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Mtel 2005 Topalov Rocks!

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Bizarre finish to this amazing event. Veselin Topalov pleased the home crowd with a final-round win over Kramnik that gave him first place by a full point over Anand, who pressured but couldn't take out Polgar. Ponomariov-Adams was also drawn.

In case you thought Kramnik's loss to Anand in 20 moves was a candidate for worst-ever world champ blunder, he cleared that up for all time today. And worst-ever tournament result also looks in the bag, the loss sending him to -2, tied for last with Adams. Clearly something has gone very, very wrong with Kramnik in the past year.

Both players were in minor time trouble when both overlooked that White could win a piece with 31.Qxc5 (31...Bxe2 32.Qf2). Then Kramnik, apparently believing he could trap the black queen, played 34.Nc1??? and resigned after Topalov took his bishop. After the planned (?) 34.Nb3 the queen can capture on e4. Oops. Horrible. Painful to watch. Poor Vlady. (More quick notes on this now up at ChessBase.com here.)

A great tournament with many fantastic games. Congratulations to the organizers. Topalov played sensational chess from start to finish. The Bulgarian may now actually pass Anand on the rating list, which would make him the unofficial #1 for the first time. You can't give all the credit to the anti-draw rules, but there is NO DOUBT that it made watching and looking at the games more interesting, even the long draws. It will be interesting to hear what the players say, especially those who did poorly and who might be looking for a scapegoat. Another rest day couldn't have hurt.


As a low-level amateur and mainstream sports fan, I would like enthusiastically applaud this most enjoyable tournament, the best thing that has happened to chess in the last five years. The game has taken a full step towards becoming a legitimate sport. Brilliancies, epic collapses, and the testing of human endurance are all part of the thrilling and unpredictable nature of legitimate sport-- and this event had it all. Sponsors are watching. Kudos!

PS Did anybody else enjoy the bare king endings?

I think Topolov will be still behind Anand in the next list.Anand has to gain few points for his Bundlelsiga games.I think Topolov will be 2788 and Anand 2790.Can you clarify?

Topalov came to this tournament armed with aggressive ideas. He took risks, and deserves to win.

Adams has got to work on his stamina - he just collapsed late in the tournament. That seems to happen to him a lot, though he did get a win in the last round at Linares.

Congratulations to Topalov.

I can't say I'm happy with the draw regulations, but I won't enter that discussion once more. At least not now.

The final round game was extremely weird. Are we sure the relay is correct? We would have been talking about very different things now if 31.Qxc5. Embarrassing game.

Congratulations to the most exciting player in the world at the moment, the great chess anarchist Topalov.

As for Kramnik, he should either play in the Argentina tournament or not play at all for a while.

"It will be interesting to hear what the players say, especially those who did poorly and who might be looking for a scapegoat."

Those who played poorly might simply say, "I played poorly." But such a sportsmanlike comment would not be interesting to the blogmaster.

Fantastic tournament, and what a performance by Topalov! I hope that these draw rules will be introduced in other tournaments as well.

I hope that the winner in Argentiza plays Kramnik for a unified title, but if that doesn't happen, and Topalov wins that tournament, what kind of credibility would Kramnik have as World Champion? Not a lot seen from where I stand.

Even if Anand or Leko wins there wion't be any dearth of legitamacy .They arguably stronger than Kramnik now.
Anand too played fantastic chess, perticularly in ist half though he didn't have any win, in this tournament.And also not to forget despite his innovative play luck too favoured Topolov a bit.

Kramnik's legitimacy stems from the simple fact that he kept the title by tying his WCh match against the legitimate challenger Leko.

Topalov, Anand and Leko are all stronger in his *current* form, as are probably others, but I don't think anyone would claim that it is the real Kramnik we have seen here. Something is terribly wrong but if or when he gets out of his crisis he will be playing just as well as those three. Now if he doesn't, that's a different story..

