GOTM; November, 2005.    


Welcome to my  "Game of The Month"  feature!  (For November, 2005.)   (Games considered, file.)  

This is a game, that is annotated in at least <light-to-medium> fashion. Hopefully it is done in a way that is both entertaining and {also} informative. The main purpose {and thrust} of this column is to try and educate the general chess public. [Read why this feature was eventually scaled back ... from the initial scope that I intended for this column, and the general thrust that it was launched with.]  

This is a feature where I will try to pick a game that was played in a recent event ... usually at the GM level. Then I will annotate it and try to basically explain what happened. ---> This column is aimed primarily at lower-rated players. (Say 1600 & below.) However, I normally do many hours of work and database searches, to insure that all bases are covered. Even the exalted Master class player might find this feature useful. It is my HOPE that any true chess enthusiast will enjoy my work, regardless of their rating.  

I hope that you enjoy this game ... feedback is both encouraged and welcome. (Please respect my copyright.) 


    Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols I commonly use - when annotating a chess game.     

    Click  HERE  to go to another server ... where you can search for this  game  in a "re-playable" format.    


  
  GM Peter Leko (2763) - GM Veselin Topalov (2788)  
 [B90] 
  The World Chess Championships  / DRR Tournament (WCh-FIDE)  
  San Luis, ARG; (Round No. One / R#1)28.09.2005.  

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  

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My "Game of The Month" for the period for November, 2005, (Cf. TWIC # 569.)  

 ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   

Unless you have been terribly busy, undoubtedly {by now} you have heard that Topalov won the (FIDE) World Chess Championships in San Luis, Argentina. (Sept. - Oct; 2005.)  [ The ChessBase story, with details, pictures, and links.]  

In the first half, Topalov scored a blistering 6.5/7 ... which also is one of the best Performance Ratings of all time ...   
especially at this level. (Perhaps only Fischer's 6-0 demolition of both Taimanov and Larsen ranks ahead of this feat.)  

Anyway, this game - being the start of Topalov's amazing run - cries out to be examined. Also - I have not really analyzed that many games by Topalov for my "Game of The Month" column, so it was definitely time to feature this player. (Congrats to GM V. Topalov, he IS the new world's champion, his play sets a standard that all other players can aspire to.)  


Note:  I make several references to the analysis by GM S. Shipov, the  link  can be found in the analysis after White's 20th move. 


 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 d6;  3.d4 cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Nf6;  5.Nc3 a6;  (Controls b5.)  
The Najdorf Variation.  

Others tried it before him, but it was ultimately Bobby Fischer who was responsible for making this system the respected opening line that it is today. (Another World Champion, GM Garry Kasparov, also used this opening - extensively - to win whenever he played the Black pieces.)  

     [ After the move of:  5...g6; {D?}  we have the Dragon Variation, which is not used much {today}  
       at the highest GM levels. (One happy exception would be the games of Anand - Kasparov; from    
       the World Championships in New York, in 1995.) ]   

 

 6.f3!?,  (Supports the center.)    
A super-modern move, that was once considered to be nearly worthless, or at least completely harmless.  

However, today this is not only played by the top players, it is also fully accepted and respected. 
(Generally, this is an indication that White wishes to play "The English Attack," where the first player plays  f3, Be3, Qd2. 
 Then the first player can choose between either g4, or the immediate 0-0-0. Another cool aspect is that this variation 
 can be played against almost any Sicilian set-up that the second player might choose.)   

I think that Leko's move order, (6.f3, and not 6.Be3); is a refinement of his opening repertoire. Apparently, Leko does not want to play the lines of 6.Be3, Ng4!?; as he used to play these lines as Black. With a small change in his move order, he completely eliminates any possibility of this particular line occurring in this game. (This is also good from a practical viewpoint - less time is spent studying the opening, as a professional player, you would not have to bother studying lines that had no chance of actually appearing in your game.)  

     [ For close to (or over) 30 years, the main line used to Bg5 here for White.  
       (It was featured in the World's Championship Match  in 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland ...  
        between  GM Robert J. ("Bobby") Fischer  and  GM Boris Spassky.)  

        A more current example would be:   
        6.Bg5 e67.f4 Be78.Qf3 Qc79.0-0-0 Nbd710.g4,  (wing pressure)  
        Originally - this was the main continuation for White. However, it was later supplanted by Bd3,   
        which was considered to be best {or the sharpest} for more than twenty years.  

