Could Anand have even drawn the opposite bishop endgame?
Maybe he could! Let's see how...
This was the position on the board after White's 54th move.
Veselin Topalov (2805) - Viswanathan Anand (2787)
Sofia WCM (8th round) 04.05.2010
Slav defence (D17)
The game didn't last long...
54...♗c6? 55.♔h6 ♔g8 56.g4!
and Black resigned.
Anand realized that he wasn't going to hold. Here is what I wrote in the news article from yesterday...
"After 56.g4 ♗d7 57.f4 ♗a4 58.♗g7! (58.f5? creates a second passed pawn but this may not be enough as after 58...exf5 59.gxf5 ♗d7 60.f6 ♗e6 Black may be able to blockade the light squares) 58...♗d7 59.g5 ♗e8 60.b3! Zugzwang! this means that Black has to play a move that he would rather not! Any king moves loses the h-pawn (and then White has a second passed pawn in favourable circumstances) and any bishop move that stops d6-d7 such as... 60...♗d7 ...allows... 61.g6! hxg6 62.♔xg6 followed by a decisive king penetration e.g. 62...♗b5 63.♔f6 ♗c6 64.♗h6 and ♔-e7."
Instead of this, Black could certainly have put up better resistance (see the first diagram position) with...
...but the question is: can he draw with best play? Let's look at some plausible lines:
55.♗f6 ♔e8 56.♔h6 ♔d7 57.♗e5 ♗c2 58.g4 ♗d3 59.f4 ♗c2
Or 59...♔e8 60.♔g5 ♔f7 61.♗d4 ♗c2 62.♗b6 ♔e8 63.♔f6 ♔d7 64.♔e5 ♗d3 65.♗f2 ♗c2 66.♗g3 ♗d3 67.f5 exf5 68.gxf5 ♗c2 69.f6 ♗g6 70.♔d4 ♔e6 71.♗e5 ♗e8 72.♔e4 ♗d7 comes to the same thing.
60.♔g7 ♔e8 61.♔f6 ♔d7
Now White can create a second passed pawn, but on the 'd' and 'f' files they are not sufficiently far apart and Black can switch backwards and forwards to stop them becoming too dangerous.
The only serious try.
62...exf5 63.gxf5 ♗b1 64.♗g3 ♗c2 65.♔e5
White is unable to advance his king up the board as he would then simply drop his f-pawn. In order to win he would like to get his king to g7 and pawn on f6, but Black can stop him!
65...♗b1 66.f6 ♗g6 67.♔d4 ♔e6 68.♗e5 ♗e8 69.♔e4
If White plays the cheeky 69.♔e3 Black should not capture the bishop!
The sloppy 69...♗g6+ 70.♔f4 ♗e8 71.♔g5 ♗g6? would allow White to achieve his plan: 72.♔h6 ♔d7 73.♔g7 ♔e6 74.d7 ♔xd7 75.f7 ♗xf7 76.♔xf7 ♔c6 77.♔f6 ♔b5 78.♗c3 with an easy win e.g. 78...b6 79.axb6 ♔xb6 80.♗b4 ♔b5 81.♗a3 ♔c4 82.♔g5 ♔b3 83.♔h6 a5 84.♔xh7 a4 85.♔g6 and Black can do nothing while White comes across and picks off the pawn.
70.♔f4 ♔f7 71.♔g5 ♗d7 72.♔h6 ♗f5
Holding onto the h-pawn for the moment, but White hasn't said his last word!
Black in fact doesn't need the h-pawn, indeed 73...♔f8? 74.♔g5 ♗d7 75.♔f4 ♔f7 76.♔e4 ♔e6 77.♔d4 ♗e8 78.♔c5 ♔d7 79.♔b6 ♔c8 80.d7+ ♔xd7 81.♔xb7 ♔e6 82.♔xa6 wins for White.
74.♔xh7 ♗f5+ 75.♔h6 ♗e6 76.♔g5 ♗d7 77.♔f4 ♔e6 78.♔e4 ♗e8 79.♔d4 ♗f7 80.♔c5 ♔d7 81.♔b6 ♗d5 82.b5
Or 82.f7 ♗xf7 83.♔xb7 ♗c4 and there is no second passed pawn.
Another try 83.f7 ♗xf7 84.♔xb7 ♗d5+ 85.♔b8, fails to 85...b4 86.a6 b3 87.a7 b2 88.♗xb2 ♔xd6=.
There are three things for Black to watch: the b7 pawn plus the d7 and f7 squares, but he can still draw!
84...♔d7 85.f7 ♗xf7 86.♔xb7 ♗d5+ 87.♔b6
Or 87.♔b8 ♗c4! and White is frustrated.
87...♔c8 88.a6 ♔d7 89.♗f4 ♗e4 90.a7 ♗f3
White can't win as the edge of the board prevents White supporting and then promoting the a-pawn.
Conclusion: Anand could in fact have held the endgame.
General rule: In order to win opposite bishop endgames it is almost always necessary to create a second passed pawn, but not always sufficient, as we have seen from the present example.
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In case you were curious, the match situation so far:
|1||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||1-0||Grünfeld defence||30|
|2||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||1-0||Catalan opening||43|
|3||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||0.5-0.5||Slav defence||46|
|4||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||1-0||Catalan opening||32|
|5||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||0.5-0.5||Slav defence||44|
|6||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||0.5-0.5||Catalan opening||58|
|7||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||0.5-0.5||Catalan/Bogoljubov||58|
|8||Veselin Topalov||BUL||2805||Viswanathan Anand||IND||2787||1-0||Slav defence||56|
There are only four games of classical chess remaining with the score now being Anand 4 Topalov 4.
This means that both players require 2.5 out of 4 to get to 6.5 points in the twelve scheduled games.
Game 9 with Anand having the white pieces is on Thursday.
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