Some quick stats:

Draw %: 40
Number of Wins: VT-4; VA-2; RP-2; VK-2; JP-1; MA-1
Number of Losses: VK-4; MA-3; RP-2; All others-1
Number of draws: VK-4; VT-5; RP-6; MA-6; VA-7; JP-8
1. e4: 23 times (77%)
1. d4: 5 times (17%)
1. Nf3: 2 times ( 7%)

adams said more rest days weren't relevant, he claimed he played worse after them.

Great tournament!

What kind of place does Topalov occupy, culturally, in Bulgaria? He has to be better known than Nakamura is in the US! Does he get recognized and stopped in the street by fans? By non-chessplayers?

Congrats to Judit Polgar on playing some very solid chess and demonstrating that she belongs at this high level and can play with anybody. :)

Regarding Kramnik's performance, it has been specially low in this tournament, and everybody can agree that it's not his level when his lost a piece in a few moves in 2 of his games, but his performances haven't been very impressive in a long time, so I don't think it's just a matter of bad shape.
As for his title, he wasn't what we might call a very legitimate challenger in his day, nor was his challenger later, when the 2 strongest players didn't take part. But if this might be a reason enough, you may dismiss it for your convenience

Topalov undoubtedly plays the most exciting chess of all of the world's top players. My question is, how much do you think his homefield advantage helped him?

I agree with Acirce this isnt the real Kramnik.In at least two of those games we saw an utter mental collapse,I cant even imagine how much willpower it took him to get a draw against Polgar,and to get a fighting position against the on fire Topalov.
However I have never seen anything this bizzare the two of the best players in the world miss a simple tactic that anyone over 2000 would see 9 times out of 10.And AFTER that the world champion just leaves a bishop hanging?!!!The way Kramink is playing now I think I would beat him(if I looked Topalov).
Most probably this is a confidence crisis he needs to take a long break from chess.

"[Kramnik] needs to take a long break from chess."

Not an option for a World Champion, unfortunately.

Didn't Steinitz and Lasker both take time off from professional chess as World Champions?

Of course a World Champion can take breaks. May be that in a year's time or so he will have to defend his title against the San Luis winner, or something else, but his obligations end there.

Kramnik should imitate Fischer (not Steinitz or Lasker) and retire as an "unbeaten" world champion. And then of course return in 20 or so years to play Kasparov. David Levy in fact predicted that course of events in his chessbase article a while ago.

We are all missing an important thing in Kramnik's play. It is true that Kramnik is going through a bad patch. This has happened to a number of players. One might say that Anand is not in good form either considering that he didn't win the last few tournaments he took part in. When did he last win a classical tournament?

We all expected Anand to win but Topalov is the man of the moment. Although playing highly tactical chess which could be very tiring, he has excelled in last two tournaments. Maybe his last round win against Kasparov in Linares was no fluke. The baton has been passed!

Back to Kramnik....he has stuck to 1.e4. One does not need to be an expert to see that Kramnik is a 1.d4 player. He will be back to his best when he goes back to his beloved opening. And with black he can draw any game with the Berlin but still tries his luck (albeit for the last time) with the Petroff.

Well done Topalov and thanks for the exciting chess. You have the potential of reaching 2800 by the end of the year.

See you in Dortmund.


Hi there,
It was expected that Topalov will not be that strong here in Bulgaria, but its cool that he did his best. Actually its a rare fact to see Topalov walking on the streets in Bulgaria because he is not currently living here. But be sure that he is quite popular. But he needs more!!! He is a player that Bulgaria will never have in the next 30 or more years. Trust me because there are no pupils that have the talant and the spirit of a champion. One more to mention. The true hero of the tournament is to be Silvio Danailov. He got the idea, he got the sponsors, he did everything. Topa played the leading role but Silvio did the scenario and directed the entire act!!!
Regards from Bulgaria!

