Leko,2749 – Topalov,2783 [B90]
Linares, 04.03.2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 (Just as Anand, Leko decided to play the more conservative Nf3) 7…Qc7 8.a4 Be7 9.a5 0–0 10.Be2 Be6 11.0–0 Rc8 (White can make some play on the f file, the d6 weak pawn and the b6 square. Black controls the c file and White’s pawns on a5 and e4 can be both an asset and liability. Slight advantage for White.) 12.Nd5 (If 12…Bxd5 13. exd5 Qxc2 14. Rc1 +-) 12…Nxd5 13.exd5 Bg4 14.c4 += Nd7 15.Nd2 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 f5 (This is now getting exciting. Topalov will attempt to open up the Kingside. Black’s position is fine. The next 5-10 moves will be very exciting.) 17.f3 Nf6 (17…Bf6 is also fine. Just a matter of taste.) 18.b4 Qd7 19.Rfd1 (It is interesting that White is trying to create play on the Queenside and Black is doing it on the Kingside, which is opposite from the normal Sicilian plans.) 19…Qe8 20.Qd3 Qh5 (Leko is trying to make this a strategical game while Topalov is trying to open things up for brut force. Which one will succeed?) 21.c5 (Leko finally shows his plan. This is a very difficult aspect of chess. When should you break? When should you make your move?) 21…Rd8 22.Nc4 (22.c6 would be interesting here.) Rc8 23.Rc1

** In the Anand – Carlsen game, Anand attempted to sacrifice a Knight on move 26. It was not really a sacrifice because Carlsen would lose almost immediately if he takes on it. He played the correct defense Kh7 and the position is still better for Anand.

Back to the Leko – Topalov game, 23…e4 24.fxe4 fxe4 25.Qb3 (White is still very very slightly better.) 25…Ng4

** In the Anand – Carlsen game, Anand still pushes on and has a decent advantage. Carlsen is hanging in there for now but may not be for long.

Black to the Leko – Topalov game, 26.h3 Nxe3 27.Nxe3 (Topalov has basically equalized.) 27…Bg5 28.c6?! Rf8 (I actually like Topalov’s position more here.) 29.Re1 Qh4 30.Qa2 (Black is clearly better here. The plan is to take advantage of the weak dark squares. A good start would be Qg3. I am not sure if Leko can hold this.) 30…Bf4 (I prefer Qg3 first.) 31.Qe2 Qg3 32.Nf1 (Black has to play Qg5 now.) 32…Qd3 33.Qxd3 exd3 34.Rc4 bxc6 35.dxc6 d5 36.Rd4 (I don’t like this plan of Topalov. I see very little chance for him to score.) 36…Rcx4 37.Rxd3 (This will now most likely heading for a draw.) 37…Rc4 =+ 38.b5 axb5 39.Rxd5 (Draw will happen soon.) 39…b4 40.a6 Rc6 41.Rb5 Bd6 42.Ra1 Ra8 (Topalov is making Leko earn the draw. This show will go on for a while longer.) 43.a7 Rb6 44.Rxb6 Bc5+ (Leko, who is known for his endgame technique, is not playing this very well. Topalov may have a chance to pull to an even score.) 45.Kh1 Bb6 46.Ra4 Bc5 47.Ra5 Bxa7 48.Nd2 Rd8 49.Rxa7 Rxd2 50.Rb7 (Leko will suffer for a while.) 50…Rd4 (I prefer Rb2.) 51.Kg1 Rf4 52.Kh2 h5 53.Kg3 Rc4 54.Kf3 Kh7 55.Rb6 g5 56.Rb7+ Kg6 57.Rb6+ Kf7 58.g4 Rf4+ 59.Kg3 h4+60.Kg2 (It is getting hotter for Leko.) 60…Rc4 61.Kf3 Ke7 62.Ke3 Kd7 63.Kd2 Kc7 64.Rb5 Kc6 65.Rxg5 b3 (Leko is doing one heck of a job to hang on. But there are still some works to be done.) 66.Rg8 Rc2+ 67.Kd1 Kc7 68.Rg7+ (Still having to work hard to earn 1/2 point.) 68…Kb6 69.Rg8 Ka7 70.Rg7+ Ka6 71.Rg8 Kb7 72.Rg7+ Kc673.Rg8 Rh2 74.Kc1 Rxh3 75.g5 Kd7 76.Rf8 h3 79.Kb2 Kf7 80.Ka3 Kg7 81.Kb2 Kg8 82.Ka3 Kf7 83.Kb2 Kg7 84.Kc1 1/2

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