        Now the wheel has turned full circle, and 10.g4 is once more considered to be the main line for White.   

       *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***   

             ( For the move of: 10.Bd3!?,  "+/="  {D?}  please see any good, opening reference   
               work like ECO or John Nunn's books on this opening.    

               For example,  [ See MCO-14, page # 250; columns # 10 and col. # 11, and all    
               appropriate notes for these lines. ] )   

       *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***     

        10...b511.Bxf6 Nxf612.g5 Nd713.f5!,  "+/="  
        White has a strong position. (Pressure ... and/or the initiative.)  

        I scoured the database, and there were literally hundred of examples.  
        The best one that I could find was:  

        GM Lembit Oll (2645) - GM Matthew Sadler (2665);    
        ICT / Masters Open / Koge, DEN; 1997.  (1-0, 64 moves.)     

        [ See MCO-14, page # 250; column # 07 and all corresponding notes for that column.   
          Especially see note # (f.). Also column # 08, and notes # (g. through i.) as well. ]   

        See also the excellent work:  "The Complete Najdorf, 6.Bg5,"  by  GM John Nunn. (Chapter # 01)    
        First published by Batsford in 1996, and then reprinted in the U.S. (1997)  by  I.C.E. ISBN: # 1-879479-45-1  
        (This book is already a little dated, however it is still one of the best manuals available on this opening.  
         It is a MUST for all serious students and aspiring masters who wish to try their hand at this complex   
         and difficult opening system!)  

   **************************************************************************************   

        Normally, the move Be3 and the move f3 on move six are nearly interchangeable, but not always.   

        For the continuation of:   
        6.Be3 e67.g4 e5!?;    See the amazing  GM fight J. Polgar - R. Kasimdzhanov;   
        (FIDE) World Championship Tournament / San Luis, ARG; 2005.  (1-0)   

        If you have ChessBase, (or Fritz) make sure you download ...   
        "The Games Considered" file,  by clicking on the link in the first box at the top of the page.   
        (This game is THOROUGHLY annotated!) ]   

 

 6...e6;  (Hits d5 / blocks in the QB.)  
A permanent commitment - for the second player - about what he plans to do about the center. {long-term}  
(Black can play either ...e6; or ...e5; or delay this decision for the foreseeable future.)  

Nowadays, perhaps in imitation of players like Garry Kasparov, the highest-rated GM's almost invariably choose 6...e6; in this position.  

     [ Black can also try:  ("=") 6...e5!?7.Nb3 Be68.Be3 Be79.Qd2 0-0;  
         10.0-0-0, "+/="  10...Nbd7;   but White maintains a small edge, with the better position.    
        (A little more space and the first player also controls d5.)  

       See the GM contest:   Peter Leko - Peter Svidler   
       ICT / Masters (Corus "A") / Wijk ann Zee, NED; 2005.  (57)   
       (White won an interesting game, 1-0, in fifty-seven total moves.}  

    ****************************************************************  

       Not to be recommended would be:  (</=)  6...g6!?('?!')  7.Be3,  "+/="   {D?}  
       as Black could be just a tempo down in all the key variants of the Yugoslav Attack   
       of the Sicilian Dragon. (The move ...a7-a6; is not necessary in many of the main   
       lines and key variations.)  

       A good example would be:  
       GM Mohammed Al Modiahki (2570) - IM Simon Williams (2461)  
       ICT / Masters / ACT Open (R6) / Amsterdam, NED; 2005.  (1-0, 33 moves.) ]   

 

White can play many different tries here, but his next move is a key part of his whole opening plan.  
 7.Be3 b5!?;  [space + wing attack]    
An extremely sharp advance, that is also a little bit risky. 
(Apparently GM V. Topalov is not adverse to taking a few chances in this tournament.)  

     [ Perhaps a little safer would be:   
       (>/=) 7...Nbd78.Qd2 Qc79.g4 h610.0-0-0, "+/="  10...b5;  "~"   
       when White has a slight edge, but Black has reasonable play.   

       GM J. Speelman - GM A. Sokolov/ ICT / World Cup  
       Belfort, FRA; 1988.  (1/2)   {A tough draw in forty moves.} ]   

 

 8.Qd2!?,  (Maybe - '!')     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
This move is considered by many to be the most accurate try for White (in this position).    

 

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I think  8.g4  is perfectly playable, but it has received a few setbacks as of late. ("8.Qd2!" - GM Sergey Shipov.)  

