Sofia R8: Topalov wins, equalises the match

5/4/2010 – The World Champion had appeared to have recovered from his shock defeat in game one, and seemed to have it all under control. An oversight got him into trouble, and Topalov went hard to work trying to milk the position for all he could. Still, just as it seemed as if Anand had made it safely back to shore, a final blunder sealed his fate. The match is now drawn 4-4, with four games left. Express report.

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World Chess Championship – Game eight

NIIT Press Release on round four

Sofia, May 5th 2010

A one point a pretty lead had Viswanathan Anand sitting comfortably while Veselin Topalov has been striving and stretching for one more victory to equalize the score. The Bulgarian Challenger was once again impressive in showing some serious home preparation, and also his aggressive instincts, in the eighth game of the World Chess Championship at Sofia, Bulgaria and defeated Anand after 56 moves.

The scores are now evened out at 4-4, making the last four games important in this twelve-game Match series. Throughout the eighth game, Anand was defending a miserable looking position, and eventually blundered on the 54th turn, when most analyzing grandmasters started hinting at a draw. For a long time in the ending, the players had opposite coloured bishops on board with Topalov enjoying an extra pawn.

Anand however later pointed out that he was not sure whether he could have held a draw, even without the blunder, and was not happy with the way he played today. Topalov too was unsure whether a victory was possible, but thought that his position was always better.

Topalov,Veselin (2805) - Anand,Viswanathan (2787) [D17]
World Chess Championship Sofia/Bulgaria (8), 04.05.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Bxd4 Nfd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 Rc8

 








So far, both players had been repeating games three and five, where Anand had opted for 13...a6. In those games, he had found himself with a very cramped position which had left him mostly trying not to lose, hardly inspiring. Presumably he found no significant improvement, hence 13...Rc8. 14.Bb5 a6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7. Obviously, 13...a6 was designed to prevent this, so the question is whether the bishop pair will compensate for the king in the center, and the lack of development. Note how the g6 bishop is still hemmed in, and the g7 bishop still has to cover g7 for at least another move. 16.Ke2 f6 17.Rhd1 Ke8

 








GM Amonatov played this twice before as Black a few years ago, drawing once and losing another. Anand must be familiar with the games, so what has he found? 18.a5N Be7 19.Bb6 Rf8 20.Rac1 f5 21.e5 Bg5. The World Champion had clearly played this with his next move in mind, but as it turned out, he had committed a very serious oversight. 22.Be3

 








22...f4. Anand completely and uncharacteristically missed White's next move, and now finds himself in a world of pain. Even if he had realized his mistake in time, and exchanged the bishop with 22...Bxe3 GM Dorfman commented that even after 23.Kxe3 f4+ 24.Kd4! Ke7 25.Ne4! Bxe4 26.Kxe4 he would much prefer to be White, but this was still the lesser evil. 23.Ne4! Topalov must have been mentally rubbing his hands in glee as his knight gets a free pass to d6. 23...Rxc1 24.Nd6+ Kd7 25.Bxc1 Kc6 26.Bd2 Be7 27.Rc1+ Kd7

 








28.Bc3. This move came as a bit of a shock to the GM commentators, and Seirawan even refused to believe it was the move played when he was first informed. They had expected 28.Bb4! expecting to counter 28...Bxd6 with 29.Rd1! and it would be much harder on Black. 28...Bxd6 29.Rd1 Bf5 30.h4

 








A good move designed to prevent Black from consolidating his f4 pawn. The bishop on d6 is going nowhere. 30...g6. This move on the other hand is a mystery as all it does is create weaknesses and a target for a possible h5. Was Vishy dreaming of a possible h6 and g5? 31.Rxd6+ Kc8 32.Bd2 Rd8 33.Bxf4 Rxd6 34.exd6 Kd7

 








The debate as to whether White could win this was huge. Granted it is an opposite-colored bishop ending, which is a significant argument, but there is no denying Black has work to do as the Bulgarian will soon show. 35.Ke3 Bc2 36.Kd4 Ke8 37.Ke5 Kf7 38.Be3 Ba4 39.Kf4 Bb5 40.Bc5 Kf6 41.Bd4+ Kf7 42.Kg5 Bc6 43.Kh6 Kg8 44.h5 Be8

 








So far, so good. White has put into action his best chance to try and take the full point, but Black has kept his cool and should hold. If Topalov takes on g6 they may as well shake hands right then and there, so he pulls back and hopes for a miracle. 45.Kg5 Kf7 46.Kh6 Kg8 47.Bc5 gxh5 48.Kg5 Kg7 49.Bd4+ Kf7 50.Be5

 








50...h4! This masterly shot is enough to draw. 51.Kxh4. If the challenger were to try 51.Kh6 h3 52.gxh3 Kg8 and there would be no way to get through. 51...Kg6. With the king now on g6, White can no longer try to squeeze Black off the board, and Veselin must have been getting ready to accept that a draw was all he was getting today. 52.Kg4 Bb5 53.Kf4 Kf7 54.Kg5

 








54...Bc6?? And here comes his miracle: Black absolutely had to be able to protect the h7 pawn with his bishop. By being forced to retreat with Kg8, the game is now lost. Tragically, Anand played the only losing move. 55.Kh6 Kg8 56.g4

 








The resignation caused a good deal of confusion to many spectators, and no doubt, for their benefit, a few more moves could have been played to make it clearer. However, no doubt demoralized by his several blunders, and the impending defeat, Anand wanted no more of this game.

So how would Topalov win from here? Here is the winning sequence: 56.g4 Bd7 57.g5 Be8 58.Bg7 Bd7 59.g6 hxg6 60.Kxg6 and Black is helpless to prevent White from penetrating. 60...Be8+ 61.Kf6 Bd7 62.Ke7 Bc6 63.d7 Bxd7 64.Kxd7 Kxg7 65.Kxe6. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Current standing

 


Remaining schedule

Day Date Start of game Indian time
Wednesday May 05 Free day  
Thursday May 06 14:00h CEST 17:30h IST
Friday May 07 14:00h CEST 17:30h IST
Saturday May 08 Free day  
Sunday May 09 14:00h CEST 17:30h IST
Monday May 10 Free day  
Tuesday May 11 14:00h CEST 17:30h IST
Wednesday May 12 Free day  
Thursday May 13 Tiebreaks  

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