Preparing for the Kramnik-Topalov showdown

9/17/2006 – In less than a week from now we will be treated to a World Championship reunification match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. By way of preparation our Monday night Playchess lecturer Dennis Monokroussos looks at the meteoric rise of the Bulgarian GM with a model Topalov game.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

By way of preview for the Vladimir Kramnik-Veselin Topalov match (coming soon to a chess server near you – the first game takes place September 23), we’ll take the next two shows to revisit some of their classic past battles. (That would be easier than looking at their future battles, after all.) This week’s show will feature Topalov in the winner’s circle, from his first glory year of 1996. The great Bulgarian was an almost unstoppable force that year, winning five major tournaments and skyrocketing from 2670 in July of 1995 to 2750 by the middle of 1996.

The tournament in Novgorod was among those successes, a double round-robin with Topalov outperforming not only Kramnik, but Ivanchuk, Short, Gelfand and J. Polgar as well. In their game from the first cycle, Kramnik pushed Topalov for a while before the latter fought to a draw, but their second game was a completely different story. Topalov seized the advantage from the opening (a Sozin Sicilian), and did a marvelous job of alternating between tactical and strategic themes. Repeatedly we find the following pattern: Topalov poses a concrete tactical threat, eliciting a slight positional concession from Kramnik. Topalov consolidates the positional gain, then builds a new threat, eliciting a further concession – and so on. Eventually – and it doesn’t take all that long – Topalov is able to conclude the game with a quick but lethal kingside attack.

A model game, and an impressive demonstration that although Topalov is renowned for his love of complications, he can defeat a player of the highest caliber by positionally outplaying him, too. For proof and a close look at how he did it, I hope you’ll all join me this week at our usual time – Monday night at 9 pm ET. See you then!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Tuesday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

Note: you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos here:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).


Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

Here are the exact times for different locations in the world. Please double-check at World Time and Date for your time zone.

Abu Dhabi Tue 06:00     Halifax Mon 22:00     New Orleans Mon 20:00
Addis Ababa Tue 05:00 Hanoi Tue 09:00 New York Mon 21:00
Adelaide * Tue 12:30 Harare Tue 04:00 Odesa Tue 04:00
Aden Tue 05:00 Havana Mon 21:00 Oslo Tue 03:00
Aklavik Mon 19:00 Helsinki Tue 04:00 Ottawa Mon 21:00
Algiers Tue 03:00 Hong Kong Tue 10:00 Paris Tue 03:00
Amman Tue 04:00 Honolulu Mon 16:00 Perth Tue 10:00
Amsterdam Tue 03:00 Houston Mon 20:00 Philadelphia Mon 21:00
Anadyr Tue 14:00 Indianapolis Mon 21:00 Phoenix Mon 19:00
Anchorage Mon 17:00 Islamabad Tue 07:00 Prague Tue 03:00
Ankara Tue 04:00 Istanbul Tue 04:00 Reykjavik Tue 02:00
Antananarivo Tue 05:00 Jakarta Tue 09:00 Rio de Janeiro * Tue 00:00
Asuncion * Mon 23:00 Jerusalem Tue 04:00 Riyadh Tue 05:00
Athens Tue 04:00 Johannesburg Tue 04:00 Rome Tue 03:00
Atlanta Mon 21:00 Kabul Tue 06:30 San Francisco Mon 18:00
Baghdad Tue 05:00 Kamchatka Tue 14:00 San Juan Mon 22:00
Bangkok Tue 09:00 Karachi Tue 07:00 San Salvador Mon 20:00
Barcelona Tue 03:00 Kathmandu Tue 07:45 Santiago * Mon 23:00
Beijing Tue 10:00 Khartoum Tue 05:00 Santo Domingo Mon 22:00
Beirut Tue 04:00 Kingston Mon 21:00 Sao Paulo * Tue 00:00
Belgrade Tue 03:00 Kiritimati Tue 16:00 Seattle Mon 18:00
Berlin Tue 03:00 Kolkata Tue 07:30 Seoul Tue 11:00
Bogota Mon 21:00 Kuala Lumpur Tue 10:00 Shanghai Tue 10:00
Boston Mon 21:00 Kuwait City Tue 05:00 Singapore Tue 10:00
Brasilia * Tue 00:00 Kyiv Tue 04:00 Sofia Tue 04:00
Brisbane Tue 12:00 La Paz Mon 22:00 St. John's Mon 22:30
Brussels Tue 03:00 Lagos Tue 03:00 St. Paul Mon 20:00
Bucharest Tue 04:00 Lahore Tue 07:00 Stockholm Tue 03:00
Budapest Tue 03:00 Lima Mon 21:00 Suva Tue 14:00
Buenos Aires Mon 23:00 Lisbon Tue 02:00 Sydney * Tue 13:00
Cairo Tue 04:00 London Tue 02:00 Taipei Tue 10:00
Canberra * Tue 13:00 Los Angeles Mon 18:00 Tallinn Tue 04:00
Cape Town Tue 04:00 Madrid Tue 03:00 Tashkent Tue 07:00
Caracas Mon 22:00 Managua Mon 20:00 Tegucigalpa Mon 20:00
Casablanca Tue 02:00 Manila Tue 10:00 Tehran Tue 05:30
Chatham Island * Tue 15:45 Melbourne * Tue 13:00 Tokyo Tue 11:00
Chicago Mon 20:00 Mexico City Mon 20:00 Toronto Mon 21:00
Copenhagen Tue 03:00 Minneapolis Mon 20:00 Vancouver Mon 18:00
Darwin Tue 11:30 Minsk Tue 04:00 Vienna Tue 03:00
Denver Mon 19:00 Montevideo * Tue 00:00 Vladivostok Tue 12:00
Detroit Mon 21:00 Montgomery Mon 20:00 Warsaw Tue 03:00
Dhaka Tue 08:00 Montreal Mon 21:00 Washington DC Mon 21:00
Dublin Tue 02:00 Moscow Tue 05:00 Wellington * Tue 15:00
Edmonton Mon 19:00 Mumbai Tue 07:30 Winnipeg Mon 20:00
Frankfurt Tue 03:00 Nairobi Tue 05:00 Yangon Tue 08:30
Geneva Tue 03:00 Nassau Mon 21:00 Zagreb Tue 03:00
Guatemala Mon 20:00 New Delhi Tue 07:30 Zürich Tue 03:00


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