Sofia Game two – more analysis and pictures

4/26/2010 – Anand's reaction to his terrible beating in game one, says our colleague IM Malcolm Pein, was a fine performance to level the match. We brought you fairly detailed on-the-spot analysis by GM Anish Giri yesterday. Today we add Malcolm's notes for your enjoyment. Also some interesting pictures from the Bulgarian capital, for one of which you will require strong nerves.

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World Chess Championship – Game two

Anand had white in game two of the World Chess Championship in Sofia. His reaction to his terrible beating in game one was a fine performance to level the match. He played 1.d4 and an Open Catalan Defence emerged. At first it seemed that Anand had been somewhat fooled by Topalov's choice of variation, but then he gradually outmaneuvered is opponent, once Topalov missed his best chance with 16...Nc5. Anand forced resignation in just 43 moves. Very much "game on" as the match stands 1-1.

The following detailed commentary for reading and download is by our colleague IM Malcolm Pein, who is posting daily analysis on The Week in Chess web site. There is a replay link at the end of the game, which takes you to a JavaScript board. There you can click on the notation to follow the analysis on the graphic chessboard.

Anand,Viswanathan (2787) - Topalov,Veselin (2805) [E04]
WCh Sofia BUL (2), 25.02.2010 [IM Malcolm Pein]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5. Topalov was largely responsible for rehabilitating the Modern Benoni with 3...c5. However, both he and Gashimov suffered quite a bit in this line at the recent Linares tournament 4.g3. The Catalan, is this quiet approach a result of yesterday's disaster, or the plan all along? We will only know later on in the match. As the Catalan is a Grünfeld Defence in reverse with an extra move he has effectively played two Grünfeld setups in two games. 4...dxc4

 








In general Black has two ways to play against the Catalan. He can reinforce the centre with c6, or, as he does here, take on c4 and aim to equalise in the centre with a later c5. 5.Bg2 a6 6.Ne5 c5 7.Na3 cxd4 8.Naxc4 Bc5. 8...Ra7 is also played.

 








9.0-0 0-0 10.Bd2 Nd5 11.Rc1 Nd7. 11...b6 1-0 Gustafsson,J (2614)-Berkes,F (2619)/ Gothenburg SWE 2005/The Week in Chess 561 (31); 11...Qf6 12.Nd3 Be7 13.e4!! 1-0 Gelfand ,B (2703)-Aronian,L (2649)/Bastia FRA 2003/The Week in Chess 469 (30). 12.Nd3 Ba7. 12...Be7 13.Nf4!+/=. 13.Ba5. 13.Na5 N7f6 14.Qb3 Rb8 15.Rc2 Bd7 16.Rfc1 Bb5 17.a4 Bxd3 18.exd3 Re8 19.Nc4 Qe7 1/2-1/2 Vidit,S (2356) -Venkatesh,M (2462)/Nagpur IND 2008/The Week in Chess. 13...Qe7 14.Qb3. 14.Bxd5 exd5 15.Bb4 Qf6 16.Bxf8 dxc4–/+. 14...Rb8

 








Worryingly for Anand supporters, he fell into deep thought here. In spite of being still in theory. 14...Rb8 15.Nce5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Qf6 17.Nd3 b6 18.Bb4 Rd8 Black is fine already 19.Bxd5 Rxd5 20.Rc7 Bb7 21.Be7 Qf5 22.Qc2 e5 23.Rc1 h6 24.Nb4 d3 25.exd3 Rd7 26.Rxb7 Rbxb7 27.Qc8+ Kh7 28.Nxa6 Qxd3 29.Nb4 Qd2 30.Bf8 Rb8 0-1 Gulko,B (2559)-Shulman,Y (2606)/ Tulsa USA 2008/ The Week in Chess. 15.Qa3?! A novelty and objectively a bad one but I think Vishy's idea here was just to take Topalov out of his preparation even at the cost of fighting for an objective advantage [15.Rfd1 was sensible while; 15.Rfe1!? preparing Bxd5 so that e2 is protected – Nigel Short and; 15.Rc2!? with the same idea were interesting ideas. 15...Qxa3 16.bxa3

 








This is risky as it weakens the c3 square which Black's extra pawn controls. It seems to me that Black is comfortably equal here indeed White has to think how he recoups this pawn 16...N7f6 Not best, Black should not fear Bxd5 [16...Nc5 Removing White's wonderful blockading knight was much better when Black is doing rather well 17.Nd6 b6] 17.Nce5= Re8 18.Rc2 b6 19.Bd2 Bb7 20.Rfc1

 








20...Rbd8. Vishy's position has improved, he has decent compensation here with control of the c file and Nc6 coming 20...Rec8 21.Rxc8+ Rxc8 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Nc6 wins! 21.f4. Keeping some control over the e5 square after a Nc6 Bxc6 sequence. Anand does not want to allow e6-e5. 21...Bb8 22.a4 a5?!

