Sofia 2007: Topalov wins Third M-Tel Masters in Sofia

5/20/2007 – Our words were justified: after his disastrous start we cautioned our readers not to wager large sums on Topalov not winning the event. And the Bulgarian superstar pulled it off yet again. He defeated the tournament leader in the final round to take sole victory in the M-Tel Masters. Four players shared 2nd-5th, with Adams bringing up the rear, just a point behind the winner. Games and final standings.

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Third M-Tel Masters in Sofia, Bulgaria

There are six participants in this double round robin tournament that goes from May 10 to 20. Time control: 2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for 20 moves + 30 minutes to the end the game. The players are not allowed to offer draws, they must consult the arbiter, who will decide (usually against) allowing the offer to be made.

Round ten: Topalov beats Sasikiran, wins M-Tel

Round 10: Sunday, May 202007

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Krishnan Sasikiran
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Shakriyar Mamedyarov
Michael Adams 
½-½
 Gata Kamsky

Veselin Topalov-Krishnan Sasikiran was, naturally, the key game. The Indian GM was leading the event, with four other players (including Topalov) trailing by half a point. "Sashi" needed to draw and tried to do so with a Nimzo Indian Rubinstein. By around move 30 White had gained a substantial advantage and looked poised to win.

Topalov,V (2772) - Sasikiran,K (2690) [E43]
MTel Sofia BUL (10), 20.05.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 d5 8.a3 Bd6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.b4 Nbd7 11.b5 Ne4 12.Bb2 Re8 13.a4 Re6 14.Ne2 a5 15.Ba3 Rc8 16.Bxd6 cxd6 17.Rc1 Ndf6 18.h3 Re7 19.Qb3 h6 20.Rxc8 Qxc8 21.Rc1 Rc7 22.Rxc7 Qxc7 23.Qc2 Qe7 24.Qc1 g6 25.Nh2 Kg7 26.h4 Ne8 27.f3 N4f6 28.Nf1 h5 29.Nf4 Nd7 30.Qe1 Nf8 31.Qg3 Kh6

In this promising position White decides to sacrifice: 32.Nxh5 gxh5 33.Qg8 f5 34.Ng3 Ng7 35.Bxf5 Ng6 36.Bxg6 Kxg6 37.Nxh5 Qxe3+ 38.Kh2

Black is fine and should simply play 38...Qxd4 to hold on. But Sasikiran blunders: 38...Qe7?? Putting his king into a dangerous position. 39.Nf4+ Kf6 40.g4 Qf7 41.Qd8+ Qe7 42.Qg8 Qf7 43.Qd8+ Qe7 Perhaps the Indian GM thought that he could force a repetition?! 44.Qxe7+ (44.Qxb6 was an alternative that needs to be examined) 44...Kxe7 45.Kg3 Ne6 46.Nxe6 Kxe6. Topalov plays pragmatically, relying on his three connected passed pawns to make his day. 47.f4 Bc8 48.f5+ Kf7 49.h5 Bd7 50.h6 Kg8 51.Kf4 Be8 52.Kg5 Kf7

53.h7! The final blow – Black is helpless. 53...Kg7 54.h8Q+ Kxh8 55.Kf6 Bxb5 56.Ke7 Bd3 57.f6 Bg6 58.f7 Bxf7 59.Kxf7 and it is mate in six. 1-0.

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu vs Shakriyar Mamedyarov, definitely the orthographically toughest pairing, was a classical c3 Sicilian and saw Black making efforts to win. But the game ended in a perpetual.

