Elista 2006: Game three drawn

by ChessBase
9/26/2006 – The third game between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov ended in what one could call a short uneventful draw, says our commentator GM Mihail Marin, considering the very high standards of this match. But compared with other top events it is a very interesting game. We bring you Marin's commentary and extracts from interviews with the players.

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Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik

Twelve games, played from September 23 to October 12 in Elista, Kalmikia. The games start at 15:00h (3:00 p.m.) local Elista time, which translates to 11:00h GMT, 13:00h CEST, 12:00h London, 7 a.m. New York.

Live coverage is available on the official FIDE site and on Playchess.com (with live audio commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan for ten Ducats per day). You can buy them in the ChessBase Shop.

Game three – Tuesday, Sept. 26

The handshake: Kramnik and Topalov arrive for game three of their match

Before the start of the game the press gets five minutes for photography

The setup in Elista. The glass panel is intended to stop visual contact between the player and their seconds – or other spectators in the audience

Commentary on Game Three

The following express commentary was provided to us by Romanian GM Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin will study the game from the World Championship in Elista in greater detail and provide the results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine. Note that there is a replay link at the end of the game. Clicking this will produce a (separate) JavaScript replay window, where you have replay buttons but can also click on the notation to follow the moves.

Kramnik,V (2743) - Topalov,V (2813) [E02]
WCh Elista RUS (3), 26.09.2006 [Mihail Marin]

The start of game three, Kramnik vs Topalov

... and after 3...d5 by Black

Vladimir Kramnik, Classical Chess World Champion

Veselin Topalov, FIDE world champion

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3. In previous matches for the World Title, the Catalan Opening has usually been a sign that White finds himself in a peaceful mood. However, it seems that Kramnik intends it as more than just a one-game surprise weapon. 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 Nc6. Deviating from 5...Bb4+ which had been played in the first game. According to an old advice regarding general match strategy, one should not repeat a variation that led him to defeat, even if the result of the opening had been satisfactory. The main point is to avoid having bad memories during the new game. On the other hand, Topalov's apparently multilateral preparation against the Catalan makes one think that he did not discard such an opening choice of Kramnik during his pre-match preparation. 6.Qa4. Here we go again. I have already mentioned in the notes to the first game White's tendency to spend a lot of time on early queen moves in the Catalan. 6...Bd7 7.Qxc4 Na5 8.Qd3 c5.

Curiously, the game Kramnik-Naiditsch, Dortmund 2006 reached a similar position with the only difference that the f6-knight had been transferred to b6 already. This had been made possible by a rather tortuous trajectory of the white queen (c4-b5-b3-d3) as an answer to Black's 6...Nd5. Dr. Tarrasch used to evaluate an opening position by counting the tempi needed by the pieces of each side to occupy their actual squares. According to his method, Naiditsch was two whole tempi up (or better) than Topalov, but in fact it seems that the knight is better placed on f6 than on b6! In that game Kramnik captured on c5 and after ...Bxc5 played Qc3, attacking on c5 and g7 at the same time. This should have brought him an advantage but he later avoided the most ambitious continuation and the game ended in a draw after interesting but equilibrated fight.

9.0-0 Bc6. Black has managed to neutralize the Catalan bishop at the cost of several tempi and the awkward placement of his queen's knight. This compensates entirely for the time loss provoked by the white queen. 10.Nc3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Bc5 12.Rd1 Bxg2 13.Qb5+! An important intermediate check that finally forces Black remove his king's knight from its optimal square. 13...Nd7 14.Kxg2 a6 15.Qd3 It might look that White just lost two additional moves, but in fact Black faces now problems castling because of the threat Nc2! attacking the d7-knight and enabling the fork on b4. (Nxe6 would be worse because it would open the f-file for the enemy rook). 15...Rc8.