     [ Veselin has also played against 8.g4, and not without some measure of success.   

        For example:  8.g4 h6!?9.Qd2 b4!?10.Na4 Nbd711.0-0-0!? Ne5   
        This is good for Black, as was the move, 11...Qa5.  

        12.Qxb4!? Bd713.Nb3? Rb814.Qa3?! Nxf315.h3 Nxe416.Be2 Ne5!;  
        17.Rhe1 Qc718.Bd4 Nc619.Bc3!? d520.Nbc5 Qa7;  ("-/+")  0-1   
        GM Vladimir Kramnik (2754) - GM Veselin Topalov (2757);  
        ICT / Masters (CORUS "A") / Wijk aan Zee, NED; (R2)  / 16,01,2005.    

   ********************************************************************   

        White can also play the precautionary move of a3, and avoid any time-loss or   
         embarrassment of his Knight.  

        For example:  8.a3!? Bb79.Qd2 Nbd710.g4 h611.0-0-0,  "~"   ("+/=")     
        when White might have a small edge in this position ... but if the first player does have   
        an advantage, it is a very minimal one.  

        GM Peter Leko - GM Loek van Wely;  / ICT / Masters (CORUS)  
        Wijk aan Zee, NED; 2000.  {Drawn, 1/2, in 28 total moves.} ]  

 

 8...b4;  ('!' or '!?')  -- tempo   
This gains time and immediately displaces White's Queen Knight as well.  
(Although the hanging button on b4 could be something of a liability.)  

     [ By playing 8...Nbd7 here, Black would transpose back to the (older) main lines.  

        For example:   "="  8...Nbd79.g4 h610.0-0-0, "+/="   
        10...Bb7;  "<=>"  (Q-side)  {Diagram?}    
        with good play for both parties.  

     *** *** *** *** ***   *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***   *** *** *** *** 

        One of the best examples in the games db, with both of the participants being    
        top-rated GM's, would have to be:   

        GM V. Anand (2781) - GM G. Kasparov (2812);  / ICT / 16th Super-GM    
        / R # 10
/ Linares, ESP; 1999.  (1/2, 50 mvs.)  {A tough draw in fifty moves.}   

        [ See (also) Informant, # 75, and game # 210. ] ]   

 

 9.Na4,  ('!' - GM Sergey Shipov)    
It looks strange to purposely place a Knight on the edge of the board like this ... 
(Obviously - Nb1 is not even a move that falls under any serious consideration by White.)  

     [ However, after the moves:    
       (</=)  9.Nce2!? e5!10.Nb3, "~"  "+/="  (etc.)   
       Black should have no real problems from this position.  
       (At least this is the judgment of current opening theory.)   

       GM V. Kramnik (2753) - GM  V. Topalov (2778); / ICT / The M-Tel Masters   
        / Sofia, BUL
; / (R #10), 12,05,2005.(0-1, 34 moves.)  
       {Black won a sharp game in a total of just thirty-four moves.}   

   ****************************************************************   

        Fritz also finds the continuation:   
        (</=)  9.Nd1!? e510.Nb3 d5!;  "~"   {Diagram?}  
        when Black seems to have no real problems, and may    
        have already equalized ("=") here. ]   

 

 9...Nbd7;  ('!' or '!?')   
Topalov gambits a Pawn, if White takes the button, Black seems to have no problem generating any counterplay. This idea is relatively new to opening theory, the games database indicates that Black would normally play 9...d5; in this position. 

     [ But not:  </=  9...a5?10.Nb5, ''  {Diag?}   
        as White already has a very powerful initiative. ]  

 

 10.0-0-0,  (King Safety)  (TN?)     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
Castling here is good, and is in keeping with standard, accepted opening principles. However, moves like c4 or Bd3 were (also) worth some thought.  

 

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Believe it or not ... as best as I can determine ... this very logical move is brand-new to opening theory.  

     [ But definitely not:  
       </=  10.Qxb4?! d511.Qd2 dxe4;  "<=>"   
       as White's center has begun to crumble, this cannot be the way  
       for the first player to maintain an advantage out of the opening. ]  

 

 10...d5!?;     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
Normally it is good to break in the center, however here Black is just a tad under-developed, so there is a certain amount of risk connected to this move here.  

 

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  r1bqkb1r/3n1ppp/p3pn2/3p4/Np1NP3/4BP2/PPPQ2PP/2KR1B1R w  

 

This is definitely a key position - for both players - for the opening phase of the game.  

