Mtel wrap-up: looking back at Sofia

5/26/2005 – The Mtel Masters in Sofia, one of the most interesting Super GM tournaments of the year, ended last Sunday with a resounding victory for local hero Veselin Topalov. Our photo reporter Valery Zahov provides his impressions of the closing ceremony and of the Bulgarian capital in a spectacular pictorial 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

Closing


The winner is congratulated: Veselin Topalov takes first place

At the press conference after the event Veselin Topalov, on a question by journalists, denied that luck had played a decisive role in the event. It was true that he and Kramnik had overlooked a simple win for the latter in their last-round encounter, but even if he had lost the game, Topalov said, he would have been equal first with Vishy Anand. Then, in the rapid chess playoff required by the rules, he would have had "no chance," the Bulgarian champion admitted ruefully.


One of the initiators of the event, GM Silvio Danailov, speaks at the closing ceremony


I won the tournament and got much more than this T-shirt. Vishy Anand and Veselin Topalov compare memorabilia from Sofia

At the press conference Vladimir Kramnik vowed to see assistance from experts who could help restore his full concentration and determination, and work on techniques to avoid blunders.

All participants had more-or-less positive things to say about the anti-draw rule in place in Sofia. Judit Polgar noted that the average number of moves per game was higher than in other events. Anand said the rule seemed to have only positive sides. Ponomariov said he didn't have any problems with the new rule, nor did he object to just one free day. Only Kramnik and Topalov said they saw no big difference for their own games in such events.


Veselin Topalov, sports hero of the Bulgarian Republic


With his proud father and his second Cheparinov

Topalov attributed his recent successes – and his possible ascent to the top of the rating list – to hard work and preparation in recent months. He admitted that the three months he had spent preparing with Ruslan Ponomariov in 2003 (Ponomariov was preparing for a match against Kasparov, which did not take place in the end) had also been very important for his development.

Cartoon time


Mickey Adams with a caricature rendition of himself


Vladimir Kramnik with his cartoon


Judit Polgar finds hers quite hilarious


This is really fun: Anand, Ponomariov and Topalov


Anand gets his commemorative cartoon


Yep, that's me, people!


The winner gets a valuable icon from Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov...


... who gets a chessboard with the signatures of all participants in return


Group photo with the Bulgarian President


Anand with wife Aruna


Mickey Adams with wife Tara


Judit Polgar at the closing ceremony


Cocktail party at the close of the ceremony

Impressions of Sofia

The city of Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and, with a population of just over a million, the biggest city in the Republic. It is the second oldest capital city in Europe. It was founded on a site inhabited in the 8th century B.C., and became a Thracian settlement named Serdica. It was captured by Rome in AD 29, destroyed by the Huns in 447, rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, taken by the Ottomans in 1382 and by the Russians in 1878. Sofia became the capital of an independent Bulgaria in 1879. There are 16 universities in the city, which is the see of an Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic dioceses.


The Alexander Nevsky Church in Sofia


A traditional Russian Orthodox church


The Church of St Sofia


The Foreign Arts Museum


Icons for sale in Sofia


Modern banking buildings in the capital


The Grand Hotel, where the event was held


A panorama view from the hotel


The Grand Hotel terrace


Sleeping quarters in the suite


Seating arrangements for suite residents


Sofia by night


Parliament Square


The President's residence


The Alexander Nevsky Church at dusk

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