So we have another open letter. This one comes from Kramnik. How long before we will see an open letter from Topalov? Unbelievable! I hope they will take their anger and frustration out on the board in the next 2 games.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Rb1 (Instead of a3 before. This is a novelty according to my database. Kramnik responded instantly!)

8…Nbd7 9.c5 (I can’t find any game in my database with this position. Neither can GM Larry Christiansen. It seems that Topalov had this prepared. GM Yasser Seirawan noted: “Black needs to get in his central break …e6-e5 as a means of generating future counterplay. White has committed himself to a QS clamp. So White’s theater of action is easy to see… Whereas Black’s is not. So …e6-e5 is key. Otherwise, I can guess that Vladimir is considering 9…b5, in order to put the breaks on White’s QS expansion…”)

9…a5 (A very surprising choice, to open up the Queenside. Yasser: “10…a5 rather guarantees that the QS is pried open.” To be honest, I am not sure why Kramnik wants to open up the Queenside. That would only help Topalov.)

10.a3 e5 11.b4 axb4 12.axb4 (The most logical way to recapture. Kramnik is once again down by nearly 15 minutes on the clock in the first 11-12 moves. For those of you who do not have access to any server, you can see the LIVE game here.)

12…Qc7 (GM Jonathan Rowson offers his assessment: “I think Black is comfortable, mainly because White will have problems making use of his light squared bishop.” Personally, I prefer 12…Be7 but nothing wrong with the move played either.)

13.f4 (Incredible! I do not think a single person could have expected this move. One of the biggest problem playing against Topalov is similar to playing Poker. You have no idea if he is really well prepared at home or he is just bluffing over the board. It is up to Kramnik to call his bluff if he feels that White has nothing in this position.
I do not see much for White. In fact, Black’s position seems to be fine.)

13…exf4 (The ChessBase Fritz team suggested: ” Fritz is contemplating some tricks with 13…Nh5 14.dxe5 Ng3 15.hxg3 Rxh1 16.e4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Be7 etc.)

14.exf4 Be7 (There are certainly a lot of actions. Kramnik basically has to figure everything out over the board since this has never been played before. GM Nigel Short added: “One has to be a little careful not to get squashed with Black but the positions feels quite satisfactory.”)

15.Be2 (Nigel Short says: “The opening is typical of Toppy’s maximalist approach ramming his pawns up the board, grabbing bishops and space at the cost of development and a certain looseness.” I asked GM Gata Kamsky of his assessment for Black. He responded: “I think black is comfortable. Additional ideas: nf8-e6, f5, bf6, ne4 is ideal setup for black.” Nigel Short stated: ” Black has two open files for his rooks. What good does it do him? Not a lot. Someone ought to write about the quality of open lines.” GM Rowson also added: ” Having grown-up playing 1d4 d5 2Nf3 Bf5?! and allowing 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.c5 etc, this position looks to me to be quite decent for Black. That said, I stopped playing that line because I felt that even the positions that looked decent weren’t very good.”)

15…Nf8 (Following the suggestion of super GM Kamsky, with the idea of going to e6.)

16.O-O (Topalov made this move IMMEDIATELY!)

16…Ne6 17.g3 (Now Topalov is up by about 35 minutes on the clock. There is nothing wrong with what Topalov just played. I am not sure I like g3 as much as Topalov. I think White needs to be more aggressive with something like 17.b5. There is no time to slow down and be conservative after choosing such an opening. When Gata was asked about Pottygate, he responded: “I don’t really want to add anything to the whole bathroom issue, the player’s managers are quite good in dealing with it.” Black has a number of choices here: 17…b5, 17…b6, 17…Kf8, etc.)

17…Qd7 (Kramnik chose a move that no one considered. I certainly did not. Gata Kamsky says: “Topa’s position is loose and krammy’s motions are loose – who will win???” Nigel Short: “Qd7 is positionally well-motivated.” Gata Kamsky: “Ne4 now is a threat.” ChessBase team: “We were looking at some remarkable lines, like 18.Be3 Ne4 19.Nxe4 dxe4 20.Bc4 Nc7 21.Qc2 Nd5 22.Ra1 Rxa1 23.Rxa1 Nxe3 24.Qxe4 0-0 25.Qxe3.” GM Rowson: “Three ideas behind qd7- Ne4 without allowing d4-d5, General idea of Qh3, and, on a very good day, with a following wind, Bd8 in order to have Ba5 at some moment.”)

18.Qd3 (Hoping to stop 18…Ne4 but I believe Kramnik will play it anyway. Yasser Seirawan: “Now I don’t think Vladimir should hesitate. He must play Ne4 quickly! White is trying to plug the e4-leak but it doesn’t stop the jump.”)

