Mtel R6: Three wins in Sofia – what a day!

5/18/2005 – Well, well, well. The Mtel Masters is turning into a slugfest after all. Topalov and Kramnik both sacrificed a knight, on moves 14 and 15 respectively. Topalov beat Anand in a wild, exiciting game, Kramnik lost to young Ponomariov. And Judit Polgar beat Mickey Adams. We bring you a heavily illustrated report.

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Super GM Tournament
in Sofia

Six of the world's top players
clash in the M-Tel Masters

May 11 to 22, 2005
in the Grand Hotel Sofia, Bulgaria

The Mtel Masters Super Tournament is under way. It is a category 20 event with an Elo average of 2744. The time controls are classic (up to seven hours per game) and the tournament is a double round robin (every player plays every other player twice). There is a special rule in place at this Super Tournament: draw offers are not allowed, i.e. draws by mutual agreement between the players are forbidden, only technical draws may be given by the arbiter.

Round six report

Had we not seen this before recently? Anand and Kramnik both losing on the same day? Let's see, at Corus 2004, in round 12, Kramnik lost to Ivan Sokolov and Anand lost to... Topalov. At Corus this year in the second round, Anand lost to Leko and Kramnik lost to... Topalov. The message is clear: when either one plays Topalov, the other had better watch out! Something must be up, since they average only three or four classical losses each year.


The winners in action: Veselin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov [Photo Olena Boytsun]

Topalov,V (2778) - Anand,V (2785) [E15]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (6), 18.05.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 c6 8.e4 d5 9.Qc2 dxe4 10.Nxe4 Bb7 11.Neg5. Topalov's novelty. Topalov-Anand. 11.Neg5 is a new move exactly here – it usually comes after 11.Bg2 c5, as Topalov himself played against Leko in Melody Amber this year. 11...c5 12.d5 exd5 13.cxd5 h6

14.Nxf7!? The surprise Topalov had in store for Anand. His speculative sacrifice here has some similarities to the old Cochrane Gambit in the Petroff. (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7!?). Remember that it was Topalov who shocked the chess world and his opponent, none other than Vladimir Kramnik, with the Cochrane in 1999 (draw). One must admit it takes guts play things like this against the world's strongest players. 1.Nxf7 is another of the many great theoretical novelties we've seen so far in Sofia.


Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) giving Vishy Anand (India) a rough time

14...Kxf7 15.0-0-0 Bd6 16.Nh4 Bc8 17.Re1 Na6 18.Re6!

Topalov offers to turn his material investment into a whole rook. But if Black accepted he would be wiped out on the light squares, which are full of holes around his king: 18...Bxe6? 19.dxe6+ Kg8 20.Bxa6.


Anand suffering [Photo Olena Boytsun]

18...Nb4 19.Bxb4 cxb4 20.Bc4 b5. The rook is untouchable: 20...Bxe6?? 21.dxe6 Kf8 22.Ng6+ and White wins the queen with mate soon. 21.Bxb5 Be7?. Anand was defending well until this move, which had the logical plan of attacking the d5 pawn. 22.Ng6 Nxd5.

23.Rxe7+. The game would have ended more quickly had Topalov found the Fritzy move 23.Re5!, which keeps the threat against the rook on h8 and also threatens Rxd5 and the rook is immune because of the Bc4 pin. But chess is hard and Topalov followed the line Anand was probably looking at when he played 21...Be7, going into an endgame in which Topalov has an extra pawn and much better pieces. The final race looked close, but Topalov had it under control.


Topalov attacking [Photo Olena Boytsun]

23...Nxe7 24.Bc4+ Kf6 25.Nxh8 Qd4 26.Rd1 Qa1+ 27.Kd2 Qd4+ 28.Ke1 Qe5+ 29.Qe2 Qxe2+ 30.Kxe2 Nf5 31.Nf7 a5 32.g4 Nh4 33.h3 Ra7 34.Rd6+ Ke7 35.Rb6 Rc7 36.Ne5 Ng2 37.Ng6+ Kd8 38.Kf1 Bb7 39.Rxb7 Rxb7 40.Kxg2 Rd7 41.Nf8 Rd2 42.Ne6+ Ke7 43.Nxg7 Rxa2 44.Nf5+ Kf6 45.Nxh6 Rc2.

46.Bf7. Topalov's last chance to blunder would have been 46.h4?? Rxc4 and black is winning. 46...Rc3 47.f4 a4 48.bxa4 b3 49.g5+ Kg7 50.f5 b2 51.f6+ Kh7 52.Nf5 1-0.

The final move, allowing Black to queen, is quite pretty. After 52...b2Q it's mate in three: 53.g6+ Kh8 54.g7+ Kh7 55.g8Q#.


