(1) Kamsky,G (2725) - Topalov,V (2796) [C65]
World Chess Challenge Sofia BUL (2), 18.02.2009
A big surprise on the 4th move already! Topalov had developed the bishop to c5 before, but only as an answer to 4.d3.
Experience may have taught Topalov that his peak of form usually arises in the second part of important matches and tournaments. During his unlucky match against Kramnik, he did not seem to take this detail into account and went for sharp and uncompromising fight from the very first game. As a result, he suffered two defeats instead of what could otherwise have become two of his best games ever. His opening choice in the second game against Kamsky looks more cautious. Instead of his beloved Sicilian, he chose the solid Ruy Lopez. Will it be a boring Berlin variation?!
[Kamsky decides to set up forced play from an early stage of the game, instead of the strategically more constructive 5.c3
followed by d4.]
The previous sequence of moves looks completely chaotic, but has been played before. White will retrieve the temporarily sacrificed piece, but he aims to do it in the best form.
allows Black maintain the material equality with 8...Nc6
White has excellent compensation for the sacrificed pawn. He is far ahead in development and has an active pair of bishops. The only thing that will not be compensated in any way is the slowness with which Kamsky effectuated his moves and which inevitably led him to a hopeless time-trouble. Until this moment, Topalov had spent only a minute, but after White's last move he started thinking longer.
Over the past few moves, White has activated his pieces considerably. Black mainly relies on his lack of weaknesses, which offers him chances to resist.
This is the only move that keeps Black in the game. Since his main problem is the delay in development, he needs to open the h3-c8 immediately. [In case of 14...Qf7
, aiming to meet f2-f4 with f6-f5, White would consolidate his lead in development with 15.Ne4
when the occupation of the d6-square would leave Black paralyzed after, for instance 15...Ne5
(The exchange of queens with 15...Ngf4
would not bring the desired relief after 17.Bxf4
and Black is in trouble.) 16.Qh3
An important intermediate move. 17...Nef4
followed by Qxf4 with a clear advantage for White.]
This move repells White's attack and leads to the simplification of the position. At this height of the game, Kamsky had about 8 minutes left on his clock. Quite a difficult situation...
[After this over-cautious move White will find himself struggling. 16.Be3
was necessary, taking the d4-square under control, for instance 16...d4
(Black should go for the opposite coloured bishops. In case of 17...Qxh5
White retains a small edge.) 18.Qxc5
. Black should not have problems completing his development and gradually equalizing.]
With little time on his clock, Kamsky may have overrated the effects of this move, which threatens to win the queen with Bxe6.
[This move deserves being criticized only because there was an even better one: 17...Nexf4!
Black will emerge a pawn up, because 19.Be6+?
does not work in view of 19...Bxe6
with a decisive material advantage.]
It may seem that White is on the top again. After the "obvious" 21...Re7, defending the knight, White maintains strong initiative with 22.Bb4.
A fantastic move, starting a powerful counterplay.
[This is premature panicking with less than 3 minutes left. He should have accepted the sacrifice with 22.Nxc8
, although after 23...Rxc2
Black has sufficient material compensation and strong initiative for the bishop. Another important aspect is that the black king is safer than his colleague. White's position looks dangerous, but he would have remained in the game.]
Everything is over now. Kamsky is a clear pawn down and had practically no time left on his clock.
A tragic game for Kamsky, but quite interesting to follow from the spectators' point of view. 0-1