MTel R8: Topalov beats Ponomariov

5/20/2006 – He's getting closer! Veselin Topalov is attempting another comeback in Sofia. He won his second consecutive game to move into second place with Anand. Both are a point behind Gata Kamsky, who drew with Vishy today. It was Spanish day at the MTel, and nothing to do with Linares. Full report with pictures and videos.

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Round eight report

Round 8: Friday, May 19, 2006

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

All games so far in PGN

Standings

Round 8 wrap-up: Is Veselin Topalov ready to turn in another amazing home-turf comeback? He's already halfway there after scoring his second win in a row by beating Ruslan Ponomariov. He's now on a plus score for the first time and is in striking distance of leader Gata Kamsky. The Bulgarian world #1 meets the American leader in tomorrow's ninth round, although Kamsky will have white in what is now a critical battle.

In last year's event Topalov scored an incredible 4.5/5 in the second half to take the inaugural MTel title. Today he overcame an inferior position against Ponomariov, sacrificing an exchange (surprise surprise) to gain attacking chances against the black king. As always seems to happen, his opponent missed the best defense and was blown away by a series of perfect attacking moves from Topalov. The world's highest-rated kibitzer, Garry Kasparov, was watching the games live on Playchess.com and he was quick to point out the necessary defense for Ponomariov. (Unfortunately, no substitutions are allowed in Sofia.)

Topalov-Ponomariov (8)

Position after 29.Ra1

29..f6! eliminates the worst of the dangers to the black king by preventing White from making the same pawn move and ripping open the black pawn cover. Then if 30.Kh2 threatening 31.Bg8! with mate on h7 and hitting the queen, 30..d5 shuts everything down and Black is winning, according to Kasparov.

Ponomariov's 29..Rbd8? allowed 30.f6! gxf6 31.Kh2 (31.Bh6 is stronger) 31..d5? (31..Rg8 holds the ground; 31..Nd4 is a sharper defense) 32.Nxf6! Now Black loses material. Ponomariov must have missed this shot. 32..Bxf6 33.d4 the amazing point. Bb1 will mate! 33..Qxa2 forced 34.Rxa2 and White went on to win in 65 moves. Spectacular. Even Fritz is impressed!

The other two games were drawn. Kamsky held a tiny edge over Anand out of the Exchange Ruy Lopez but it soon simplified into a drawn rook endgame. The same thing happened over in Svidler-Bacrot. All three games saw the Spanish today. It's a classical crowd in Sofia this year. There have been eleven Ruy Lopez games compared to just five Sicilians. Best of all, no Petroff at all!  –   Mig

Video impressions by Vijay Kumar


Picture gallery


A satellite's eye-view of the Grand Hotel Sofia, where the event is being staged. This picture was provided by Google and is actually taken from a satellite orbiting in space. You can see cars and people, but not the positions on the board. That, we hear, will be part of Google Earth 2.0.


Organiser Radislav Atanasov congratulating GM Ventzislav Inkiov on his 50th. The birthday boy had brought an ample supply of nuts, cookies, chocolates and Teachers Whiskey to celebrate. We hope the M-Tel tournament will be held at the same time every year, so we can enjoy many more such birthday celebrations.


The secret of his success? Gata Kamsky arrives early for
every round and enjoys a cup of hot coffee backstage


At the board he carefully adjusts his pieces (are you taking notes?)


Vishy Anand making sure he is not at a disadvantage in this respect


Ruslan Ponomariov making sure his are properly centered


Both Peter Svidler and Etienne Bacrot broke into smiles when they saw the three Ruy Lopez's on the boards.


The game of the day: Veselin Topalov vs Ruslan Ponomariov


And the tense encounter between two old rivals

Photos by Frederic Friedel

Special prizes

The special prize for the winner in the M-Tel Masters 2006 is a copy of an ancient icon, “St. George the Conqueror”. It was made by the famous Bulgarian artist and icon painter Katya Bajlekova. The icon is painted in distemper on wood, and the background is made of 23-carat gold. It will be handed to the winner of the tournament by President Georgi Parvanov at the closing ceremony.

One of the sponsors of the tournament, the mineral water manufacturer Hissar, is awarding a special trophy to the most uncompromising player in the competition. The over-all winner of the event, we are told, cannot win both special prizes.


Special news: “Veselin Topalov” in Argentina

Press release

A chess tournament named after Veselin Topalov will take place in November in Argentina. The competition will be in San Luis, where in October 2005 Topalov won the world championship title. It will be in the hotel that was the host of the World Championship – Potrero de los Funes.

"The tournament will be named 'Veselin Topalov' not only because he became World Champion in San Luis but also because he left part of his image in the town and made it more popular”, the organizer of the event Pedro Bazán said. He is now in Sofia as guest of the super chess tournament M-Tel Masters. Chess is second in popularity among sports in Argentina, after football. So far the country has been host of two chess Olympiads and one World Championship.

The tournament “Veselin Topalov” will have ten participants and a FIDE category of 14 or 15. The goal of the organizers is for it to become an annual event and to be the biggest Latin American meeting of the best players from the region. Players from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Mexico and some European players will participate in the first edition. Probably among them will be the Bulgarian talent Ivan Cheparinov.

The prize for the winner will be cup “Veselin Topalov” made of precious metal.


Picture gallery

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

Round 8: Friday, May 19, 2006

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