World Championship G5 – commentary and impressions

5/1/2010 – IM Malcolm Pein, who has analysed the drawn but very interesting game five of the match, thinks Anand must be delighted, since "he has outplayed Topalov in every game bar the first." The Indian broadsheets are mainly concerned with the blackout at move 17, while bloggers are worried about "Elista-style shenanigans in Sofia". Game five addenda.

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Commentary on game five by IM Malcolm Pein

The following 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 here and 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.

Topalov,Veselin (2805) - Anand,Viswanathan (2787) [D17]
WCh Sofia BUL (5), 30.04.2010 [IM Malcolm Pein]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5. That's four games played in style of Kramnik. Vishy has a universal style – he can adapt. 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Bxd4 Nfd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 a6 14.Rc1 Rg8 15.h4

15...h5. Anand gets the first new move in for the fifth time in a row. There is a danger that the h-pawn will become weak later on. It is fixed on a white square, and he may experience problems similar to those he had with his a6 pawn in game three. Presumably he has a satisfactory reply to the plan Ne2-f4 having analysed this at home [15...h6 16.Ke2 Bd6 17.h5 Bh7 18.a5 Ke7 19.Na4 f6 20.b4 Rgc8 21.Bc5 Bxc5 22.bxc5 Rc7 23.Nb6 Rd8 24.Nxd7 Rdxd7 25.Bd3 Bg8 26.c6 Rd6 27.cxb7 Rxb7 28.Rc3 Bf7 29.Ke3 Be8 30.g4 e5 31.Rhc1 Bd7 32.Rc5 Bb5 33.Bxb5 axb5 34.Rb1 b4 35.Rb3 Ra6 36.Kd3 Rba7 37.Rxb4 Rxa5 38.Rxa5 Rxa5 39.Rb7+ Kf8 40.Ke2 Ra2+ 41.Ke3 Ra3+ 42.Kf2 Ra2+ 43.Ke3 Ra3+ 44.Kf2 Ra2+ 45.Ke3 Ra3+ 46.Kf2 1/2-1/2 Topalov, V (2805) -Anand,V (2787)/ Sofia BUL. 16.Ne2 Bd6 17.Be3. Preparing Nf4. At this point there was a powercut in the venue and the centre of Sofia. How many times have WCC games been interrupted, I wonder. The New York Times of February 9th 1886 reports that the game was interrupted with the clock stopped on the third move of the game eight in Steinitz-Zukertort 1886. That was a Berlin Defence – perhaps Anand has prepared that Kramnk favourite as well? Presumably the players had to remain seated at the board but we don't know because everything online went black. For the conspiracy theorists out there let me advise you that the organisers issued a statement saying the whole area was cut off. After about a 12-14 minute break the power came back on and the game continued. 17...Ne5 18.Nf4

18...Rc8. 18...Nxc4 19.Rxc4 looks better for White, as the only way to avoid Nxg6, which wrecks Black's structure, is to capture on f4, which allows an invasion on c7. 19...Bxf4 20.Bxf4 Rd8 21.0-0 Ke7 22.Rfc1 The bishop on g6 is very bad here Black is suffering. 19.Bb3 Rxc1+ 20.Bxc1 Ke7

Anand has made progress towards equality. Compare the position with move 15, he developed the second bishop, exchanged a rook on a8 for a rook on c1 and played Ke7. Topalov has got his knight to f4. The question is how strong is Nxg6. I suspect a strong centralised knight on e5 will hold the balance against the bishop pair. 21.Ke2 Rc8 22.Bd2

22...f6! Intending Bf7= and if Nxe6 Bf7 or Bxe6 Rc2 and Black seems fine. This is a great move, possibly still preparation, although it was played after a think. 22...f6 23.Nxe6 Bf7 24.Nd4 Bxb3 25.Nxb3 Rc2 26.f4 Ng6= 27.g3 Rxb2; 22...f6 23.Nxe6 Bf7 24.Nd4 Bxb3 25.Nxb3 Rc2 26.Rb1 (26.f4 Ng4 27.Rb1 Rc4=) 26...Nc4=/+; 22...f6 23.Bxe6 Rc2 24.Rb1 Nc4 25.Bxc4 Bxf4! 26.Rd1 Bxd2 27.Bd3! Rxb2 28.Rxd2=; 22...f6 23.Nxg6+ Nxg6 see the game. 23.Nxg6+ Nxg6 24.g3

24...Ne5 [24...Bxg3?? 25.Rg1] 25.f4 Nc6

26.Bc3. A sad necessity. Once White loses the bishop pair he can't have much but there is still a lot of play. Black does have pawns on b7 a6 and particularly h5 to be looked after. On the flip side, as is so often the case in the Slav, White wishes he hadn't played a4. 26.Be3 Na5 27.Bd1 Nc4 28.Bc1 Bb4! 29.b3? Nd6–/+. 26...Bb4 27.Bxb4+ Nxb4 28.Rd1

28...Nc6. This looks level, h5 is a worry but Nc6-a5 could be irritating. 28...Nc6 29.Ke3 Na5 30.Ba2 Rc2 31.Rd2 Rc1 can't be worse for Black. 29.Rd2 g5 30.Kf2! Very clever, Bd1 is possible now. 30.hxg5 fxg5 31.e5 h4!? gets very complex, but Speelman concluded Black was fine. 30...g4

Incredibly committal, fixing pawns on white squares against conventional wisdom. Vishy is trying to wind Topalov up. Black gains space and in some endgames g3 is a liability. 31.Rc2 Rd8 32.Ke3 Rd6

