Artwork by Mike Magnan

I am told that some people cannot see the LIVE commentary on IE. This is why I am moving the text to this new post. Perhaps it will help. Please let me know if the IE users can see the commentary now. FYI, I use the firefox browser to do the commentary. I find it faster and more reliable than IE.

Veselin Topalov – Vishy Anand
World Championship game 12

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4 This is not the most popular line for Black but as a surprised weapon for one game, it can be effective as Anand needs to hold this game.

8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Rc1 We have the Queen’s Gambit declined for the first time in this match. It looks like Anand is choosing something safe for most chances to hold.

9…c6 10. Be2 Nxc3 11. Rxc3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 We are still in opening book. This is a relatively safe opening for Black.

12….Nd7 13. 0-0 b6 14. Bd3 c5 The idea for Black is simple. He wants to have a symmetrical pawn structure. White still has a small advantage due to space advantage.

15. Be4 Rb8 I know many players who play this line as Black. It is very difficult to win this type of position as White. White’s temporary space and piece development advantage will evaporate soon. Here is a possible line: 17. dxc5 Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 19. Qc2 Bb7 20. Nd2 Rfd8 21. Nb3 c4 22. Rxc4 Ba6 23. Rc7 Rbc8 24. Rxe7 Rxc2 =. This is also equal: 17. dxc5 Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 19. b3 Bb7 20. Qf4 Rfd8 =

16. Qc2 Nf6 The reason why Anand cannot simply play cxd4 is because of the following: 16… cxd4 17. Nxd4 Bb7 18. Rc7 +/-

17. dxc5 Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 Now that Topalov is able to avoid the symmetrical pawn structure, his main target will be the c5 pawn.

19. Qc2 Bb7
White retreats his Queen behind the Rook to put more pressure on the c pawn. Now is not the time for Black to play passively. Anand indirectly defends the c5 pawn with Bb7. If 20. Rxc5 then Bxf3 21. gxf3 Rxb2 22. Qxb2 Qxc5 =+

It is very clear that Anand and his team have prepared this very practical and safe line. It is a wise choice not to take any chances to send this match to the rapid playoff.

20. Nd2
Topalov is following the idea I previously mention back in move 15. He is doing the best he can to keep the remaining pieces on the board, stabilize the Kingside, then continue to put more pressure on the c5 pawn. This is his only chance, as slim as it may be, to win.

20…Rfd8 If this game ends with a draw, I think Anand will have a small edge in the rapid playoff.

21. f3 The idea is to block the effectiveness of Black’s b7 Bishop. Then he can re-focus on the c5 pawn. Anand will try not give Topalov time to do that. 21…Qg5 is possible right now.

21…Ba6 This is OK too. Anand spent a considerable amount of time for this move. He understands that is he fails to keep White busy, he will have a problem holding on to the c pawn and that can mean the game. White should put his f1 Rook on c1.

22. Rf2 This is an odd choice for Topalov. The problem is Anand can mount his pieces on the d file to go after the Knight as White may face back rank problem. I like 22. Rc1 a lot better.

22…Rd7 Following the plan of doubling up the Rooks on the d file. In my opinion, the position is equal.

23. g3 Topalov is creating a bubble for his King. Once he can neutralize Anand’s threats, he can then turn his focus back on the c5 pawn which is going nowhere. Both players understand the huge importance of this game. Therefore, they are very patient so far.

Here is an interesting question from one of the bloggers following the LIVE commentary:

“During such kind of matches, how much sleep would you and other players usually are able to get? And how do you guys relax?”

The amount of sleeping hours differ from game to game. I know some players like to read to relax. Some like to watch TV. Many do like to take leisure walks. Some play tennis or swim. It is the seconds who have to work the hardest between games.

Following the plan.

24. Kg2

Here is another interesting question:
Do you agree that in case of a draw the champion is still a champion? Is it what Kasparov thinks? How do they fix the total number of matches?”

