]


Video reports by Europe Echecs

The event is being held in an "aquarium", a sound-proof glass enclosure which allows the spectators to move very close to the players and even talk, without the players being disturbed.


The glass walls are carefully sound-proofed...


...so the players are not disturbed by the audience chatting just a few feet away


Chief organiser Silvio Danialov explains the venue to GM Robert Fountaine

You should watch the Europe Echecs video report of round one to get a feel for the playing venue. Anchor Robert Fountaine interviews the main organiser and driving force behind the event, Silvio Danialov, just a few feet away from the players (and during the game). Silvio, who is the manager of Topalov and Cheparinov, says "Soon every tournament will be like this. Our ambition is next year to make it in open space, in front of the National Theatre." All quite revolutionary and something that should definitely be studied by other organisers.


Schedule and results

Round 1: Thursday, May 8, 2008

Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Ivan Cheparinov 
1-0
 Bu Xiangzhi
Teimour Radjabov 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk

Round 2: Friday, May 9, 2008

Veselin Topalov 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
Levon Aronian 
-
 Ivan Cheparinov
GamesReport

Round 3: Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ivan Cheparinov 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Levon Aronian
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
GamesReport

Round 4: Sunday, May 11, 2008

Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Ivan Cheparinov
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Levon Aronian
GamesReport

Round 5: Monday, May 12, 2008

Veselin Topalov 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Levon Aronian  
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Ivan Cheparinov 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
GamesReport

Round 6: Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Veselin Topalov 
-
 Levon Aronian
Bu Xiangzhi  
-
 Ivan Cheparinov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
GamesReport

Round 7: Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Ivan Cheparinov 
-
 Levon Aronian
GamesReport

Round 8: Friday, May 16, 2008

Veselin Topalov 
-
 Ivan Cheparinov
Levon Aronian 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
GamesReport

Round 9: Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bu Xiangzhi 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Levon Aronian
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Ivan Cheparinov
GamesReport

Round 10: Sunday, May 18, 2008

Veselin Topalov 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
Ivan Cheparinov 
-
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
GamesReport

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