     [ Interesting was:  10...Qa5 in this position for Black. ("~" or "=/+") ]  

 

 11.exd5,  ('!' - GM S. Shipov.)   
At first glance, this seems like the indicated move. However, Fritz found another continuation that I thought might be playable.  

     [ After the continuation:  11.Nb3!? Qc7!?;  "~"  (Maybe - "=/+")   
       both sides have many paths to explore from here. ]   

 

 11...Nxd5;  12.Bc4,  (Threat?)   
White develops a piece, and tries to increase the pressure.  
(If Black ignores White's last move, White will play BxN/d5, giving Black a very weak, isolated QP.)  

     [ Also possible was:  12.Nb3,  focusing on the c5-square.  
       (This move is the first choice of several different chess programs, and it   
        also makes a certain amount of sense, certainly it was worth a look.) ]  

 

 12...N7f6;  13.Bg5 Qc7;   
Black escapes the pin ... and hits the Bishop on the c4-square here.  

 14.Bxd5,  (Giving up the cleric?)   
In order not to lose a tempo, White simply exchanges off the Bishop in this position. 
(Maybe Bb3 was playable for White in this position.)  

     [ But not:   
       </=  14.Qe2?! h6; 15.Bh4 Nf416.Qf1 Bd7;  "=/+"   
       when Black already might have an advantage in this position. ]  

 

 14...Nxd5;  15.Rhe1 Bb7;    {See the diagram given, just below.}     
Thus far, all of Black's moves have been harmonious. 
(White's moves have not been bad, either.)  

 

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  r3kb1r/1bq2ppp/p3p3/3n2B1/Np1N4/5P2/PPPQ2PP/2KRR3 w  

 

This is a good place to stop, and try to assess this position.  

    *** *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** *** ***     

After White's next move, the opening tension has reached a crucial apex. 
(White's next move is also the most energetic, and it also received an exclam in several newspaper columns, as well as from GM S. Shipov.)  
 16.Qe2! Qd6!?(Is this best?)   
Black protects the e6-square, but Fritz also wants to look at  16...Qc8;  in this position.  

     [ But definitely not:   
       </=  16...h6?; ('??')  17.Nxe6! fxe618.Qxe6+ Be719.Bxe7!,    
       This wins for White, as does the move of RxN/d5.   

            ( White also wins with:  (</=)    
               19.Rxd5!? Bxd5;  20.Qg6+ Bf7;  21.Rxe7+! Qxe7;  22.Qc6+,  etc.   
               ("+/-")  with an obvious advantage. {The Rook on a8 falls with check.} )     

       19...Nxe7(Looks forced.)   
        No choice here, if you play  19...QxB/e7?;  then simply  20.Qg6+,  and bye-bye BQ.   

       20.Nb6! Rd8;  (forced?)   
       This appears to be the only move for Black, if  20...Rc8!?;  then simply  21.Qd7+!,   
       will carry the day for White.    

       21.Rxd8+ Qxd8(Probably forced.)  22.Rd1 Qc723.Rd7 Qf4+!?;   
       Seemingly a reasonable try, the only alternative was for Black to surrender the Queen    
       at this point. (Which is also hopeless.)   

       24.Kb1 Qf625.Rd8+!,   "+/-"   and mate on d7 next move. ]   

 

 17.Kb1,  (Getting of the c-file.)     
Before beginning prolonged operations against Black, Leko first wants his King on a slightly safer square here.   
(One writer stated {that he thought} that this move is very much in keeping with GM Leko's style of play - and I concur.)   

     [ Also worth looking at was Fritz's choice of:  17.f4!? with the idea an immediate f4-f5. 
       (White tries to crack open lines as quickly as possible while Black's King remains in the   
         middle of the board.) ]   

 

 17...h6;  18.Bh4 Nf4;  (Hits the WQ.)    
This is good, and a natural response to White's last move, which left the f4-square unprotected.   

     [ After the moves:  (</=)     
       18...Rc8!?; ('?!')  19.Bg3 Qe720.Nf5! Qf621.Nd6+ Bxd622.Bxd6,  "+/="   
        Black may experience some problems - because his King is trapped in the center. ]   

 

 19.Qf2 Qc7?!;   (Maybe - '?')    {See the diagram given, just below.}   
At first, this seems to be a perfectly normal play for Black in this position.  

