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Kramnik-Topalov g2

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Well, how about that! I leave a drawn endgame for Rosh Hashanah dinner in the burbs and come back to the Bulgarian Blackout! Game one went perfectly according to Topalov's plan. Good preparation, steady play, and a long grind to tire Kramnik out even though there were few real winning chances. So far so good, but it was Topalov who crashed and burned, inexplicably blundering a clean pawn on move 57 with no chance to save himself after that. Kramnik finished with total precision and won game one to take the lead. A shame for Topalov, who showed off both his quality and his fighting spirit only to hand his opponent a freebie.

Topalov is the resilient sort and it's fair to say he can look back at this game and see he outplayed Kramnik in the sort of dry position the Russian usually masters. Then he can go smack his head against the refrigerator for blundering away a key half point against a guy who is terribly hard to beat. Kramnik doesn't need favors and he very rarely returns them. At least Topalov has white tomorrow to try and bounce back. There are analysis notes and links to more in yesterday's item. GM Inarkiev has commented PGN at the official site. ChessBase has Marin's typically excellent analysis. TWIC has analysis by Malcolm Pein. (I've upped the link limit for comments, sorry if you were one of those who got moderated automatically yesterday.)

Post-game update: It's 2-0 Kramnik! Unlike yesterday's game this one was sharp and tactical, but it had a few similar sporting themes. Topalov (1.d4! No Petroff! No Berlin!) was in control and got a tremendous attacking position. Then after a Kramnik blunder (31..Kxe8 32.Qg6 was still tough for Black) Topalov had a chance to win instantly with 32.Rxg4+ Bg7 33.Qc7 but misfired. Kramnik toughened up his defense and Topalov bailed into an endgame he failed to hold (first failed to win?!) against Kramnik's superlative technique. A wild, fascinating, and frequently brilliant game from both players with the significant caveat of the double blunder in the middle.

Six-man tablebases point out that both players "blundered" in the R+P vs N+P ending. 53..Re1 was a "blunder" and White needed to play 55.Kd7 for a theoretical tablebase draw. Rather irrelevant, I must say. The line to draw such a position is "only move" as the day is long. Actually, upon further review this isn't impossible to find for white at all. For Black to find that 53..Re3 is the only move is another thing. But 55. Kd7 b5 56. Ne6+ Kf7 57. Nd8+ Kf6 58. Nc6 Rb1 59. Kd6 b4 60. Kc5 b3 61. Kc4 b2 62. Kc3 is a tricky but "human" drawing line Topalov might have found with more time. Meanwhile it's a stretch to call Kramnik's 53..Re1 a blunder because it's quite arcane to figure out that 53..Re3 is the only winning move. (It's because in one line ..b3 must be played with the knight on c5. Long story.)

On the phone from Moscow, Garry Kasparov adds that he would be very surprised if 36.Qh5 isn't winning for White by force. Overall he is predictably unimpressed by Topalov's play so far.

All the cliches about nerves being a decisive factor are coming home to roost, to mangle a metaphor. Two of the worst and strangest blunders in Topalov's career in the first two games of his first big match can't be a coincidence. Topalov has outplayed Kramnik in both games and blundered fatally to lose both games. His energy and obvious skill have been overcome twice by failures of his nervous system. It's not as if the game was over after the double blunder, by the way. White's position was still probably for choice, in fact. Topalov played hard for the win and again failed to get it. Kramnik didn't need another blunder from Topalov this time. He totally outplayed the FIDE champ in the second half today, as it were. And you can't just say it's Topalov trying hard to win. At some point "showing too much fighting spirit" crosses the line into "making inferior moves and getting your butt kicked." Topalov crossed that line today. We can recall how often Kasparov and Kramnik had to save mind-bogglingly difficult positions in the 2000 match, although they had their share of technical lapses.

