Anand Strikes back in Second

There were a lot of parties this Saturday evening and Sunday, and I could not make it to the venue, which was a pity, since the second game offered another great battle, this time in positional manner:
Anand,V (2787) - Topalov,V (2805) [E04]
Sofia BUL, WCC2010 game_2 Sofia BUL (2), 04.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 The Catalan is a rare bird in Anand's repertoire, but he obviously had prepared it especially for the match. The point is that the resulting positions are rather dry, with slight, but long-lasting positional advantage for White, and no chances for Topalov to show his best sides- creativity and fantasy. 4...dxc4 5.Bg2 a6 6.Ne5 c5 7.Na3 cxd4 8.Naxc4 Bc5 9.0–0 0–0 10.Bd2 [10.b4 is quite an entertaining option- 10...Bxb4 11.Rb1 Bc5 12.Nd3 Be7 13.Nb6 Ra7 14.Qb3 Nc6 15.Bb2 with good positional compensation for the two sacrificed pawns that White eventuall y won in 1–0 Russo,G-De Haro,M/Guarapuava 1992/EXT 1998 (71)] 10...Nd5 11.Rc1 Nd7 12.Nd3 Ba7 13.Ba5 [13.Na5 N7f6 14.Qb3 Rb8 15.Rc2 Bd7 16.Rfc1 Bb5 17.a4 Bxd3 18.exd3 Re8 19.Nc4 Qe7 1/2 Vidit,S (2356)-Venkatesh,M (2462)/Nagpur 2008/CBM 126 Extra] 13...Qe7 14.Qb3 Rb8 15.Qa3!?

Only this move is a novelty, that was evaluated with mixed feelings by both the annotators and the general public. The idea is obvious, White is clearing the d6 square, and is getting rid of the strong defender on e7. On the other hand he exchanges pieces, and doubles his pawns, which are serious drawbacks. But I believe that this is part of Anand's general strategy in this match- he will look for dry positions, with long-lasting initiative as White, and try to force Topalov to defend as long as possible, to torture him. Something similar did Boris Spassky, in his match against Mikhail Tal in 1969. [15.Nce5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Qf6 17.Nd3 b6 18.Bb4 Rd8 19.Bxd5 Rxd5 20.Rc7 Bb7 21.Be7 Qf5 22.Qc2 e5 23.Rc1 h6 24.Nb4 d3 25.exd3 Rd7 26.Rxb7 Rbxb7 27.Qc8+ Kh7 28.Nxa6 Qxd3 29.Nb4 Qd2 30.Bf8 Rb8 0–1 Gulko,B (2559)-Shulman,Y (2606)/Tulsa 2008/CBM 124 Extra] 15...Qxa3 16.bxa3 N7f6 17.Nce5 Re8 Profilaxis, for the immediate: [17...b6 is not good- 18.Bb4 Nxb4 19.axb4±] 18.Rc2 b6 19.Bd2 Bb7 20.Rfc1 Rbd8

Topalov is patiently improving his pieces. The strong central pair of knights secures his position, and now he wants to find work for the black-squared bishop via b8-d6, and then eventually to a3 with the idea to fight for the only open file once that he chases away one of the white rooks. On the other hand- Anand has a strong grip on the c line, active pieces, great Catalan bishop, and opportunity to seize the bishop pair at any time by a knight thrust on c6. The position is roughly ballanced. 21.f4 Bb8 22.a4 a5 This move should be good. Indeed, somewhere in the near future White is threatening to advance a4-a5, occupying the c5 square with his knight, followed by a2-a4 (in case that Black replies with b6-b5), and eventually the black pawn on a6 becomes relatively easy target. Now even if Black loses the b6 pawn, the remaining one on a5 is sufficient to stop both the white pawns. Another direction of the game could have been: [22...Bd6 23.a5 b5 24.Nc6 Bxc6 25.Rxc6 Ba3 26.R1c2 Ra8 with compensation for White.] 23.Nc6 A good move, White secures both the bishop pair, and the open file. 23...Bxc6 24.Rxc6 h5 [24...h6 is another way to open air for the king; If Black wanted patiently to repel the white active pieces he could have tried-; 24...Rd6!?

with the idea to exchange one pair of rooks, followed by Kg8-f8-e7-d7 and Rd8-c8. If Anand rejects the offer- 25.R6c4 then strong is 25...Ne3 26.Bxe3 dxe3 and Black is restoring "the bishop ballance" and the position is approximately equal.] 25.R1c4 Ne3? The same plan, but Black not only gives away the extra pawn, he also allows his opponent to preserve both his active rooks. 26.Bxe3 dxe3 27.Bf3?! [27.Rxb6 should be more exact] 27...g6?! also Black does not use his defensive potential, for he had to exchange a pair of rooks: [27...Rd6 28.Rxd6 Bxd6 29.Rc6 Rd8 30.Rxb6 g6 as he can defend the remaining a pawn now. 31.Rb5 (31.Ra6 Bc7) 31...Bc7

White is still slightly better, but Black can defend-in case that Anand comes with his knight for the a pawn, he can counterattack with the rook.] 28.Rxb6 Ba7 29.Rb3 Rd4 30.Rc7 Bb8 31.Rc5 White rooks occupied both the open files, and the bishop cannot defend the a pawn. And since the Catalan bishop controls the a8 square, Black is strategically lost: 31...Bd6 32.Rxa5 Rc8 33.Kg2 Rc2 34.a3 Ra2 [34...Nd5 was a try, and if White wants to promote his pawn as fast as possible, he might let the win slip away- 35.Ra8+ However, after the precise- (Better is-35.Bxd5! exd5 36.Kf3+- and White is winning) 35...Kg7 36.a5 Nc3 37.Ne1 Rc1 38.a6 Rd2 39.a7?! Nxe2! 40.Rg8+ Kxg8 41.a8Q+ Kg7 42.Rxe3 Ng1+ (42...Nxf4+!?) 43.Kf1 Bc5 44.Qe4 Bxe3 45.Qxe3 Nxf3 46.Qxf3 Rxh2 47.a4 Ra2 when the most likely result is a draw.] 35.Nb4 Bxb4 36.axb4

The doubled pawn became a healthy one, and when supported from the rook from behind decides the issue. 36...Nd5 37.b5 Raxa4 38.Rxa4 Rxa4 39.Bxd5 exd5 40.b6 Ra8 41.b7 Rb8 42.Kf3 d4 43.Ke4 The press-conference was brief, just like after the first game, and curiously, Topalov repeated the words of Anand from then- "I simply played badly". The result is equalised, and chess in general is a winner for the moment. 1–0


Bill Brock said...

Thank you: very enjoyable and instructive commentary!


Dejan Bojkov said...

I am happy I was entertaining, Bill. Have a nice time.