However, this move is an error, (albeit a seemingly slight miscue); and one that could have cost GM Topalov the game ... 
although the refutation is not easy to find, and has many deep, and well-hidden aspects to it.  

 

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Just about every program that I tested this game on saw a fairly large jump in the scores of the evaluations of the positions after Black's nineteenth move. Additionally, the boxes were pretty much united in their 'opinion' that 19...Nd5 was forced for Black.  

 

     [ Black should have probably tried:    
       >/=  19...Nd5[]; ('!')   20.Qe2!?,  "+/="   
       White can also try Nf5 or Bg3 in this position.    

            (Also good was:  20.Bg3 Qd8;  21.Qe2, "+/="  with a small edge for White.)    

       20...Rc8;  "~"   when White still might be better, but Black has chances to defend.   
       (In any case, this was much better than what occurred in the game!) ]  

 

 20.Nf5?!,   (Maybe even - '?')    
Missing a golden opportunity.  

     [ White had a chance for a brilliancy here with Nb6!!   

       For example:  >/=  20.Nb6!! Rb8(Forced?)   
       There might not be anything better here for Black.   

           ( </= 20...Qxb6?; 21.Nxe6! Qxe6!?; 22.Qa7!!, ("+/-") - GM S. Shipov )   

       21.Nf5 Bc6  
       Otherwise, Rd7 is next.   

       22.Qd4! Rg8  
       This looks forced.   

                                                             ****************   

           ( Or 22...Ng6;  23.Bg3 Qxb6;  24.Qxb6 Rxb6;  25.Bc7,  "+/-"    
             Analysis by - GM S. Shipov. (http://www.chesspro.ru/events/sanluis05-1en.shtml) )    

            (Not  </= 22...Qxb6??;  23.Qxb6 Rxb6;  24.Rd8#.)  {A.J.G.}  

                                                             ****************   

       23.Nc4,   
       Gaining control of d6.  

           (Also possible was:  23.Bg3!?,  in this position for White.)   

       23...g524.Bg3 b3!?;   
       Fritz's "wiggle" move, Shipov (instead) gives the immediate move of  ...Rd8  here.   

           (Or 24...Ba4!?; 25.b3 Bc6; 26.Bxf4 gxf4; 27.Qf6!,  "--->"  - ChessMaster, 10th Ed.)    

       25.axb3 Rd826.Qf6!!,  (best)  
       The most accurate move here.   

           ( GM S. Shipov  gives instead: 26.Ncd6+!?,  (in a similar position)   
             which also should win for White. (See the link given just above.) )      

       26...Rxd1+;   
       This (also) looks to be forced for Black.   

           ( </=  26...Be7?;  27.Ng7+,  etc. )   

       27.Rxd1 Bd5;   
       This appears forced.   

           ( </=  27...exf5?28.Bxf4 gxf4!?29.Ne5,  "--->"  ("+/-")   '+11.47' - Fritz   
             when White's threats cannot be defended against. 

                  (Perhaps the typical line that my friends try here is:     
                   29...Bd5!?; 30.Rxd5, Rg6?!;   
                   {Fritz tries  30...Bd6;  here - but this is only "give-away."}   
                    31.Rd8+!  with mate (on f7) next move. )   )    

       28.Nce3 Bb729.Nxh6 Bxh6   
       This looks forced, in any case, the other move  (29...Rg7),  looked    
       far too clumsy to be considered as a realistic alternative here.   

       30.Qxh6 Ke7!?31.Ng4! Rg632.Bxf4! gxf4[]33.Qh4+ Ke8[];    
       This is definitely forced. 
       (If 33...Kf8??;  then  34.Rd8+. And if 34...Kg7??;  then 35.Qh8# would be mate.)   

       34.Nf6+ Rxf6[];  (No choice.)  
       This is definitely forced, if  34...Kf8?;  then  35.Rd7,  was a resignable position for Black. 
       ("+/-"  The threat is now simply  Qh8+, and mate next move.)   
       And  34...Ke7??;  35.Nd5+,  drops the second player's Queen.  

       35.Qxf6,  "+/-"   White wins the exchange ... AND the attack continues. 
       (This actually represents a fairly substantial improvement over the continuation   
         suggested by GM A. Shipov ... and others. Now if  35...Bd5;  then  36.Rd4.) ]   

 

The next couple of moves appear to be forced (or best) for both sides.   
 20...g5;  21.Bg3 Rc8;  22.Qd4!?,  (hmmm)     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
This looks natural, and immediately attacks the Black Rook on the h8-square here.   