So is it over already or is this just the early lead Kramnik needs to balance out Topalov's typical late charge? The match is too short for Topalov to play it safe for a few games to get his equilibrium back. He's not quite to the point of having to win with black (the Benoni?!) but his back is clearly against the wall just two days into the match. Tomorrow is a rest day. More analysis and commentary coming soon here and at ChessBase.


This is how Kramnik wins. One can hardly blame Topalov for eschewing the draw but one has to wonder who has the better nerves at this point. We all know Topalov can turn it on but he is playing the man Kasparov could not beat in a match and Kramnik is not a player you can give away 1/2 points to. I think most expected a close match and often times that is the difference between winning a match and losing one.

Crash and burn, but seems to sweep up the ashes pretty good. Just have to wait and see if ol Kramnik fans the flames.

great fight today. i think now topalov has perpetual with 29.hg6!!

and now 29...h5! 30.g7!

ALL IN - I like it!

Argh, Toppy missed the win.


Enough with Kramnik bashing, really. Your constant downplay of Kramnik's achievements, and the general negativity, like the "and he rarely returns the favor" comment, is getting quiet unbearable. We know that you and Kasparov are bitter about the loss in 2000, but some of us are Kramnik's fans, and don't share your sentiments; so please, cut down on the trash talking and allow us to enjoy the World Champion's victories.


Alexander, enough with the trolling. Shut up with the 100 year history and get lost.

It's Mig's blog, and it seems to me he can express whatever opinion he damn well pleases.

Alexander, the phrase about Kramnik not returning favors is not "negativity", it is saying that Kramnik doesn't make many errors. Mig is not complaining that Kramnik doesn't return his holiday cards :-)

As for game 2, it is 1025 EDT and I wouldn't want to bet my life or any body parts on any of the three results :-)


It looks like everyone has got this one wrong: when it comes to chess understanding, Topalov is superior to Kramink. When it comes to tactical shots, Kramnik is much better there.

It just looks like so that Topalov's strength is somekind of "positional tactics" where as Kramnik is supposed to be good at and Kramnik has fine-tuned his tactical skills to the extreme. It's almost like human vs. computer.

It's unbelievable that Topa missed 32.R:g4+ winning immediately. He better get his head together...

People who think Mig made a negative comment sayin " Kramnik doesnt need any favours and rarely returns them is simply missing the point by a long shot,
It is a beautiful sentence: summin up the capacity of Kramnik not needin any favours to win a game + makin clear K. rarely makes big mistakes.

I follow the games on www.e3e5.com with excellent comments by Konstantin Sakaev and Yemelin

Shredder 10 has now found a win for Kramnik: 45. Nd2 Rc7 46. Nb3 Rc3 47. Nc1 b5 48. Kg6 Rc6 49. Kf5 Bf6 50. ef6

Game Over! Kramnik wins! Topa blundered with Bc1!

"makin clear K. rarely makes big mistakes."

Well we saw this clearly today?! It looked more like a blunder fest than a WC. 8;-)


Kramnik 2-0. Maybe there is some hope yet for chess ;o)

Master middle and endgame play by Kramnik. Topalov will have to play far better to revert the result of this dismal match beginning.

To be the man, you gotta beat the man. And it's becoming clear that Topa is just not ready. Yet.

the intergalactical rating difference of 70 points just shrunk to 50.
Well, from Topalovs point of view, that's probably still some lightyears to go, but it's a start, no? ;o)

From the R2 photo report at the official site, Topalov looked scared as hell


I have LIVE commentary and analysis on my blog www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com.

Thanks for bringing us the news.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

could we PLEAAASE get the official site back online. *grrr

this game was so full of heavy blunders i cant believe it. (Bf8??, Qg4??, Rc1?, Bc1??)

So far Kramnik seems anything but unbeatable... It's just that Veselin wants to win a match in one game and thus he is pushing too hard.