I do not think the old system which a champion sat and waited every 3-4 years for a challenger then retain the title if he / she can tie the match is fair. I also do not like 12 games. I think it is too short. I would prefer to see 14-16 games. I have many ideas about this and other important chess issues such as chess in education, women’s chess, college chess, professional chess, and chess expansion, etc. I will present them directly to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the near future. In fact, there will be a press release about it probably today.

24…Bd3 25. Qc1 Nothing has changed so far. White is still focusing on the c5 pawn.

Sorry but I do not have any explanation as to why it did not work on Internet Explorer before. Thanks for letting me know the problem. I hope it is OK for everyone now.

I personally find this game exciting. There is very little going on other than the c5 pawn. One will do everything possible to go after it which could mean a victory while the other one will do everything to either defend it or deflect it with counter threats elsewhere. The self imposed Sofia rule by Topalov gives the fans a chance to see more endgames rather than 20-25 move draw in equal positions.

Even though the position is equal, it is a little easier to play with Topalov’s position. He knows exactly what he needs to do. There is a concrete target to aim for.

25…Ba6 Here is an interesting line: 26. Ne4 Rd1 27. Qc2 f5 28. Nd2 Re1 29. Rxc5 Rxe3 30. Rc7 Rd7 =

26. Ra3 = If 26. Rxc5 Rxd2 27. Rxd2 Rxd2+ 28. Qxd2 Qxc5 and Black wins.

26…Bb7 White obviously cannot play 27. Rxa7 because of the discovery with Bxf3+. However, Topalov can play 27. Nb3 now. The battle for the c pawn continues.

27. Nb3 Rc7 Perhaps 28. Rc2 next. 28. e4 is also interesting because 29. Rxa7 is a real threat since there is no longer any discovery check.

28. Na5 Topalov wants to trade for Black’s Bishop. Anand should not allow this trade as it would be more difficult for Black without the Bishop.

28…Ba8 A curious move by Anand. Yes, he wants to keep his Bishop. Yes, he wants to keep his Bishop on the h1 – a8 diagonal. Even though it is not a blunder, this is still an unexpected move. Topalov can bring his Rook back to c3 now.

29. Nc4 e5 Anand cannot just sit back and allow Topalov to make a big play for his c5 pawn. He must continue to put pressure on the Kingside.

More questions from the fans:

– Do you think Anand would be a strong favorite in the rapid event if this game is drawn and a tie break happens?

I think Anand would be a slight favorite but not strong favorite. Anything can happen in rapid or blitz games.

– What do the player’s seconds do exactly just before SUCH a big game, I mean the players (Anand, Topalov) are bigger than the seconds and have much more experience. Isn’t just a expert computer analyst sufficient ?

Seconds will have very little sleep during a world championship, especially the last few games. They have to work on new idea based on the match score and earlier game results. Computers can help make this process faster and more accurate but computer analysis alone would be disastrous as computers cannot understand the scope of the match, the psychology / style / strengths / weaknesses of the opponent.

30. e4 Black must play f5 now or else White will play Ne3 with a good advantage.

30…f5 Topalov must be careful here. Anand wants to open up the Kingside, especially the h1 – a8 diagonal. Perhaps 31. Nd2 is needed.

31. exf5? This is very dangerous. Anand can play 31…e4 now with serious threats.

31…e4 32. fxe4? This is looking very bad for White now. We may not go to the playoff after all. 32…Qxe4 and Black has a strong attack. This is almost over. 32…Qxe4+ 33. Kh3 Rd4 34. Ne3 Qe8 35. g4 h5 -+

32…Qxe4 33. Kh3 It is all in Anand’s hands now. He will win this match and retain his title if he continues correctly.

33…Rd4 So far so good.

34. Ne3 I don’t think Topalov saw 34….Qe8 here which gives Black a win. I think he missed it.

If Anand wins this game, I will post my final comments about the match as well as bring you the information about the closing ceremony. Please be sure to check back to the final wrap up.

34…Qe8 This is the key move and Anand found it. If 35. g4 then h5 -+ It is just about over.

35. g4 h5 Anand is like a Tiger smelling blood. He feels it. He knows that the World Championship is in his hands now. This is a shocking ending! 31. exf5 and 32. fxe4 are 2 horrendously bad moves.

