Saturday, April 24, 2010


GM Veselin Topalov played with guns blazing in dealing the defending champion GM Vishy Anand a crushing defeat in the 1st game of their World Championship match. GM Topalov playing white started with 1. d4 and Anand countered with the Gruenfeld Defense. Topalov sacrificed a pawn early for greater piece mobility and pressure on black's kingside. He sacrificed a piece in the 24th move in order to smash through black's defenses. GM Anand resigned in the 30th move when confronted with either losing his queen or being checkmated.

Below is an analysis of the game by GM Susan Polgar as originally posted in her website Chess Daily News and Information. Just click

[Event "World Championship"]
[Date "2010.04.24"]
[ "1st Game"]
[White "GM Veselin Topalov"]
[Black "GM Viswanathan Anand"]
[ECO "D87"]
[WhiteElo "2805"]
[BlackElo "2787"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7
It is interesting that Anand is employing the Gruenfeld in the first game. A surprising choice in my opinion.

7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O Na5 11. Bd3 b6 12. Qd2 e5 13. Bh6 cxd4 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. cxd4 exd4 16. Rac1
= Topalov against Kamsky in the 1st game of their match in 2009 played 16. f4 and that game ended in a draw as well.

16...Qd6 Magnus Carlsen as Black against Karjakin in 2008 played 16...Bb7 and it was a draw. Therefore, it seems that Anand did not want to duplicate the Magnus move.

17. f4 f6 18. f5 Qe5

Topalov sacrificed a pawn early. However, he has plenty of compensation for it. His pieces are fully developed while Black's pieces are not coordinated yet. Anand has to be mentally ready to be patient and defend against Topalov's all out attack in most if not all games. This is why I think this match will be very exciting. It fire versus ice! In this position, both 19. Rf3 and 19. Nf4 are good options. Black has to be careful not to allow Topalov to exploit his weakness on the Kingside.

19. Nf4 Black can just ignore it and develop his Bishop to d7 or he can chase the Knight away with g5.

19...g5 Now Topalov has 2 main options, Knight to d5 or h5. Both are OK although I would predict Topalov to get his Knight to h5 as it will give him more flexibility. The Black Bishop can chase his Knight easier on d5.

20. Nh5+ Kg8 = Now Topalov can open up the Kingside even further with h4. There is no advantage for White. However, any slight inaccuracy by Black can shift the balance of the game immediately. This is why many players fear Topalov because he is simply relentless. He is not afraid to lose and he goes for the win in every game.

21. h4 h6 Anand's plan here is simple. Hold off White's attack, trade pieces to go to the endgame with a pawn up.

22. hxg5 hxg5 I have to assume that this is all home preparation for both players. It is very rare to see moves being played this fast in world championship competition. Now the main plan for White is to get his Rooks to the h file. He does not have much else.

23. Rf3 Anand is taking a lot of time for his 23rd move. He knows what Topalov wants to do. The question is how to defend it since 3 of his pieces (Rook on a8, Bishop on c8, and Knight on a5) are out of play at the moment. The 1st game is one of the most critical games in any world championship match. No matter how well any player prepared, there will always be jitter. No one wants to dug a big hole right from the start. It does not mean that you cannot come back after losing the first game. I did in my world championship match in 1996 and Fischer did the same in his match in 1972. We both came back and won convincingly.

GM Alex Onischuk recently shared with me his sentiment about this match: "I think the chances are equal (considering that they play in Sofia, Topalov is 5 years younger, Vishy has more match experience, etc.), the one who will be in better form, or maybe just will be luckier will win the match." I agree with both GMs Onischuk and Caruana. I also think the match will be very very close.

I would like to thank both GMs Caruana and Onischuk for their comments. I have many more interesting comments and assessments from 20+ others very strong players. I will publish them one at the time during the LIVE commentary of the 12 games.

23...Kf7 A very suspicious move. This allows 24.Nxf6.

24. Nxf6!!

Now it seems that Anand is in serious trouble. If 24...Kxf6 25. Rh3 Bd7 26. Rh6+ Kf7 27. Qxg5 Rg8 28. Rh7+ Rg7 29. Rc7 +-. If 24...Qxf6 25. Rh3 Kg8 26. Rc7 Bxf5 27. exf5 Rf7 28. Qc1 +-. This is a stunning development!

24...Kxf6 After around 25 minutes, Anand took the Knight with his King. I expect 25. Rh3 for White now. It is obvious that Topalov is not afraid to take chances. He sacrificed a pawn right out of the opening and now a Knight.

25. Rh3 nearly immediately.

GM Lev Alburt (3-time US champion and an excellent chess author) just sent me a note. "I think that the difference in age is not important (strong nerve system is much more valuable) and for sure Topalov is getting some advantage because of fact that match is played in Sofia." Thank you Lev for your insight.

25...Rg8 and Topalov immediately played 26. Rh6+ Kf7 Now White must follow through with 27. Rh7+

27. Rh7+ Topalov has a decisive advantage here. This game may be over very soon. If 27... Kf8 28. Qb4+ Ke8 29. Bb5+ and it's over. If 27... Ke8 28. Bb5+ Qxb5 29. Qxd4 the mate comes soon. If 27...Kf6 then 28. Rcc7 and it is also over. If 27...Rg7 then 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Qxg5+ Kf8 30. Qd8+ Qe8 31. Qxd4 and White has a decisive advantage. Anand is running out of options.

27...Ke8 Now 28. Bb5 will lead to a victory shortly.

28. Rcc7 This is not as strong as 28. Bb5 but it also wins easily.

28...Kd8 Now once again 29. Bb5 is the knockout punch. But Topalov needs to slow down and take his time now. Even though his position is winning, he is down a piece. Therefore, an inaccuracy by him may cost him the game. Time to clamp down and close out the brilliant game and not time to get excited and play fast.

29. Bb5! A decisive move! The problem for Black is his pieces cannot move. His Rook on a8, Bishop on c8 and Knight on a5 are all useless and out of play. I expect a resignation shortly. This is devastating for Anand. But he is very experienced and I am sure he will regroup quickly.

29...Qxe4 30. Rxc8+

Anand resigns!

Topalov leads 1-0.

Replay the game below:

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