Not only blunders, Topalovs play was brilliant until Qg6+ if he played Rxg4+ this game would be an instant classic


If not for Kramniks quite horrible Rxb2?? (Even I saw hxg6! - after all, that was the only move Top could base any hopes on to survive that game), Top would have lost that game as well, being down two pawns for almost nothing. Thw in would probably have taken just as long, with a lot of maneuvering about, but with less blundering and a lot less swings of luck...

Fire and ice is the right analogy for this one. With Topolov down 0-2 after as many, it's not going to change now. It may not go the full 12 but it should be ride...blunders and all.

One quick thought.

Until now I had been a little disappointed that the match consisted of only 12 games. But now I'm thinking that the shorter duration of the match forces the players to go for a win -- sooner rather than later -- and then, with the score uneven (2-0 presently), we can be SURE that the next games are going to be barnburners. No "take a short draw or two in order to regain equilibrium," simply because the 12-game limit doesn't for allow it. Too short for that. Yet 12 games is long enough to ensure that we're not just in the realm of "luck/chance".

So what instead of Rxb2 ? hxg6 can't be stopped

I wish I could say Kramnik has it in the bag, but it seems to me winning or losing two over the next ten games is very very likely. These players seem to be winning and losing 2 times per game!

This is in no way meant to be disparaging. They are outplaying the announcers and computers allot. There is much more brilliant play along with the very infrequent lapses.

Fully agree with ComputoJon. This is supposed to be a sporting event and not a scientific investigation into the truth in chess, and these 12 game matches sharply increase the level of intensity that the players can and must apply throughout the competition - which is certainly of benefit to the spectators. The majority of matches staged during the old candidates cycles were 10-14 game affairs, and nobody ever complained about the best players not going through due to chance playing a significant role there ( it always plays some, of course, in all sports ).

This is hugely entertaining stuff, multiplied a hundred-fold by the gravity of the occasion. Anyone who still prefers determining the World Champion through some kind of ranking system or even through a tournament of 8 different players, should have his head urgently examined. Let's have a cycle concluding with one such match every two years, with Sophia rules applying if the likes of Topy or Kaspy are not involved, and chess is on the road to salvation.

Im proud of always being a Kramnik-Fan (sic!), also in the times everybody said he cant play chess. Now hes back in the driver-seat! Go Kramnik! ;-)

"I wish I could say Kramnik has it in the bag, but it seems to me winning or losing two over the next ten games is very very likely. These players seem to be winning and losing 2 times per game!"

I could very well see Topalov winning two games, considering that he reached better positions in both games so far, and today missed a clear win. But Kramnik may not be so generous again, and Toppy's margin for error has now been reduced to practically zero.

All in all, a shocking first couple of games. No one expected this.

32. Rxg4 is a move any club player would play immediately, because it looks good. And a few seconds of reflection on it would show that it won immediately. It is shocking to me that he'd miss this, because not only is it the right move, but it's the obvious and natural move as well.

Oh well. There's still a long ways to go, but Topalov has not looked good thusfar.

A lot of blunders in the game?
I just saw one - 32. Qg6, although white is still winning after that (36. Qh5 a5 37. Rg3!! wins for white). I wouldn't call Kramnik's 31. ... Bxf8 a blunder, it would be remarkable if he would have found the correct defence in the 31. ...Kxf8 line - 35. ...Bg5!!

I could also note that both champs "blundered" in the endgame - Kramnik's 53. ... Re1 let the win slip away (53. ... Re3 was the only winning move). Topalov's 55. Ne6+ was also a blunder - 53. Kd7! held the draw.

Of course those are blunders for a patzer with a computer, but remember that this was a World Championship game! Can you imagine the pressure they both felt?

I think this was a great battle played on the highest level under the greatest pressure. Both of the players came up with amazing ideas. Very exciting game indeed. It was a pleasure to watch and the mistakes just made it more exciting.

I just checked the tablebases: Topalow could still draw in game 2 in the very endgame by 55. Kd7, since Kramnik's 53. ... Re1 was an error leading to theoretically drawn position.

