(1) V. Topalov - A. Grischuk [B90]
XXVII Linares Linares/Spain (5), 18.02.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6
Grischuk goes for Najdorf again!

6.Be3 Ng4
A move that was popularized by Kasparov and now is being ocassionally employed by Magnus Carlsen (get the link?).

Not offering a draw, but just showing that Veselin is not ready...to show what he has against the line.

7...Nf6 8.h3 Nc6!?
A rare reply, which however was already employed by Grischuk a couple of times before.

9.g4 Qb6 10.Nde2
The new idea. White's knight is usually quite good on e2 in the g3 systems (h3, g4 is very similar to that line).

10...e6 11.Bg2 Be7

A creative move, which is pretty unusual for the Najdorf. White develops his bishop on a3, but I have some doubts if that's good. [12.Be3 Seems more logical. However after Black goes 12...Qc7 and it is not clear whether the knight on e2 is better than on b3. Position is very complex of course. (12...Qxb2? loses to 13.a3! ) ]

Preparing the g5 idea that secures the e5 square for the knight and kills bishop on g2 forever (as long as you are not playing against Topalov, as you will see).

Strange, very strange, but well, it is just a follow-up to the strange 12.b3.

13...g5 14.Ba3 Ne5

[15.Rd1 would win a pawn, but after for example 15...h5 16.f3 Nfd7 17.Bxd6 Bxd6 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Ke7 20.Rd1 b5 Black get's compensation, thanks to his strong knight on e5 and White's stupid bishop.]

15...Qxf2 16.Bxd6 Bxd6 17.Qxd6 Nfd7
Now if White is not able to create some concrete threats Black will be better, thanks to his strong knight on e5 and the dead guy on g2.

A very strong move, but Grischuk has seen it too... [The tricky looking 18.Rhf1 makes little sense, since Black can simply play 18...Qc5 (and even if 18...Qxg2 19.Nd4 Qg3! White's compensation after let's say Nxe6 or first Kb1 is probably only enough for draw.) ]

[18...Qxg2? is losing too 19.Nxe6! fxe6 20.Qxe6+ Kd8 21.Qxe5 and you don't even have to be Topalov to mate the black king here.]

[A move that ordinary chess player would make, 19.Na4 cannot so bad. The idea is to answer 19...Qe7 with 20.Qc7! In this case however, then knight on a4 would be a bit oddly placed.; 19.Rhf1 however would be too simple 19...Qe7 20.Qc7 Qc5! and in ending, it is White who will have trouble.]


Genius idea. White has finally fullfiled the purpose of his extravagant b3 in the opening and is hoping that the queen will make a home run to g7 one day.

20...0-0 21.Nf5!?
Topalov has probably had enough of his bishop on g2 and now he wants to give it a new life by giving up his knight. [I am not sure some consevative methods could work in this position, although move like 21.Nce2!? with the idea Ng3-f5 made sense. However White is taking some strategic risk with this plan, since if there is no mate on g7, he will be lost.]

21...exf5 22.Nd5 Qc5 23.exf5
Here, after looking at the position closely, I finally realized that while I was thinking about mate on g7, Topalov just gave a piece for pawn, and everything has changed. Now the g2 bishop is a killer, and White just wants to slowly squeeze Black with h4, Kb1, etc.

A strong, human move that made me realize that it was not a zugzwang for Black and that it would not be an easy win for Topalov. Black wants to go Ra6 and maybe one day disturb White with a4.

24.h4 gxh4 25.Rxh4
[Computer move 25.Kb1! was stronger. It was, however, too difficult for the human Topalov (yes, even though he has 2800 he is still a human!) to see why it is more precise than the immediate Rxh4. 25...Ra6 26.Qc1! is the point ,and White just keeps Rxh4 for later. Black would have hard times here (especially with Grischuk's twenty minutes), although the computer says it's equal.]

25...Ra6 26.Kb1
But now Black has...

Oops, in fact it looks like Black can also threat something in this game...


