Nanjing R9: Topalov defeats Svidler, wins Pearl Spring

12/20/2008 – Is he on his way to becoming the greatest player in the history of chess? Veselin Topalov won the penultimate game of the Super-GM in Nanjing, beating Peter Svidler with the black pieces. That puts him a point and a half ahead of the field and clear the winner of the event. Topalov's "live rating" is now 2810, almost 20 points ahead of World Champion Viswanathan Anand. Full illustrated report.

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2008 Pearl Spring Chess Tournament, Nanjing, China

Round 9: Saturday, 20 December 2008
Peter Svidler 
0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Bu Xiangzhi 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Sergei Movsesian 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk

Svidler,P (2727) - Topalov,V (2791) [B12]
Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (9), 20.12.2008
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 Nd7 7.Nbd2 c4 8.a4N. An early novelty by Peter Svidler, who is attempting to avoid Topalov's excellent home openings preparation. 8...h6 9.b3 cxb3 10.Nxb3 Rc8 11.Ra2 Qc7 12.Bd3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Ne7 14.0-0 Qc4 15.Rb1 b6 16.Qf1 Nc6 17.c3 Qxc3 18.a5 Be7 19.axb6 axb6 20.Qd1 Qc4 21.Nc1 Nb4 22.Ra7 Qc2 23.Qxc2 Nxc2 24.Bd2 Na3 25.Ra1 Nc4 26.Rb7 Nb8 27.Ra8

This looks quite dangerous, and it is – for White. 27...0-0. Black cooly castles our of the attack. Now his rooks are connected and White's initiative for the pawn is no longer a tangible factor. 28.Raxb8 Nxd2 29.Rxc8 Nxf3+ 30.gxf3 Rxc8 31.Ne2 Bd8. The game is virtually decided, Black will mobilise his rook and go after the white pawns. 32.f4 g6 33.Kg2 Kf8 34.Kf3 Ra8

35.Ke3? An ignominious end to a lost game. 35...Ra3+ 36.Kd2 Bh4 0-1.


The winner in round nine and in Nanjing: Veselin Topalov


Bu and Aronian played a quick draw – 29 moves, mostly theory

Movsesian,S (2732) - Ivanchuk,V (2786) [B51]
Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (9), 20.12.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 Ngf6 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.Qxd4 e5 7.Qd3 h6 8.Be3 Be7 9.0-0-0 a6 10.Bc4 b5 11.Bb3 Bb7 12.g4 Nxg4 13.Rhg1 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 g6 15.Bd5 Rb8 16.Bxb7 Rxb7 17.Nd5 Nb6

18.Nxe5 dxe5 19.Nf6+ Bxf6 20.Rxd8+ Bxd8. White has a queen for rook, bishop and knight. Black should be better here, but Ivanchuk is unable to coordinate his pieces force a win. 21.Qc5 Nd7 22.Qc8 Ra7 23.Qc6 h5 24.a3 h4 25.h3 Ke7 26.Rd1 Rh5 27.Kb1 Rg5 28.Ka2 Rg2 29.c3 Rh2 30.f4 exf4 31.e5 Re2 32.Rxd7+ Rxd7 33.Qf6+ ½-½.


Another missed chance: Vassily Ivanchuk in round nine

Standings after nine rounds


Press conference after round nine


Sergei Movsesian, Veselin Topalov, Vassily Ivanchuk and WGM Zhang Jilin

Hua’ao: I have two questions for Mr. Topalov. You usually reserve your strength and stage a more wonderful fight during the latter half of the tournament. Is it your strategy or your habit? Some of the chess players come with their wives or girl friends, while you only take your assistant? Could you tell the reason?

Topalov: It is not my habit. In fact, I want to win every game. At the beginning the tournament, everybody is well prepared and in good physical condition. It is not easy to win. In the latter half, players get tired and make more mistakes. So it is easier to win. In the first four games, I played blacks and it was not easy to win. And in the latest three games, I played whites. It is easier to win. About my girl friend, she is working and can’t come. If I am invited to Nanjing next year, she may come with me.

Sina: Mr.Topalov, do you think it is easy to win the championship? Have you encountered major difficulties? You played against Bu Xiangzhi twice. Do you think Chinese chess players have already reached world top level?

Topalov: It seems easy for me to win this championship. But I do have some difficulties. I was lucky when playing against Bu. Some Chinese chess player have reached the rating of 2700.They didn’t play well in this year’s Olympiad. But they are a very strong team. I don’t remember their results in previous team games. They are young. They will have good results.

Swedish journalist: Mr Topalov, in your game against Svidler, he thought too much in the opening. Do you have a good preparation? Which move of yours is the most difficult one for your opponent? What is your understanding of the lines?

Topalov: When I prepared for the game against Peter Svidler, I knew he played Caro-Kann many times. I also noticed that Peter hasn’t played the change I prepared, so I decide to take the risk because it is a complicated change. It proved to be a wise choice.

China Chess Online: You didn’t lose one game so far. Which game is the most difficult and dangerous one for you? Now you have won the championship before the tournament ends. In review the past games, which one is the most important one for your championship?

Topalov: I had many troubles in my game against Bu, and we drew at last. All the games are important to my championship. And the most significant one is the one against Aronian. I was in a win situation at the beginning, but then I made a blunder, and I tried to start the game again. I adjusted myself and won in the end. Today’s game is also important for me

Sina: I have a question for the three chess grandmasters, there are a lot of chess players whose rating have already passed 2700, what age do you think is the golden age for a chess player?


