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Mtel R9: Topalov on the top of the world

5/21/2005 – With a third win in four games (this time over Ruslan Ponomariov) Bulgarian star Veselin Topalov quite appropriately took the sole lead in the Super GM tournament in Sofia. Vishy Anand won his black game against Michael Adams to take second place, with one round to go. Here's our updated Illustrated report.
 

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 nine report

Veselin Topalov is a sporting hero in his country, Bulgaria, much like Vishy Anand is in India (except that Veselin has less than one billion fans). He is on television and in the printed news all the time, even on the cover of magazines.


Topalov on the title page of the popular "For the People" magazine


Doing the hunk thing on the cover

At the Mtel tournament that was built around him (and partially by him) it was clear that expectancy was high and everybody in the country was rooting for Veselin Topalov. So it was a bit of a shock when, after five rounds and at the end of the first half of the tournament, Topalov had scored four draws and lost one to take a place at the bottom of the table.

But then came a rest day, which the energetic Bulgarian spent in PR activities for the event. After that he was on fire, winning rounds six and seven, and drawing an awesomely complex game against Judit Polgar in round eight. With that he advanced to the top of the table, together with former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov.


The start of round nine in Sofia – all photos by Valery Zahov of Erogance

Today Veselin faced Ruslan Ponomariov in round nine – his main rival and the player who had beaten him in the first half of the event. This is what happens when you do that to Topalov.

Topalov,V (2778) - Ponomariov,R (2695) [E15]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (9), 21.05.2005

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3.


Queen's Indian? Ruslan Ponomariov pondering what to do on move three


Still thinking, while the other games progress.


Not an easy decision. Ruslan knows that Veselin is after his gore

3...b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Rc1.


More decisions: Ponomariov before move eight


In the end he decides to push the c-pawn

8...c6 9.e4 d5.


A disturbance in the audience? Both Topalov and Judit Polgar are distracted

10.e5N. This is a novelty, and it is obviously played with uncompromising attack in mind.


Veselin Topalov after playing his novelty

10.Ne4 11.Bd3 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 c5 13.dxc5 bxc5 14.h4 h6.

Topalov is manoeuvering his pieces – all of them – with one single goal: to go for the enemy king. Watch how systematically he goes about it: 15.Bb1! This is a key move which Ponomariov had underestimated in his deliberations. Apparently Topalov and his seconds had looked at it in their home preparation. 15...f5. After the game Veselin said that Black had to play 15...Nd7 to bring the knight into play to defend the king. But the young Ukraine seems to know no fear. 16.exf6 Bxf6 17.Qc2 d4

What would you do here? Move the rook to d3? Or first give a queen check on h7? Topalov does neither, he continues his murderous attack: 18.Ng5! hxg5 19.hxg5 dxc3. Well calculated. White is a rook and a knight down but already winning. 20.Bf4 Kf7 21.Qg6+ Ke7 22.gxf6+ Rxf6 23.Qxg7+ Rf7 24.Bg5+ Kd6 25.Qxf7 Qxg5 26.Rh7 Qe5+ 27.Kf1 Kc6 28.Qe8+ Kb6.

It's all over: 29.Qd8+ Kc6. Black allows a mate 30.Be4+ and resigns one move before it is executed. 1-0.


Polgar vs Kramnik showed Kramnik again going back to the Petroff despite two losses. He played a new move and seemed to hold the draw without great effort.

Adams vs Anand saw the British GM replaying the Petroff novelty 16.Bg3, which he had used against Kramnik. Anand was prepared and responded with 16...Bd6, which is less ambitous and more solid than Kramnik's 16...Bf6. White lost some time in the opening with queen moves and a check and Anand took the initiative. Swaps left Adams with an isolated passed d-pawn. Was it a dangerous passer or a weak victim? White's bishop was pushed to the side of the board on h3, where it would die an inglorious death later after being trapped by black's pawns in a surprising maneuver. White was going to lose his bishop after 46...g5, but how he gave it up could have made a difference. After the game Kramnik recommended 47.Bxf5, going into an inferior endgame with R and four pawns versus R + B and one pawn. The way Adams did it left the queens on the board and he soon fell under a quick attack.

Round 9 (Saturday, May 21, 2005)
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Michael Adams
0-1
Viswanathan Anand
Games – Report

Current standings

We now have the interesting situation where Anand can still catch Topalov in the last round. The Bulgarian has black against Vladimir Kramnik, who has vowed to give him a tough fight. Anand has white against Judit Polgar and will probably be out to win, since he has a huge plus score against the Hungarian lady. A quick check reveals that in 40 games at various time controls Anand scored 69% (+22, =11, –7). With white Anand has scored 80% against Judit (+14, =4, –2), but in recent years his results have been less dominating: just before her maternal leave from chess Judit beat Anand with black, in Cap d'Agde in October 2003, and drew with black against him in November that year (Benidorm). Their Wijk aan Zee encounter this year ended in a draw (Judit had white).

It's going to be an interesting final round, which incidentally starts at 13:00h. You can follow the action on the official web site or on Playchess.com.

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
1-0
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 7 (Thursday, May 19, 2005)
Judit Polgar
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
GamesReport
Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Judit Polgar
GamesReport
Round 9 (Saturday, May 21, 2005)
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
Michael Adams
0-1
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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