Down to the wire!

World Champion 'Vishy' Anand again sought to surprise his opponent in the opening by employing a different opening system. This time he opted for the English, the first time either player has varied from 1.d4.
Topalov however seemed comfortable throughout and after the first time control the position was even easier to play for him.
The game came alive as Topalov's niggling pressure induced Anand to sacrifice a pawn for activity creating some lively play in which he just about held his own.
So it's Anand 5.5 Topalov 5.5 with one game to go!

I'm not sure all this aggression by Anand was necessary, but it certainly led to an exciting finish!

Topalov may, or may not, have missed some winning chances but now his thoughts will now mainly be on Tuesday's game.

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
7Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Catalan/Bogoljubov58
8Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27871-0Slav defence56
9Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5Nimzoindian defence83
10Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND27870.5-0.5Grünfeld defence60
11Viswanathan AnandIND2787Veselin TopalovBUL28050.5-0.5English opening65

The remaining Classical game will be played on Tuesday the 11th of May.

12Veselin TopalovBUL2805Viswanathan AnandIND2787---

With only one game remaining the score is all-square at 5.5-5.5. It couldn't be any closer, as the match goes down to the wire!

If you haven't been following, you can catch up by watching our special World Champion videos:

Otherwise all the games so far have been analyzed by me in the news articles over the last couple of weeks.

Although Topalov is now slight favourite, as he has White in the last Classical game, if the score reaches 6-6 after the twelve games, Anand may fancy his chances. Look at the following:

Rate of PlayAnandDrawsTopalov
Previous Classical102311
Sofia 2010262
Rapidplay (inc. Blindfold)12243

Of course with two evenly-matched players one oversight or moment of inspiration can swing the match especially at faster time limits!

Anand didn't get anything with his last Classical White. @ official site.

Viswanathan Anand (2787) - Veselin Topalov (2805)

Sofia WCM (11th game) 09.05.2010

English (reversed Sicilian) opening (A29)


The English opening, definitely a surprise!

1...e5 2.♘c3 ♘f6 3.♘f3 ♘c6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 ♘xd5

The pawn structure is the same as in the Sicilian defence with reversed colours.

6.♗g2 ♘b6 7.0-0 ♗e7 8.a3 0-0 9.b4 ♗e6 10.d3 f6


The plan of bringing a knight to the c5-square is quite normal here.

White can however complete his development with 11.♗b2 ♕d7 12.♖c1 ♖fd8 13.♘d2 and then play for ♘c-e4, but that gives Black plenty of time to organize his forces and 13...♗h3 14.♗xh3 ♕xh3 15.♘ce4 a6 16.♘c5 ♗xc5 17.♕b3+ ♔h8 18.♖xc5 ♕g4 19.f3 ♕d7 was about equal in Ree,H-Smyslov,V Amsterdam 1991.

11...♕e8 12.♘c5 ♗xc5 13.bxc5 ♘d5 14.♗b2 ♖d8 15.♕c2 ♘de7 16.♖ab1 ♗a2

Played in order to disrupt White, who would like to place a rook on the semi-open b-file.

17.♖bc1 ♕f7 18.♗c3 ♖d7 19.♕b2 ♖b8 20.♖fd1 ♗e6 21.♖d2 h6 22.♕b1 ♘d5 23.♖b2

Black is now obliged to meet the threat to his b-pawn.

23...b6 24.cxb6 cxb6 25.♗d2 ♖d6 26.♖bc2

Naturally switching to an open file.

26...♕d7 27.h4 ♖d8

28.♕b5 ♘de7 29.♕b2 ♗d5

White has the bishop pair but doesn't have any line-opening pawn breaks available, especially with black being so well dug-in. So Anand decides to trade a pair of minor pieces in order to attempt to loosen Black's defences.

30.♗b4!? ♘xb4 31.axb4

If White attempts the intermediate 31.♖c7? Black has the strong desperado 31...♘xd3! after which 32.exd3 ♕e6 33.♖xa7 ♘c6 leaves Black with the most comfortable position due to his superior structure.

31...♖c6 32.b5 ♖xc2 33.♖xc2 ♗e6


A surprising move, but alternatives don't offer any real play.


If Black tries 34...exd4, with 35.♖d2 ♘f5 White can regain the pawn with 36.e4 and after a plausible continuation such as 36...♘d6 37.♖xd4 ♕c7 38.e5 fxe5 39.♘xe5 White has a pull, as the position is sharpening up and he has the safer king.

35.♘d2 ♕xd4

Simplifying and equalizing.

36.♘xe4 ♕xb2 37.♖xb2 ♔f7 38.e3 g5!

Gaining space and giving himself the option of fixing White's pawns with a possible ...g4!?.

39.hxg5 hxg5 40.f4 gxf4 41.exf4 ♖d4

Such simplification would seem to be drawish at first sight until one realizes that Black's pieces are the more active.

42.♔f2 ♘f5 43.♗f3 ♗d5 44.♘d2 ♗xf3 45.♘xf3 ♖a4


This looks slightly risky but Anand didn't want to stay too passive.

46...♘d6 47.♔g3 ♘e4+ 48.♔h4 ♘d6 49.♖d2!?

Sacrificing the b-pawn. Activity is the key word!

Plausible is 49.♔g3, as 49...♖a5 can be met by 50.♘d4 but Anand prefers to go forward if he can!

49...♘xb5 50.f5 ♖e4!

Otherwise White's rook will be unopposed on the seventh rank. This move seems rather convincing, so I'm wondering if Anand had under-estimated this resource when plotting his pawn sacrifice?


Here 51.♖d7+ ♖e7 doesn't really give White anything for his pawn although 52.♖xe7+ ♔xe7 53.g5 may offer some drawing chances.

51...♖e3 52.♘h4 ♘c3 53.♖d7+ ♖e7 54.♖d3 ♘e4 55.♘g6!

Not giving Black an easy time.


After 55...♖c7!, White is quite active following 56.♖d8 ♔g7 57.♘f8 ♘c5 58.g5 but still this could be the best winning try, for example 58...fxg5 59.♔xg5 a5 and I don't see anything concrete for White.


I don't understand this move! Why not 56.♘xe7! ♘xd3 57.♘c8, surely this would be good enough for a draw as White immediately wins back one of the queenside pawns.

56...♖d7 57.♖e3 ♔g7 58.g5

White finally gets in this advance (which will be necessary if he is to keep Black busy before he can push his passed pawns).


Topalov also know that it is necessary to push pawns!

59.♘f4 b4!?

Instead after 59...fxg5 60.♔xg5 b4 61.♖e5 White has just about enough counterplay.

60.g6 b3 61.♖c3!

Now we understand the Indian's previous play. Black's king is in danger if the knight moves!


Not falling for 61...b2?? 62.♖xc5 b1♕ 63.♘e6+ ♔g8 64.♖c8+ and White mates!

62.♖xc5 ♖xf4 63.♖c7+ ♔g8 64.♖b7

Showing the world that he can take a draw when he wants!

64...♖f3 65.♖b8+ ♔g7


For more information on the tournament official tournament site

Published on , Updated on