Saturday, February 21, 2009

[Event "Sofia match"]
[Date "2009.02.20"]
[Round "3"]
[White "GM Topalov"]
[Black "GM Kamsky"]
[White Elo "2796"]
[Black Elo "2725"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qb3 Topalov is mixing things up immediately. In game 1, Topalov played 4.cxd5 and the game continued with Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 O-O 10.O-O...

dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. Be2 a6 8. Bf4 b5 9. Qxc7
This could be an interesting line 9... Qxd4 10. Rd1 Qb4 11. Rd2 Nbd7 12. Be3 Rb8 +=

9. Qxc7 10. Bxc7 b4
This is another option 10... Bb7 11. f3 Rc8 12. Bf4 Nc6 13. e5 Nd7 14. Rd1 =

11. Na4 Nc6 12. d5
Nd4 Gata is doing much better in time today. In fact, he is slightly ahead in time. This is a major improvement over the first two games.

13.Bd3 Bd7 The most logical continuation for White here would be 14.Nb6. However, Black has a possible dynamic response 14...Bb5 15. Be5 Bxd3 16. Bxd4 Rab8 17. e5 Rxb6 18. Rd1 Nd7 19. Bxb6 Bb5 20. Bd4 +=. The more natural 14...Ra7 15.Be5 is not as good for Black.

14.Nb6 Time for Black to calculate all the critical line. This is the key make or break moment of the game.

14...Bb5 Once again, Gata found the strongest and most aggressive line. The good thing is he is not afraid to get into a complicated position. He is comfortable with it. The not so good thing is this is the kind of brawl that Topalov likes.

15.Be5 Both 15...Bxd3 or 15...Rab8 are fine. I personally prefer Bxd3. Gata understand that the game is at a critical phase. This is why he is starting to take his time to calculate through so many complicated lines.

15...Nxe4 This is a possibility 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Bxe4 Rab8 18. O-O-O =

16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Bxe4 The best move. Now 17...Rab8 is the only move to maintain equality.

17...Rab8 Now 18.0-0-0 is the best move. With 18...Nf5, Gata can equalize.

18.0-0-0 Nf5 19.Bxf5 gxf5 20. d6 Rxb6 21. dxe7 Re8 22. Nf3 =

19.Bxf5 gxf5 Gata is playing this game well. He badly needs to hold and it seems that he is doing just that to regain the self confidence to get back into this match.

20.d6 Rxb6 21.dxe7 Re8 22.Nf3 Just as expected. White has a very very small edge but Black should have no problem drawing this game. 22...Rxe7 23.Nd4 is the logical continuation.

22...Rxe7 23.Nd4 Black can ignore the Knight and play 23...Kf6 or he can retreat with 23...Bd7. Probably the second choice is more preferable.

23...Bd7 24.Rhe1 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 = Now a move like 25...Rh6 is important. Why? Basically it puts pressure for White to play h3. White wants to put his pawns on h4 and g3 dark squares. Then the Knight can park on f4 and White is in good shape. 25...Rh6 stops it.

25...Rh6 26.Rh7 Getting out of playing h3.

26...Rd6 27.Ne2 White is aiming to get his Knight to f4. The position is still equal. However, Topalov is making Kamsky earn it. I think it is more psychologically than the merit of the position.

27...Kf6 28.Re3 Another move to force Black to put his pawns on the light square. This is something to remember when playing endgame with a Bishop.

28...Ba4 29.b3 Bc6 = Still looks equal

a5 31.g3 30...Be4 will take away the White's Rook mobility. In fact, it is a must move or else White will play Rd3 to exchange the Rooks. If the Rooks are gone, White will be better.

31...Be4 32.f3 Bc6 33.h4 Rd4 The position is still equal.

34.Kc3 White can try to give up the f3 pawn by playing Rd3. Once the Rooks are off the board, White can march his King to c4 then b5.

34...Bb5 Stopping Rd3. I expect draw shortly as neither side can really make progress.

35.Nh5+ Kg6 36.Nf4+ Kf6 37.Nh5+ 1/2 This is a good draw for Gata. He needs to have a relatively easy game to get back on track for game 4.

Source: Susan Polgar

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