This is a LIVE commentary. Please make sure to refresh your browser to get updated comments 🙂 I am trying to update my comments instantly. In addition, I will also include some feedbacks and opinions from other top Grandmasters. Enjoy!

1.d4 (Again, no 1.e4)

1…d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 (This is something new for this match. Topalov is trying to surprise Kramnik.)

4…Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 (Typical move in this position, trading Knight for Bishop.)

6…Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.a3 (This seems to be a new move at first glance. I can’t remember of anyone playing this line before.)

8…Nbd7 9.g3 Be7 10.f4 (Kramnik is taking a lot of time for his 10th move. Black’s position is fine. Unless Topalov has this line all prepared at home, I do not see any advantage for White even with the space advantage and a Bishop pair. However, his pawn structure is not so hot. This will be a long strategical battle.)

10…dxc4 11.Bxc4 O-O (It is obvious that Topalov is full of confidence after a win in the last game. He is gunning for Kramnik with his opening choice this game. 12.e4 would be the most aggressive move. However, the danger of that move is the d4 pawn becomes weak. White also has no safe place for castling. So far Topalov has used less than 5 minutes and Kramnik has used around 35 minutes.)

12.e4 (Well, Topalov is playing enterprising chess again. This certainly will not be a boring game. If Black plays 12…c5 White will respond with 13.e5.)

12…b5 (A somewhat surprising move. Other options include 12…Nb6 or 12…Rc8.)

13.Be2 (Now Black has a few plans: a5 then b4 or c5. White’s plan is to play e5 then h4.)

13…b4 14.axb4 Bxb4 15.Bf3 Qb6 (Now I would O-O as White, followed by Be3. Some of you asked why Topalov is playing so fast in the last few games. One of the theories is to stop Kramnik from leaving for the restroom because that would burn his time. The other explanation is it is a psychological game. Seeing an opponent cranking out moves with that speed is quite unnerving. It shows that your opponent is well prepared and he knows what he’s doing.)

16.O-O (As I expected. White’s position is turning positive. One of the choices for Kramnik is 16…Rad8 or Rfd8. Another choice could be 16…e5 but this is a little more dangerous.)

16…e5 (Now, I expect Topalov to play 17.Be3 and White is more than fine. In fact, White has quite a good position.)

17.Be3 (The strongest move. Black has a few choices such as 17…exd4 or Rfd8. The key is after 17…exd4 White would play Na4 because he does not want to allow Bc5.)

17…Rad8 (Now 18.Na4 would be the strongest reply. White has an excellent advantage. Black will have weak a and c pawns and White has a pair of Bishop.)

18.Na4 (Once again, Topalov is playing the strongest move. Strategically speaking, White is in great shape. I think Kramnik under evaluated White’s position. He is in trouble. Other GMs also agree. GM Seirawan said: “Wow! Powerguru GM Josef Dorfman thinks Kramnik is “dead”. Wow! For example 18…Qb5 19.Qc2, White has the two Bishops, nice development, center….” Kramnik seems to be struggling right now. He is spending a lot of time on this move as he knows that it is another critical position. I wonder how this would affect him later on down the line with time pressure.)

18…Qb8 (This is somewhat surprising. Most observers were expecting Qb7 or Qb5. I believe Kramnik took something around 20 minutes for this move. 19.Qc2 looks good to me here.)

19.Qc2 (Topalov again played quickly and he chose another strongest move. By playing with this lightning speed, he is putting an incredible amount of pressure on Kramnik. He has less than 45 minutes while Topalov still has almost 95 minutes!)

19…exf4 (This is not a good move. He had to take the d pawn, not the f pawn. I would definitely take back with the Bishop.)

20.Bxf4 (Another best move. Black is having a hard time coming up with a plan now.)

20…Qb7 (Now, the question is how to proceed as White. This is a critical position for White. Will it be Rad1 or will it be Bg5? The logical choice is to center the Rook.)

21.Rad1 (The question now is how does Black continue? What is the plan for Black? Nigel Short suggested: “Rfe8 followed by Nf8-e6 I cannot see anything else.”)

21…Rfe8 (The difference between an amateur and a professional is how to proceed in a position like this. It is also the difference between a world class player versus an average grandmaster. It is one thing to have a good position. It is another thing to come up with the proper plan to continue. Anyone can sit at home with Fritz screaming out White is better. It is another thing to sit on the board coming up with a concrete plan. One of the choices may be 22.Bg5 to stop Nigel Short’s plan of Nf8 then e6.)

22.Bg5 (Nigel Short made a good observation: “One minute ago there was near unanimity that Kramnik was lost: now people cannot find plans or ideas for White and say that his King is draughty!” That is a real problem at times in chess: How to find the best plan in a good position?)

22…Be7 (Garry Kasparov chimed in: “Do i hear you saying white can’t find good plan? Agree, black isn’t lost yet“. Nigel added: “It is quite similar to this f3 and e4 line, that you kept shafting people (like me) with, Garry.” Dima Tyomkin said: “Looks like Topalovs advantage is smaller than few moves ago.”)

23.Kh1 (Nigel Short asked Kasparov: ” So Garry, do you agree with Svidler and Bareev that Makropoulos and Azmai should be dismissed and have electrodes attached to their sensitive organs?” Kasparov replied: “I feel that bareev and svidler are mixing validity of the decision with ethic and morale.”

