[Event “Sofia Match”]
[White “GM Kamsky”]
[Black “GM Topalov”]
[White Elo “2725”]
[Black Elo “2796”]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 So far all book with no novelty. Both players are playing quite fast up to this point. Kamsky has done a much better job handling his clock since game 2.
12.Ng5 This is not a novelty. However, it is not a very popular line. The more common lines are 12.a4, 12.a3, 12.Bc2 or 12.d5.
12…Re7 13.d5 Both 13…Nb8 or 13…Na5 are playable. It is only a matter of preference. 13…Na7 is not as good.
13…Nb8 14.Nf1 We are still in book so far. Sorry for putting up the wrong photo and title. I was going over the Anand game yesterday against Aronian and I guess his name was stuck in my head 🙂 Thanks for alerting me. I guess you are paying attention after all 🙂
Sometimes playing an obscure line is almost as good as playing a novelty. No player can memorize every line. They may remember some moves and the key ideas. From there they would have to try to recall the variations or previous home analysis. This is also why humans have such a big handicap against computers.
14…Nbd7 This is a logical move, even if one forgets the variation. This is something to keep in mind when you forget your opening moves, just play logical chess.
15.Ng3 Black can stop the Knight penetration with g6. It also clears the g7 square for the Bishop.
15…g6 I think this type of position fits Kamsky best. This is a good choice for Gata.
16.Bc2 Other lines such as 16.a4 or 16.Be3 are also good. Black has many choices here. He can chase the Knight back with 16…h6 or simply play 16…Bg7 or 16…Nb6. They are all decent choices. This is the first time in the match that Gata is playing his game and not being dictated by Topalov. If he can do this for the rest of the match, his chances will greatly improve.
16…h6 17.Nf3 Nb6 Now h4 is imminent.
18.h4 I think Black is forced to play h5 which will weaken the g5 square. But he may not have a choice. Black should not allow White to play h5. An idea is to play h5, followed by Bc8 to give his Kingside some reinforcement.
18…Qd7 A surprising move which I did not anticipate. I do not like it. White can now safely play 19.h5. Black is basically daring White to do it. 19. h5 Qg4 20. hxg6 fxg6 += I prefer White.
19.Nh2 The idea of h5 remains. The difference is Black can no longer play Qg4. I think it may be a bit too slow. Black can attempt 19…c6 to open the center up for counter play. Again, it is a matter of preference to play 19.h5 right away or 19.Nh2 first. Both are playable. I just prefer the other choice 🙂
19…Bg7 Surely 20.h5 has to come now.
20.h5 Black obviously cannot play 20…g5 because it will give White the critical f5 square. I still prefer 20…c6 to open things up.
20…Rf8 The idea is if White plays hxg6, the Black Rook would be in the right place on the f file after capturing back with fxg6. This is a critical move for Gata. What plan will he come up with? It is certainly not easy. In fact, this is where most chess players have problems with so do not feel bad if you have a hard time coming up with sound plans.
21.Nhf1 Not very intimidating for Black. I think perhaps it is just a get by move in a difficult position not to drain so much time on the clock. Will we see the logical c6 soon?
21…c6 This position is equal.
22.dxc6 Qxc6 23.Ne3 A possibility for Black is 23…d5 24. exd5 Nbxd5 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 = It is not pleasant having the Queen and Bishop pointing at your g2 pawn.
23…Kh7 Topalov is playing cautiously. 23…d5 is a lot more aggressive.
24.Qf3 It is hard to find a convincing plan here. Black can just sit and shuffle his Rook to c7 or Bishop to c8 waiting for White to make a move.
24…Bc8 25.Rd1 Black can put his Rook on d8 then Bishop on e6. The position is still equal.
25…Be6 An interesting idea is 26.Bb3 Bxb3 27.axb3 and White has a better game with Black’s weak a6 pawn. Black basically has to retreat Bishop to c8.
26.b3 Gata sacrifices a pawn to free up his Queenside pieces 26…Qxc3 27.Bd2 Qc7 28.Bb4 Black’s d6 is extremely vulnerable. The position is still equal.
26…Qxc3 27.Bd2 Qc7 Both 28.Rac1 and Bb4 are playable.
28.Ba5 Qb8 Gata is trying to make an issue from a tight position but I see no advantage for White. He is down to about 25 minutes for the last 12 moves.
