Sofia: First game Topalov-Kamsky drawn

by ChessBase
2/17/2009 – In the first game of the special FIDE Candidates Qualifier for the World Championship Veselin Topalov uncorked a novelty on move 17, and launched a sharp attack against Kamsky's king. However the Brooklyn Boy remained unperturbed, defended well and in fact gained a slight advantage. We bring you a full report with annotations of game one by GM Mihail Marin.

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The Kamsky-Topalov FIDE World Championship Qualifier is taking place from February 16th to 28th in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Match consists of eight games and if necessary tie-breaks. It has a prize find of US $250,000 which will be shared equally by the players. The winner qualifies for a World Championship Match against Viswanathan Anand, scheduled for later this year.

Round one report

Topalov,V (2796) - Kamsky,G (2725) [D86]
World Chess Challenge Sofia BUL (1), 17.02.2009 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5. Kamsky's love story with the Gruenfeld Defence dates a long time back. Among his scalp collection in this opening, we can find the name of the 12th World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. If we add the fact that one of Kamsky's seconds, Emil Sutovsky, is an outstanding specialist of the Gruenfeld, the opening choice hardly was a surprize for Topalov. 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0

The classical line is Topalov's invariable choice against the Gruenfeld. In the past, this variation has been seen with the occasion of historical matches between Botvinnik and Smyslov or between Kasparov and Karpov. Also, it twice led the legendary Fischer to defeat against Spassky, but that was before their "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". The main idea of this system is to build up a strong centre, which cannot be destroyed easily, but the course of this game will be rather non-typical for this traditional perception. 10...Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Qd2 e5. This line has become fashionable lately. Kamsky had tried it last year against Topalov's second, Cheparinov, which makes the game very intriguing from psychological point of view. 13.Bh6 cxd4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd4 exd4 16.f4 f6

The situation has changed dramatically over the past few moves. There is almost nothing left from White's centre, but Black is slightly underdeveloped and his king is vulnerable. 17.e5. This is a novelty over the aforementioned game, where 17.Rac1 was played. Until this moment, Topalov had spend only three minutes. As a reaction to the novelty, Kamsky sank into prolongued thinking, and played his move when he had only 50 minutes left on the clock. 17...Bd7!? What makes the Gruenfeld so easy and difficult at the same time is the practically unlimited choice on virtually each move. It is clear that Black has to catch up in development and avoid the excessive weakening of his king's position at the same time. 17...Bb7 looks quite natural, but then 18.exf6+ followed by f4-f5 is annoying. 17...f5 is another possibility, but Kamsky may have feared that any ending may be dangerous for him because of the white passed pawn. The idea of the text move is to keep the e6- and f5-squares well defended, while preparing the connection of rooks. Its only obvious drawback is that it leaves the extra-pawn undefended. 18.exf6+. It was Topalov's turn to think for a long time. He decided to put his bid on the attack, probably fearing that 18.Nxd4 Nc6 would lead to early simplifications and a draw. Topalov's move will eventually lead to the same result, but, to the public's delight, after a very interesting fight. We can also infer that Kamsky reacted quite well to the opening surprize. 18...Qxf6 19.Ng3 Kh8 20.f5 gxf5 21.Bxf5 Bxf5 22.Rxf5 Qd6 23.Raf1 Nc6

After the knight's return into play, White's attacking chances become questionable. 24.Ne4 Qe7 25.Qh6 Rxf5 26.Rxf5 Ne5 27.h3 Ng6

28.Rh5. The apparently dangerous 28.Ng5? can be met by 28...Rc8! when continuing with the attacking operations with 29.Rf7? would lead to disaster after 29...Rc1+ 30.Kh2 Qe5+ . Topalov's move has the advantage that it keeps the e5-square under control, restricting Black's counter-attacking chances. Oh, and it creates the annoying threats of Nf6 or Qxg6! 28...Rg8. After this move, the game will enter the drawish zone more or less by force. The more exotic try 28...Kg8!? would probably have led to the same result after 29.Nf6+ Qxf6 30.Qxh7+ Kf8 31.Rh6 Rc8 32.Rxg6 Rc1+ 33.Kh2 Qe5+ 34.Rg3 Rc3 35.Qg8+ Ke7 36.h4 Black's king is too exposed to entitle him aspire to an advantage. 29.Nf6 Rg7

30.Nxh7! After this exchange operation, perpetual check becomes the most likely result. 30...Rxh7 31.Qxg6 Qe3+ 32.Kf1 Qc1+ 33.Kf2 Qd2+ 34.Kg3 Qe3+ 35.Kh2 Qf4+ 36.Kg1 Qc1+ draw. [Click to replay]


  Nat. Rtng.
Kamsky, Gata USA 2725
Topalov, Veselin BUL 2796

Press conference with Kirsan Ilumzhinov

In the opening press conference before the starto of the Topalov-Kamsky match the President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, announced that the next Grand Prix will take place in April [he said March but it is April] in the Russian Republic of Kabardino Balkaria. In a second remarkable statement the President said: "There will be no changes in the current world championship cycle. At the next Presidential board meeting in Istambul March 6-8 there will be details to be refined, and also discussion, but I do not expect changes in the current world championship cycle."

What does this mean? Well, most likely that Kirsan has recognised that the somewhat haphazard decision taken during the Dresden Olympiad to change the running cycle and to in fact insert an extra tier is not tenable and needs to be corrected. Apparently he expects the announced changes not to be ratified by the General Assembly, which convenes in Turkey at the beginning of March.

February 2009
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28  


Monday February 16: 18:00h Opening
Tuesday February 17: 15:00h Game 1
Wednesday February 18: 15:00h Game 2
Thursday February 19 Rest day
Friday February 20: 15:00h Game 3
Saturday February 21: 15:00h Game 4
Sunday February 22 Rest day


February 23: 15:00h Game 5
Tuesday February 24: 15:00h Game 6
Wednesday February 25 Rest day
Thursday February 26: 15:00h Game 7
Friday February 27: 15:00h Game 8
Saturday February 28 Tiebreaks


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