Challenging Topalov to do something. f4-f5 gives away e5 but there is another way to pressure h5. 33.Rc5. 33.f5 exf5 34.exf5 a5. 33...Nb4. The only reply, defending with a bigger threat, Rd3 [33...e5 34.Bd5+/=]. 34.Rc7+ Kd8 35.Rc3 Ke7 36.e5. Perhaps Topalov is a little better now. The game is opening for the bishop a little and e6 may be weak but it doesn't prove to be much. 36...Rd7

37.exf6+. 37.a5 f5 and I don't see how White can play for advantage (37...fxe5 38.fxe5 Nd5+ 39.Bxd5 Rxd5 40.Kf4) 38.Ke2 Nc6 39.Ba4 Rd5 40.Bxc6 bxc6 41.b4 Kd7 is solid – 37...Kxf6. Somehow Black's position seems even easier to play now. Speelman mentioned the idea of Nc6-e7-f5. 38.Ke2 Nc6

39.Ke1. I don't get this 39.Bc2 coming to e4 looked sound enough. Topalov gets into slight difficulties but the time control arrived and he steers the game to a draw. 39...Nd4 40.Bd1. Anand must be delighted, he has outplayed Topalov in every game bar the first. Black is pressing slightly, but after some thought he allowed a sequence that forces a repetition. 40...a5. Positionally this is sound and tries to rub in the fact that White is very passive but it allows... 41.Rc5 Nf5 42.Rc3

42...Nd4 [42...e5 43.fxe5+ Kxe5 44.Bc2=] 43.Rc5 Nf5 44.Rc3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Topalov: I think I started with a slight advantage but I missed 22...f6, a very strong move, and then the game became equal. Well I played a few inaccuracies and I lost an advantage in a few games so I have to play even more precisely and don't let these opportunities escape again.

Anand: I think after I played 22...f6 I had solved all my problems. Later I played ...g5 and ...g4 but when he played Rc1 he started to threaten Rc5 at a certain point, but I think the way I played I can defend, because all the time I have a countermove, and just because of that Black wanted to gain space on the kingside because later the rook and the knight could create threats. I think I never saw a real problem but with Rh5 and Rd2 I have to make a draw.

Links and stories

Anand draws fifth game, leads World Championship

World champion Viswanathan Anand continued his fine performance and retained a full point lead over challenger Vaselin Topalov of Bulgaria after drawing the fifth game of the ongoing World Championship now underway here. Anand, who had won the fourth game quite convincingly with white pieces to go one up in the 12-game series now also has the advantage of an extra white game in the remaining seven that puts Topalov under tremendous pressure. Having learnt his lessons quite well after the disastrous loss in the first game when he played the sharp gruenfeld with black pieces, Anand stuck to the basics and yet again played the Slav defence in which Topalov could not find a defect for the second time running. Full article...

Anand blacks out Topalov's ambitions

As Anand was considering his 17th move, the playing hall — and indeed the entire Military Club — was plunged into darkness by a power blackout. The game timers were stopped by the arbiter but both players remained firmly in their seats, analysing in the dark. Ten minutes later, emergency power provided some flickering light on the stage and five minutes later the light was good enough for the game to resume.

“I don't know what would have happened if the lights had not gone on for an hour or more,” admitted Anand. “I don't know what the rules are for such a situation.” However, while play continued, the video screen above the players, relaying the game to the audience in the Military Club and to hundreds of thousands of viewers on the Internet, remained inoperable. Audible protests from some of the frustrated spectators in the theatre were quickly muted by security guards and five minutes later normal broadcasting of the moves resumed. Full article...

Darkness before draw in Game 5; Anand leads

For almost 15 minutes, the stage at the central Military centre, the venue of the ongoing World Chess Championship, Sofia, Bulgaria was plunged in darkness due to a power failure which had affected the central parts of the city. However, both, reigning champion Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov, continued to gaze at the board in darkness, even as the arbiter stopped their clocks and readjusted them again, giving each an increment of two minutes. This was enough for the netizens to go into overdrive with speculations and rumours flying around. The blackout was the only eventful happening as things were quite uneventful on the chessboard and the draw which loomed large for a long time was finally executed by repetition of moves on the 44th turn. Anand maintains 3-2 lead with seven games remaining. Full article...

Off-day Blather

I'm picking up a lot of static from fans worried about Elista-style shenanigans in Sofia if Topalov doesn't win game five. If Anand holds, he then comes back with two whites in a row and a one-point lead, after which – so goes the "logic" – it may be too late to do anything to derail him. I'm still very much hoping we won't see any off-the-board garbage at all. I was a little surprised there was no handshake at the conclusion of the draw in game three – Topalov notified the arbiter and they left – but that probably just pumped up Anand further after he earned the draw. Full article...

Odds in this match

The pre match odds at Betsson were a slight favourite to Anand at 1.75, Topalov 2.2. Now Anand is big favourite at 1.3 and Topalov 3.2.

Chess in the park in Sofia

Permanent chess tables, pieces provided by minders

An unusual duo of drums and bagpipe

An expectant violinist

The Church of St George, which dates back to the Fourth Century

The Rotonda "Sveti Georgi" is an Early Christian red brick rotunda that is considered the oldest building in Sofia. It was built by the Romans in the 4th century CE, it is mainly famous for the 12th-14th century frescoes inside the central dome.

Sofia, Vitosha Boulevard, back in 1935

A panorama of the city today – use the scroll bar to view the full image.

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