GM Topalov (2796) - GM Kamsky (2725) [C07]
Sofia Match (5), 23.02.2009
1.e4 This is the first time Topalov is employing 1.e4 in the match. The previous two White games were both 1.d4
1...e6 We have the French defense today.
2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 This is the second most popular move after 3.Nf6.
4.Ngf3 cxd4 Other choices such as 4...Nc6, 4...a6 or 4...Nf6 are all playable.
5.Nxd4 Another very popular option is 5.exd5.
5...Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Nxc6 Bxc6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.c4 This is very strange. I was under the impression that Kamsky has White again in this game. So do many other observers. But according to the official site, Topalov has White.
9...Bd6 This is not a novelty. It is just not a very popular line but it has been played before. I just saw this notice below about ChessBase on the official site. I am not sure what this is about. For such an important match, I would have expected the organizer to have it viewed by as many people as possible. Over 26,000 bloggers followed my LIVE commentary in game 4. I wonder if I am violating the official rules too?
10. cxd5 cxd5 11. exd5 exd5 12. O-O Ne7 13. Nf3 O-O 14. Qd3 White will obviously make a play for Black's isolated d pawn.
14...Qd7 15.Rd1 Rfd8 This is the kind of position I expect Kamsky to play with White. It is unusual to see Topalov on the White side. White has a small advantage and will try to grind this out a la Kamsky style. 16.Be3 is expected. However, I would be shocked if Kamsky could lose such as endgame.
Here is a screen shot of the actual LIVE broadcast from the official website.
17.g3 The French defense was one of the first openings I learned when I started out in chess. I am quite familiar with it. In fact, I just came out with a 3-volume DVD about the French recently. I also taught a number of my students this opening as well.
17...h6 18.Bb6 Black can move his d Rook to either c8 or e8. Both are fine.
18...Rdc8 I expect 19.Bd4. However, it is difficult to find a convincing plan for White to even have a chance to score a full point. Black should have no problem holding this position, especially someone who is very strong in endgame like Kamsky.
19.Bd4 Bc5 Update: I just saw the following note from Macauley:
The organizers decided they wanted sites to ask permission to retransmit the live moves.
I just talked to Ventzislav Inkiov, from the Executive Committee, and he said Chessbase never asked permission. Hence the notice you cited.
The legal justification for such a position is highly dubious. (There's a long discussion on this topic on ChessVibes Game 2 comments), but regardless, I'm told by Inkiov that the Bulgarian Chess Federation had a lawyer in Berlin send a cease & desist to Chessbase.
I asked, what about other sites, and he said other sites have permission (including Polgar). ICC has been relaying both Kamsky-Topalov and Linares, in concert with its LIVE audio coverage www.Chess.FM."
Thanks Macauley as usual! For those of you who do not know who Macauley is, he does a fantastic job providing chess enthusiasts many wonderful chess videos and interviews from important events around the world for Chess.FM. He is one of the best in the business.
20.Bc3 Bb4 Gata wants to trade the Bishops. Obviously Gata would be fine with they repeat moves with Bd4 Bc5. I doubt that Topalov will give away a White game drawing in this fashion.
21.Be5 Bd6 White cannot stop Black from trying to trade Bishops. He can, however, decides where to trade them. I expect White to continue to pile up his pieces on the d file to go after the d pawn.
22.Rd2 Bxe5 I am not sure if I would want to trade the Bishop here. A different try could be 22...Bb4 to chase the Rook then back to Bd6. Black is in no rush to trade immediately.
23. Nxe5 Qd6 23...Qe6 is fine as well.
24. Re1 Rc7 25. Qf3 Rf8 26. Kg2 += Obviously White is playing to win although it is far far far from easy. However, it is not pleasant for Black either. Black has to be very patient and that fits Kamsky well.
26...Rb7 Black seems to be content with his piece set up and no major improvement is needed.
27.h4 Qb4 White has many playable options such as 28.Rde2, 28.Red1 or Ree2.
28.Ree2 White will continue to try to improve his position.
28...Qa5 The question is does White want to have a a2-b3 pawn structure of a3-b2 pawn structure. Both are OK but I prefer the first one slightly better.
29.b3 Qb4 Now the next thing Kamsky wants to do is a4 to peel one pawn off. Now we can expect Topalov to shift his Knight to d3 then eventually f4.
30.Nd3 Qd6 Just got an email from Macauley:
"Scenes from the start of play, including Kamsky pausing before 1...e6, are on the Chess.FM blog: http://Chess.FM/blog".
I also asked Macauley to find out why Topalov has White today, when was this decision made, and how come not so many people were aware of it.
I just got this back from Macauley:
Surprises at the start of Round 5, as most of the chess world was expecting Kamsky to have white as per the match regulations:As for why there was no public announcement, I don't have the answer yet.
3.4.1 The draw for colors will be conducted during the opening ceremony. The colors shall be reversed after game 4. (The player getting the white color in game 1 shall play game 5 with the black color).
According to Emil Sutovsky, Kamsky's manager, an amendment to the rules was signed by both players prior to the start of the match, and in fact the decision to simply alternate colors was made during the match negotiations in Dresden, last November.
31.h5 Rc7 32.Nf4 White continues to try to put more pressure on the isolated pawn.
32...d4 33.Re4 Nc6 34.Nd3 Rd8 35.Rc2 Nb4?? This is a bad blunder and the d4 pawn will be gone. White can play 36.Nxb4 axb4 37.Rxd4 Qxd4 38.Rxc7 +/-
36.Nxb4 I am shocked at this blunder by Gata. Perhaps he was so sure that it would be a draw that he became careless. It would be absolutely devastating if Gata throws away this game.
36...axb4 37.Rxd4 I had no doubt that Topalov would find this quite quickly. It's really basic tactic. The problem is 37...Rxc2 does NOT work as 38.Rxd6 Rxd6 39.Qa8+ Kh7 40.Qe4+ wins the Rook.
37...Qf8? 38.Rxd8 Qxd8 Gata is facing the same problem as the line above. 39. Rxc7 Qxc7
40.Qa8+ Kh7 41.Qe4+ Kg8 42.Qxb4 and White is in good shape.
39. Rxc7 Qxc7 40.Qa8+ Kh7 41.Qe4+ Kg8 42.Qxb4 Qc6+ 43.Kg1 Qc1+ 44.Kh2 Qc2 (Diagram below)
45.Qe1 Kf8 46.a3 Topalov found a way to temporarily save both a and b pawn. If 46...Qxb3 47.Qb4+ and game over. White will win this endgame easily. Resignation may come soon. I have to tell you that I am absolutely stunned with 35.Nb4?? followed by 37...Qf8? This is devastating for Gata psychologically after an impressive win in game 4.
46...Qb2 This makes no difference. White can simply play 47.Qb4+ followed by Kg2 then march the passed pawns.
47.Qb4+ Kg8 +- 48.Kg2 Qe5 49.Qg4 Qb2 50.Qc8+ Kh7 51.Qc4 Qxa3 52.Qxf7 This is basically not very difficult endgame technique to earn the full point.
52...Qb4 53.Qc4 Qb7+ White can simply play 54.f3 with the threat of Qe4+ to trade Queens.
54.Kg1 This is fine as well. Virtually anything wins.
54...Qf3 55.g4 +- Gata resigned. Game over. What a tragedy! The bad news is he is trailing by one with only 3 games to play. The good news is he has 2 White in the final 3 games.