Vassily Ivanchuk in the press conference

Ivanchuk: It depends, because the emotion, the situation and other factors differ among different players. I am already fourty now, but I’m still attending some high-level tournaments. Maybe I am a small exception.

Topalov: It depends a lot on the motivation. When I was twenty, I thought that was the best age. And now I am thirty-three, I think 30-40 year old is the best age. But it depends on very personal motivation.


GM Sergei Movsesian, originally from Armenia, now playing for Slovakia

Movsesian: I just think that it is impossible to say. Most players become much stronger than twenty years ago because of gaining some experience. Youngsters have energy, motivation and sometimes lack of knowledge. When you get older, you get knowledge and experience, but you lack energy. So it’s important to combine all the things to play your best chess and but I don’t think it’s possible to have all of them.


Yuejiang Tower

Extracts from the Event Profile by Lisa Jingxia

The Yuejiang Tower stands at the top of Lion Hill in the northwest part of the city. It was built in 2001, but in a sense it is much older: the first Ming emperor designed it, and intended to build it, but the imperial treasury ran dry before he managed to start. A series of other emperors also announced plans to built it, but somehow it never got done until the Xiaguan District government stepped in.

The first floor has a display dedicated to Hongwu’s belongings, including a beautiful rosewood replica of his Dragon Throne. One of the inscriptions bears his motto: “The boat floating on the water.” By this he meant to remind himself that much as the water will support a sea-worthy craft, the people will support a just emperors, and much as waves can overturn a boat, so too can the people rise up against their rulers.

There’s also a good history display with information about each of the Ming emperors, including both highlights and lowlights, the latter best illustrated by the brief discussion of the sixteenth emperor, Xizong: “He was muddleheaded for all his life, and villains controlled the government.” On the second floor there is a display of other Ming artifacts, and a series of excellent exhibits on various luminaries who came to prominence during the Ming dynasty, including scientists such as Li Shizhen and Xu Guangqi, writers such as Wu Cheng’en (Journey to the West) and Luo Guanzhong (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms), and painters and calligraphers including Tang Yin and Zhou Chen. (There is also a shop selling modern calligraphy, as well as caricatures of the Buddha, Yasser Arafat and Richard Nixon painted on small rocks.)

The third floor holds a good exhibit on Zheng He, with large, well-made models of his ships, and a fair amount of information about his voyages. The fourth has handicrafts for sale, the fifth a teahouse. The sixth floor gets one closest to the ceiling, which features an immense gilded dragon; all told, more than eleven kilograms of gold were needed for the gilding done here at the tower. This final floor also has an outer balcony providing excellent views of the Yangtze River to the west, the factories and smokestacks to the northwest, the shipyards to the northeast, and the whole great stretch of central Nanjing to the south and southwest.


Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

While the Xiaoling Tomb complex dominates the south-central slope of purple Mountain, it is the tomb of Sun Yat-sen which dominates the southeastern side: his Mausoleum Scenic Park, started in 1926 and finished in 1931, covers a total of almost one hundred forty hectares. Sun is universally recognized as the father of modern China. His tomb is visited by great numbers of pilgrims from elsewhere on the mainland, and has equal significance for visitors from Taiwan.

Seen from the air, the mausoleum area has the shape of a bell. According to a sign near the top, the bell tolls to this say as a warning: the sign speaks of Sun’s “devotion to the cause to waking up the masses and saving the Chinese nation and state.”

From the archway, a stone staircase seventy meters wide and four hundred meters long leads up the forested slope to the main mausoleum gate, a built of white stone topped with blue tile.

Beyond the gate is a pavilion housing a stone stele six meters high: Sun’s memorial tablet. From there it is steeper steps up another three hundred meters to the Memorial Hall. In the center of the hall is a statue of Sun carved in white marble. The black walls around it are engraved in gold with a text Sun wrote called “Fundamentals of National Reconstruction.” There is also a pillar holding his central slogan: “Everything for the People” he helped to found (through he very nearly missed his own revolution: he was in the United States gathering funds when the ultimately successful 1911 revolt began in Wuchang). Up slightly higher is the round Coffin Chamber. There is a marble sarcophagus bearing a sculpture of Sun lying in state, including wreaths of flowers carved at his feet. The coffin itself is located five meter below.


Schedule and results

First half

Round 1: Thursday, 11 December 2008
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Sergei Movsesian 
0-1
 Bu Xiangzhi
Round 2: Friday, 12 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Bu Xiangzhi
Peter Svidler 
0-1
 Sergei Movsesian
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 3: Saturday, 13 December 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Sergei Movsesian 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Bu Xiangzhi 
½-½
 Peter Svidler
Round 4: Sunday, 14 December 2008
Sergei Movsesian 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Bu Xiangzhi 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 5: Monday, 15 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Peter Svidler
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Bu Xiangzhi
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Sergei Movsesian

Second half

Round 6: Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Peter Svidler 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Bu Xiangzhi 
1-0
 Sergei Movsesian
Round 7: Thursday, 18 December 2008
Bu Xiangzhi 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Sergei Movsesian 
0-1
 Peter Svidler
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
 Levon Aronian
Round 8: Friday, 19 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Sergei Movsesian
Peter Svidler 
1-0
 Bu Xiangzhi
Round 9: Saturday, 20 December 2008
Peter Svidler 
0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Bu Xiangzhi 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Sergei Movsesian 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 10: Sunday, 21 December 2008
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Sergei Movsesian
Vassily Ivanchuk 
-
 Bu Xiangzhi
Levon Aronian 
-
 Peter Svidler
Games – Report

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