Another Catalan in game six

The players repeated the line of their second match game, with Anand varying by giving up the bishop pair for rapid development.
Topalov freed himself by giving back a pawn to liberate his pieces and in the jostling of Anand's knights against Topalov's bishops honours were even.
Anand keeps his nose ahead in the match situation.

1Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27871-0Grünfeld defence30
2Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28051-0Catalan opening43
3Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Slav defence46
4Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28051-0Catalan opening32
5Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Slav defence44
6Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Catalan opening58

Score after six games: Anand 3.5 Topalov 2.5

If either player obtains 6.5 or more over the twelve scheduled games they will win the match and thus be crowned as World Champion.

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Viswanathan Anand (2787) - Veselin Topalov (2805)

Sofia WCM (6th game) 01.05.2010

Catalan opening (E04)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘f3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.♗g2 a6 6.♘e5 c5 7.♘a3 cxd4 8.♘axc4 ♗c5 9.0-0 0-0 10.♗g5

In the second match game Anand tried 10.♗d2 and went on to win although it was not evident that White achieved any opening advantage.

10...h6 11.♗xf6 ♕xf6

Also after 11...gxf6 12.♘d3 ♗e7 13.♕d2 ♔h7 14.♖ac1 ♖a7 15.♕f4 Raetsky,A-Panchanathan,M Biel 2004, White seemed to obtain plenty of play for his pawn.


Apart from sacrificing a pawn in the opening, Anand cedes the bishop pair but has well placed minor pieces and a lead in development in compensation.



A surprising square as there is always the risk of the counter ...b7-b5 becoming dangerous.


Topalov aims for good piece deployment and is willing to return the pawn.

If instead 13...b5? then simply 14.♕c2 bxc4 15.♕xc4 when White threatens the rook on a8 and so regains his material.


After 14.♗xc6 bxc6 15.♕xc6 ♖b8 the idea of ...♗b7 seems fine for Black who has some open lines for his pieces.


Again the Bulgarian shows his preference for open piece play. An alternative that comes into consideration is 14...♗d7 15.♘d6 ♘e5, but the position remains murky after 16.♕a5.

15.♗xc6 b5 16.♕c2 ♕xc6 17.♘cxe5

White has established material 'equality' but the slightly unusual scenario of 'two knights versus two bishops' has arisen. The bishops are not bad, but the knights seem to have enough good squares to keep them in check, especially as Black's slightly inferior pawn structure (isolated queen's pawn with no attack) doesn't offer him any pawn levers.

17...♕e4 18.♕c6 ♗b7 19.♕xe4 ♗xe4 20.♖c2

Black's bishops could potentially give him an advantage so Anand is careful to maintain control of the c-file.

20...♖fe8 21.♖fc1 f6 22.♘d7 ♗f5

Now the knights and bishops chase each other around the board for a while!

23.♘7c5 ♗b6 24.♘b7 ♗d7 25.♘f4 ♖ab8 26.♘d6 ♖e5 27.♘c8 ♗a5 28.♘d3 ♖e8 29.♘a7

What a strange dance! Knights are not particularly happy on the rim but from here it is heading for the influential square c6.

29...♗b6 30.♘c6 ♖b7 31.♘cb4 a5 32.♘d5

Anand has finally been able to force the exchange of one pair of minor pieces (♘-c5 and ♘xb6 are threatened), reducing the chances for Black to seize control.

32...a4 33.♘xb6 ♖xb6 34.♘c5 ♗f5 35.♖d2 ♖c6 36.b4 axb3 37.axb3 b4!

Otherwise if White were able to play b3-b4 he would have a nice bind, so Topalov finds an active solution.

38.♖xd4 ♖xe2 39.♖xb4 ♗h3

The point. White's first rank is weak so he cannot do anything with his extra pawn. Incidentally the threat is ...♖xc6.

40.♖bc4 ♖d6 41.♖e4 ♖b2 42.♖ee1

Bolstering the first rank.

42...♖dd2 43.♘e4 ♖d4 44.♘c5 ♖dd2 45.♘e4 ♖d3

Gamely avoiding the repetition, but a draw is on the cards anyway.

46.♖b1 ♖dxb3 47.♘d2 ♖b4 48.f3

Releasing his king from any potential mating tricks. With only pawns remaining on one wing the result is now inevitable.

48...g5 49.♖xb2 ♖xb2 50.♖d1 ♔f7 51.♔f2 h5 52.♔e3 ♖c2 53.♖a1 ♔g6 54.♖a6 ♗f5 55.♖d6 ♖c3+ 56.♔f2 ♖c2 57.♔e3 ♖c3+ 58.♔f2 ♖c2


My impression is that Topalov had no particular problems here and his active defence will have benefitted his confidence after a couple of earlier losses in the Catalan.

The onus is now on Anand to find something more testing as he'll be aiming to win at least one more White, just in case something goes wrong in one game as Black.

The next game will be on Monday the 3rd of May. Will it be another Slav?

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