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  GM Veselin Topalov (2804) - GM Gata Kamsky (2671);  
  ICT, 2nd MTel Masters  
  Sofia, BUL; (R5) / 11,05,2006.  

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  [A.J. Goldsby I]  


This is a supplemental game for January, 2006. (The lines where Black plays an early ... a7-a6.) 

Here is a wonderful game by Topalov ... he clearly shows why he is the World Champion and the best player in the world.  

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

{The ratings have been verified against the most current rating list ... on the FIDE website.}   
 1.d4 d5;  2.c4 c6;  3.Nf3 Nf6;  4.Nc3 a6!?;   {See the diagram given, just below here.}  
Everyone (else) is doing it ...   
(Editor's note: In a search of my  "TWIC"  database, I found nearly 200 games with this position ... 
 with dozens of "GM-versus-GM" examples.)  


gotm_sg01-jan-06_p1.gif, 10 KB

  rnbqkb1r/1p2pppp/p1p2n2/3p4/2PP4/2N2N2/PP2PPPP/R1BQKB1R w  


Apparently Kamsky has not been completed isolated from chess, and seems to be aware of the trends in many different opening systems. 

This line is so new, that many books only make reference to it as a small note to one of the sub-variations. 
{Some volumes do not even mention this particular system al all!!!} 

To supplement my knowledge of these extremely complex variants, I purchased the 2003 book on this system, "The ...a6 Slav," by GM Glenn Flear. (This book is completely devoted to the analysis of the dynamic lines where Black plays an early Pawn advance of ...a7-a6; on either move four through move six.)   


     [ Black can also play:  ("=") 4...e65.e3 a6;  etc.  (Often times, this is just a    
        transposition to the game, although normally when Black plays an early ...e7-e6;   
        the second player will forego any attempt at a King-side fianchetto, as the dark   
        squares on the king-side have been left unprotected.) ]  


One of the main lines, White tries to keep Black from winning a tempo, (e.g. ...cxd5; to be followed by ...b7-b5); and also focus on the b6-square. {In addition, the first player often times uses this line to avoid the early ...b7-b5; thrust that often gives Black a good game.} 

For a more complete analysis of this opening, please see the main game (& column) for the month of January, 2006. 

     [ Another weird line would be:  5.e3 b5!?6.b3,  "+/="   {Diagram?} 
        when White probably has a slight plus in this position.   

        GM Krishnan Sasikiran (2654)GM Konstantin Sakaev (2655)  
        ICT, 25th Politiken Cup / Copenhagen, DEN; (R#9) / 14,07,2003.  (1-0, 27 moves.)  


       A reliable openings book gives the following continuation here:   
       5.Bg5!?  {Diagram?}   
       GM Nick de Firmian gave this play an exclam, ('!') yet modern master practice   
       seems to have passed this move by ... in favor of other lines. 
       (See 5.Bf4, as in this game.)  

       5...Ne46.Bf4 Nxc37.bxc3 dxc48.g3 g6!?  An ambitious variation.   

            ( Another idea is:  8...b5!?;  with a strange Pawn formation    
               for Black, but the second player as won a few games in this line.    
               {See MCO-14 for more details.} )    

       9.Bg2 Bg710.Ne5 Be611.Qb1! Qc812.a4,  "~"   
       White has good play here, and won a nice game in under forty moves.  ("+/=" - MCO)   

       GM V. Anand - GM A. Shirov; / ICT, Masters (Round # 2) / Dos Hermanas, ESP; 1997.   

       [ See MCO-14, page # 475; columns # 49, {through #54}; and especially see note # (a.)   
         as concerns this continuation. ]  ]   


This is the most popular move here, according to the database, it is also the most flexible.   

Black has also played 5...Bg4, (which is strongly met by the shot 6.Ne5!); and also the other main try is 5...Bf5 here. 
(See ECO or a CD-ROM {on this opening} for more information on these lines.)   


The main line here ... but just about any move is playable.  


