Sofia World Championship: another look at game eight

by ChessBase
5/5/2010 – In this game Topalov and Anand again played the Slav Variation that Anand had used successfully in games three and five. This time he ended up with a miserable looking position, however Topalov allowed a bishops of opposite colour endgame. Anand got a completely drawn position and then blundered. In contrast to game seven both players played poorly. All very odd, thinks IM Malcolm Pein.

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Commentary on game eight by IM Malcolm Pein

The following commentary for reading and download is by our colleague IM Malcolm Pein, who is posting daily analysis on The Week in Chess web site. There is a replay link here and at the end of the game, which takes you to a JavaScript board. There you can click on the notation to follow the analysis on the graphic chessboard.

After playing black twice in a row, Topalov got the opportunity to go on the offensive in game eight. Anand repeated the 'Kramnik Variation' of the Slav Defence he used successfully in games three and five. He was the first to deviate with 13...Rc8, but Topalov was the first with a novelty, 18.a5. A blunder from Anand gave Topalov a position that looked close to winning, an assessment he concurred with at the press conference. However Topalov allowed Anand to escape into a bishops of opposite colour endgame and secure a completely drawn position before 54...Bc6??? which lost immediately. In contrast to game seven both players played poorly. Anand blundered, Topalov didn't take full advantage and a second blunder from Anand followed. All very odd...

Topalov,Veselin (2805) - Anand,Viswanathan (2787) [D17]
WCh Sofia BUL (8), 04.05.2010 [IM Malcolm Pein]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Bxd4 Nfd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 Rc8


Anand is again the first to vary. He clearly wants to stop Topalov from getting his improvements in first. 13...a6 14.Rc1 Rg8 15.h4 h6 (15...h5 16.Ne2 Bd6 17.Be3 Ne5 18.Nf4 Rc8 19.Bb3 Rxc1+ 20.Bxc1 Ke7 21.Ke2 Rc8 22.Bd2 f6 23.Nxg6+ Nxg6 24.g3 Ne5 25.f4 Nc6 26.Bc3 Bb4 27.Bxb4+ Nxb4 28.Rd1 Nc6 29.Rd2 g5 30.Kf2 g4 31.Rc2 Rd8 32.Ke3 Rd6 33.Rc5 Nb4 34.Rc7+ Kd8 35.Rc3 Ke7 36.e5 Rd7 37.exf6+ Kxf6 38.Ke2 Nc6 39.Ke1 Nd4 40.Bd1 a5 41.Rc5 Nf5 42.Rc3 Nd4 43.Rc5 Nf5 44.Rc3 1/2-1/2 Topalov,V (2805)-Anand,V (2787)/Sofia BUL 2010/The Week in Chess) 16.Ke2 Bd6 17.h5 Bh7 18.a5 Ke7 19.Na4 f6 20.b4 Rgc8 21.Bc5 Bxc5 22.bxc5 Rc7 23.Nb6 Rd8 24.Nxd7 Rdxd7 25.Bd3 Bg8 26.c6 Rd6 27.cxb7 Rxb7 28.Rc3 Bf7 29.Ke3 Be8 30.g4 e5 31.Rhc1 Bd7 32.Rc5 Bb5 33.Bxb5 axb5 34.Rb1 b4 35.Rb3 Ra6 36.Kd3 Rba7 37.Rxb4 Rxa5 38.Rxa5 Rxa5 39.Rb7+ Kf8 40.Ke2 Ra2+ 41.Ke3 Ra3+ 42.Kf2 Ra2+ 43.Ke3 Ra3+ 44.Kf2 Ra2+ 45.Ke3 Ra3+ 46.Kf2 1/2-1/2 Topalov,V (2805)-Anand,V (2787)/Sofia BUL 2010/ The Week in Chess. 14.Bb5 a6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Ke2. 16.0-0-0 1/2-1/2 Gordon,S (2508)-Ledger,A (2423)/Liverpool ENG 2008/The Week in Chess 717 (54). 16...f6 17.Rhd1


17...Ke8. Anand gets out of the way of discovered checks. It is possibly too dangerous to go Queenside although that isn't clear. 17...Kc7 18.Ba7 Ra8?? (18...Be8!; 18...Bd6 19.b4 Bxb4 20.Nb5+!) 19.Nb5+ axb5 20.Rac1+ Bc5 21.Rxc5# is an amusing line. 18.a5. This seems to be new. Probably both players had prepared this move although Anand did start to think here. 18.Bb6 1/2-1/2 Bocharov,D (2614) -Amonatov,F (2574)/Voronezh RUS 2007/The Week in Chess 659 (60); 18.Rac1 1-0 Maletin,P (2545)-Amonatov,F (2650)/Novokuznetsk RUS 2008/The Week in Chess 722 (49). 18...Be7. Played after 15 minutes thought. 18...Bb4!? 19.Ra4 Be7=; 18...Bb4!? 19.Na4 Ke7 20.Rac1 Be8!= Shipov 21.Rxc8? Bb5+; 18...Rc6 19.Na4 Bd6 20.Rac1 Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Ke7 22.Bc5 Bxc5 23.Nxc5 Rc8 24.Rc3+/=. 19.Bb6. White replied immediately. 19...Rf8. Black continues to try and unravel with Rf8 Bf8 and Rf8-f7-d7 but this takes time of course. 20.Rac1 f5. Trying to activate rook and bishop before lines open and White can exploit his lead in development. 21.e5. Keeping Black's light squared bishop locked in. 21...Bg5. Quite a quick reply attacking the rook and intending Bf4. 22.Be3