 

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  2r1kb1r/1bq2p2/p3p2p/5Np1/Np1Q1n2/5PB1/PPP3PP/1K1RR3 b  

 

The tension in the position is rapidly building to a second crescendo.  

     [ The boxes want to look at:  22.Rd2!?; "+/="  or even the odd-looking  22.Ka1!?,  "~"   in this position for White. ]   

 

 22...Rg8;  (Box.)   
This is forced, 22...Rh7 was way too awkward to be a serious candidate move for Black.  

     [ Definitely not:   
       </=  22...Qxc2+??as after the simple move of:  23.Ka1,  "+/-"   
       Black can NOT simultaneously defend against two threats here.    
       (Qd7 mate, and also QxR/h8.) ]   

 

 23.c3?,  (Ugh!)  [>/= 23.Qd2.]     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
There is no doubt in my mind that this is an error, now White is forced into an endgame that is inferior for him. 
- Further, White gets busted pawns and Black's two Bishops could definitely be a factor as well.  

 

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  2r1kbr1/1bq2p2/p3p2p/5Np1/Np1Q1n2/2P2PB1/PP4PP/1K1RR3 b  

 

Just about anything was better than this. 
(All the programs notice a huge jump in their scores of the position after this move. '?' - GM S. Shipov.)  

     [ >/=  23.Qf2 h5!?; "~" ]   

 

Black's next move is thematic.
(Material is forced off the board, Topalov relieves the pressure, and ... goes right into an ending.)  
 23...Rd8; ('!')   24.Qxd8+[]  
Now White has no choice.  

     [ But definitely not:  
       </=  24.Qe3? Bc625.Nb6 bxc326.Rc1 Bb4;  "/+"     
      
when Black is better. ]  

 

The next few moves are all pretty much forced.   
 24...Qxd8;  25.Rxd8+ Kxd8;   
Black - despite not having castled - experiences a sudden change of fortune, and is doing well.  

 

Now that the e-pawn is no longer pinned, White must save the Knight on the f5-square here.  
 26.Ne3 Bc6;  (The most active.)    {See the diagram given, just below.}   
Black's Bishops, which have not been much of a factor thus far in the game, now prove decisive. 
Meanwhile, White's Knight on the edge of the board now finds itself in dire straits. (Maybe - '!')  

 

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This would be a good place to take a look at the game ... and try to figure out what is happening here.  

 27.Nb6[],  (Forced.)   
Not much choice here for White.  

     [ But not the very gross:  
       </=  27.b3? Bxa428.bxa4 bxc329.Kc2 Bg7;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+")  
       when Black is probably winning. ]   

 

 27...bxc3;  28.bxc3 Bg7;  29.Bxf4!?,  (Probably - '?!')    
I hate to kick a good man when he is down, but this looks like a bad choice ... for a number of reasons.   
[ # 1.)  White surrenders his last Bishop here. (The Black pair of Bishops now becomes a truly awesome duo.)  
  # 2.)  White opens the g-file for the Black Rook on g8.  
  # 3.)  The Knight on e3 loses even more time ... and is also (now) driven to a really bad square. ]   

     [ (>/=) 29.Kc2 Kc730.Nec4 h5;  "=/+" ]   

 

 29...gxf4;  30.Nd1 Bb5!;   
This traps the Knight on b6, now if a4 or c4 - if Black chooses to do so - he could win a Pawn with the simple play, ...Kc7.   

 31.a4!?,  (hmmm)   
White's game is entering the last dying contortions, the remainder of the game is almost too painful for me to watch. 
(Except - in my role as annotator - I am not allowed to avert my gaze!)   

White's Knights are clumsy pieces in this position  ... and  "step on each others' toes"  ...  
 if you will allow this general, if imprecise, analogy.  

     [ Maybe a little better was:   
       (>/=)  31.c4 Be8! 32.Re2 Kc7;  etc.   ("-/+")  
       (But Black should have no real problems gaining the full point.) ]   

 

The next few moves are all pretty much best or forced.   
 31...Bd3+;  32.Kc1 Kc7;  33.a5 Bh8;  (Why this move?)    
This move continues the attack on the c3-pawn, while clearing the g-file ... 
 so that the Black Rook now attacks the WP on the g2-square.
(This is the safest square for the Bishop, but Fritz's 33...Bf6; was also quite good for Black as well.)  