     [ Also good was:  6.g3, "+/="  here. ]   


 6...Nh5;  (hmmm, maybe - '!?')    
Black cannot allow the White's Bishop to stay on this key line.  
{Or at least, that is the rationale behind this move.}  

This is - also - the most popular move (for Black) at this point, at least this is what the statistics of the database indicates. 

     [ Black has also tried:  (</=)  6...e6!?7.Qc2 Be78.h3 0-09.e3, "+/="  
       and White had a very solid edge in this particular position.   

       Yuri Shulman (2525) - Patrik Lyrberg (2425); / Minsk, RUS; (R9) / 1996.  
       {White won a relatively quick game, 1-0 on only 28 moves.} ]   


 7.Bd2,  (Maybe - '!')  
This is (now) the main line at the highest level, and seems to have replaced all other tries (for White)  - 
 after 6...Nh5.  

     [ White has also played 7.Bg5, but this line has not been all that successful -   
       judging by the results of the games in this system that are in the database.  

       For example:  
       7.Bg5!? h68.Bd2 Qc79.e4!? dxe410.Nxe4 Ndf611.Nc3,  "+/="  (space)  
       White has a slight edge in this position, but Black went on to win a very   
       nice game.  (0-1 in 38 moves.)  

       GM K. Sasikiran - GM G. Kasparov; / The FIDE (men's) Olympiad (tt) 
        / Bled, Slovenia; (SLO) / 2002.  

        [ See also the book:  "The ...a6 Slav,"  by  GM G. FlearChapter Three, on 5.c5!?    
          Pages # 46 through page # 67. Especially see game no. # 24, Eingorn - Zagrebelny;   
          {Drawn.} / Oberwart, 1994. {Pg. # 52.} ] ]   


 7...Nhf6;  8.Rc1 g6!?;   
This is the only move that the Black has tried ... according to the database, but I am not sure that the second player has time for this. (Maybe 8...Qc7 here?)   

     [ The move of 8...e5 looks like a very reasonable idea, yet in the following contest,   
        Black failed to solve all of his opening problems:  8...e5!?9.Nxe5 Nxe5;    
        10.dxe5 Ng4!?11.Na4! Nxe512.Bc3,  "+/="   12...f6!?;  {Diagram?}   
         White has a very slight advantage, and yet the first player went on to win    
         an impressive and a creative game of chess.  

         GM V. Topalov - GM E. Bacrot; / ICT, M-Tel Masters / (Round # 10)   
         Sofia, BUL; 2006.  (1-0, 42 moves.)    

         Note:  this game will be annotated ... in some depth ...   
         for my May lesson on the WCA website. ]   


 9.h3 Qc7!?;  (Maybe - '?!')    
Now this looks wishy-washy, maybe Black should just go ahead with the plan to fianchetto his KB and play 9...Bg7.  


Now White figures to win a tempo off the Black Queen on c7. 
 10.g3! Bg7;  11.Bf4 Qd8;  12.Bg2,   {See the diagram given - just below.}  
This is cool, but I would have been tempted to play 12.g4!? here - so White can maintain his Bishop on the h2-to-b8 diagonal.  


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  r1bqk2r/1p1nppbp/p1p2np1/2Pp4/3P1B2/2N2NPP/PP2PPB1/2RQK2R b  


This is the current situation ... that we have on the chess board. 



 12...Nh5;  (The second time.)   
Shall we dance?   


 13.Bg5 h6;  14.Bd2 0-0;  15.e4,  ('!?' ... maybe - '!')   
White decides to get this break in immediately.   

     [ Also good was: 15.0-0, "+/="  here. ]   


 15...dxe4;  16.Nxe4 Nhf6;  17.Nc3,  ('!')    
Of course White does not wish to trade pieces in this position.   
(Any exchanges only help Black.)   


     [ 17.Nxf6+!? Nxf618.0-0 Be6;  "=" ]   



 17...Re8;  18.0-0 Nf8;  19.Qb3 Ne6;  20.Be3 Nc7;  21.Ne5, ('!')    {See the diagram below.}   
Of course the world champion knows the value of an outpost.   