Nisipeanu,LD (2693) - Mamedyarov,S (2757) [B40]
MTel Sofia BUL (10), 20.05.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 b6 7.a3 Bb7 8.Bd3 d6 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Nbd2 dxe5 11.dxe5 Be7 12.Ne4 0-0 13.Re1 Rc8 14.Bd2 Qc7 15.Rc1 Qb8 16.Bb1 h6 17.Ng3 Rfd8 18.Rxc8 Qxc8 19.Qa4 Bf8 20.Qg4 Ne7 21.Bxh6 Bxf3 22.gxf3 Nxe5 23.Rxe5 Rd1+ 24.Kg2 Rxb1 25.Rg5 g6 26.Bxf8 Qxf8 27.Qd4 Qg7 28.Qd8+ Qf8 29.Qd4 Nf5 30.Nxf5 exf5 31.Rg3 Qe7 32.Rh3 Qg5+ 33.Rg3 Qe7 34.Rh3 Qg5+ 35.Rg3 Qc1 36.Qd8+ Kg7 37.Qd4+ f6 38.Qd7+ Kf8 39.Qd8+ Kf7 40.Qd7+ Kf8 41.Qd8+ Kf7 42.Qd7+ draw.

Michael Adams vs Gata Kamsky was a Closed Ruy Lopez in which White did everything in his power to win. But the American GM defended tenaciously and after 73 moves Adams stopped trying and simplified to a wrong bishop draw.

Adams,Mi (2734) - Kamsky,G (2705) [C88]
MTel Sofia BUL (10), 20.05.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.Nbd2 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nf1 b4 13.c3 bxc3 14.bxc3 c4 15.Ng3 cxd3 16.Qxd3 Bc8 17.Ba3 Be6 18.Bxe6 fxe6 19.Rad1 Ne8 20.Bb4 Rf7 21.Bxa5 Qxa5 22.Qc4 Rf6 23.Nf5 Bf8 24.Ne3 Qc7 25.Qxc7 Nxc7 26.Nc4 Ne8 27.Nb6 Ra7 28.c4 Rff7 29.c5 Rfc7 30.Ng5 Rxc5 31.Nxe6 Rc6 32.Nd5 Be7 33.Rc1 Rxc1 34.Rxc1 Kf7 35.Nec7 Bd8 36.Nxe8 Kxe8 37.Kf1 Rb7 38.Rc6 Rb1+ 39.Ke2 Rb2+ 40.Kf3 Rb3+ 41.Kg4 Rb2 42.Kg3 a5 43.Rxd6 Ra2 44.Nc3 Ra3 45.Rc6 Kd7 46.Rc4 h5 47.f3 g6 48.Kh3 Bb6 49.Nd5 Bd8 50.Kg3 Ra2 51.Kh3 Ra3 52.Nc3 Bb6 53.Kh4 Bd8+ 54.Kg3 Bb6 55.h4 Ra1 56.Nd5 Bd8 57.Kh2 Ra3 58.Kh3 Ra1 59.g3 Ra3 60.Kg2 Ra2+ 61.Kh3 Ra3 62.f4 exf4 63.Nxf4 Bc7 64.Rd4+ Kc6 65.Nd3 Bb6 66.Ne5+ Kb7 67.Nc4 Bxd4 68.Nxa3 Kc6 69.Nc4 Bc3 70.Ne3 Kc5 71.Nd5 Bg7 72.g4 Kc4 73.Ne7 Kb3 74.Nc6 Kxa4 75.Nxa5 Kxa5 76.e5 Bxe5 77.gxh5 gxh5 78.Kg2 draw.

Final standings

We do not recall the rating rules: can a player lose points when winning a tournament. Probably yes, and Topalov's performance of 2751 will cost him a couple in the next list. High seed Mamedyarov also drops a few, while Kamsky, Nisipeanu and Sasikiran stand to gain some. For Sashi the final table must be quite disappointing – seeing himself drop from solo first to second last on tiebreak scores. [The first tiebreak criterium, according to the Sofia rules, was the "greater number of wins". So although the same Sonneborn-Berger tiebreaks are given as those generated by ChessBase in the table above, Sasi is in second place on the official final rankings.]. For Topalov it's the opposite: he has climbed from last to the place the Bulgarian nation had expected from him.

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