Topalov plays à la Mihail Tal

by Sagar Shah
11/11/2016 – The World Championship is about to begin from the 11th of November 2016. But Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are not the only two super elite grandmasters playing chess on American soil. Four top players are battling it out in Saint Louis in a very interesting tournament that makes the participants play against each other in different time controls. On the first day we witnessed only one decisive game, but what a game it was! Topalov played like Mikhail Tal, sacrificed a piece for no visible compensation and beat Fabiano Caruana.

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Pictures from the Facebook page of Saint Louis Chess Club

Champions Showdown 2016

Follow games live on Playchess 

The Schedule of the tournament: There will double round robin time control event with 60 minutes and five seconds delay. This will be followed by six rounds of Rapid chess (15 minutes + 5 seconds delay) and finally there will be twelve rounds of 3 minutes + 2 seconds delay blitz on the final day.

Round one

The most exciting game of the first round was definitely the battle between Veselin Topalov and Fabiano Caruana

Caruana has just played his knight to b6, attacking the bishop on c4. Can you guess what Topalov played? The Bulgarian gave up his bishop and played the unbelievable 13.Qg3!!??!

Anand cannot really believe that Topalov has given up an entire piece

Nor can Hikaru Nakamura!

It wouldn't be incorrect to say that Topalov played like Mikhail Tal. He took his opponent into the deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the road leading out was only wide enough for one! Fabiano was winning on many occasions, and for a player of his calibre it wasn't difficult to defend. But he was unable to and the game ended in Topalov's favour.

[Event "Champions Showdown 60m"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.11.10"] [Round "1"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2823"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2016.11.10"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 dxc4 {Caruana goes for the Vienna Gambit.} 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bxc4 {This is not the first time that Topalov has played this Gambit line. It goes perfectly well with his aggressive style.} Nxe4 7. O-O Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bd6 $5 {Usually Black retreats his bishop to e7. But here he went for the move Bd6. Although this is not a novelty, very few games have been played with this move.} (8... Bxc3 9. Rb1 $44 {It has been proved that taking the pawn on c3 is a mistake and gives White tremendous compensation.}) 9. Re1 O-O 10. Qd3 $146 (10. Ng5 {was played by Bacrot against Maze.}) 10... Nd7 11. Ne5 Bxe5 12. dxe5 Nb6 {[%cal Gd7b6] When Caruana made this move he was sure that he would either exchange the important light squared bishop or the queens. However, Topalov had a huge surprise in store for him.} 13. Qg3 $3 {What an amazing move by Topalov. The two exclamation marks are definitely not for the objectively value of the move, but for the sheer boldness. Veselin gives up a full piece for an attack which is far from being successful. But he figures out that in an opposite coloured bishop position, having the dark squared bishop is like having an extra piece! With the computer analysis we can arrive at the truth that Black is winning, but still I really like Topalov's courage.} (13. Qe4 Nxc4 14. Qxc4 b6 $15 {is not something White would like to go for. Black is at least equal.}) 13... Nxc4 14. Bh6 g6 15. Rad1 Bd7 (15... Qe7 { might have been a better move because now f6 is threatened.} 16. Bg5 (16. Bxf8 Kxf8 {is just a lost position for White.}) 16... f6 17. exf6 Qf7 18. h4 Re8 $1 $19 {Black is just winning now as the move e5 cannot be prevented, with smooth development for Black.}) 16. h4 Nb6 17. h5 {Topalov plays as if nothing really has happened!} Qe7 18. Rd4 {Brining in another piece into the attack. Well, even though the position is winning for Black, it is not so easy to just wait and do nothing. The rook on f8 is hanging, but White is not taking it. Meanwhile Fabi has to decide whether he should move the rook or let it be in the line of fire forever. Such decisions seems quite easy sitting at home with the computer switched on, but during the game it is never easy.} Be8 19. Bg5 f6 $2 (19... Qc5 {was relatively better, but after} 20. Qh4 {With the idea of Be7, the margin of error for Black keeps getting smaller and smaller.}) 20. exf6 { White now has a very strong attack. Black's pieces are unco-ordinated and this results in a quick win.} Qc5 (20... Qf7 {was better.}) 21. Rxe6 Qf5 22. Re5 Qb1+ 23. Kh2 gxh5 (23... c5 24. Rde4 Bc6 25. hxg6 Bxe4 26. f7+ Kg7 27. Qh4 $18) 24. Bh6+ Bg6 25. Bxf8 Rxf8 26. Qg5 Qxa2 27. Re7 Qxf2 28. Rg7+ Kh8 29. Rxg6 { With this game Veselin proved that Mihail Tal wasn't wrong when he said, "You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest, where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one!} (29. Rxg6 hxg6 30. Qh6+ Kg8 31. Qg7#) 1-0

The game between Hikaru Nakamura and Vishy Anand ended in a draw

Round 1  
White Result Black
Topalov,Veselin 1 - 0 Caruana,Fabiano
Anand,Viswanathan ½ - ½  Nakamura,Hikaru

Round two

Vishy Anand was rock solid with the black pieces against Veselin Topalov and the game ended in a draw

Caruana and Nakamura also split the point

Round 2  
White Result Black
Caruana, Fabiano ½ - ½ Nakamura,Hikaru
Topalov, Veselin ½ - ½ Anand,Viswanathan


Standings after day one

The official commentary is being done by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Tania Sachdev along with...

...GM Alejandro Ramirez (right), who is seen here interviewing the grandmaster and economist Kenneth Rogoff

One of the brilliant initiatives taken by the commentary team is that anyone can make a phone call to the commentators and ask any question that they have. It gives you a unique opportunity to speak to great chess players and ask them questions about chess which have always been on your mind. The live commentary can be followed here and the phone number to call is 314-361-5465. The live broadcast begins at 1 p.m. local time in Saint Louis.

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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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