Mtel R8: All games drawn in Sofia

5/20/2005 – After two very exciting rounds, with only one drawn game, today the players in Sofia had a more peaceful day. But of course bare results can be deceptive: Topalov vs Judit Polgar was a bitter 68-move struggle. We bring you an (updated) full report with lots of beautiful pictures by Valery Zahov.

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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.

Round eight report

All games were drawn today, but one of them stands out as perhaps the most complicated and hard-fought encounters of this tournament. Our statistics show that so far we have had 15 draws in 24 games, which comes to 63%. Before we draw any conclusions we must compare this to the averages of major Super-GM round robins. Linares 2004 had 79%; in 2005 it was 65%. Wijk aan Zee, which has 14 players of rather varied playing strengths, had a 55% drawing stastic in 2004, and 63% in 2005.

It is too early – two rounds too early in fact – to draw final conclusions, but the experts are already discussing the effect of the innovative anti-draw rule which is being used in Sofia. Nigel Short, former world champion challenger, says that one important aspect is that, with the players forced to continue in games they would normally have peacefully abandoned at a very early stage, there is an unusual element of fatigue to be observed in Sofia. "Kramnik would under normal circumstances never have blundered the way he did in round seven against Anand," said Nigel. "It is completely inconceivable, and can only be attributed to parts of his brain not communicating properly. And that is brought on by fatigue. In normal events of this kind players have got used to taking breaks, playing short, unfought games to regain strength. Like marathon runners stopping at rest houses for tea and biscuit breaks during the race. Suddenly they are forced to abandon this habit and experience something completely new to them: deep, mind-numbing exhaustion."


Two former FIDE world champions: Ruslan Ponomariv and Vishy Anand

On to the games. Ponomariov vs Anand was a symmetrical English, with the young Ukrainian whom everybody expected to come in dead last, gaining a slight advantage with a novelty on move 16. "Pono" used this to pick up a pawn and tried for 54 moves to convert it into a win. But Anand knew the theory of rook endings well enough to keep things under control. And he produced his trademark reaction to the anti-draw rule by playing the game all the way to bare kings for the third time in this tournament. We are waiting for the arbiter to force him to play on in one of these games, but probably that will not happen...


Tail enders at this stage of the tournament: Vladimir Kramnik and Mickey Adams

Kramnik vs Adams saws many accurate trades, and by move 33 the players had a perfectly symmetrical position (with Adams' two pawns on the queenside more advanced). On move 53 the players had repeated three times and the arbiter allowed a draw.

We come to the game of the day or even of the tournament (although Topalov considered his first-round game against Vishy Anand even more interesting). Topalov vs Polgar is so complex that any attempt at quicky analysis must fail. We annotate the game mainly with pictures taken by our remarkable onsite photographer Valery Zahov.


Ready to pounce: Judit Polgar before the start of the game

Topalov,V (2778) - Polgar,Ju (2732) [B48]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (8), 20.05.2005

1.e4 c5


Judit plays the Sicilian, which is going to turn into a vicious Taimanov

2.Nf3 e6


Waiting for Topalov to react, with Kramnik vs Adams in the background

3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6.


Waiting for Topalov to castle queenside


The two leaders in this tournament, Topalov and Ponomariov


Veselin still thinking about his move, Judit contemplates her upcoming novelty

8.0-0-0 Bb4 9.f3 Ne7 10.Nde2 b5N (Judit Polgar plays the novelty) 11.Kb1 Ba5 12.Qd4 Nc6.

White is trying to prevent ...d5 and embarks on a queen manoeuvre which Judit though was quite dubious. 13.Qc5 Bb4 14.Qg5 0-0 15.Qg3 Ne5 16.h4 Bb7 17.h5 Ne8 18.a3 Bd6 19.Bf4 f6 20.Na2 Rc8 21.Nec3 Bc6 22.Be2 a5 23.h6 g6.

24.Rxd6. Chess journalist Mig Greengard writes: "Topalov is a man on fire, unbelievable. This exchange sac was sensational, but Judit Polgar held on and forced him to force her to force a draw. Something like that." In the press conference Topalov admitted that he hadn't a clue what was going on (a mark of many billiant games).

24...Qxd6 25.Nxb5 Bxb5 26.Bxb5 Nc7 27.Be2 Rb8 28.a4 Qd4 29.b3 d6 30.Bc1 Qxa4 31.Bb2 Qe8 32.f4 Nc6 33.Rd1 a4 34.f5 axb3 35.cxb3 Ne5 36.Rxd6 Qe7 37.fxg6 hxg6 38.Nc1 Kh7 39.Bxe5 fxe5 40.Qxe5 Rbd8 41.Rc6 Rf7 42.Nd3 Rb8 43.Kb2 Qd8 44.b4 Rb7 45.Rc2 Na6 46.Kb3 Rfd7 47.Rc3 Rd6 48.Nc5 Nxc5+ 49.Rxc5 Ra7 50.Ra5 Rc7 51.Rc5 Ra7 52.Ra5 Rad7 53.Rc5 Rd2 54.Bc4 Rxg2 55.Bxe6 Re7 56.Qc3 Qa8 57.Ra5 Qxe4 58.Bd5 Qb1+ 59.Ka3.

Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in the history of the world, has managed to keep an edge, disdained a draw by repetition at move 52, and is now trying to hunt down the white king. But with very little time left on her clock and two more moves to make she fails to find the Fritzy Special: 59...Rf2! and after 60.Ra8 Rf8! and the rook cannot be touched because of ...Ra7 mate. After 61.Qd4 Rxa8+ Bxa8 Black would still have good winning chances.

Instead Judit played 59...Rg1? and after 60.Bg8+! the game is a forced draw: 60...Kxg8 61.Ra8+ Kf7 62.Qc4+ Re6 63.Ra7+ Kf6 64.Qf4+ Qf5 65.Qd4+ Qe5 66.Qf2+ Qf5 67.Qd4+ Qe5 68.Qf2+ ½-½.

Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Judit Polgar
Games – Report

Current standings

Full report to follow

Additional pictures


The VIP lounge, where the games are projected on a large screen


The press room, with all the usual suspects


Leontxo Garcia from Spain, Dagobert Kohlmeyer from Germany


A vendor of historical pictures

The photographer

Valery Zahov was born on 11.08.1960 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Studied Interior Design, took his first steps in photography in 1974 as amateur, then went on to take part in a number of photo contests and Olympiads. In 1981 Valery started out as a creative photographer for design studio while freelancing for local newspapers and magazines.

"Working as a press and fashion photographer improved my skills and perception for favourable moment of taking pictures," he says. "I am into computers, so I can do all the images processing, using Photoshop, Corel, etc. to enhance the images. I use Frontpage 2000, HTML kit program as well for creating my web sites Erogance and Act Art.

We should mention that Valery has won numerous photography prizes and worked for magazines like JADE, Penthouse and a number of Bulgarian men's magazines. He is married and has two children.

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
GamesReport
Round 4 (Sunday, May 15, 2005)
Michael Adams
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
GamesReport
Round 5 (Monday, May 16, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 6 (Wednesday, May 18, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar
1-0
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 7 (Thursday, May 19, 2005)
Judit Polgar
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
GamesReport
Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
½-½
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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