Sofia in the news – reports and interviews

5/25/2010 – The World Championship in Sofia is still churning out reports in the international press. But for obvious reasons the winner, who hails from a country with over a billion inhabitants, is getting the lion's share of the attention. "I would like to see the same coverage for Topalov as you have had with Anand," requests one reader. We have scanned the press and bring you links and excerpts.

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Ray Wagner from Overijse, Belgium wrote us: "I enjoyed the match very much, but I would like to see the same coverage for Topalov as you have had with Anand. I realize the winner will get more attention anyway. Maybe Topalov is not ready to talk about it yet so that is fine. But I would very much like to hear from him on the games and how they went. It came down to the last game and no one can say that Topalov does not deserve out strongest congratulations in making this a championship to remember and analyze. A lot of great games were played." And S. D. Dixit of Delhi, India confirms: "The picture would be incomplete without Topalov's interview. Let us hear him and his team mates. I think it would make a great book and perhaps a hit movie if you can go a little deeper and gather all stories connected with WCC."

During the last weeks we have indeed encountered a very large number of reports on the winner of the World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria, but comparatively little on the Challenger, especially in the English language media. We have put together a few and bring you excerpts. The first is concerned with the diminished attention such chess matches are receiving.

Ronan Bennett & Daniel King: World championship matches were once truly epic in scale. Alekhine and Capablanca (1927) slugged it out in 34 games over 10 weeks, while Kasparov and Karpov made the first move of their first extraordinary encounter on 10 September 1984. It ended when Karpov turned over his king on 9 February the following year, after 48 games. Things are different today. Rule changes, the emergence of computers – putting an end to adjournments – and the struggle to find sponsorship have led to a more compressed format. In Sofia, Anand and Topalov played 12 games over a little more than two weeks. And while the games were watched by thousands online, the event was barely mentioned in the non-chess media. Full article...


Day After Chess Championship, Victor and Vanquished Reflect on the Match

By Dylan Loeb McClain

One day after their title match in Sofia, Bulgaria, ended, Viswanathan Anand, the once and still champion, and Veselin Topalov were tired, but proud. In separate telephone interviews Anand and Topalov expressed satisfaction with their own efforts and said it was the most intense match they had ever played.

“This is my first world championship match that has gone the distance,” said Anand. Referring to his earlier title matches against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, which he won, and Garry Kasparov in 1995, which he lost, he continued, “With Kramnik it went like a dream, with Kasparov it went the opposite way.” Topalov said, “Every single game was a really big battle,” adding that it was, “the most enjoyable event I ever played.”

Surprisingly, he was not upset about his mistakes in Game 12 that cost him the match. “My idea was to press in that game and not to let him go with an easy draw,” Topalov said. “I had to take a risk or go for a tie-break. I really committed suicide, but I don’t feel sorry.” His problem was that he let too many opportunities slip through his fingers. “I missed my chances earlier in the match — Games 3, 5 and 10. Vishy used all his chances and I had more than he did, but I did not use them.”


Vseki den: Vesko's nerves were burnt out

The President of Bulgarian Chess Federation Stefan Sergiev spoke about the World Championship match between Anand and Topalov in the Military Club in Sofia:

  • I think Topalov was much closer to victory than Anand and had the initiative during most of the match. But in the second half he was unable to stand fast, maybe mentally. Anand did not reveal anything new. He showed that he is far from his best years, but also that he was very well prepared mentally. He realized that he could not enter into a direct confrontation with Topalov, just wait and rely on his opponent to go wrong and then strike.

  • Bulgaria won a lot by holding the match. First the country was constantly talked about throughout the world. But more importantly we have proved once again that we are very good organizers and we can stage a game of chess at the highest level. Even more important was to refute the ideas which the Russians are trying to spread, that the illegal methods they used to win the championship in Elista would be used in Sofia to help Topalov to win. The whole world saw that everything was perfect organised in Sofia, both players were placed in a level playing field and given the opportunity to show their true capabilities. So we are no longer dealing with detective stories of chips in the brains, etc. which the Russians began to develop on the day when Topalov became World Champion in San Luis in 2005.

  • Original article in Vsekiden Den


Interview with Silvio Danailov

Q: Mr.Danailov, in a recent interview Viswanathan Anand commented that besides the known seconds (Nielsen, Kasimdzhanov, Wojtaszek, and Ganguly) he had additional helpers for the match in Sofia (Kasparov, Kramnik, and Carlsen ). Did this surprise you?

A: Well, not very much. I know quite well Kasparov and our WC hero from Elista, they are both old fashioned. What really surprised me was that despite their so called super team, we were still much superior in the openings. Only in two games they showed some decent ideas. This was game 4 with white and game 12 with black when they succeeds to equalize the position quickly. The rest of the games our team totally dominated in the openings. Anand was suffering with black in all games (except the last one) and no advantage at all with white (except game 4). And I can tell you more: I will never exchange Cheparinov for all of these guys together. Cheparinov is much better and much more creative than Kasparov, Carlsen, etc.

