Thursday, February 26, 2009


Gata Kamsky - Veselin Topalov

Round 4
Chess Challengers 2009

Kamsky's team seems to have done great job for this match when he has Black pieces. Anyway, game 2 doesn't convince that thay were at the same level for his White color. Today Gata has the opportunity to try to prove this wrong. In all 3 games opponents fought fiercely for the initiative from the very beginning and entered highly complex positions with abundance of tactical possibilities, showing no hesitation. If this continues, today we'll enjoy another great chess battle. Stay tuned at 14.00 CET.

1.e4 e5 Another Ruy Lopez is to be expected.

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 No 3...Nf6 this game. Topalov varies with the opening lines in order to evade opponent's home preparations.

4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 The classical move. Recently 8...O-O aiming for the Marshall Attack is more popular at high level

8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Bb7 Black has many options on move 9, each determining different set up. The game move lead to the Zaitsev system, advocated for many years by Anatoly Karpov.

10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 ( Countless numbers of games went on 11.Ng5 Rf8 12.Nf3 Re8 13.Ng5 1/2 but this won't happen in this match.)

11... Bf8 12.Ng5 This move is very rare but Kamsky did not hesitate even for a moment. One may assume that this opening was expected to be played at some moment during the match.

12... Re7 13.d5 The natural retreat in such situation is Nb8 but Topalov needs some time to 'get inside' the position.

13... Nb8 14.Nf1 Now typical manoeuvres are about to begin. White plans to transfer his Ng5 to ... g4! - Ng5-f3-h2-g4.

14... Nbd7 15.Ng3 g6 Permitting Ng3-f5 is out of question.

16.Bc2 ( Prepares a2-a4 - 16.a4 Nc5)

16... h6 17.Nf3 Nb6 Well, besides hindering a2-a4, takes better control over 'd5' that may be important after initial c7-c6.

18.h4 Qd7 As the thematic 18...c6 would open Bc2 as well, Topalov delays such move for the moment. 18...h5 is not recommendable as 'g5' would be very weak.

19.Nh2 Prevents Qg4

19... Bg7 20.h5 Rf8 The game is in a phase when both players make 2 moves to hinder opponent's plans and 1 to perform their own.

21.Nhf1 (21.b3 preparing a4 is logical but Kamsky prefers to provoke c7-c6.)

21... c6 This move is integral part of Black strategy - in fact the only way to free their position. As Kamsky was provoiking that move it is interesting to see what has he in mind.

22.dxc6 Qxc6 23.Ne3 After c7-c6 now Kamsy practically says 'play d6-d5'.

23... Kh7 (23... d5 24.hxg6 fxg6 25.exd5 Nbxd5 26.Nxd5 Nxd5 27.Be4 would lead to long term advantage for White, so Topalov keeps making solid moves and covering the eventual weaknesses in his position.)

24.Qf3 Planing Rd1 and Nd5 to open the light squared Bishop against Kh7. In some line Ngf5 could be a tactical motive - in fact that's the reason why Kg8-h7 was played.

24... Bc8 Clock readings: 0.50 0.51 - Kamsky is careful not to repeat his mistake from game 2.

25.Rd1 (25.Nd5 was possible as well after that Bishop move: 25... Nbxd5 26.exd5 Qxd5 27.Qxd5 Nxd5 28.Rd1 but White prefers to keep the Queens and methodically goes on with his plan.)

25... Be6 26.b3 (26.Bb3 was the expected continuation but Kamsky sacrifices a pawn instead.)

26... Qxc3 27.Bd2 Qc7 28.Ba5 Qb8 29.Rd2 The sacrifice was purely positional. If this was the best decision is still to be seen.

29... Nc8 30.Rad1 b4 Controversial decision - traps Ba5 but loses control over 'c4'.

31.Qe2 Kh8 32.Bd3 Na7 33.Rc1 30...b4 looks more and more suspicious after every move.

33... Nb5 34.Bxb5 axb5 35.Bxb4 Kamsky achieved solid positional advantage.

35... Rd7 36.Rc6 Rfd8 37.Qd1 Bf8 The weakness 'd6' ties Black down to defense.

38.Qc2 Kh7 39.Ba5 Re8 40.hxg6+ fxg6 With the 40th move made, the opponents have 1 additional hour each to formulate their strategy.

41.Bc7 Qb7 42.Bxd6 ( Winning a pawn as 42.Bxd6 Bc4 is met by 43.Rc7)

42... Bf7( 42...Bc4 is objectively stronger but leads to an ending a pawn down. Topalov chooses to gamble instead: Now Kamsky has to calculate the complications and if he finds 42... Bf7 43.Bxf8 Rxd2 44.Qc1 Rxf8 45.Rxf6 Rfd8 46.Ngf1 R2d6 47.Nf5 he is going to win, but if not Black has his chances.)

43.Bb4 Excellent positional move after 30 minutes of calculation. The drawback is that it misses the forced win.

43... Bxb4 44.Rxd7 Qxd7 45.Rxf6 Re6 46...Be6 was relatively better.

46.Nd5 Bf8 47.Rf3 White has technically winning position.

47... Kg7 48.Rc3 Ra6 49.Rc7 Qd6 Topalov began playing much faster, obviously trying to press his opponent with the clock as his best chance.

50.Qe2 50.Rb7 was a good alternative planning Qc2-c8-e8

50... Kg8 51.Qxb5 Rxa2 52.Qb7 Ra1+ 53.Kh2 Bxd5 54.exd5 (54.Qxd5+ Qxd5 55.exd5 is winning as well.)

54... Qf6 55.Qc8 Qh4+ 56.Qh3 Qxh3+ 57.Kxh3 ( This is an improved version of the ending after 55.Qxd5+: 57.Kxh3 Re1 58.f3 e4 59.Nxe4 Rxe4 60.fxe4 Bd6 is no longer check.)

57... Rd1 58.Ne4 Ba3 59.Ra7 Bb4 60.Rb7 Ba3 Now Kamsky has time to calculate carefully and to find a clear way to the win.

61.f3 Kf8 62.Rb5 h5 63.Kg3 Rc1 64.Rb8+ Takes control of the 7th rank before playing d5-d6.

64... Kf7 65.Rb7+ Kf8 66.Kf2 (66.d6)

66... Rc2+ 67.Kf1 Rc1+ 68.Ke2 Rc2+ 69.Kd3 Rxg2 70.Ra7 (70.b4)

70... Be7 71.d6 Bd8 72.Nc5 72.Ra8 followed by a King raid to 'e6' would be more impressive finish.

72... Ke8 73.Rh7 Black resigned. Kamsky took his revenge for game 2. He did not allow for a single moment the game to become complicated and irrational, which would benefit the Bulgarian. Instead, he was preventing his opponent's counterplay and after Topalov began playing somewhat risky moves took advantage of the fact. The result is 2-2 and everything is still undecided. For the moment Gata can be satisfied with his team as it seems that for the first half of the match his preparatory work was better. So much is to be decided for the last 4 games. A breathtaking finish awaits us. During the rest day tomorrow you may follow the live comments from Linares. 1-0

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