16.Bg5! A nice way to connect rooks. Each player with long experience in the Catalan has probably played such a move at least once. 16...Be7. The bishop is taboo. 16...Qxg5 17.Nxe6 would lead to a very strong white attack. 17.Bxe7. To a certain extent, this can be regarded as a premature release of the tension. 17.Ne4! was the main alternative. 17...Qxe7 18.Rac1. White has completed his development, while Black still needs to find a way to remove his king from the centre. For the first time in the match, the outcome of the opening looks very promissing for Kramnik. 18...Nc4 19.Na4 b5 20.b3 0-0. Black could have inserted a knight jump to e5 somewhere, but Topalov seems to prefer simpler ways today. 21.bxc4 bxa4 22.Nc6. Probably the only way to fight for an advantage. If Black was allowed to get his knight to c5, he would hardly faced any problems. In this case, the double pawns would have been quite useful. The a6-pawn would have denied the enemy knight's access to b5-d6 while his colleague would have prevented the exchange of the own knight by means of Nb3. 22...Rxc6 23.Qxd7.

23...Qc5!? In case of the exchange of queens, Black should probably dispose over sufficient resources to make a draw in spite of his double pawns, but only after long suffering. Topalov's move shows that he does not wish to give away the psychological initiative in the match. By keeping queens on board, he preserves his own chances for active play. 24.Rc3 g6 25.Rb1 h5 26.Rb7 e5 27.e4. White's position looks quite active, especially wth such an outpost for his pieces on d5, but Black's next moves wll force him retreat almost completely. 27...Rf6 28.Rc2 Qa3 29.Qd1 Rd6 30.Rd2 Rfd8 31.Rd5 Rxd5.

32.cxd5. A critical moment. Optically speaking, the position is just asking for 32.exd5 when, for the second time in a row, Kramnik would have obtained two connected passed pawns, quite advanced this time. He probably feared that his far from optimal coordination would not allow him defend them properly, especially in view of the outside passed a-pawn (after an eventual ...Qxa2) as well as of intermediate moves cush as ...e4. It is early to give a definitive verdict yet; for complete analysis please consult CBM 115. 32...Qxa2 33.Qf3 Rf8 34.Qd3 a3 35.Rb3 Apparently, Black has no way to avoid the loss of both his a-pawns now. 35...f5! Now that the white pieces have retreated, this move does not present any risk for the black king. In fact, the pressure against the f2-pawn forces White take a draw by perpetual. 36.Qxa6 Qxb3 37.Qxg6+ Kh8 38.Qh6+ Kg8 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Photos: FIDE

Parapsychologists, food and fighting spirit

At the end of the games there is a press conference. In other interviews the seconds answered questions put to them by the official press officers. Here some excerpts.

Apparently one of the mysterious names on the Veselin Topalov team is that of a mystic or parapsychologist, as Topalov's second Silvio Danailov admits. "We do not show him in public," said Danailov, "because we are worryied about overreaction from the media. Such people do not like publicity. Sometimes he talks with Veselin, but more often chats with me. As for the starting losses, I would warn you against hasty conclusions. This did not tell negatively on Topalov’s fighting spirit."

Vladimir Kramnik's manager reacted to the presence of the the mystic: "I can tell you my personal attitude. I do not want to sound rude, but in my opinion using parapsychologists is just a lot of nonsense [a stronger expression was used]. Such things affect you only when you take them seriously, and we do not. Vladimir has a very strong personality, and he feels fully responsible for his own decisions, both at the board and outside it. So there is nothing to worry about."

Kramnik has brough in his own cook, not because they rejected the local cook. However, Vladimir suffers from chronic polyarthritis, and his doctors have urged him to avoid certain ingredients, including some that are widely used. It was too complicated to instruct a new cook on all the details of his regimen. Veselin Topalov, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with the new cook, especially after he learnt to make the traditional Bulgarian salad (vegetables and cheese), which is the main course of the team. Topalov does not eat meat during a match, but subsists on fish, vegetables and fruit.

Press conference after game two

After game two President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov not only attended the press conference but askes most of the questions. Ilyumzhinov is a strong chess player and asked very specific questions. For instance:

Ilyumzhinov: Vladimir, did you notice after 31...Bxf8 that it loses in two moves because of 32.Rxg4+ Bg7 33.Qc7?

Position after 31.gxNf8Q+

Kramnik: (thinks for several seconds) No I didn’t (shakes his head). To be honest, I did not see Qc7… I started overlooking White’s resources earlier.