[Photo Olena Boytsun]

In Ponomariov-Kramnik Black went on the attack early. Instead of the usual queenside castling, Kramnik opened up the center and then sacrificed a knight. He got very good attacking chances but Ponomariov defended very accurately. Black was always very close to getting full compensation in pawns and attacking lines with his bishops. But Kramnik slipped up with 26...Bc6, giving up another piece. He had enough attack to get that second piece back, but in so doing the attack passed over to White and Ponomariov finished off very accurately. A stellar precision game from the Ukrainian. Poor Kramnik: both losses came when he uncharacteristically played speculative combinations. They are sound, but he hasn't been able to follow up well enough.


Kramnik at the press conference after his loss [Photo Olena Boytsun]

Polgar,Ju (2732) - Adams,Mi (2737) [C42]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (6), 18.05.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.a3 Nc6 11.cxd5 Qxd5 12.Nc3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Na5 14.Re1 Bd6 15.Rb1 Bd7 16.Be3 Nc4 17.Nd2 Nxe3 18.fxe3 Qg5 19.Bf3 Rae8 20.Nc4 b6 21.e4 Bf4 22.Qc2 Re6 23.g3 b5 24.Nb2 Bd2 25.Re2 Be3+ 26.Kg2 f5 27.h4.

27...Qh6. Adams has been attacking, but Judit's 27.h4 confused the issue. He should have offered the bishop sac 27...Qg6! when 28.Rxe3 fxe4 29.Bxe4 Bc6! is very strong for Black (a beautiful triple pin). After 27...Qh6 White grabs the initiative. The game is still balanced, but Judit Polgar managed to grab a pawn, which was enough for a quick win in the endgame when the heavy pieces came off.


Judit Polgar and Michael Adams during their game [Photo Olena Boytsun]

28.exf5 Ree8 29.Qb3+ Kh8 30.Qd5 Bxf5 31.Rbe1 Re6? (31...Bg6! threatening ..c6 and ..Rxf3 could have held the balance) 32.Nd1 Rd6 33.Qxb5 Bd7 34.Qe5 Bd2 35.Rf1 Rdf6 36.Rff2 Ba4 37.Rxd2 Rxf3 38.Ne3 R3f6 39.Qg5 Rxf2+ 40.Rxf2 Qc6+ 41.d5 Rxf2+ 42.Kxf2 Qd6 43.Qf4 Qxf4+ 44.gxf4 Kg8 45.Kf3 Kf7 46.c4 Bd7 47.f5 Kf6 48.Kf4 h5 49.c5 c6 50.Ke4 Be8 51.dxc6 Bxc6+ 52.Nd5+ 1-0.

Round 6 (Wednesday, May 18, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar
1-0
Michael Adams
Games – Report

Current standings

Pictures

Our complaints about a lack of pictures (and restrictive rules for photographers at the event) seem to have had a positive effect. The official web site has come up with much improved visuals, and Valery Zahov of Erogance Lovestyle E-magazine has offered to help. Valery's pictures in the selection below are marked with his copyright.


Peter Stoychev, four times winner of the World Cup in swimming marathon (and sponsored by Mobiltel), wishing Vesselin Topalov all the best for this tournament


Veselin experimenting with an Mtel mobile phone


Organising Committee member Martin Batkov took his daughters to congratulate Topalov after his victory over Anand


The young girls all dressed up, with flowers for the national chess hero


Topalov and the Minister of Sport Vassil Ivanov-Luciano open a chess playing section of the public garden behind the Grand hotel Sofia


The ceremonial tasting of bread


The world's number two active player against the Minister of Sport of Bulgaria


Playing against amateurs in the park


What exactly are my chances against our country's top player?


Some day, Veselin, we meet in a top GM tournament...

Schedule and results

Round 1 (Thursday, May 12, 2005)
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Ruslan Ponomariov
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Michael Adams
½-½
Judit Polgar
GamesReport
Round 2 (Friday, May 13, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Judit Polgar
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Michael Adams
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Games Report
Round 3 (Saturday, May 14, 2005)
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Judit Polgar
½-½
Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
Round 4 (Sunday, May 15, 2005)
Michael Adams
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
GamesReport
Round 5 (Monday, May 16, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 6 (Wednesday, May 18, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar
-
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 7 (Thursday, May 19, 2005)
Judit Polgar
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
-
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Round 9 (Saturday, May 21, 2005)
Veselin Topalov
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Michael Adams
-
Viswanathan Anand
Games – Report
Round 10 (Sunday, May 22, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Michael Adams
Viswanathan Anand
-
Judit Polgar
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report

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