 








Forgive me reader but my computer likes this and so did Topalov, but I am suspicious of it. I guess Topalov did not like the idea a4-a5 b6-b5 Nc6 when the fixed a6 pawn is vulnerable but it's b6 which looks weaker to me. Longer term I see the Bb7 being exchanged and the dark bishop staying on the board so pawns on black squares could be uncomfortable against two knights [22...Bd6!?; 22...Rc8 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ Bxc8 25.Nc6 Bd6 26.Nxd4=] 23.Nc6 Bxc6. 23...Rc8 24.Nxd4 Rxc2 25.Rxc2 and the b5 square comes in handy. 24.Rxc6 h5. Prophylaxis against the plan of Bg2-f3 and g4-g5 but also a sure sign Black lacks an active plan. Your engine might say level but it's perhaps a little uncomfortable to play 24...e5 25.fxe5 Bxe5 26.R1c4 Nc3!? 25.R1c4! Ne3?! 26.Bxe3 dxe3

 








27.Bf3! Calmly played and ruling out Rxd3 which might have happened after: 27.Rxb6 Rxd3 28.exd3 e2 29.Rb1 Ba7+ 30.d4 with complications although White is better here also 30...e5 31.fxe5 Rxe5 32.Re1. 27...g6. 27...Ba7 28.Kg2; Topalov gives up the wrong pawn as when b6 goes a5 becomes weak so 27...Nd7 28.Bxh5 e5 was best. 28.Rxb6 Ba7. Played after a long think. Black is clearly in some trouble. Top GMs hate these kinds of positions with fixed weaknesses. The Catalan bishop is getting better and better and a5 is very weak. 29.Rb3 Rd4? 29...Nd5 30.Rb5; 29...Re7. 30.Rc7. Obvious and strong, a5 falls. 30...Bb8 31.Rc5 Bd6 32.Rxa5 Rc8 33.Kg2. This looks technically winning Topalov has been utterly outplayed from a position where if anything he was more comfortable. 33...Rc2 34.a3 Ra2. 34...Kg7 35.Ra7 Ra2 36.Rbb7 Rxd3 37.Rxf7+ Kh6 38.Ra8 g5 39.Rxf6+ Kg7 40.fxg5. 35.Nb4. Again simple and strong. 35...Bxb4. 35...Ra1 36.Nc2; 35...Rxa3 36.Rxa3 Bxb4 37.Ra8+. 36.axb4

 








With two connected pawns and a huge Catalan bishop the game is completely won. I couldn't pinpoint one serious error, Topalov has just played a series of innacurate moves and failed to find a plan. 36...Nd5 37.b5 Offering one pawn to reach a completely technically won game. 37...Raxa4 38.Rxa4 Rxa4 39.Bxd5 exd5 40.b6 Ra8 41.b7 Rb8 42.Kf3 d4 43.Ke4

 








[43...Kf8 44.Kxd4 Ke7 45.Kc5 Kd7 46.Kb6] 1-0. [Click to replay]

Pictures from Sofia


Natsionalen dvorets na kulturata (NDK, the National Palace of Culture) in Sofia

This was opened in 1981 and is the largest multifunctional congress, conference, convention and exhibition centre in Southeastern Europe. The complex has an area of 123,000 m² on eight floors and three underground levels, 13 halls and 15,000 m² of exhibition area, a trade centre and a car park.


Over 10,000 tons of steel were used for the construction of the NDK – 3,000 more than the Eiffel Tower


Sofiyska gradska mineralna banya (the Sofia Public Mineral Baths)

The Central Mineral Baths are a landmark in the centre of Sofia, a city known for the mineral springs in the area. It was built in the early 20th century near the former Turkish bath (then destroyed) and was used as the city's public baths until 1986.


Statuya na Sveta Sofia (the statue of St. Sofia)

The 21 m high statue was erected in 2000 on a site which was once occupied by a Lenin statue. It was designed by the Bulgarian sculptor George Chapkanov. St. Sofia is the city's patron, although she is not a religious saint. The bird in her left hand symbolises the wisdom of St. Sofia. The statue reminds one of the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin, which is irreverently called "chick on a stick".


Stefan Stambolov – the horrific fate of a dictatorial Prime Minister

Stefan Stambolov was Bulgarian Prime Minister from 1887 to 1894, was the most talented – but also the most controversial – politician of his generation, pursuing pro-western liberal policies while at the same time locking up opponents and silencing the press. He was sacked by Prince Ferdinand in May 1894, and on July 3, 1895, was attacked by assassins. [Caution: if you have weak nerves you will want to stop reading here!] Stambolov, who carried a revolver, shot one of the attackers. The others wrestled him to the ground. They knew that he wore an armored vest, so they stabbed at his head, which he tried to protect with his hands. He died on July 6. The curiously egg-shaped sculpture, which stands at a corner of Kristal Park, graphically displays his sword and stab wounds and serves as a kind of tribute.


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