World Championship Sofia: Topalov draws first blood

4/24/2010 – It was one of the shortest, most decisive opening games in World Championship history. Veselin Topalov rattled off his moves quickly and comfortably, with Anand following suit, until he apparently ran into his challenger's home preparation (or muddled up his own). On move 23 he blundered in a very dangerous position, and Topalov drove his advantage forcefully home. Express report.

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Express summary of game one

No matter who you were rooting for, or expecting to win, no one could have foreseen the blitzkrieg that took place in the first game. Topalov had white, and the first major question was what the Anand team would have prepared as Black. The answer was a Grünfeld that many GMs, prior to the match, had thought was unlikely, owing to the risk of being run over if things go sour. The ill-fated choice led to one of the quickest and most decisive opening games in World Championship history, with Topalov rattling off his moves very quickly and comfortably.

The game followed playable moves in computer books until move eleven, where ...cxd4 was preferred. Also 12...Bb7 would have been the first choice. 14.Bxg7 was seen in Topalov-Kamsky World Chess Challenge 2009. At move 16, Topalov deviated from the main lines with 16.Rc1, a move that had only been played once before, and most probably was overlooked by Anand’s team. As far as we can see 16...Qd6!? is a new move.

Topalov,V (2805) - Anand,V (2787) [D86]
WCh Sofia BUL (1), 24.04.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Qd2 e5 13.Bh6 cxd4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd4 exd4 16.Rac1 Qd6 17.f4 f6 18.f5 Qe5 19.Nf4 g5 20.Nh5+ Kg8 21.h4 h6 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Rf3. Everything was looking dangerous, but basically okay for Black. The only defence looked like 23...Bd7 followed by Rg3 and then maybe Kf7. However Anand blunders with 23...Kf7??

This loses immediately to 24.Nxf6! Now the game ends very quickly: 24...Kxf6 25.Rh3 Rg8 26.Rh6+ Kf7 27.Rh7+ Ke8 28.Rcc7 Kd8 29.Bb5 Qxe4 30.Rxc8+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Topalov played his moves very quickly, and with great precision. It is not unlikely that the entire game was the product of home preparation. In any case it was a beautiful demonstration of the Bulgarian’s superb preparation, and an immediate crisis for Anand.

Full analysis and commentary to follow...


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