Game 10 — Everybody’s tired; Salt and pepper

by admin on May 7, 2010

The tenth game of the world championship match could have been Topalov’s chance to break through and place Anand in an almost untenable position. Anand lost the thread in the middlegame and drifted into an inferior endgame, with a bishop and knight against White’s two bishops. But after the first time control, Topalov seemed to run out of energy, and in the end he had to exchange everything off just to force a draw.

So now we’ve had three consecutive games with missed opportunities, and both players have to be shaking their heads and wondering what might have been. As GM Sergei Shipov writes in his comments, “What can you say? It’s a sport.” I think we’ve all been through spells like this, when we win games we should have lost or drawn, and then we turn around and blunder away games that we could have won. In a way, it’s reassuring to see that the same thing happens even at the highest levels.

As for me, I’m tired, too, so today I am going to give you a less comprehensive translation of Shipov’s notes than in my last few posts — just a snapshot of a few moments in the game to give you an idea of the flow of events. I promise to come back on Sunday with renewed vigor.

To play through the moves of the game, go to Topalov, of course, was White, and Anand was Black. Selected comments from Shipov:

Before the game: “I want to underscore the fact that Topalov is not made of iron. He also is very tired. But the vector of the last few games is nevertheless obvious. Anand lost a drawn position and failed to win a won position. To complete the set, the only thing that is missing is for him to win a lost game! In general, surprises are still possible. They are like salt and pepper in your soup — they give a distinctive flavor to our experiences.”

After 10. … b6: “Something new. Even the omniscient Veselin was forced to think here. White is presented with a mass of possibilities, but in order to choose the best you need to know the nuances — or figure them out at the board. This move has been seen in practice, but it is much rarer than a number of other, more famous continuations. Apparently the world champion considered it important on principle to surprise the challenger as soon as possible. In the first game of the match, Vishy chose 10. … Na5 11. Bd3 b6. [As we know, that did not work out well for him. — DM]

After 21. … f5: “Anand plays decisively! But I have a suspicion that Veselin could get one of his trademarked carousels of pieces going here… I have in mind the variation 22. Bf4 Be5 23. Bxe5 Qxe5 24. Qg5!”

After 22. f3: “A concession, in my opinion. Now the square e4 becomes weak.”

After 23. … Qc5: “A luxurious position for a queen. Black stands better! White is forced to tenderly babysit his suffering pieces in the center, and he has no active ideas in sight.”

After 25. Ba6!: “An unexpected resource. The power on the board once again shifts over to White. Anand either has to go into a worse endgame where his opponent has the advantage of the two bishops (in the line 25. … Nd4 26. Qc4!) or he has to work out the complications after 25. … Bxa6!, which, according to the first returns, seem to lead to a draw. 25. … Ba8 would be risky because of 26. Bb5!, and the White queen will penetrate into the Black camp. The effect of this unpleasant surprise is softened by [Anand’s] plentiful reserve of time. Vishy can calmly and unhurriedly consider the variations.”

After 25. … Nd4: “He doesn’t trust himself! He has already lost faith — he is аfraid to make a mistake out of tiredness. Under better circumstances, it would not have required much effort for Anand to work out the details of the continuation 25. … Bxa6 26. Qxc6 Qa1+. Further play might continue 27. Kh2 Be5+ 28. Bf4 Bxf4+ 29. Nxf4 Qe5! 30. Qa8+ Kg7 31. Qxa7+ Kg8 and what is White to do? If 32. g3 Qb2+ 33. Ng2 Bf1 the White queen is not able to help the knight. White will have to settle for perpetual check.”

After 28. … Be5: “The ending is obviously better for White. He can play on two flanks, and the passed pawn in the center will demand Black’s attention. Vishy will have to defend long and patiently …”

After 35. … b5: “Here I finally have no idea what Anand is trying to do. I’ll have to think. This is why he put his knight on c7! Not waiting for the prophylactic move a2-a4, Vishy decided to advance his queenside pawns. But this is a risky strategy, giving White new opportunities to penetrate.”

After 44. Be6?!: “I’ve had it! I refuse to try to predict anything else in this game. It’s a dead issue! I was studying the variation 44. Kf3! Bd6 45.Bc8 Nc7 46. Ke4. In my opinion, it’s promising for White. For example, 46. … Kd8 47. Bb7 Ke7 48. Bc3 Ba3 49. Be6 Bd6 50. Bc6! and Black is in zugzwang. To say it more simply, Black is lost. Perhaps 46. … b4 puts up more resistance, but if you push the pawns on the queenside you create new weaknesses. With no chance to dismount.”

After 45. … Nc4!: “What a healthy leap! It’s been a long time since Black stood as well as he does now. Apparently Topalov only considered 45. … Be5 46. Bb4! with an advantage for White.”

After 46. … Bd6: “And now Black is able to create counterplay on the queenside. Black invites White’s bishop to penetrate to g8! The worst is over for Anand. There’s your surprise! There is both the salt and the pepper. Of course, the battle is not yet over.”

After 51. … Kd6: “Obviously. The White king by a decision of the TsK has been proclaimed persona non grata.”

[Translator’s note: This is the only riddle for today, and it’s a very easy one. In the Soviet era, the Communist Party was the de facto government, and its Central Committee (Tsentral’nyi Komitet or TsK) made all the decisions. The official title of the Soviet leaders, like Khrushchev, Brezhnev, et. al., was “General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” which got abbreviated to “gensek TsK KPSS,” which looks just as ungainly in Russian as it does in English. — DM]

After 60. Bc4: “Draw! By comparison with yesterday’s game, the roles are reversed. Today Anand saved himself from a very dubious position. As I suspected, Topalov started to make some mistakes. Up to a certain moment, up to the first time control he played the game well (not counting the opening problems) and gave the full impression that he would squeeze his opponent to death and score an ultra-important victory — but he ran out of energy. Veselin was clearly “swimming” in the endgame and at the very end was even forced to save himself [by sacrificing his bishop to win Black’s last pawns — DM]. What can you say? It’s a sport, and both players are really getting down and dirty.”

After a day of rest on Saturday, game eleven will be on Sunday. Expect some more high drama! — DM

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