[27...Kh7! Was just winning according to the computer. The point is that after 28.Rh2 Qg3 29.Rdh1 fails to 29...Nxg4 when the king is not on g7! Well, but to the human eye it is not obvious why Kh7 is better than Kg7.]

28.Rh2 f6?
[28...Qg3 here would make no sense since after 29.Rdh1 the knight on e5 is pinned.; 28...Re8 would be better 29.Nd5 Rf6!? and Black is holding on the dark squares, although White still has some compensation after let's say Qc1!?.]

[29.Qc1! gave White an advantage. I have no clue what Topalov missed here. Maybe he overlooked some idea like 32.Bh3!? 29...Nxg4 30.Nxc8 Nc5 31.Rd2 Qxf5 32.Bh3! The whole point! 32...Qxc8 33.Bxg4 and White is better, thanks to his strong bishop and Black's weak king.]

29...fxg5 30.Nxc8 Raf6 31.Ne7
Now Black is winning again, but Grischuk was already short of time..

[The logical move was also the good one: 31...Qg3! 32.Rdh1 Ng4 with a winning advantage.]

32.Nd5 Nf3
Again a mistake, but the position was too complicated for a time trouble. [32...Ng4 was still better for Black.]

33.Bxf3! Qxh2 34.Nxf6
[34.Qd4! with the idea Re1 would be stronger.]

34...Nxf6 35.a4 Qf4 36.Bd5 Rd7 37.Re1 Qxf5 38.Bc4
Black is better, but White has some threats, and there are still two moves before the time control.

[38...Qf4 keeping an eye on e5 was better. Black would then have a clear advantage (a pawn is a pawn).]

39.Qe5 Qd4

Now Black has to defend against Bd3.

40...Qg4 41.Qxa5
The time control has passed, and White is slightly better thanks to his bishop against Black's knight. As we learnt in primary school: if there are pawns are on both flanks, than the bishop is better.

41...Rd1+ 42.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 43.Kb2

From here on, Grischuk slowly gets outplayed. [43...Qd4+ was not only better looking, but probably also better. 44.Ka2 g4 45.Qc7+ Qd7 46.Qe5 Qe8 and Black should survive. 0.00 in all lines is what my engine says. Practically, I think White would still be better.]

44.Qa7 Qe5+ 45.Ka2 Qe4 46.Bd3 Qc6 47.a5 Nd5 48.Qd4+ Nf6

Taking control all over the board and stopping the black pawns from advancing.

[49...Kf7 is said to be better by my chess engine, but I don't feel the big difference.]

[50.Kb2 slowly improving was more unpleasant. Now Black is not only lacking a move, but Bb5 is a threat.]

50...g4 51.Bf5 Kf7

Now Bc8 is a threat. [52.Bxg4 is nice, but only leads to a draw after 52...Nxg4 53.Qh5+ Qg6 54.Qd5+ Ke7 55.Qxb7+ Kd8 and someone will give perpetual.]

[52...h5 53.Bc8 and even though my engine gives 0.00 (as it almost always gives) it seems dead lost for Black to me. But okay, I am just a human, as Grischuk is.]

Winning g4.

[53...Nf6 was his last chance: 54.Qxh6 Qa6 and even though it must be lost too, Black's g4 pawn is clearly more dangerous than the one back there on h6.]

The rest was easy.

54...Nf6 55.Qf5 Qd4 56.Bf3 Qf2+ 57.Ka3 Kg7 58.Ka4 b6 59.axb6 Qxb6 60.c5 Qa7+ 61.Kb5
White is not only a pawn up, but his bishop is clearly superior.

61...Qb8+ 62.Kc4 Qg8+ 63.Kc3 Qe8 64.b4 Qe1+ 65.Kc4 Qf1+ 66.Kb3 Qb5 67.Bd1 Qc6 68.Bc2 Kf7 69.Bd3
A very crazy game, thanks to Topalov's Nf5!?. It was, however, Grischuk, who was winning a couple of times before the control. But his time trouble didn't allow him to find some precise moves, and after the time control Topalov managed to outplay Grischuk in a slightly better and very tricky ending! 1-0