Elista Express: Topalov wins game eight with black

by ChessBase
10/5/2006 – The eighth game between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, a Semi-Slav Meran, ended after four and a half hours and 52 moves with the first over-the-board victory for FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov in this match. The official score is now 4:4, with four games to go. Full report with commentary by Mihail Marin and a remarkable Kramnik interview after game seven.

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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 eight – Thursday, October 5th

Our correspondent in Elista, Misha Savinov, writes:

Game 8 was the first White of Kramnik in more than a week. Maybe he has become a bit White-rusty, so to speak, and this fact may have affected his play. Everything went wrong for the Russian, who did not quite manage equalizing in the opening. Despite the queens leaving the board, Kramnik's superb sense of complex endgame positions did not help him. White had a rook and a pawn versus two knights, his rooks enjoyed some temporary activity, but there were no attacking objects in Black's camp. Topalov slowly consolidated, improved his position, secured excellent outposts for the knights, and after one or two indifferent moves by Kramnik the white position fell apart. It seemed Vladimir continued resisting only to restore his emotional state before obligatory meeting with press…

The start of the game, with Kramnik, Arbiter Geurt Gijssen and Topalov

... and the players settle down to a Semi-Slav Meran

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) [D47]
WCh Elista RUS (8), 05.10.2006

Topalov with black on his way to a first match win

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6. Apparently, during the last three games Kramnik has managed to convince his opponent that the Slav is not such a bad opening after all. 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6. But only this must have been the real surprise for Kramnik! Topalov usually employs the ...a6 systems and only accidentaly played the Semislav throughout his carrier. If his intention was to confront Kramnik with the unpleasant psychological situation of fighting against his own weapons, we can safely state that the experiment has been crowned with success. 5.e3 Nbd7. Even here, Topalov preferred 5...a6 in his game against Ponomariov, played at Sofia 2006. 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2. Kramnik is consistent with his policy of avoiding sharp opening lines. The modest bishop retreat to e2 is supposed to offer White little chances for an advantage, but even less danger of getting into trouble. 8...Bb7 9.0-0 b4. Topalov's desire to take his oppponent out of the well-known paths as soon as possible becomes obvious. Black usually plays 9...Be7 here or, even more frequently, 8...a6. 10.Na4 c5 11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.Bb5+ Ncd7 13.Ne5 Qc7 14.Qd4 Rd8 15.Bd2.

Looking at this position, I have the feeling as if players would have changed places with each other. It is Kramnik who has a slight advance in development, while Topalov mainly relies on the solid character of his position. Quite opposite with what we have seen during the last few days. 15...Qa5N And now, Topalov moves for the second time with his already developed queen, something that Kramnik did frequently in the first part of the match. The move is a novelty, which is quite curious because it is the computer's first suggestion. We can suppose that Kramnik had looked at it at home (even though not especially for this game or match) and the time spent on the next moves was destined to let him remember the old analysis. 16.Bc6 Be7 17.Rfc1. This looks like the more logical way of maintaining the advance in development, but knowing the further course of the game it is easy to recommend 17.b3 instead. 17...Bxc6 18.Nxc6 Qxa4 19.Nxd8 Bxd8 20.Qxb4 Qxb4 21.Bxb4 Nd5 22.Bd6.

At first glance it might look as if White is doing just great. His material deficit is almost insignificant, while his rooks are ready to invade the enemy queen side. However, there is a certain detail that favours Black: the centralized position of his king. Since the white king would need considerable amount of time to get into play, we can state that for practical purposes Black is a whole... king up! From this point of view, Kramnik's 20th move is slightly questionable. In order to prove 17.Rfc1 to be playable, White needs to exchange queens only after Black gets castled. The only open question remains whether this can be achieved in practice. 22...f5 23.Rc8 N5b6 24.Rc6 Be7 25.Rd1 Kf7 26.Rc7 Ra8 27.Rb7 Ke8. Black's last three moves can be considered some sort of artificial (but huge) castle. 28.Bxe7 Kxe7 29.Rc1 a5 30.Rc6 Nd5.

Both sides have completed the first phase of piece mobilisation. The placement of the white rooks creates a strong optical impression, but they fail to create any serious threats. With the e6-pawn and the d7-knight safely defended by the king, Black has little to fear here. At the same time, the transfer of the white king to the queen side is highly problematic, because of the numerous possible forks. 31.h4?! "Do not move pawns on the wing where you are weaker" they say. It is remarkable how much quicker Black will make progress on this wing after White's unnecesary pawn move. 31...h6 32.a4 g5 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Kf1 g4. Now, White has to permanently reckon with the enemy rook's penetration through the h-file or the pawn break ...g3. 35.Ke2 N5f6 The start of a highly original manoeuvre. 36.b3 Ne8! Black intends to drive the enemy rook away from the b-file by means of ...Nd6. The seemingly more active 36...Ne4 , bearing the same idea, would have been less accurate in view of 37.Rcc7. 37.f3. It is hard to apply to this move the same kind of criticism as to White's 31st move. Kramnik must have felt that he is rapidly losing ground and aimed to exchange as many pawns as possible. 37...g3! Rejected. 38.Rc1 Nef6. Now that White has weakened his king side, the knight changes plans. 39.f4. But this looks like suicide already. White weakens his structure even more, in order to get the possibility to attack the g3-pawn, without noticing that it is posioned. 39...Kd6 40.Kf3 Nd5.

41.Kxg3? White offers to his opponent the only thing that he was missing yet: an open file for attack. 41...Nc5 42.Rg7 Rb8 43.Ra7 Rg8+ 44.Kf3 Ne4. Black has a decisive attack already. 45.Ra6+ Ke7 46.Rxa5 Rg3+ 47.Ke2 Rxe3+ 48.Kf1 Rxb3 49.Ra7+ Kf6 50.Ra8 Nxf4 51.Ra1 Rb2 52.a5. Allowing mate in 5. However, 52.Rg8 would have failed to safely defend the g2-square because of 52...Kf7. 52...Rf2+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

The loneliness of a world championship contender

Grandmaster Vladimir Belov commenting for the audience

The press conference was again given separately. Kramnik came first, smiling, and assured everyone that he does not consider this loss tragic. His words and body language were supposed to show that he is in great mood, and is confident in winning the match.

After Vladimir left the hall, there was an unexpected break. Topalov stood in the playing hall, waiting for Danailov, who disappeared somewhere, and refused going to the journalists and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also attended the meeting. The FIDE champion started moving only when Silvio showed up.

After the game Topalov waits for manager Danailov before going to meet the press

The match course has changed dramatically. Yesterday Kramnik had two wins and no losses. Regardless of the score, his inability to win a single game was depressing for Veselin. Today's encounter turned the situation around: the score is now even, and Topalov's confidence is boosted. With just four games to play, it means a tough situation for the classical champion.

Photos by Misha Savinov and FIDE

Current standing

 Veselin Topalov
 Vladimir Kramnik
Schedule of the World Chess Championship 2006
Day 14 Friday 6 Oct.   Rest day
Day 16 Sat. 7 Oct. 3:00 p.m. Game 9
Day 17 Sun. 8 Oct 3:00 p.m. Game 10
Day 18 Mon. 9 Oct   Rest day
Day 19 Tues. 10 Oct 3:00 p.m Game 11
Day 20 Wed. 11 Oct   Rest day
Day 21 Thurs. 12 Oct 3:00 p.m. Game 12
Day 22 Friday 13 Oct 3:00 p.m. Tiebreaks, closing

Press conference after game seven

Today there were two separate press conferences instead of a joint one. When Kramnik was already sitting in the press conference hall, Topalov suddenly refused to attend, leaving the stage with the words: "I'll give a separate press conference!" Vladimir sighed with relief and said: "Okay, this is even easier for me", and spent half of the twenty prescribed minutes in lively chatter.

Question: Thanks to Silvio Danailov, today we found out that you are a strong player! We were given the paper listing frequencies of your moves coinciding with Fritz 9 main lines. It revealed that 78% of your moves were also suggested by Fritz. In the second game this number equaled 87%! How high this frequency was in today’s game in your opinion?

Kramnik: A proper analysis must take into consideration that in the second game we both blundered a mate in three! First of all, this 87% is total nonsense – everything depends on the time allotted to the engine for analyzing a given position. Secondly, Topalov’s percentages in San Luis, for example, were even higher. And, thirdly, it is clear already that the opponent’s team is using the dirtiest of tricks to mess with my mind. I do not want to blame them; I just feel sorry for them. But all these scandals can only harm chess. Everything that already happened and will surely happen later in the match must become known to the chess community, and Danailov’s conduct must be investigated by the Ethics Committee. I have never faced more unethical conduct with respect to organizers and me. I feel sorry about this.

Vladimir, this last week was indeed black for you: playing three Blacks in a row is a unique case in the WCC matches. Are you satisfied with sporting result of these games, and how do you assess their content?

I cannot say I experienced any serious problems in the first two games. However, today’s game was rather difficult; at some point my position was dangerous, and I was short on time, but then I simply outplayed the opponent. Maybe Black had some winning chances after the first time control, but Veselin defended very accurately, and they evaporated… Three draws as Black is acceptable result. Everything goes according to the plan. Tomorrow I’ll finally have White – I almost forgot the feeling…

How could you explain your lengthy thought in today’s game?

Obviously, I ran into Topalov’s preparation. Veselin played his opening moves at machine gun speed. The value of moves in the position that occurred after the opening was high, so I took my time. If you haven’t studied certain position at home, you need a lot of time to grasp the essence of it at the board. Maybe I played too slowly, but I succeeded.

Technology is becoming dominant in our world, and chess is no longer the issue between one man and another man. What do you think about it?

Of course, chess has been changed much since the computers appeared; we even started to understand it differently. I am convinced that all major events like world championship, etc., must be played under total control aimed against using external assistance. The earlier it happens, the better it is. This is like doping control in other sports. Here in Elista the players do not have even a theoretical chance to use external help. One requires very strong imagination for inventing stories like Mr. Danailov does. If the measures taken here are taken in other major tournaments, computer technologies will not pose a threat to chess. Otherwise anything can happen. I think it is time for FIDE to include such rules into their regulations. This does not require much investments; certainly not thousands dollars. Most major tournaments have sufficient funds.

You mentioned that you expect more dirty tricks from the Bulgarian side. Do you have any idea what to expect?

I guess you should ask this question on the next press conference. To be honest, I cannot think of anything my opponents can complain about.

Immediately after Kramnik left the room, Topalov and Danailov came in. Silvio warned the journalists to avoid forbidden grounds: "Veselin will only answer the questions about today's game!"


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