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  r1bqr1k1/1pn1ppb1/p1p2npp/2P1N3/3P4/1QN1B1PP/PP3PB1/2R2RK1 b  


White has a weak and backward d-pawn, the d5-point is also a gaping hole, that Black's pieces can take advantage of. (Yet in this contest, Kamsky is kept busy and off-balance ... and never finds the necessary time to even thing about attacking White's pawn on d4.) 

     [ Or 21.Bf4 Nb5; 22.Rfd1 Be6; "~" ]   


 21...Nfd5;  22.Nxd5 Nxd5;  23.Bd2!,  (Oscillating Bishop.)   {See the diagram given - just below.}   
Once more, Topalov knows that keeping control of the dark squares (and keeping Black cramped) ...  
is more important than the possible loss of the tempo here.   


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  r1bqr1k1/1p2ppb1/p1p3pp/2PnN3/3P4/1Q4PP/PP1B1PB1/2R2RK1 b  


This is the current state of things on the chessboard.  

     [ Also good was:  23.Rfe1, "+/="  with a solid edge for White. ]  


 23...Bxe5?!;  (Probably just - '?')   
This is insane ... how does Kamsky expect to cover all the key points (and his King!) on his left flank without this key piece? {Practically any move would have been better, 23...a5; looked like it was worth a look here.}  

I said at the club that ... "Black is already strategically lost at this point." 
(Of course, proving the win is far from being easy!!)  


 24.dxe5 h5!?;  25.Rfe1 Qc7;  26.e6!!,  {Diagram given - just below.}   
White is done messing around, and decides to go ahead and sack an exchange.   


gotm_sg01-jan-06_p5.gif, 09 KB

  r1b1r1k1/1pq1pp2/p1p1P1p1/2Pn3p/8/1Q4PP/PP1B1PB1/2R1R1K1 b  


Topalov will now breach the ramparts around Kamsky's King, taking his home and castle by force.  

     [ Fritz prefers  26.Qa4, ''  in this position. ]   


This looks forced, taking with the Pawn is refuted by simply Qd3.  


Now after the sacrifice on e6, the target is the g6-square.  
 27.Rxe6! fxe6;  28.Re1 Qd7;  29.Qd3 Kh7;  30.Re5!,    
Now White threatens taking on h5 with the Rook. (Other tries were not nearly as effective.)  


Absolutely forced. 

     [ If  </= 30...Kg7?;  then  31.Rg5  is completely decisive ("+/-") here. ]   


 31.Qe3, ('!')  {See the diagram given, just below.}   
The WQ says "hello" to the BK.   


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  r3r3/1p1qp2k/p1p1pnp1/2P1R2p/8/4Q1PP/PP1B1PB1/6K1 b  


'Betcha that Kamsky is now having second thoughts about having surrendered his dark-squared Bishop.  

     [ Premature would have been:  
        </=  31.Rxh5+!? Kg732.Qxd7 Nxd733.Rg5, "~"   
        when White will struggle to draw. ]  


 31...Kg7;  32.Be4!,  
I like this ... its the most flexible. 
(White can always throw in Qh6+ a little later. Of course, 32.Qh6+ Kf7[];  33.Be4,   
  will transpose back to the game.)  


This might be forced.   

     [ Or Black could try:  32...Rh8!?33.Bc2 Kf734.Rxe6!, "+/="  ("--->")  
       but White has a powerful attack. ]  


This is almost surely best, Black does not ever get a second chance at trading off this key piece. 

     [ If White had played  </= 33.Qh6!?,  ("+/=")  then  33...Rg8;  might hold. ]   


 33...Rad8;   {See the diagram given below.}   
Black (almost) seems to be holding here, right now it looks as if Black is about to grab the Bishop on d2.   


gotm_sg01-jan-06_p7.gif, 09 KB

  3rr3/1p1qpk2/p1p1pnp1/2P1R2p/8/4Q1PP/PPBB1P2/6K1 w  


Now would be a good time to take a few minutes, and study the current situation on the chessboard.  


