Topalov draws first blood!

By tradition the opening move is played by a VIP, here the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov.
Once the protagonists got down to the real game, play entered a fashionable line of the Grünfeld Defence in the traditional Exchange Variation. Topalov made the most of his early initiative with a crushing sacrifice that opened up Anand's king to give him an easy win.
See the game with GM annotations and some great videos below.

The opening was no surprise, with Anand's choice of the Grünfeld reflects his liking for lively piece-play. Topalov sticks with an active line which, apart from his own games, has seen many high-ranking games recently. The Bulgarian's second Cheparinov has also played like this and their combined preparation seemed far more to the point than Anand's in a one-sided opener.

So a fine win for Topalov which incidently makes him provisionally the world number one at 2817 ahead of Magnus Carlsen's 2813.

Here is the game with my annotations:

Veselin Topalov (2805) - Viswanathan Anand (2787)

Sofia WCM (1), 24.04.2010

Grünfeld Defence, Exchange Variation (D87)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 d5 4.cxd5 ♘xd5 5.e4 ♘xc3 6.bxc3 ♗g7 7.♗c4 c5 8.♘e2 ♘c6 9.♗e3 0-0 10.0-0 ♘a5 11.♗d3 b6 12.♕d2 e5!?

For the last couple of years this move has been popular. The point is that capturing the pawn on c5 has been shown to offer Black good piece play.

13.♗h6 cxd4 14.♗xg7 ♔xg7 15.cxd4 exd4 16.♖ac1

White also obtained strong pressure with 16.f4! f6 17.f5 (a similar idea to the game) 17...♗d7 18.♘f4 ♘c6 19.♗b5 in Najer,E-Safarli,E Moscow Aeroflot 2010. Topalov no doubt knew of this game but had probably settled on this approach in his preparation even before it was played.


Carlsen opted for 16...♗b7 when faced with this position against Karjakin and went on to hold the draw.

17.f4 f6 18.f5


Is it necessary to move the queen again immediately?

When I was recently annotating the Najer-Safarli game I suggested 18...♗d7! as an improvement: Black links his rooks and intends ...♖ac8 to diminish White's chances of generating an attack, then if 19.♘f4 ♕e5 (19...♖ac8?! however looks suspicious after 20.fxg6 hxg6 21.♘xg6!) 20.♕f2 ♖ac8 21.♖xc8 ♖xc8 22.♕g3 g5 23.h4 h6 24.♕g4 ♖c3 and Black has important counterplay.

19.♘f4 g5!?

Trying to block the wing, but this doesn't seem to dent Topalov's pressure.

20.♘h5+ ♔g8 21.h4 h6 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.♖f3 ♔f7?

A decisive mistake. The idea is ...♖h8 but he doesn't get a chance!

Anand needs to (finally) develop his bishop when the position would be far from clear (White always has some initiative for the pawn, but is it enough?) e.g. 23...♗d7; or 23...♗b7 as 24.♘xf6+? (after 24.♖g3 then the move 24...♔f7! seems OK. Maybe Anand got his lines mixed up?) 24...♕xf6 25.♖g3 ♖ac8 26.♖e1 ♖c3! seems to be fine for Black.


Crunch! there doesn't seem to be a satisfactory defence whatever Black plays.


After 24...♕xf6 25.♖h3 ♔g8 White crashes through with 26.e5!.


Neither of White's rooks can be held back.

25...♖g8 26.♖h6+ ♔f7 27.♖h7+ ♔e8 28.♖cc7 ♔d8 29.♗b5! ♕xe4 30.♖xc8+!

There is no point in playing on as 30.♖xc8+ ♔xc8 (or 30...♖xc8 31.♖d7+ ♔e8 32.♖xd4+) 31.♕c1+ ♘c6 32.♗xc6 ♕e3+ 33.♕xe3 dxe3 34.♗xa8 is clearly hopeless.


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