History seemed to have repeated itself in the fifth game. Topalov was just unable to hold onto anything more than a nominal edge and sensible defence from the World Champion ensured a draw.
Here is the story so far:
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Veselin Topalov (2805) - Viswanathan Anand (2787)
Sofia WCM (5th game) 30.04.2010
Slav defence (D17)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.♘f3 ♘f6 4.♘c3 dxc4 5.a4 ♗f5 6.♘e5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 ♗g6 9.♗e3 cxd4 10.♕xd4 ♕xd4 11.♗xd4 ♘fd7 12.♘xd7 ♘xd7 13.♗xc4 a6 14.♖c1 ♖g8 15.h4
The first deviation from their round three game. There Anand played 15...h6, but a later h4-h5 by White enabled him to gain space and the light-squared bishop was pushed further out of play. This time around, Anand decides to hold back White's pawns and can hope that with ...f6 and ...♗f7 bring the bishop back into the game rather quicker than three days earlier.
The knight heads for f4 bearing down on g6 and h5.
16...♗d6 17.♗e3 ♘e5!
More combative than 17...♔e7 18.♘f4 ♘e5 19.♘xg6+ ♘xg6 20.♔f2; but even here I'm not sure that White's bishop pair should really yield any advantage.
Instead 18...♘xc4 19.♖xc4 ♗xf4?! 20.♗xf4 would give opposite bishops but Black's pieces would be too poorly placed.
19.♗b3 ♖xc1+ 20.♗xc1 ♔e7 21.♔e2 ♖c8
Anand is in the process of fully mobilizing his forces, at the minor cost of allowing his opponent the option of obtaining the bishop pair.
A surpise. White can capture the pawn on e6 but at the cost of losing the initiative. The threat is now to retreat the bishop out of the firing line, so Topalov's reaction is understandable.
Taking the bishop looks natural to me as capturing the pawn is unpromising:
a) 23.♗xe6 ♖c2 24.♖b1 ♘c6 (24...♘c4 25.♗xc4 (25.♘xg6+? ♔xe6 leaves Black on top) 25...♗xf4 26.♖d1 ♖xb2;
b) 23.♘xe6 ♗f7 24.♘d4 ♗xb3 25.♘xb3 ♖c2, and in either case Black has a fully satisfactory position.
23...♘xg6 24.g3 ♘e5 25.f4 ♘c6
I also quite like 25...♘c4 26.♗c3 (26.♖c1?! is well met by 26...♘xd2!) 26...b5 27.axb5 axb5 but this allows 28.♖a1 with a small pull for White now that he has an open file on which the rook can operate.
It's generally easier to defend 'knight vs. bishop' than 'knight and bishop versus two bishops!
27.♗xb4+ ♘xb4 28.♖d1 ♘c6 29.♖d2
'Rook and bishop versus rook and knight' is one of the most common endgames and occurs in about 10% of all games. In positions where there is play on both wings, especially when the centre is reasonably open, the owner of the bishop often has the better prospects.
A sign that Anand really wants to avoid being squeezed!
After 30...gxh4 31.gxh4 ♖g8, White has the annoying 32.♗d1 so Anand decides to close the wing.
31.♖c2 ♖d8 32.♔e3 ♖d6
Topalov can try and press by creating play on both flanks, particularly as there are various pawns on light-squares. However can he do this without allowing some central counterplay? The most noticeable weakness being on h5, so...
However Black has an active reply available...
Both sides insist on keeping active. The threat of ...♖d3+ is sufficient to save the h5-pawn.
Black would be very solid after 34.♗c4 ♘c2+ 35.♔e2 ♘d4+ 36.♔f2 ♖c6.
34...♔d8 35.♖c3 ♔e7
A tacit offer of a repetition.
Otherwise Black could consider trying to improve his pawn structure with 35...a5, but then 36.e5 would give White some play, particularly as then the e6-pawn wouldn't be well defended.
The most forceful as Topalov would like to fix as many of his opponent's pawns as possible on light-squares, but this fails to impress.
Although 36...fxe5 37.fxe5 ♖d7 is plausible, it would offer potential access to the f4-square for White's king.
37.exf6+ ♔xf6 38.♔e2
The knight seems to be the equal of the bishop, so Black shouldn't have too much to worry about here, assuming that he doesn't let White get at the h5-pawn. Anand's previous move show that he has ...♘d4+ in mind.
39.♔e1 ♘d4 40.♗d1 a5 41.♖c5 ♘f5 42.♖c3 ♘d4
43.♖c5 ♘f5 44.♖c3
Anand again shows that he is an able defender in these positions.
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