29.Rd2 Nc8 29…Rd7 is also playable.
30.Rad1 b4 += Once again, 30…Rd7 is fine. Obviously the idea of 30…b4 is to play Qb5 trapping the Bishop. White can simply play 31.Qe2 to stop it. 31. Bd3 also does the trick.
31.Qe2 Black needs to put his Rook on d7. White cannot play Qxa6 because of Ra7 winning a piece.
31…Kh8 An unusual move. White can now play 32.Bd3 with an advantage.
32.Bd3 Gata found the best move. Black can try 32…Na7 but White can put either of his Rook to the c file to stop the Knight from going to c6.
32…Na7 33.Rc1 += Nb5 34.Bxb5 axb5 35.Bxb4 += Rd7 36.Rc6 Black has a problem with the d6 pawn.
36…Rfd8 Gata has an excellent chance to convert this game. This is his best chance of the match so far. Topalov’s problems all started with 31…Kh8. 37.Nd5 is worth a look here.
37.Qd1 Bf8 += Gata has perhaps around 7 minutes for the last 3 moves. I still like parking the Knight on d5.
38.Qc2 Kh7 39.Ba5 Re8 40.hxg6+ fxg6 += Both sides comfortably made time control.
41.Bc7 Qb7 White can end up with a pawn up endgame with 42.Bxd6 Bc4 43.Rc7 Rxc7 44.Bxc7 Qxc7 45.bxc4 bxc4 46.Qxc4 Qxc4 47.Nxc4 +=
42.Bxd6 Bf7 Now White can play 43.Bxf8 with a strong advantage. I prefer this line better for Black 42…Bc4 43.Rc7 Rxc7 44.Bxc7 Qxc7 45.bxc4 bxc4 46.Qxc4 Qxc4 47.Nxc4 +=. Here is a possible continuation with 43.Bxf8 Rxd2 44.Qc1 Rxf8 45.Rxf6 Rfd8 46.Ngf1 R2d6 47.Nf5 gxf5 48.Qxh6+ Kg8 49.Rxd6 Rxd6 50.Qxd6 Qxe4 +/- Gata is taking a lot of time for this move. I have a sense that he has a gut feeling about 43.Bxf8. But he must calculate everything out because a mistake can lead from a borderline winning position to losing.
43.Bb4 Gata chose not to go into the much more complicated line 43.Bxf8. If Black plays 43…Bxb4 44.Rxd7 Qxd7 45.Rxf6 +=
43…Bxb4 44.Rxd7 Qxd7 45.Rxf6 White is up a pawn but Black has the Bishop pair. Slight advantage for White.
45…Re6 I prefer 45…Kg7. White’s best response after 45…Re6 is 46.Nd5
46.Nd5 Bf8 47.Rf3 Kg7 48.Rc3 +/- Slowly but surely making progress.
48…Ra6 49.Rc7 Qd6 White has a considerable advantage. There is a good chance that Gata can even up the match. If Gata wants to win this match, he must play this type of position the rest of the way. If he engages in wild tactical battles, the advantage would go to Topalov.
50.Qe2 Kg8 51.Qxb5 Rxa2 52.Qb7 Stronger would be 52.Rc6
52…Ra1+ 53.Kh2 Bxd5 54.exd5 +- Qf6 55.Qc8 Qh4+ 56.Qh3 Qxh3+ 57.Kxh3 +/-
White is better but it requires good endgame technique.
57…Rd1 58.Nd4 Ba3 59.Ra7 Bb4 +/- 60.Rb7 Ba3 61.f3 This may be simpler 61.Nf6+ Kf8 62.Nd7+ Ke8 63.Nxe5 Rxd5 64.Nxg6 +-
61…Kf8 62.Rb5 h5 63.Kg3 Rc1?! 64.Rb8+ Kf7 65.Rb7+ Kf8 Now 66.b4 looks strong.
66.Kf2 An unusual plan but it works to get the King to d3 then push the d pawn.
66…Rc2+ 67.Kf1 Rc1+ 68.Ke2 Rc2+ 69.Kd3 The end is coming soon.
69…Rxg2 White can push b4 to block the Bishop from protecting the d6 square.
70.Ra7 Be7 71.d6 Bd8 72.Nc5 Ke8?? The final blunder. Now 73.Rg7 or Rh7 1-0
73.Rh7 Black resigns
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