22...f4? Played quickly again and a terrible move that allows the knight into d6. 22...Bxe3 23.Kxe3 f4+ (23...Ke7) 24.Kd4 Ke7 25.Ne4 Bxe4 26.Kxe4 g5 with decent drawing chances. 23.Ne4. Using a discovered attack on the rook to plant his knight on the excellent square d6. It isn't really possible to believe Anand missed this intermezzo, but if he did it was a terrible oversight. 23...Rxc1 24.Nd6+ Kd7 25.Bxc1 Kc6 [25...Be7 26.Rd4] 26.Bd2. This was certainly not the only alternative Topalov had in this position. 26.g3; 26.Rd4 was possibly even better. 26...Be7 27.Rc1+. 27.Bb4 Rd8 28.Rd4 was also good. 27...Kd7. Forced. White has a complete bind in this position so Anand heads for a difficult opposite bishop endgame with drawing chances. 27...Kd5 28.Rc7 Bxd6 29.exd6 Kxd6 30.Rxb7 Kd5 31.Rxg7+/–. 28.Bc3. 28.Bb4 Rd8 29.Rc4 Bxd6 30.Rd4 was at least as good; 28.Bb4 Bxd6 29.Rd1! 28...Bxd6 29.Rd1 Bf5 30.h4. 30.Bb4 g5 31.Rxd6+ (31.Bxd6 Rc8) 31...Ke8 32.Rb6 Rf7 holds.


30...g6?! Every pawn move is weakening and this one proves fatal later. 30...Kc7 31.exd6+ Kd7 32.Bxg7? (32.Rd4 Rf7 33.Rxf4 Kxd6 holds easily 34.g4 Bd3+! 35.Ke3 Rxf4 36.Kxf4 g6 37.Kg5 Ke7 38.Kh6 Kf7 39.Kxh7 (39.g5 Be2 40.f4 Kg8=) 39...g5+!) 32...Rg8=. 31.Rxd6+ Kc8 32.Bd2. White is clearly on top and is winning a pawn but not necessarily the game. 32.Rd4 h6! Shipov 33.Rxf4 (33.Bd2 g5) 33...Bd3+. 32...Rd8 33.Bxf4 Rxd6 34.exd6 Kd7


As always bishops of opposite colours make the position drawish even though White has an extra protected passed pawn. Now Indian GM Harikrishna proposed a possible winning plan involving a king march to h6 and h4-h5 which I thought was rather unpatriotic of him :-). 35.Ke3 Bc2 36.Kd4 Ke8. Black must stop Kf6. 37.Ke5 Kf7 38.Be3 Ba4 39.Kf4 Bb5 40.Bc5 Kf6 41.Bd4+


41...Kf7. 41...e5+ 42.Bxe5+ Ke6 43.Ke4 Bf1 44.g3 Be2 and the bishop is tied to the d6 pawn. This is terribly hard to assess and in practice unless Vishy thought the line played was losing he would not sacrifice a pawn but I am not sure how White wins from here. 42.Kg5 Bc6 43.Kh6 Kg8 44.h5 Be8


45.Kg5. Anand seems to be holding here so Topalov comes back – good practical chess at the very least! 45.g4? gxh5 46.gxh5 Bd7 holds. 45...Kf7. Now the draw starts to look favourite. 46.Kh6 Kg8 47.Bc5 gxh5 48.Kg5 Kg7 49.Bd4+ Kf7 50.Be5 h4! 51.Kxh4 Kg6. At this point it looked more likely that Anand would hold the draw since he blundered on move 22. 52.Kg4 Bb5 53.Kf4 Kf7 54.Kg5. Topalov is just meandering now but he is about to be rewarded.


54...Bc6?? Within moves of the draw Anand blunders fatally. A truly dreadful move. He removes the possibility of protecting the h-pawn with his bishop which is an easy draw. 54...Bd3 putting the bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal and now Kf7-e8-d7 draws for example 55.f4 Ke8 56.g4 Kd7 57.f5 exf5 58.gxf5 h6+! 59.Kf6 Bc2 and Black just waits with the bishop; 54...Ke8 should be the same. 55.Kh6 Kg8 56.g4


56...Be8 57.g5 Bc6 58.f4 Bd7 59.Bd4 Be8 60.Bg7 zugzwang 60...Bc6 61.g6 hxg6 62.Kxg6 Be8+ 63.Kf6 Bc6 64.Bh6 wins. 1-0. [Click to replay]

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