18…Ne4 19.Nxe4 dxe4 20.Qxe4 (If Kramnik takes with the Queen, we may soon head into an endgame. White would be slightly better but Kramnik thinks he can hold. Nigel Short: ” Vlad will take with the queen Kh1.” Yasser: “Of course Qxd4+ is “impossible” to resist.”)

20…Qxd4+ 21.Qxd4 Nxd4 22.Bc4 O-O (I am not sure if this is what Topalov had in mind with his last White game of the match. Yes, White is better. The question is would this be enough to win? I do not think so. GM Rowson explains his assessment: “Draw 75%, T win 7% K win 15%, D-factor 3% (Danailov has been quiet for the last few days.”)

23.Kg2 (Just as many people have predicted. GM Rowson: “If needs be, Black can even park the knight on b5 because White risks being worse if he takes, and if he doesn’t the hops to a3 and c3 could be annoying.“)

23…Ra4 (I aked Gata Kamsky: “Gata, I see nothing serious for White to score a full point in this position. Do you see White having serious chances to win?” He responded: “It’s double edged susan,someone might overpress. If both pair of rooks are gone, white is undoubtedly better. Seems that kramnik is pressing for a win.” 24.Rd1 is logical at this moment.)

24.Rd1 (Thanks everyone for pointing out the typo. Now that’s teamwork!)

24…Rd8 25.Be3 (Gata suggests 25…Bf6. Other playable options are 25…Nc2 or Nf5.)

25…Bf6 (I like 26.Rd2 here and so does Gata. White maintains a decent advantage but again the question is would that be enough to win? I still do not think so. One important note to point out is Topalov is spending more time in this game than in the past few games. He slowed down during critical positions such as on this move.)

26.g4 (I do not like this move at all. I prefer 26.Rd2 better.. Now 26…Ra3 and Black is fine. Gata added an endgame tip: “23…Ra4 is not doing anything, and number one rule in chess endgame is to improve position of your pieces.”)

26…Kf8 (26…Ra3 would have equalized Black’s position. This game will really test their endgame techniques. Kramnik is generally regarded as a wonderful endgame player while Topalov is more known for his attacking skills and not endgame skills. But do not under estimate Topalov. He won a few brilliant games in endgames in San Luis last year.)

27.Bf2 Ne6 (Now, after the Rook trade, White maintains a solid advantage. Kramnik missed his easy opportunity to equalized with 26…Ra3.)

28.Rxd8 (28…Nxd8 would be a little better than taking with the Bishop because of 29…Bxe6 threat. I am being outvoted. Both Yasser Seirawan and Nigel Short think that 28…Bxd8 is better than 28…Nxd8.)

28…Bxd8 (And Kramnik agrees with them πŸ™‚ What can I say? I am outvoted.)

29.f5 (No one predicted this move. It may be a scary move against a human but the computer thinks it is a bad move that gave away all the advantages. Now 29…gxf5 30.gxf5 Ng5 =. My choice would have been 29.Bxe6 fxe6 30.Rb3 with the idea of b5 at a later point. With this line, White can maintain his advantage and keep the pressure on Kramnik.)

29…gxf5 30.gxf5 (IM Ken Regan offers: “Very concretely, 30…Nf4+ 31 Kf3 Nxd5 32 Bxd5 cxd5. How dangerous is White’s Q-side majority now? Ah, that does look good for White.”

30….Nf4+ 31.Kf3 Nh5 (Black is fine now. I do not see much chances for White to do anything damaging.)

32.Rb3 (GM Christiansen thinks this move is lame. He said that Karpov would never make a move like this. I am also puzzled by this move. What does he want to accomplish?)

32…Bc7 (Gata Kamsky sees this as a clear draw. So do I. White has nothing here. I am sure this is not what Topalov wants to achieve with his last White of the match.)

33.h4 Nf6 (GM Tyomkin says: ” Kramnik is definitely safe here, my betting line is 90% for the draw, 9% for Kramnik’s win and 1% for Topalov’s win [Danailov locks Kramnik in WC].)

34.Bd3 Nd7 (White has nothing. And Topalov better be careful not to overpush in this position. If 35.Ke4 then Ba5 and Black is clearly better.)

35.Be4 (35…Ne5+ is logical. Topalov is not playing this endgame well at all.)

35…Ne5+ 36.Kg2 (Black is now slightly better. Topalov has completely mishandled this endgame. Just a quick reminder, I will be on tonight. The show runs from 8:00 to 10:00 PM (EST – NY time) tonight. As always, there will be replays of the show almost immediately afterwards for our chess enthusiasts on the West Coast & elsewhere, and often there will be several replays the following day.You can access it at if you are an ICC member. However, if you are not, you can sign up for a one week FREE trial membership by visit

36…Ra2 (Topalov is not doing so good now. Black is in control of this game now, perhaps not enough to win but definitely enough to make Topalov work hard to hold on.)

