San Luis R5: Topalov on top of the world

10/3/2005 – Veselin Topalov beat his closest rival in the world championship, Peter Svidler, and did it with the black pieces. Anand drew a very promising positon against Leko, which left the Bulgarian a point and a half ahead of the field. Topalov seems quite unstoppable – his Elo performance so far is an astronomical 3124. Full report...

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The FIDE World Chess Championship is taking place in the Hotel Potrero de los Funes Complex, in the Province of San Luis, Argentina, from September 27 to October 16, 2005..

Round Five Summary

The hot favourite Veselin Topalov again displayed superb form to take a full point from his closest rival Peter Svidler, and he did it with the black pieces. The Bulgarian now has 4.5 out of five games, which translates to an Elo performance of 3124. We can only call this phenomenal. Anand played very well against Peter Leko and had what looked like a strategically won position. But an unconvincing rook manoeuvre (to c6, where the knight would have been better placed) gave his opponent enough counterplay to draw. Judit Polgar looked strong against Alexander Morozevich but did not get more than the split point; while Adams and Kasimdzanov played an uneventful 29-move draw.

Round 5: Monday, October 3rd
Peter Svidler
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar
½-½
A. Morozevich
Vishy Anand
½-½
Peter Leko
Michael Adams
½-½
R. Kasimdzhanov

The round five games on Playchess.com were commented by Yasser Seirawan, who is doing a magnificent job, as is his colleague IM Andrew Martin, our "resident" chess coach. Here is the schedule for the rest of the event (subject to change):

4 Oct. Round 6 Yasser Seirawan   10 Oct. Round 11    Yasser Seirawan
5 Oct. Round 7 Andrew Martin   11 Oct. Round 12 Andrew Martin
6 Oct. Round 8 Yasser Seirawan   13 Oct. Round 13 Andrew Martin
8 Oct. Round 9 Yasser Seirawan   14 Oct. Round 14 Andrew Martin
9 Oct. Round 10 Yasser Seirawan   15 Oct. Tie-break Andrew Martin

Current standings at the World Championship in San Luis


World Championship Diary: Round 5

By Nigel Short – on site in San Luis

Lunchtime: I am dining with Veselin Topalov and his entourage of Silvio Danailov (manager) and Ivan Cheparinov (second) again, as indeed I have done all the playing days so far. On day two, Veselin, a touch superstitiously perhaps, determined that I was a lucky talisman, and that henceforth I will have to eat with him prior to the commencement of the rounds – presumably until he suffers a defeat. Fortunately this is no great burden for me as I am quite glad of the company. Cheekily I suggest that he pays me for my services, which elicits a smile.


At the start of round five Morozevich and Polgar keep an eye on Topalov and Svidler

3:50pm: I have just returned to my room from the playing hall where I had been sat discussing the games with the Hungarian concert pianist and great chess enthusiast Gergely Boganyi, who is taking a few days break from his tour. There is always a bit of lull after the flurry of opening moves, and this provides a convenient opportunity to begin writing.


Watching his every move: Topalov waiting for Svidler to play

No sooner had I opened my laptop, when I saw Topalov making a startling piece sacrifice in his vital game with Peter Svidler! My goodness, what a shocker – and we are barely out of the opening. For a few brief seconds I thought that Svidler had to resign until I calmed down.

4.30: Svidler averted immediate catastrophe by jettisoning a little material in order to exchange queens. The ensuing endgame is very unbalanced with two bishops against rook and two pawns. In general I tend to prefer pieces at such moments, but the factors like White’s poorly placed knight in the corner mean that it is difficult to be certain of the correct evaluation. If White can co-ordinate his pieces without anything too unpleasant happening he will be on top. If not, not.


Chess wives: Firussa Kasimdzhanov, Aruna Anand (seated), Sofia Leko

Peter Leko has employed his beloved Sveshnikov against Anand. This was the opening which brought him great success when the Indian committed a howler at the Corus Tournament in January. This time Anand has continued sensibly and has placed all his faith in his passed b-pawn. It looks as if he stands better although, given the opening’s desiccated, drawish nature, it is unclear whether this will suffice for victory.


"You play the what against me??" Judit Polgar in her
round five game against iconoclast Alexander Morozevich

Alexander Morozevich has displayed his penchant for archaeology by digging up the Philidor against Judit Polgar. Whether this moldy eighteenth century corpse should have remained interred is one question, but I, for one, am not going to criticize the Mr. Burke or Hare ( two notorious British grave-robbers) of modern tournament chess. Thank goodness we have people with heterodox views.


Rustam Kasimdzhanov vs Mickey Adams under way

Michael Adams has obtained such a dominant grip on the d5 square against Kasimjanov that I wonder whether he ought not try to control some of the other 63 squares as well. This is an excellent example of John Watson’s concept of the surplus knight. Nevertheless the Englishman certainly stands better. All he needs is a fresh, constructive plan to increase his advantage.


Topalov and Adams watch Anand work on his game against
Leko, who is watching another game (back to camera)

6.30pm: Obviously I spoke too soon. The moment Adams’ knight deserted the outpost d5 the wily Uzbek unshackled his fetters and with one bound leapt out of his incarceration. Indeed Adams was the one who suddenly had to be careful. The game ended with a repetition of position – neither side having a sensible way of avoiding the draw.