23…Nh7 24.Be3 (White does not want to trade Bishop. The rule of chess is do not trade when you try to attack and trade if your position has little space.)

24…Bg5 (Again, I think White has to move the Bishop away, perhaps 25.Bg1. White cannot afford to trade pieces.)

25.Bg1 Nhf8 26.h4 (You are again seeing the World’s Best Attacker versus the World’s Best Defender! It is obvious that Topalov is full of confidence and he is pushing straight forward! 26…Be7 is the best move here. 26…Bh6 is not accurate.)

26…Be7 27.e5 (Topalov made this move immediately! White has an overwhelming space advantage. The downfall is if he does not succeed with his attack, his position will have many holes. That’s what an attacker has to be willing to accept.)

27…Nb8 28.Nc3 (Again, Topalov played this move almost instantly! The idea is to bring more pieces to the center and the Kingside. A possible threat is to push d5.)

28…Bb4 (Black is trying to hold off the d5 threat. This is an extremely uncomfortable position for Kramnik. It seems to me that Topalov is playing back to his form. He is playing fast and with confidence and precision. Yasser Seirawan said: ” Hmm. Vladimir’s position is slip sliding away… The idea is quite clear. White is reading the push d4-d5, the old central breakthough.”)

29.Qg2 (An unexpected move! I think it is a good move psychologically. It puts pressure on the c6 pawn and aiming for d5 at one point. Yasser said: “Note the clock times. Vladimir in serious trouble now.”

29…Qc8 (Kramnik does not feel comfortable with the pin so he moved his Queen out of the way.)

30.Rc1 (Again, Topalov played this move immediately. It is obvious that Topalov is playing FAST to stop Kramnik from visiting the restroom. I cannot find any other explanation for his speed. Kramnik is now down to 14 minutes to make 11 moves! That’s serious trouble for a position this complicated!)

30…Bxc3 31.bxc3 (Another instant move! And the best choice for recapture.)

31…Ne6 (I very much like 32.Be3 now. White’s advantage has increased in the past few moves and Kramnik is extremely low on time. Black has problem with the f file, the a and c pawn and White also has h5 at some point. IM Ken Regan notes: “Kramnik must have felt the heat on the c-pawn, but his play the last two moves has upped Fritz’s eval from 1.50 to 2.50-70. White has a dream position.” Thanks for the spelling correction everyone 🙂 Hard to analyze, type and chat with the fans on ICC and PlayChess.)

32.Bg4 Qc7 33.Rcd1 Nd7 (A number of you asked about the possibility of both players using computer help during the game. In my opinion, it is a ridiculous and unprofessional accusation, especially if coming from fellow Grandmasters. These 2 guys are the best in the world. They work their tails off to reach this level. I think it’s nonsense about computer use during the match. Until someone can demonstrate precise proof, I do not believe it.)

34.Qa2 (The problem for Topalov now is what plan to choose between so many good ones. I have no problem with this move even though the computers do not like it so much. The advantage is still overwhelming though for White.)

34…Nb6 35.Rf3 (This does not seem to be a very precise move. I would have preferred 35.Ra1.)

35…Nf8 (This is a mistake! 35.c5 may not look so great but it would give a stronger defense.)

36.Rdf1 (The attack is coming! It is very hard to defend this position as Black.)

36…Re7 37.Be3 (This is over. There is no way to defend this kind of attack. It is overwhelming for White!)

37…Nh7 38.Rxf7 Nd5 (It is looking real bad! Resignation coming soon!)

39.R7f3 (More precised would have been 39.Be6 but it is winning also. Black is down a pawn, a busted Kingside, incredibly weak pawns – isolated and double – and White has his pieces all coordinated. He could have certainly played on but the postion is quite hopeless at this level.) and Black resigned! (IM Ken Regan added: ” The move 35…c5 (which is just counter to how you play against Bishops, opening the game) involves a spectacular forcing line, don’t know if it’s best: 35…c5 36 d5 Nf8 37 d6 Qb7 38 Rdf1 Rxe5 39 Qxf7+ Qxf7 40 Rxf7 Nd5 41 Bxc5 Nf6 (attack on both Bs) 42 Bd4 Nxg4 43 Re7, still +1.2 to White but quite a mess!)

This is certainly an impressive game for Topalov. He played very fast and with pretty good accuracies. His strategy in the last few games has been cranking out moves at lightning speed. I am not sure if this has bothered Kramnik or not but his defense seems to have suffered. As I said before, you are witnessing a premier attacker versus a premier defender in action. To throw in the computer cheating accusations is totally nonsense.

Topalov seems to be in a groove right now. Kramnik needs to neutralize this groove immediately or the match will be over as we all know that Topalov is capable of pulling off consecutive wins. We finally have each side winning 2 games. Kramnik won 2 with his defensive skills and his ability to take advantage of his opponent’s errors. Topalov won 2 games with pure attacking skills.

This match has certainly become a lot more exciting in many ways!

Many of you asked do I use Fritz to come up with my suggestions. Once in a while but most of my suggestions came from my head looking at the screen. It is extremely hard to update the blog LIVE, type all the analysis, make sure there is no typo, talk to the chess fans on ICC and playchess, talk to fellow GMs, and running Fritz in the background 🙂 That is why I only go to Fritz once in a while when I have time to double check what I suggested earlier. I just have to rely on my instinct, good or bad 🙂 It is a good question though.)
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