Position after 29.hxPg6

Initially I wanted to play 29…Nxg6, but then White gives fantastic mate: 30.Qxg6! If 30.Rxg6, then 30…Kh8. And after 30.Qxg6+ hxg6 31.Rxg6+ Kh7 he has 32.Rg3! I have an extra move and an extra queen, but there is no defense against mate. And after that it seems I had no choice. Maybe I have some other move instead of 28…Rxb2, like 28…Qc4, it has to be checked.

The engine gives 31…Kxf8 instead of 31…Bxf8 drawing [in the first diagram]

Kramnik: Drawing? It looked very dangerous to me… I also overlooked 33.f5! – I considered only 33.Ng5. And it turned out that after 33.f5 exf5 34.Ng5 Black is helpless! First I thought that 33…Re7 draws, but then White just checks and calmly moves Rf1, and there is checkmate. Well, I got lucky I am not losing at once. Generally it was a very nervous game. It is in principle difficult to play after such games as we had yesterday, but it can’t be helped. On the other hand, it was probably quite emotional for chess lovers.

Veselin, what did you prepare to 31…Kxf8?

Topalov: I calculated a lot, but could not find anything promising... First I thought it is winning, but then I found 35…Bg5. The position is very interesting, and I probably have to make a draw. But when you don’t see mate in three, there is something wrong... However, 32.Qg6 was also winning, although not in three moves. I didn’t see the mate and didn’t look for it. I figured that after 31…Kxf8 there is no win. Therefore when I saw 31…Bxf8, I was so happy that almost instantly gave a check.

On the move 41 you could force a draw by playing Ng5 instead of f5 – did you see it?

Topalov: Yes, I did. However, I kept playing for a win. Even after 41.Bxa3 the position is objectively drawish... I thought I can take a pawn by brining the king to d6, but – I got into a time trouble...

Veselin, how do you plan to spend the day-off? The main task is probably to forget everything?

Topalov: Generally I am good at forgetting (laughs). I stand losses well. I just need to have some rest.

The World Championship Match Topalov-Kramnik

Summary: the World Championship Reunification Match between FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov and classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik is being held in Elista, Kalmykia, from September 21 to October 13. It consists of 12 games, played under classical time controls (two hours for the first 40 moves, one hour for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61).

If the match is tied there will be a four game rapid chess tiebreak (25 min + 10sec), after that two blitz games (5 min + 10 sec), then an armageddon game (6 min / 5 min, with white to win). The prize sum is US $500,000 USD per player, regardless of the outcome. The winner of the match is the unified and sole world champion and goes through to the next world championship tournament in October 2007 in Mexico City, while the loser has to wait for the next cycle.

Schedule of the World Chess Championship 2006
Day 1 Thurs.. 21 Sept 7:00 p.m. Opening ceremony
Day 2 Friday 22 Sept.   Rest day
Day 3 Sat. 23 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 1
Day 4 Sun. 24 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 2
Day 5 Mon. 25 Sept.   Rest day
Day 6 Tues. 26 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 3
Day 7 Wed. 27 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 4
Day 8 Thurs. 28 Sept.   Rest day
Day 9 Friday 29 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 5
Day 10 Sat. 30 Sept. 3:00 p.m. Game 6
Day 11 Sun. 1 Oct.   Rest day
Day 12 Mon. 2 Oct. 3:00 p.m. Game 7
Day 13 Tues. 3 Oct. 3:00 p.m. Game 8
Day 14 Wed. 4 Oct.   Rest day
Day 15 Thurs. 5 Oct. 3:00 p.m. Game 9
Day 16 Friday 6 Oct. 3:00 p.m. Game 10
Day 17 Sat. 7 Oct.   Rest day
Day 18 Sun. 8 Oct 3:00 p.m. Game 11
Day 19 Mon. 9 Oct   Rest day
Day 20 Tues. 10 Oct 3:00 p.m. Game 12
Day 21 Wed. 11 Oct   Rest day
Day 22 Thurs. 12 Oct 3:00 p.m. Tie breaks
Day 23 Friday 13 Oct 7:00 p.m. Closing ceremony

The starting time for the games is 15:00h local Elista time, which translates to 13:00h CEST, 12:00h London, 7 a.m. New York. You can find the starting time in your country here. The games will be broadcast on the FIDE web site and also on Playchess.com, the latter with live audio commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan.


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