Yes, Topa is a great player, but I don't think if he is currently better then the others in top5 (minus Kram). He has now some good games and a lot of luck. Just look at the last game at Linares or this round, where Kramnik blundered twice (not to play upon a blunder is also a blunder) in 4 moves. It has little to do with knowledge, but luck. However, only the better player can profit from luck.

I have a theory, it's the beard!

I am still waiting for someone to answer.Does Topolov really the No.1, above Anand in the next FIDE list.DD, CN,CB, WTC, MTEL website all say so.None of them seem calculated the Bundelsliga games in which Anand had to add 8 points as of Jan 2005 list.But they were not added, pending the completion of the finals.They are due to be added in current list as the finals are played.Based on his improved rankings and a draw in subsequent game there, Anand should score 4-6 points.
I am surprised how come literally everyone who matters in all those famous web sites forgot this simple fact.
Anand next rating should be between 2788-2790.Either he will be higher than Topolov or on par with him atleast.I am waiting for somebody to throw light on this.

You're overreacting. Most aren't saying anything definitive, only that he might be. I'm aware of the Bundesliga games. Who knows, they could even play more games before the next list comes out. Since rating is on expectation, the order matters. And when the difference is likely to be just a point or two, there is no use acting like you know for sure if you don't. Anand and Topalov probably know how things stand now. Where does it say this on the official site?

Chessbase, TWIC etc have for some reason published figures that are just plain wrong. Not only Bundesliga is not taken into account, but also other leagues, and the Russian Team Championships etc.

It is not over reacting.But curiosity.No it was not mentioned with a deffinitive.Same time nowhere the above facts mentioned either even suggestively.Even if few more games played in Bundesliga , they are not going to be counted till may be next year.Correct me if I am wrong.May be I am expecting too much from you guys.Sorry about that.

What a fantastic tournament! I hope there will be more like it. While I'm hoping let's hope we see more fighting chess in Argentina. I'll also hope that the winner plays an in-form Kramnik for the title, and we get back some form of normalcy afterwards.

I've had a thought that I'm suprised I have seen elsewhere. It appears that FIDE going forward with its tournament and a possible reunification in the spirit of Prague. Is it just a coincidence that this happens right after Kasparov retires? I know that some plans for the new world championship had to be underway before Garry's announcement, but perhaps FIDE was waiting for Garry to tire of the process. While I don't think Garry was wrong to do what he did to split from FIDE, but one can understand FIDE not wanting to be involved with the classical cycle again until he was out of the picture.

Two questions:

1. Has Kramnik explained what he was thinking when he played 34. Nc1?? Did he really think he could trap the Black Bishop?

2. What was the result of Topalov's simul on his rest day? I didn't see it posted anywhere.

Don't shoot Tapper!
leave VK alone with his present bad play.
There never was tourney with (happy-lucky)
winner(s) and (unhappy-unlucky) loser(s).
See all us in next tourneys! ZakS

There never was tourney without...,
Sorry, Zak

I think that Kramnik's sad Nc1??? is somewhat understandable: his bishop on b1 had been guarding his pawn on e4. He might have been relying on the "ghost" of the bishop guarding the pawn: then Nb3 would indeed trap the queen. Do you know what I mean? Of course, I've never made that kind of mistake. . . .

But it would still be a bad move. 35.Nb3 Qxd1 36.Rxd1 axb3 and Black is still winning.

'ghost' of the Re1 i guess - one move before it was on that square

actually, what i find even sadder than nc1 is the earlier blunder by both, when Topy offered a piece and Kram didnt take it.

VINDICATION!! This is why the WCC badinage is not worth the phosphorous its printed on; who needs it with tournaments like Mtel that produce these sorts of interesting games. BTW should rhetorical compound sentences end with question marks.

"I think that Kramnik's sad Nc1??? is somewhat understandable...."

It would be "understandable" if you or I played it. But you would struggle to find very many comparable examples in a game between two top-5 players at classical time controls.

Well done Topalov - I'd love to see him go #1.