36. Kh4 The King cannot possibly survive this. 36…Qd8+ is the quickest way to close out this game.

36…g5+ This is not the most accurate continuation for Anand. 36…Qd8 would have been much more decisive.

37. fxg6 Black should still win this but it is more difficult than the previous suggestion. This is the winning path for Anand: 38. Qf1 Rxg4+ 39. Kh3 Re7 -+

37…Qxg6 38. Qf1 This is perhaps one of the biggest blunders in the final game of a world championship match. I am still stunned that Topalov did not sense any danger whatsoever by opening up the h1 – a8 diagonal.

38…Rxg4+ This is the final hurdle for Anand and he found it.

39. Kh3 Now 30…Re7 and it is basically hopeless for White.

39…Re7 Here are a few possible lines: 40. Qd1 Rd4 41. Nf5 Qxf5+ 42. Rxf5 Rxd1 43. Rxh5 Rg7 44. Rg3 Bd5 -+ or 40. Rf8+ Kh7 41. Rh8+ Kxh8 42. Qf8+ Qg8 43. Qh6+ Rh7 44. Qf6+ Rhg7 45. Qh6+ Qh7 46. Qxh7+ Kxh7 47. Nxg4 hxg4+ -+ Everything looks bad for Topalov.

40. Rf8+ The last hope for Topalov is for Anand to play 40… Kg7 41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3. However, after the game, I went through this line deeper and it was lost for Topalov anyway.

40…Kg7 Although 40…Kh7 is a cleaner and more precise, 40…Kg7 also wins after I looked at it again 41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3 Rxg3+ 43. hxg3 Qg4+ 44. Kh2 Re2+ 45. Kg1 Rg2+ 46. Qxg2 Bxg2 47. Rf7+ -+

41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3 Rxg3+ 43. hxg3 Qg4+ 44. Kh2 Re2+ 45. Kg1 Rg2+ 46. Qxg2 Bxg2 47. Kxg2 Another option is 47. Rf7+ but Anand can still win with this: 47… Kg6 is a must move 48. Rg7+ Kxf5 49. Rxg4 hxg4 50. Kxg2 Ke4 51. Kf2 Kd3 -+

47…Qe2+ 48. Kh3 This is now completely hopeless for Topalov. Rook and Knight cannot hold this position. Now a simple 48…c4 wins.

48…c4 The final game usually comes down to nerve as we can see today. In this game, Anand was more composed. Even though both sides made mistakes, Topalov was making more and bigger ones and this costs him the game.

49. a4 a5 50. Rf6 Anand’s advantage is overwhelming.

50…Kg8 Topalov’s chances to hold are very slim. Anand has plenty of time and I think the dangerous tactics are now behind him. Now it is simply a matter of technique.

51. Nh6+ Kg7 52. Rb6 Qe4 53. Kh2 Now Anand can simply get his Queen behind the b2 pawn then push c3. For example: 53…Qc2+ 54. Kh3 Qb1 -+

53…Kh7 Topalov has no practical chances to hold this position. He is fighting on because it is the final game of the world championship.

54. Rd6 Qe5 If 55. Rb6 then Qd4. I expect Topalov to resign soon as the b pawn will fall.

55. Nf7 Black has no problem with 55…Qxb2+

55..Qxb2+ 56. Kh3 Just about anything other than hanging the Queen is fine.

56…Qg7 Now Topalov will have problems with his Knight and Rook in addition to the c passed pawn. Time to resign.

Topalov resigns. Congratulations to Anand for successfully defending his title. It has been an interesting match.

Over 140,500 people joined us today for the final game. This is an all time record for this LIVE commentary. I would like to thank everyone for joining us today and for the entire match. There have been plenty of ups and downs for both players but Anand’s nerve was stronger at the end.

I will bring you my final wrap up as well as additional information on the closing ceremony by tomorrow. Be sure to check in for that. Don’t forget to solve the daily chess puzzles on this blog! It will help you become better in chess 🙂

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