MTel R7: Topalov beats Anand, Ponomariov wins

5/18/2006 – After losing to Peter Svidler with white Veselin Topalov faced Anand with the black pieces – and won. A beaming Ruslan Ponomariov scored his first victory in this tournament, while Kamsky had to accept a draw in face of a doggedly defending Etienne Bacrot. Big photo report.

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Round seven report

Round 7: Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vishy Anand 
0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Gata Kamsky
Ruslan Ponomariov 
1-0
 Peter Svidler

All games so far in PGN

Standings

Round 7 wrap-up: Another thrilling round in Sofia and a lot of great chess. Topalov beat Anand with black to move back to an even score. Bacrot fended off Kamsky to hold the leader to a draw. Ponomariov notched his first win of the event by outplaying Svidler. Kamsky now leads by a full point with three rounds to play.

Topalov returned the favor and beat Anand in a wonderfully tactical game. Anand looked to be trying to play it safe by playing c4 and castling kingside instead of the usual Najdorf opposite side castling melee. Topalov sacrificed a pawn to land a rook on the seventh rank and White had to deal with dangerous threats on every move. Then Topalov gave up a bishop and knight for a rook and pawns to reach a difficult endgame of two rooks and four pawns for Black versus rook, bishop, knight and two rook pawns for White. A pair of rooks soon left the board and it was clear that only Topalov and his kingside pawn mass had winning chances. He quickly activated his king and when the white h-pawn fell defense was hopeless. A tremendous game from the FIDE champion.

Ruslan Ponomariov displayed his trademark tenacity by grinding out a minimal advantage out of a Maroczy Bind against Peter Svidler. He used his better minor and active heavy pieces to apply pressure and eventually Black conceded a concrete advantage by capturing the knight on d5 and giving White a passer. It was the dreaded last move of the time control. 40..Qe6 looks feasible.

Gata Kamsky was close to running away with the event by beating Etienne Bacrot, but the young Frenchman woke up in time to play tough defense and earn a draw. Not exactly what you hope for when you have white, but when things aren't going well you have to look for those silver linings. If Black wants to go all out for a win, preventing White from playing g4 by playing 27..g4 and then ..h4 looks like a try, but Kamsky had no reason to take undue risks. He has the white pieces against Anand tomorrow and white against Topalov in the final round.

Video impressions by Vijay Kumar


Picture gallery

This city always reminds me of a British grandmaster friend, who many years ago was playing in an important event here. "I'll be leaving on Thursday," he told his mother. "Where to, dear?" she asked. "To the super tournament in Bulgaria." "Which city?" "Mum, I told you, it's the capital. Don't you remember – a girl's name?" "What was it, dear? Sally?"

No, come on, it's Sofia! A city that grows on you. The people are generally friendly, and nobody seems out to get you. Most speak enough English for useful communication. Everything is very inexpensive by European standards. We stopped using the trams, which cost about 20 cents a ride, and switched to taxis, which charge you $2-3 for anywhere you want to go. Their fuel gauges show empty, all of them, and the reason is that they actually are. The taxis run on natural gas, which is taxed much more lightly than petrol.


A street through the central part of Sofia, with the tramcar lines.


The book market, with hundreds of metres of open-air stalls.


Some new Bulgarian friends, who were friendly enough, but conversationally restrained. The man on the right was more talkative and told me that the silent ones were famous authors.


A view from the Grand Hotel into the park, where there is a lot of chess going on


In the park people crowd around an M-Tel chess broadcast centre to follow the games on TV screens. There is intense discussion and obvious enthusiasm for the event.


So if you are interested in chess, why not play yourself? There are tables and boards in the park, and dozens of games going at any given time.


You don't need to be an elderly male to enjoy the game


On a box on a bench under a tree. You can play anywhere


These two spent quite some time in an astute postmortem of their game


The other great park passion: backgammon


Enjoying a beautiful early summer's day in the park


The fountain statue to end all fountain statues – even if the pond is empty


The reception area for the tournament, a very popular place where people are always stopping to ask questions they actually should know the answer to.


These three know everything about the event – hence their popularity


the games of round seven have started


Peter Svidler facing former FIDE world champion Ponomariov with black


Today Ruslan Ponomariov would score his first win in this event


Looking you straight in the eye: Veselin Topalov


At move 33 Anand is already in some trouble


A dejected Anand at the press conference after the game


With 50% Topalov is now in striking distance


A happy face: Ruslan Ponomariov after his first victory


Etienne Bacrot, who today withstood the onslaught of Gata Kamsky


A full point ahead of the field: Brooklyn boy Gata Kamsky

Photos by Frederic Friedel

Schedule and results

Round 1: Thursday, May 11, 2006

Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Gata Kamsky
Etienne Bacrot 
0-1
 Vishy Anand

Round 2: Friday, May 12, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
0-1
 Vishy Anand
Gata Kamsky 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Peter Svidler 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov

Round 3: Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Vishy Anand 
0-1
 Gata Kamsky

Round 4: Sunday, May 14, 2006

Etienne Bacrot 
½-½ 
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Gata Kamsky 
1-0
 Peter Svidler

Round 5: Monday, May 15, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Gata Kamsky
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Ruslan Ponomariov 
½-½
 Etienne Bacrot

Round 6: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
0-1
 Peter Svidler
Gata Kamsky  
1-0
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Etienne Bacrot

Round 7: Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vishy Anand 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot 
   Gata Kamsky
Ruslan Ponomariov 
   Peter Svidler
GamesReport

Round 8: Friday, May 19, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
 
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Peter Svidler 
   Etienne Bacrot
Gata Kamsky 
   Vishy Anand
GamesReport

Round 9: Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gata Kamsky 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
   Peter Svidler
Etienne Bacrot 
   Ruslan Ponomariov
GamesReport

Round 10: Sunday, May 21, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
 
 Etienne Bacrot
Ruslan Ponomariov 
   Vishy Anand
Peter Svidler 
   Gata Kamsky
GamesReport


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