There will also be a kind of stigma attached to the new #1, in a 'he's only #1 coz Gazza isn't currently playing.' So it helps that Topalov slam dunked him in his last ever game.

"There will also be a kind of stigma attached to the new #1 ... so it helps that Topalov slam dunked him in his last ever game."

An isolated game isn't all that relevant. It's the answer to a future trivia question, that's about all. I doubt people will attach any other significance to it. By the way, over the long haul Kasparov had a significant plus score over Topalov --- as he did over most people.

What's more important for Topalov is what he does with his new ranking, now that he's finally attained it. I don't mean to belittle his achievement in Sofia: any victory over that class of competition is significant. But he needs to deliver the goods when a world championship is on the line.

Hey Mig, do you know what was the result of Topalov's simul on his rest day? Or maybe it is posted somewhere on the Mtel website and I missed it?

Has anyone looked at Shirov-Mosvesian from Bosnia? I wish Shirov could rediscover top 10 form. I love Topalov, but there is only one Shirov.

Murali, Topalov drew 3 and won 3 out of 6 in his simul.

> Murali, Topalov drew 3 and won 3 out of 6 in his
> simul.

Thanks Ivan. What was the level of the players? I assume if 3 were able to draw him they were pretty good, FM level at least.

Post-Sofia interview with Kramnik: http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/kramint05.html


Read the inteview that acirce has posted, Kramnik claims he has the money and is willing to negotiate with FIDE. Now what do you think? Will the money change FIDE's mind? Will they unify?

We're big on poetic justice around here...so...

How about Leko winning San Luis, then receiving draw odds in a reunification match with Kramnik?

or Shirov winning San Luis and getting a grudge match with Kramnik?

> How about Leko winning San Luis, then receiving
> draw odds in a reunification match with Kramnik?

That does raise an interesting point: were a Kramnik-Argentina winner match to take place, who would get draw odds?

Regarding the interview, I wish the interviewer has asked: "You say that your match with Leko qualifies you to play the winner of the Argentina match. Can't Leko claim the same since he went through the same preparation ordeal and the match was drawn? Yet he accepted to participate in the tournament. Why can't you? Because you beat Kasparov in a match 5 years ago?"

Vasiliev is a serious journalist, I don't think he would ask a stupid and provocative question like that.

As for draw odds, I would hope no one got it, or demanded it. It is a potential hot issue. According to Kasparov that's why negotiations broke down in 1995. "In the FIDE general assembly of 1995 in Paris it all came down to not granting me 12-12 draw odds in a unification match. It was the Western federations again, and this anti-Kasparov sentiment. I had to be “punished” for 1993. I insisted that if I played against Karpov I deserved draw odds because I had already played him, but if it was Kamsky then I could compromise. But they insisted that they could not discriminate against “their champion” and things broke down." http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=253

Just as in Lasker-Schlecter, Botvinnik-Bronstein, Botvinnik-Smyslov, and Kasparov-Karpov IV, the defending champ in Kramnik-Leko kept his title and the challenger had to re-qualify if he wanted another title shot. One may not like it. But there it is.

If, as Kramnik says, there's money out there for a unification match, a unification match there'll be. And who could object? FIDE has promised us a San Luis WCC, and then a new cycle to produce a new WCC. A unification match would simply give us one more grand chess event.

Thanks, acirce,

Sad to think that but for Kasparov's refusal to agree to draw odds for the FIDE champion in 1995 we might have had in 1995-2005 a fully functioning WCC cycle, and four WCC matches rather than the mess we've lived through.

FIDE will again demand draw odds for its champion in a San Luis champion v. Kramnik reunification match. And Kramnik will reluctantly agree.

> Vasiliev is a serious journalist, I don't think he > would ask a stupid and provocative question like
> that.

Please explain why the question is stupid, especially after you said that no one should get draw odds.