Topalov lost, this is sport, everything can happen. At least this match was one of the more exciting, chess wise, in the last 20 years. This was not Bonn, when after game 6 the match was over. Topalov lost, but he was attacking and was creative during the whole match. Anand was only defending, nothing more. Brilliant defence, by the way! But maybe the fans expect different way of play from the Champion, a more inspiring one...

Q: What about the Blue Gene with 8192 cores that you used?

A: About Blue Gene, what I can say is that everything is question of money. We invested huge amount of money on preparation, I do not want to mention the figure because someone can get heart attack. In any case Anand's team could do the same, some money always brings strong preparation.

Q: Let's speak about the rumors: according to local sources there is a rumor that Anand received extra 300 000 just to agree to play in Sofia. Is that true?

A: The rumor is not exactly true. It is true that their team has asked for this fee, but after negotiations they got only 100 000 eur extra money apart from the prize fund, all according to regulations. And still some people are trying to present Anand like a poor victim. I agree, maybe he is the victim, but not so poor after all....

FIDE regulations

13. Prize Fund

13.1 The prize fund of the match, provided by the organizer, should be a minimum of 1,000,000 (one million) euros, net of any applicable taxes. The prize fund will be divided: 60% for the winner and 40% to the loser if the FWCM ends within the 12 regular games. In case the winner is decided by tie-break games, the winner shall receive 55% and the loser 45%.

13.2 The organizer shall pay to FIDE an amount of 20% over and above the total prize fund, net of any applicable taxes.

13.3 If the match is played in the country of one of the players, then the opponent shall receive 100,000 (one hundred thousand) euros from the Prize Fund. The balance of the Prize Fund shall then be shared in accordance to Article 13.1 above.

13.4 Before the start of the WCM, the players shall each receive 200,000 (two hundred thousand) euros in accordance to the terms of the Contract to be signed with FIDE. This amount shall be deducted from the Prize Fund. The balance of their share of the Prize Fund shall be remitted to the players within ten days after the completion of the WCM.


Topalov training with super computer Blue Gene P

Topalov confirmed that he has been using the Blue Gene /P supercomputer, with 8792 processors and working on 1 PFLOPS (petaFLOPS). Blue Gene is a computer architecture project designed to reach operating speeds in the PFLOPS (petaFLOPS) range, and currently reaching sustained speeds of nearly 500 TFLOPS (teraFLOPS). It is at least seven times more energy efficient than any other supercomputer, accomplished by using many small, low-power chips connected through five specialized networks. Blue Gene/P can be scaled to an 884,736-processor, 216-rack cluster to achieve 3-PFLOPS performance. A standard Blue Gene/P configuration will house 4,096 processors per rack.

Blue Gene/P has been installed on September 9, 2008 in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and is operated by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Sofia University. Topalov has used exactly this modification of Blue Gene /P during his match with Viswanathan Anand for the World Chess Championship. For local media Topalov comments, "During my preparation for the match, with Silvio Danailov we have decided to look for additional resources for my preparation against Anand. We decided to use the processing power of Blue Gene /P with 8192 processors."

The only problem for Topalov was that there is no software that runs on such hardware. For Dnevnik Topalov revealed that he has collected a team of computer professionals to modify a program to work on the Blue Gene. Topalov will use the computer for his future preparation for the Candidate matches 2010 / 2011. Until then it will help young local chess players, who will be playing games and analysing with the supercomputer. On June 10th Topalov will join them to help in a series of 10 blitz games against the machine.


When Fritz flops

By Anthony Soltis

The reputation of chess computers rose – and fell – repeatedly during Vishy Anand's successful defense of his world championship title this month. Chess-playing programs, like the popular Fritz, proved invaluable in calculating variations, such as the winning Anand attack in the 12th game. Fans following that final game in real time online knew the dramatic finish before it happened.

But in other games fans were mystified when computers saw huge endgame advantages that didn't pan out. For example, some engines claimed Anand had a huge edge when he had a king, two rooks and a pawn to fight challenger Veselin Topalov's king and queen in Game 8. But computers have a problem visualizing perpetual check, and the game was quickly drawn.

In the previous game, computers kept saying that Topalov had a winning edge when he had an extra pawn in an endgame with bishops of opposite color. But in "B's-of-opps" endings, an extra pawn is easily blockaded. Exploiting the pawn typically requires visualizing a plan – a human strength – rather than calculation, a computer's strong suit. When Topalov won, thanks to an Anand blunder, some machines – as well as some GMs – were caught off guard.


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