Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Veselin Topalov - Gata kamsky

Round 1
Chess Challengers 2009

The game starts at 14:00 CET, feel free to leave your thoughts about Topalov - Kamsky in the forum. Topalov will have the white pieces, Kamsky will start with black. Minute by minute updates from the opening ceremony and press conference here One of this year's biggest chess events is about to begin.
Two top GMs will face the challenge to win the right to play for the World Chess Championship against Anand. Veselin Topalov, N.1 in FIDE ranking seems to be the obvious favorite with the event hosted by his home country. Things are not that simple though.
Topalov, who is extraordinary tournament fighter, doesn't fare so well in matches - he has little experience in such - and playing on home turf may cause additional psychological pressure. Kamsky, on the contrary, has vast knowledge what are the right things to do during a match. He has no outstanding tournament results but has won most of his matches including against Anand and Kramnik.
Someone may argue that those things happened long ago but at the World Cup - event consisting of mini matches only - he was unstoppable. Based on this, though my personal sympathies go for Topalov, I predict a very tough match with hard fight in every single game. Let's hope that the audience will enjoy a spectacular show.

d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 Gruenfeld Defense should not surprise anyone, as Sutovsky, Kamsky's second, is one of the greatest expert in this opening and recently Gata sometimes uses it instead of his favorite Slav.
cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 O-O 10.O-O The very main line, which brought Topalov several impressive victories.
Na5 ( Nobody dares challenge Veselin anymore in the complicated lines after 10... Bg4)
Bd3 b6 12.Qd2 e5 13.Bh6 ( At the Russian Team Championship in 2008, van Wely played 13.d5 against Kamsky and lost. The game move is not a novelty but judging by the speed of Veselin's play has to be studied thoroughly during the home preparation.)
cxd4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd4 exd4 16.f4 f6 17.e5 This has to be the prepared novelty novelty. Clock readings: 1.57 1.34 Until this game White followed a plan involving Ng3, Rac1 and a march of the 'h' pawn. Kamsky is still thinking and has 53 minutes on the clock. He has to chose between letting White shatter the pawns covering his King, or simplifying the position a bit but leaving Topalov with a strong passed pawn on the 'e' file.
Bd7 Developing move that connects Black Rooks on the 8th rank. Now fxe5 is a threat and White should determine the situation in the center.
exf6+ Qxf6 19.Ng3 Kh8 The defensive setup of Kamsky seems to be sound. He neutralized the f4-f5 threat and Veselin has to find a way to keep the initiative.
f5 gxf5 With Kg7 this would not be possible in view of Nh5+
Bxf5 (21.Nxf5 Rae8 22.Rac1 Nc6 and Black manages to coordinate his pieces.)
Bxf5 22.Rxf5 Qd6 23.Raf1 Nc6 One may note that there are almost no lines in my comments. The reason is simple: after 16 moves theory, White makes a novelty, Black finds a good defensive plan and his opponent has to go for forced lines to keep his pressure, while being a pawn down. I would not say that only moves are made all the time but deviating might lead either player in inferior situation.
Ne4 Qe7 25.Qh6 Rxf5 26.Rxf5 Once again Topalov forces the Black moves. Now 26...Ne5 is the only defense.
Ne5 27.h3 (27.Ng5 is countered by 27... Ng4) ( or 27.Nf6 Ng6) ( Objectively, the best option seems to be 27.Qd2 d3 28.Qc3 Re8 29.Qd4 Qg7 30.Qd6 keeping the position about equal. Topalov is not the kind of player to retreat and he is still looking for forced lines.)
Ng6 Kamsky defends in cold blood. He retained his extra pawn and Veselin should be careful. The time spent is about equal: 0.39 0.30
Rh5 (28.Rh5 Kg8 29.Nf6+ Qxf6 30.Qxh7+ Kf8 31.Rh6 Rc8 32.Rxg6 Rc1+ 33.Kh2 Qf4+ 34.Rg3 Rc3 35.Qg7+ Ke8 36.Qg5 is a possible line leading to about equal Rook ending.)
Rg8 This should lead to a forced draw, while Kg8 was offering some chances to fight for more.
Nf6 Rg7 30.Nxh7 Rxh7 31.Qxg6 Qe3+ 32.Kf1 Qc1+ 33.Kf2 (33.Ke2 d3+ 34.Qxd3 Rxh5 35.Qd8+ leads to perpetual.)
Qd2+ 34.Kg3 Qe3+ 35.Kh2 Qf4+ 36.Kg1 Qc1+ Draw agreed. Topalov played a novelty on move 17 and launched an attack against opponent's King without ever looking back. Kamsky found good defensive resources and never seemed in real trouble. The draw seems like the just outcome and we are still to watch more fierce battles. 1/2

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