>Just as in Lasker-Schlecter, Botvinnik-Bronstein,
> Botvinnik-Smyslov, and Kasparov-Karpov IV, the
> defending champ in Kramnik-Leko kept his title
> and the challenger had to re-qualify if he
> wanted another title shot. One may not like it. > But there it is.

Has blogs been there at the time and had I been alive, I would have vocalized my opposition to every single one of those draw odds.

Just because people did stupid things in the past does not mean they should repeat them today.

Stupid traditions should be destroyed.

"FIDE will again demand draw odds for its champion in a San Luis champion v. Kramnik reunification match. And Kramnik will reluctantly agree.

Posted by greg koster at May 26, 2005 10:15 PM"

Kramnik would agree to almost anything for a one-to-one match with the official world champion, because he gets the chance to legitimise his next-to-worthless title. Otherwise, he would have to take part in the FIDE cycle where his chances of winning the World Title is best rated as "slim" or "Nil". Next best option: Retire from one-to-one matches and proclaim himself as an "undefeated World Champion" that only idiots recognise.

It would be to FIDE's disadvantage to have a so-called "unification" match. Especially if San Luis is successful and the 2005-2007 cycle is progressing well. I just cannot see how FIDE would agree to such a no-win situation and retrogressive step.

A unification match would be in the best interests of all: a payday for FIDE and the participants, an additional WCC match for us in the peanut gallery, and an undisputed champion taking his place in the 120-year-old tradition.

Kramnik explains in his interview that he would give the other olayers a huge handycap: "When the others relaxed on Canary islands, I was working and training day in, day out; mainly working on the physical and psychological side – was all that for nothing?"

According to his logic Leko is in the most difficult position for he had to prepare and play in Brissago (instead of relaxing on the Canary Islands), play some very hard and stressful games, and now to play in Argentina, and maybe after that a unification match. It's a good thing he didn't go to Sofia.

Murali: I meant in the unification match. Both are champions there, so why should anyone get any advantage over the other?

"Murali: I meant in the unification match. Both are champions there, so why should anyone get any advantage over the other?"

I am not disagreeing with that, I am always against draw odds. I was challenging you on the other point in your post: I previously said "I wish the the interviewer had asked Kramnik ..." and you retorted "the interviewer is a serious journalist, I don't think he would ask a stupid question like that".

Please justify where my question is stupid: based on Kramnik's arguments (fatigue, preparation for the Brissago match, Brissago match itself) Leko also has the right to play the winner of San Luis, but Leko agreed to play the tournament nonetheless. Why can't Kramnik? Because he drew Leko and thus proved his superiority? (Again, I am hoping that from here onwards draw odds are eliminated for good and not kept just for the sake of tradition.)

Because regardless of what you and I think, draw odds was in force in the Brissago match, as agreed to by the participants, and so Kramnik kept his title, while Leko as the challenger was back on square one just like Karpov and others before him. Vasiliev knows all that, of course. What's the problem? You don't liking the draw odds clause doesn't make it invalid.


it still doesn't explain, why Kramnik and not the San Luis champion should get the draw odds.

Again, I don't think he should. I supported his right to draw odds against Leko. I would NOT support draw odds for anyone in a unification match, and I would denounce it if he started talking as if he should have it.


reading your former comments I realized you never said what I asked you to explain.


FIDE updated its rating list.It is tentative yet, pretty accurate for Topolov,Anand and Kramnik atleast.
My guess was right.
Anand and Topolov at 2788 are joint no.1s .Kramnik is 2742.Svidler 2738.Ivanchuk was not accurate it seems.He will surpass Kramnik.

So now we have two sharing the No.1 spot.I think Anand will be put at 1ST place due to the more no. of games he played.

http://www.fide.com/ratings/top.phtml?list=men has now published expected rating changes. I assume that for many players more results will be added in on the official list, but for Topalov and Anand I think that's all, and if the figures are correct they will *both* get 2788.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 22, 2005 11:13 AM.

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