The man and his watch: Topalov in full concentration

In the meantime Topalov has secured a big advantage. He is really on fire here. If he wins today then he will be soaring way above the others. I sensed that Svidler started to lose the thread around move 30 when the needlessly put his bishop within range of the Black knight. If his idea was tacitly invite a draw, then the Bulgarian wanted none of it, forcing off one bishop and cramping the White kingside. Even so, the situation was by no means terrible for White until his bad blunder on the 36th move when he allowed his bishop to be viciously pinned. Extricating himself from that unpleasantness cost him the vital b-pawn after which he can only pray, most probably in vain, for a Houdini-like escape.

7.00pm: Anand-Leko took a very interesting turn. Instead of passively attempting to block the white passed pawn the mighty Magyar strove for activity. The Chennai chessman had to be careful for, with his pieces on the queenside supporting the pawn, his kingside was very vulnerable. He diffused the initiative successfully but at the cost of entering into a rather drawish endgame with an exchange for a pawn advantage, but with all the remaining pawns all on one side. The Madras magician will have to pull a big rabbit out of the hat of he is to win.


Peter Svidler and Veselin Topalov in the press conference after the game

Svidler has succumbed. Topalov opens up a yawning gap on the field! I don’t want to jinx my dining partner, but it is probably now his tournament to lose. Catching him will now require both great skill and a large dollop of luck. With nine long rounds left it is certainly conceivable that his lead will evaporate but, to judge from his outstanding form so far, few would bet on it.

Polgar-Morozevich has been an oscillating affair. My impression was that Judit obtained a sizable advantage in the middlegame but that she was unable to keep a lid on Black’s activity. Moroz is a tricky fellow.


Morozevich watches Anand vs Leko, Adams ponders

7.30: The game is draw – a fair enough result. My trusty aid, Fritz, believes that there was nothing in it in the final position and it is hard to disagree.

That leaves us with Vishy grinding away against Peter Leko. Not much has changed since I spoke last. Still looks like a draw but it could go on for quite some time. I guess it is time to open a bottle of wine...


Leko and Anand discuss the game they have just played


Peter Leko with his second (and father-in-law) Arshak Petrosian

8.10pm: I fibbed a bit: I have remained abstemious for the last forty minutes. Not for much longer though… Vishy tried hard to create chances, but Leko is the last sort of person to blunder in such technical positions and he didn’t.

Who would have predicted a one half point lead after only five rounds? It has been a breathtaking performance so far from Topalov. Will it continue tomorrow? We shall see…

All photos: FIDE (Casto Abundo), Word Chess Championship Press


Full schedule

Round 1: Wednesday, September 28th

Peter Leko
0-1
Veselin Topalov
A. Morozevich
½-½
R. Kasimdzhanov
Peter Svidler
½-½
Michael Adams
Judit Polgar
0-1
Vishy Anand
Round 2: Thursday, September 29th
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Vishy Anand
Michael Adams
½-½
Judit Polgar
R. Kasimdzhanov
½-½
Peter Svidler
Peter Leko
½-½
A. Morozevich
Round 3: Friday, September 30th
A. Morozevich
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Peter Svidler
1-0
Peter Leko
Judit Polgar
1-0
R. Kasimdzhanov
Vishy Anand
1-0
Michael Adams
Round 4: Saturday, October 1st
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Michael Adams
R. Kasimdzhanov
1-0
Vishy Anand
Peter Leko
1-0
Judit Polgar
A. Morozevich
0-1
Peter Svidler
Free day: Sunday, October 2nd
Round 5: Monday, October 3rd
Peter Svidler
0-1
Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar
½-½
A. Morozevich
Vishy Anand
½-½
Peter Leko
Michael Adams
½-½
R. Kasimdzhanov
Round 6: Tuesday, October 4th
Judit Polgar
-
Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand
-
Peter Svidler
Michael Adams
-
A. Morozevich
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 7: Wednesday, October 5th
Veselin Topalov
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Peter Leko
-
Michael Adams
A. Morozevich
-
Vishy Anand
Peter Svidler
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Round 8: Thursday, October 6th
Veselin Topalov
-
Peter Leko
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
A. Morozevich
Michael Adams
-
Peter Svidler
Vishy Anand
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Free day: Friday, October 7th
Round 9: Saturday, October 8th
Vishy Anand
-
Veselin Topalov
Judit Polgar
-
Michael Adams
Peter Svidler
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
A. Morozevich
-
Peter Leko
Games – Report
Round 10: Sunday, October 9th
Veselin Topalov
-
A. Morozevich
Peter Leko
-
Peter Svidler
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Judit Polgar
Adamas
-
Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 11: Monday, October 10th
Adamas
-
Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Judit Polgar
-
Peter Leko
Peter Svidler
-
A. Morozevich
Games – Report
Round 12: Tuesday, October 11th
Veselin Topalov
-
Peter Svidler
A. Morozevich
-
Judit Polgar
Peter Leko
-
Vishy Anand
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Free day: Wednesday, October 12th
Round 13: Thursday, October 13th
R. Kasimdzhanov
-
Veselin Topalov
Michael Adams
-
Peter Leko
Vishy Anand
-
A. Morozevich
Judit Polgar
-
Peter Svidler
Games – Report
Round 14: Friday, October 14th
Veselin Topalov
-
Judit Polgar
Peter Svidler
-
Vishy Anand
A. Morozevich
-
Michael Adams
Peter Leko
-
R. Kasimdzhanov
Games – Report
Tie-breaks: Saturday, October 15th

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