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

It is White to move here ... do you care to try and guess what move White will play? 
 34.Qh6!!  {See the diagram given here ... just below.}  
At first this just appears to drop a piece.   


gotm_sg01-jan-06_p8.gif, 09 KB

  3rr3/1p1qpk2/p1p1pnpQ/2P1R2p/8/6PP/PPBB1P2/6K1 b  


We went over this game at our local club, it took more than a few minutes to try and figure out what happens if Black captures on d2. 

     [ Or  34.Ba5!? Qd4; 35.Qg5,  "" ]  


 34...Rg8[];  (Box.)   
Black must play this. 

     [ After the moves:  </=  34...Qxd2?35.Bxg6+ Kg836.Rg5, "+/-"   
       the defenses of Black's King have been overrun. ]   


 35.Ba5 Qd4!?;   
Kamsky is trying ...   

     [ After the moves:  
       (>/=)  35...Rg736.Bxd8 Qxd837.Bb3 Nd538.Rxe6,  "+/-"   
       Black is also lost. ]   


 36.Bc3! Qc4;   
Believe it or not, this move is probably forced.   

     [ Or  </=  36...Qd7?!37.Rg5,  "+/-" ]   


 37.Bb3 Qd3;  38.Bxe6+ Ke8;  39.Kg2!!,   {See the diagram ... just below.}  
Another fine move ... in many lines, Black has a form of defense with a check on White's first row.  
(If the first party should - say, capture the Rook on g8 at this point.)   


gotm_sg01-jan-06_p9.gif, 09 KB

  3rk1r1/1p2p3/p1p1BnpQ/2P1R2p/8/2Bq2PP/PP3PK1/8 b  


Topalov's last move highlighted Kamsky's plight, Gata is almost without any useful moves now.  
(A near state of ZUGZWANG.) 


 39...Rf8;  40.Qg7 Rd5;  ('!?')   
Now Black is completely helpless. 
(Fritz wanted to surrender the BQ at this point - I would prefer to give my resignation instead.)  


Now its a problem, White to move and win in this position. 
 41.Bf5! Rf7;  ('?')   
And now Black will be mated. 
(Capturing on e5 was forced, at least according to the box.)  


 42.Rxe7+!,  "+/-"  Black Resigns.   
(I thought Black was just losing the Queen, Fritz shows that poor Kamsky cannot avoid mate from this position.) 

An impressive win by the FIDE Champion ... who demonstrated that he was not afraid to sacrifice material. 
(For more details, see the article,  


Note: I have seen this game annotated in many books and magazines of late, indicating what a good game this really is! 
(October 30th, 2006.)  


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2006. All rights reserved.  


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  • The chess analysis for this feature was prepared with the excellent  programs,  
     ChessBase 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.  

NOTE:  Every attempt has been made to make this game complete. All the sources, such as MCO, NCO, ECO, (etc.) have been checked. (Although this line is so new that many of my older Slav books hardly mention it.) 

I have carefully studied all the games that were quoted here, and I have meticulously searched the database - dozens, if not hundreds of times - to insure that I discovered ALL the meaningful matches in the database. (I skipped many of the games quoted in various references. Some are old games, some are by weaker players, I tried to give high priority to "GM-vs.-GM" contests, rather than look at those efforts of much lower rated players.)  

In short, this is a "state of the art" (mini) opening survey, and one that is current through 2006. June 8, 2006. {A.J.G.} 

  Further Study  

Click HERE to see the game, Topalov - Bacrot, from the M-Tel Masters tournament in Sofia, BUL; 2006.  
(Its the same opening line as this game.)  

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  This page was first posted on:  Monday;  June 5th, 2006.    ---->  The final format was completed on:  Wednesday;  June 07, 2006.      
  This page was last updated on:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015 09:10 PM .  

    COPYRIGHT (c) LM A.J. Goldsby I;    

    Copyright () A.J. Goldsby; 1985 - 2014. 

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