 

 34.Kd2 Bb5;  35.Rg1 Bc6;   
Now the threat is ...BxP/f3; taking advantage of the pin on the file.   

White chooses a move that protects the f-pawn, if Leko starts letting go of a bunch of buttons,  
then he may as well tender his resignation here. (Fritz recommends 36.Nf2, instead.)   
 36.Ke2 Be5!?;   
This is OK ... (but)  

     [ The move of   >/=  36...Rg5!;  "-/+"   {D?}  
       looks like a definite improvement for Black. ]   

 

 37.c4!?,  (hmmm)     {See the diagram given, just below.}   
I see no point in criticizing White's moves at this point ... Peter Leko is dead lost, and  nothing  is going to change that.  

 

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White's once proud position ... has basically been reduced to rubble.  

     [ Maybe slightly better was:   
       (>/=)  37.Nc4 Bf6!?38.Nd2 Rg5!39.Ne4 Bxe440.fxe4 Rxa5;  "-/+"  
       (41.Rf1, Be5; etc.)  although I am sure that Topalov would still have won without   
        too much difficulty from this position. ]   

 

Now the move of  37...Rg5  is the first choice of  Fritz 8.0  here.  

 37...Bd4;  38.Nf2 Bc3!?;  (hmmm)   
This is good, (enough); although the move of  >/= 38...Rg5!; (again) is probably the most precise play for Topalov in this position.  
(I watched this game on the Internet, Black was pretty short of time at this point in the struggle.)  

As the computer clearly shows, if Black wanted to play his Bishop to attack the a5-square, he had to avoid the c-file. 
  (E.g.,  >/= 38...Bc5;  with the idea of  39...B/c5-b4. "-/+")  

 

 39.Ne4?!,  (Really ... probably - '?')   
Normally - my policy is that once a player has a lost game, that I don't criticize how they choose to end their suffering or comment on minor mis-steps in their play. However, here the difference between this move (and the correct one) is simply too great to ignore. (At least three points, according to both Fritz and Shredder.)  

Another thing to consider, is that a tricky tactic might create some badly needed counterplay, especially in the confusion of a time scramble. However, precisely because Leko was short of time here may have been the reason that he did not find the best defense. 

     [ Best for White was:  >/=  39.Rc1!;  "<=>"  {Diag?}  but Black should still prevail. ("-/+") 

       {The Rook move is a preface to the idea of  Nd5+!, PxNPxP/d5,  winning the Bishop on c6.   
         Black must play cautiously to prevent concept this from becoming a reality and causing a    
         major stumbling block on the road to the win.} ]  

 

 39...Bxa5;  40.c5!?,   [ Best ... or an error?  ('?') ]    
Seemingly the simplest, and the last move of the time control.  

 

     [ Fritz recommends (instead) the following continuation:   
       (>/=)  40.Na4 Bxa441.Ra1 Rxg2+42.Kf1 Rxh243.Rxa4 Kb6   
        and Black should still win. ("-/+") 

        {However, the difference between this line and the one chosen in the  
         game is nearly two full points ... so maybe there is something to this.} ]  

 

 40...f5!;  "-/+"  (- 4.31,  Fritz 8.0)    (White Resigns, 0-1)    {Final diagram ... just below.}    
A well-played ending by Topalov, although there are aspects of this contest that are obviously far from being perfect. 
(A game to keep the analysts busy for many years to come? Probably so!)   

 

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And while this amazing first-round struggle might be far from perfect, I find it the perfect representative of Topalov's play in this event. Daring, gutsy, and - at times - even a little bit gritty. Yet magnificent, bold ... and fighting down to the last Pawn!! (This is how Topalov played nearly every game in this event.)  

Make sure to read the excellent story of this round on the CB website

A hearty hurrah ... and three cheers for the new World Champion ... GM Veselin Topalov!!!!!!!!!!   

 

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2005.  All rights reserved.  

 

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  •  The chess analysis for this feature was prepared with the excellent  programsChessBase 8.0 and ChessBase 9.0[purchase]   

  •  The HTML was generated and refined with several different programs ... then polished for this page with  MS FrontPage.  

  •  The diagrams for this column were prepared with the excellent little program,  Chess Captor 2.25.  


Further Study:  Game #1,  Game #2,  Game # 3, etc.  


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  This page was first posted on:  Monday; November 14th, 2005.    This page was last updated on 03/18/15 .  


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