37.Bb1 Rd2 38.Kf1 Ng4 (Now, 39.Be1 is a must if he wants to hold on. I am stunned to see how poorly Topalov has played this endgame. Thank you GM (handle
oliveoyl on ICC) and everyone else for correcting my typos πŸ™‚ I kept tapping the wrong key to type 2 instead of 3. All of a sudden, Topalov is taking his time. I think his downfall was 29.f5?)

39.Bg1 (I believe this is another horrendous defensive move. Black now has 39…Bh2 and if 40.Bxh2 Rxh2 and Black has a very solid advantage.)

39…Bh2 (Just as I expected and now Black is doing very well. Topalov will have quite a task to hold this position now. It is doable but he made tough work for himself for no reason at all. GM Tyomkin says: “All started with 29.f5. Super-aggresion by Topalov which isn’t a good strategy against Kramnik.“)

40.Ke1 (Now I expect 40…Rg2 and Black is clearly better. A blogger asked how I can find the strongest move while these 2 players sometimes not. Well, I am sitting at hom at my leisure, no pressure. When everything is on the line with the clock ticking and the whole world watching, pressure mounts in. It is not easy for them. When I played in my last World Championship match in 1996, I made mistakes too, the kind when I do not normally make. It is a lot easier being on the sideline than on the board.)

40…Rd5 (A very surprising move to me and most of everyone else. I think White’s chances to draw is now almost certain. 41.Bxh2 Nxh2 42.Rd3 and the position is drawn.)

41.Bf2 (He opted to still trying to win. Sometimes you have to wonder if this stubborn mentality of going for the win all the time would come back to haunt him as in game 1.)

41…Ke7 42.h5 Nxf2 43.Kxf2 (Here, we are heading for a drawn opposite color Bishop endgame. Draw will be the most likely result. Gata Kamsky said: “Ok, I’m not taking sides in this match, people will always attack you, whethere there is a reason or not.” Yasser said:”As long as one of those things is chess, we are all happy πŸ™‚“)

43…Kf6 44.Kf3 (White should have little problem drawing this game. It certainly improved in the last few moves.)

44…Rd4 45.b5 (By trading the pawns, the chances for the game to head to a draw increase.)

45…Rc4 46.bxc6 bxc6 47.Rb6 Rc5 48.Be4 Kg5 (The game looks drawish. I do not see much chances for either side.)

49.Rxc6 Ra5 50.Rb6 Ra3+ (Still very much drawish.)

51.Kg2 Bc7 (GM Rowson offers his assessment of the position: “I am not sure if Black has serious chances- I doubt it, but in any case I am sure the computers are no longer a good guide- in my experience they never get opposite coloured bishop positions right. I think if I was white against Kramnik, I would still be a bit nervous, but I suspect Topalov is quite chilled.”)

52.Rb7 (Players often clash in big matches. When you play in a match this big, people do and say things that they normally do not do due to extreme pressure. For those fans who sit at home and make judgment, it is not always as easy as 1, 2, 3 as it seems at home. Imagine that EVERY move you make will be a part of history. How you walk, how you talk, how you sit, how everything will be magnified 1,000 times. I may have said something during my World Championship match that I am not proud off. That is why when I met Xie Jun again at the Olympiad in 2004, we went out for coffee and chat to put any misunderstanding behind us and focus on doing things to help chess in our respective countries.”

52…Rc3 53.Kf2 Kxh5 54.Bd5 f6 55.Ke2 (Even with a pawn up, the game is a draw. In chess at this level, it would be an insult for the side with a pawn down to offer a draw. Therefore, it is up to Kramnik to offer the draw anytime he is ready.)

55…Kg4 56.Be4 Kf4 57.Bd3 Rc5 58.Rb4+ Kg3 59.Rc4 Re5+ 60.Re4 Ra5 61.Re3+ (It is just a matter of time before they will shake hands. There is no chance for either side to win at this level. One blogger asked if giving my example means that I am condoning the players’ behavior. The answer is no. I just want to share with the readers a perspective that few have experienced. As in regards to my match against Xie Jun, some of you asked what I said. I am not sure what I said wrong or right. It did not really matter. However, during the heat of the match, many things could be misunderstood. That is why I did not want any misunderstanding between 2 champions. I have the highest respect for my opponent and I just wanted to let her know that.)

61…Kg2 62.Be4+ Kh2 63.Rb3 Ra2+ (Still dead draw.)

64.Kd3 Bf4 65.Kc4 Re2 (I am not sure why they are playing this out. I see virtually no chance to Kramnik to win this game.)

66.Kd5 and they officially agreed to a draw. Again, I will be on tonight to discuss at length many issues including this World Championship. If you are not a member and cannot access, you can receive a complimentary membership here. I was just informed by the owners of ICC that they expect a record number of listeners to the show tonight. Therefore, they decided that they will open tonight’s show for all, even non-members of ICC. They will give me a link to the free show broadcast shortly and I will post it for everyone!
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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar