Mtel R3: Adams beats Kramnik to take lead

5/14/2005 – There's a new leader in Sofia, and it's England's Mickey Adams, who seems to have some voodoo against Vladimir Kramnik. He defeated Kramnik in a thrilling battle today, his third straight win over the classical world champ. The other two games were interesting draws, leaving Adams alone atop the crosstable. Games, analysis and pictures.

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Super GM Tournament
in Sofia

Six of the world's top players
clash in the M-Tel Masters

May 11 to 22, 2005
in the Grand Hotel Sofia, Bulgaria

The Mtel Masters Super Tournament is under way. It is a category 20 event with an Elo average of 2744. The time controls are classic (up to seven hours per game) and the tournament is a double round robin (every player plays every other player twice). There is a special rule in place at this Super Tournament: draw offers are not allowed, i.e. draws by mutual agreement between the players are forbidden, only technical draws may be given by the arbiter.

A new leader


Yes, they are all behind you.

The rest of the world's players would like to know whatever it is England's Mickey Adams knows about beating Vladimir Kramnik. When he beat him at Dortmund 2000 it was Kramnik's first classical loss in years. Last year at Corus Adams notched another victory over Kramnik, and today another.

Kramnik played a long sacrificial combination that gave Adams the choice of giving up his queen for rook, bishop and knight or having knight and bishop vs rook. In either case Kramnik, black, would have two extra pawns on the queenside. Adams gave up the queen and steadily worked his magic to pick off Black's pawns. Some quick analysis is below. The loss dropped Kramnik back to an equal score, along with everyone but Adams at +1 and Ponomariov at -1.

Topalov played the Berlin Defense against Judit Polgar, not something you would usually associate with his sharp style. He has played it a few times before, but mostly in rapid and blindfold games at Melody Amber. Apparently he wasn't concerned with the way Polgar demolished Kasparov when he tried the Berlin against her in a rapid game in 2002. (Bruzon played it against her at Corus this year and drew.) Topalov missed some chances to improve and the endgame was drawn.

Anand-Ponomariov was also drawn, despite appearances! It looked like Anand was crashing through with his far advanced central pawn chain, but it turned out Ponomariov had a blockade and White couldn't make progress. Anand decided he didn't have enough compensation for the pawn and repeated moves.

Round 3 (Saturday, May 14, 2005)
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Judit Polgar
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report

Current standings

Adams-Kramnik, position after 20.Bc4

In the diagram Black just gave up his bishop for two pawns on d4 and now played 20...Nc2, forking the rooks.

(20...Rxe1+ loses to a long forced line with a king attack, according to Fritz. 21.Qxe1 Nc2 22.Qe7 Nxa1 23.Bxf7+ Kh8 24.Be5! with a winning attack. 24...Qxd2 25.Bxg7+! Kxg7 26.Be8+ and wins.)

Now if 21.Rd1 Nxa1 22.Qxa1 Black has rook and two pawns vs bishop and knight in a roughly balanced position. But Adams went for more, giving up his queen with 21.Rxe8! Rxe8 22.Rb1 Re1+ 23.Qxe1 Nxe1 24.Rxe1.

An unusual material balance of rook, bishop, and knight vs queen and two dangerous extra queenside pawns. Adams was at his methodical best in combining threats against Black's king with moving in on the passed pawns.

Position after 34...a3?

Finally it was Kramnik who slipped up, pushing his a-pawn a square too far and losing this crucial passer to a pretty sequence. (Better was 34...Bf5 or 35...Bc8 with three results still possible.) White can't play 35.Nxd7 because of 35...a2 and Black wins (not 35...Kxd7?? 36.Bxa3+ winning the queen).

Adams played 35.Re3+ and now 35...Kd8 loses to 36.Re7 with mate threats. So 35...Kf7 36.Nd3! forced the win of the a-pawn thanks to the threat of a discovered attack with check with Ne5. After 36...Qb1 37.Bxa3 it was mostly a matter of time. (If 36...Qa1 37.Bxa3 anyway. 37...Qxa3?? 38.Ne5+) Kramnik resigned on move 41.

Polgar-Topalov, position after 27.cxd5

Topalov got good chances, but waited too long to play the knight sacrifice he used on move 27. Had he played it on move a few moves earlier (23...Nxe5!) it would have netted a clear pawn with good winning chances for Black. As it was, after 27...Nxe5 28.fxe5 (28.g4!? hxg3 29.Nxg3 Rxh3 30.Kg2 Ng4 leads to a similar material imbalance, but adding the knights to the position must be good for White.)

28...Rxe5 29.d6! cxd6 30.Nxd6+ Bxd6 31.Bf4 Ke7 32.Bxe5 Bxe5 Topalov had two pawns for the exchange and the endgame was drawn.


The tournament hall in Sofia (with Polgar vs Topalov on center stage)


Mickey Adams at the start of his game against Kramnik


Judit Polgar facing Topalov's Berlin Defence


Vishy Anand at the press conference after the round


Ruslan Ponomariov being interviewed for Russian TV [Pictures by Olena Boytsun]

Schedule and results

Round 1 (Thursday, May 12, 2005)
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Ruslan Ponomariov
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Michael Adams
½-½
Judit Polgar
GamesReport
Round 2 (Friday, May 13, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Judit Polgar
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Michael Adams
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Games Report
Round 3 (Saturday, May 14, 2005)
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Judit Polgar
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 4 (Sunday, May 15, 2005)
Michael Adams
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
-
Viswanathan Anand
Veselin Topalov
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 5 (Monday, May 16, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Round 6 (Wednesday, May 18, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
-
Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Round 7 (Thursday, May 19, 2005)
Judit Polgar
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
-
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Round 9 (Saturday, May 21, 2005)
Veselin Topalov
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Michael Adams
-
Viswanathan Anand
Games – Report
Round 10 (Sunday, May 22, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Michael Adams
Viswanathan Anand
-
Judit Polgar
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report

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