Topalov beats Kasimdzhanov, faces Anand in the final

7/8/2007 – Just as Anand had done on the previous day, Veselin Topalov took a 2-0 lead in the second semifinal of the rapid chess tournament in León. His opponent fought bravely and won the third game, but in the final encounter was drawn and the 2.5:1.5 final score meant that Topalov advances to the final and plays against Anand on Sunday. Watch the action on

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XX Magistral Ciudad de León

There are two semi-finals, played on Friday and Saturday July 6 and 7, with the two winners playing the final on Sunday July 8th. The semi-finals and final will consist in four games each. All games are to be played at a rate of 20 minutes for the whole game, with an increment of 10 seconds after each move. In case of a final draw, there will be a tie-break in form of blitz games (5 minutes for each player).

Second semifinal: Topalov defeats Kasimdzhanov

Saturday saw the second of the two semifinals bringing victory to Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, who won the first two games against Uzbek Rustam Kasimdzhanov. It was not, however, as though Topalov had dominated the play. In fact in both games it was Kasimdzhanov who was pressing.

Topalov,V (2772) - Kasimdzhanov,R (2677) [E06]
XX Ciudad de Leon Leon ESP (1.1), 07.07.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Qc2 Nc6 7.0-0 Nb4 8.Qb3 a5 9.a3 Nc6 10.Bf4 a4 11.Qc2 dxc4 12.Qxc4 Nd5 13.Nc3 Nb6 14.Qd3 Bd7 15.Rad1 Na5 16.h4 Nac4 17.Ng5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Qe8 19.Bc1 Bc6 20.e4 Rd8 21.Rfe1 f6 22.g4 Qf7 23.Qg3 Kh8 24.Rd3 f5 25.Rf3 Rxd4 26.gxf5 e5 27.Bg5 Nd7 28.Bc1 Nf6 29.Rd3 Rfd8 30.Red1 Qe7 31.Nd5 Rxd3 32.Rxd3 Bxd5 33.exd5 Nd6 34.Bh3 Nde4 35.Qe3 Nc5 36.Rd1 Nb3 37.Bg2 c6 38.Qa7 Nxc1

Instead of the obvious recapture on c1 White tries a trick: 39.d6? Ne2+ 40.Kf1. Now Black had the chance to clinch the game with 40...Nf4!, since 41.dxe7 is not possible because of 41...Rxd1#. However: 40...Qf7? 41.Kxe2 Qc4+ 42.Ke1 Qb5. 42...Qg4 43.Qa5 Rg8 44.d7 Nxd7 45.Rxd7 Qxg2 was a better option. 43.Rd2 e4 44.Bf1 Qe5 45.Be2 h6. 45...Nd5 followed by 46...e3 looks more promising. 46.Qxb7 e3 47.fxe3 Qxe3 48.Qe7 Qg1+ 49.Bf1 Rd7 50.Qe6 Kh7 51.Rd3 Qh2 52.Be2 Qxh4+. From here on things go badly for Black, who is slowly outplayed by his opponent. 53.Kd1 Qf4 54.Kc2 c5 55.Rd1 Qf2 56.Rd2 Qf4 57.Bb5 Rd8 58.d7 h5 59.Qe7 Qb8 60.Rg2 Ng4 61.f6 Rg8 62.f7 Rf8 63.Rxg4 Qxb5 64.Qe4+ Kh8 65.Rg5 Qb3+ 66.Kc1 Qxf7 67.Rf5 Qxf5 68.Qxf5 Rxf5 69.d8Q+ Kh7 70.Qe8 1-0.

The final position of game one

Kasimdzhanov,R (2677) - Topalov,V (2772) [E81]
XX Ciudad de Leon Leon ESP (1.2), 07.07.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5 9.Ng3 e6 10.Be2 exd5 11.cxd5 h5 12.0-0 Nh7 13.Qd2 h4 14.Nh1 f5 15.Nf2 Bd7 16.Rab1 Qf6 17.f4 Nf7 18.Kh1 Rfe8 19.Nb5 Qd8 20.b4 b6 21.bxc5 bxc5

Kasimdzhanov is doing fine in this Modern Benoni, and the crowd on were predicting a sure victory for the Uzbek. It came as a suprise that he did not go for the sacrifice on d6, and instead played 22.Bd3. After 22.Nxd6 Nxd6 23.e5 Nf7 24.Bxc5 Nxe5 25.fxe5 Bxe5 26.Bc4, as calculated by Fritz-wielding spectators on the server, White seems to have a clearly better position. 22...Nf6 23.Nc3 Qa5 24.Qc2 Ng4 25.Ncd1 Ba4 26.Qe2 Bxd1 27.Nxd1 Nfh6 28.Bd2 Qxa2 29.Rb7 Qa3 30.e5 dxe5 31.d6 Kh8 32.d7 Re7 33.fxe5 Rxe5 34.Qf3 Rd8 35.Bb5 Qa2 36.Bg5 Bf6 37.Bf4 a6 38.Bc6 g5 39.Bxe5 Nxe5 40.Bd5 Qd2 41.Qb3 Kg7 42.Be6 Qe2 43.Rg1 f4 44.h3 c4 45.Qb6 f3 46.Qf2 Nd3 47.Qxf3 Qxe6 48.Rf1 Nf4 49.Ne3 c3 50.Rd1 Nf5 51.Re1 Ng3+ 52.Kh2 Be5 53.Ng4 Nfe2 54.Qd3

Things have gone horrifically wrong for White, and now Topalov had a chance to force mate with 54...Ne4+. The text move wins as well, so no harm was done. 54...Bf4 55.Qxc3+ Kf7 56.Qd3 Nf5+ 57.g3 hxg3+ 58.Kg2 Nh4+ 59.Kf1 g2+ 60.Kf2 Bg3+ 61.Qxg3 Nxg3 0-1.

Topalov now had a 2:0 lead and Kasimdzhanov needed to win both the remaining games to force a tiebreak. A daunting task, but with a promising start.

Topalov,V (2772) - Kasimdzhanov,R (2677) [D12]
XX Ciudad de Leon Leon ESP (1.3), 07.07.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.a3 Nbd7 9.g3 Bd6 10.b3 0-0 11.Bg2 b5 12.0-0 Rb8 13.c5 Bc7 14.f4 a5 15.b4 Ra8 16.Bd2 Qe7 17.Qe2 Ra7 18.Rab1 Rfa8 19.g4 axb4 20.axb4 Ra3 21.Bf3 Nh7 22.g5 e5 23.dxe5 Nxe5 24.fxe5 Nxg5 25.h4 Nh3+ 26.Kg2 Qxe5 27.Rh1 d4 28.exd4 Nf4+ 29.Bxf4 Qxf4

The position looks drawish, if White is able to defend precisely. Topalov errs and it is all over in three moves. 30.Rh3? Rxc3 31.Rf1 Re3 32.Qd1 Rd8 33.d5 Rxd5 0-1.

This game must have given Rustam quite an adrenalin boost and a lot of motivation for the final game. But it was not to be, and Veselin Topalov held the game with a perpetual check. He thus advances to the Final against Anand on Sunday.

Handshake at the start of game one

Veselin Topalov vs Rustam Kasimdzhanov, game one about to begin

The game under way on the stage of the theater in León

Rustam Kasimdzhanov give a simultaneous exhibition before the event

The former world champion giving young Spanish talents a lesson


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