"A lot of blunders in the game?
I just saw one - 32. Qg6, although white is still winning after that (36. Qh5 a5 37. Rg3!! wins for white). I wouldn't call Kramnik's 31. ... Bxf8 a blunder, it would be remarkable if he would have found the correct defence in the 31. ...Kxf8 line - 35. ...Bg5!!>

Agreed, my impression as well. 36.Qg6+ may be the only move to qualify as a blunder by reasonable criteria, _possibly_ ..Bxf8 too though. I don't even count the tablebase-proven mistakes, even though it could be argued that Kramnik's horrendeous blunder 53..Re1???? did in fact miss a mate in 51.. ;-)

Are you kidding? 31..Bxf8 was one of the worst moves of Kramnik's life. It takes a tricky but defendable position and turns it into mate in four.

There's an art to playing matches, and it looks like Topalov was never inducted (in the old days, he'd have gone through 2-3 Candidates cycles already and perhaps picked up more experience).

His play is beautiful (I thought his pawn sac yesterday was poetry), but it seems you just can't take that type of risk in a match.

Not kidding. He must have thought the other line was also lost, and it wasn't but it was hard to see. To some degree you have to consider the difficulties. Objectively, of course it was a '??' move.

It seems like Topalov's brain-chip inplant has malfunctioned today due to the water leak into his residence yesterday:

Water Leak Distracts Bulgaria's Chess King Topalov:

Well, OK, I agree it was a blunder. But at least it's much easier to understand than Topalov overlooking the simple win it allowed.

It will be interesting to read the press conference. I wondered if Kramnik thought Kxf8 was clearly losing as well so he just played Bxf8 since he saw a defense if Topalov played anythign other than Rxg4+. He may have been fully expecting to pack it up at that point and get ready for game three.

These guys both exchanged mistakes in a prior meeting in sophia. (also I remember Topalov beat Kramnik in a miniature sicilain) I wonder if something about thier play throws eachother off.

I agree that objectively Bxf8 was a blunder, but I think Kramnik played it because he didn't see the saving Bg5!! in the Kxf8 line and thought that it was also losing.
But for missing Rxg4+ I can't think of any explenation.

soikins, the explanation topalov missed Rxg4+ was because he didn't even consider that Kramnik would play anything other than Kxf8. topalov was shocked by such a defensive move and couldn't think of the obvious and blundered, just like yesterday. his nerves are too thin and therefore he is not ready to become world champion in my opinion.

Added to the main item: Upon further review this endgame draw isn't impossible to find for white at all. For Black to find that 53..Re3 is the only move is another thing. But 55. Kd7 b5 56. Ne6+ Kf7 57. Nd8+ Kf6 58. Nc6 Rb1 59. Kd6 b4 60. Kc5 b3 61. Kc4 b2 62. Kc3 is a tricky but "human" drawing line Topalov might have found with more time. Meanwhile it's a stretch to call Kramnik's 53..Re1 a blunder because it's quite arcane to figure out that 53..Re3 is the only winning move. (It's because in one line ..b3 must be played with the knight on c5. Long story.)

On the phone from Moscow, Garry Kasparov adds that he would be very surprised if 36.Qh5 isn't winning for White by force. Overall he is predictably unimpressed by Topalov's play so far.

This short (12-game) championship is still a long way from over. With Topalov risking everything in every game, the tension may become tremendous on Kramnik, especially after his first loss...

BTW what was the score of Fischer-Spassky after 12 games??

cotdt has a point. Did Topalov have such thin nerves before? I don't think so.
Very strange match, quite contrary to my expectations. And I can't help but feel a bit sorry for Veselin.
If we had 24 games... Ah well, let me dream.

Answer: Fischer 5 - 3 Spassky. "A bon entendeur, salut!" ;-)

Regarding 2-0 for Kramnik: I think there's even more pressure on both players since this is a unification championship scenario. Kramnik himself predicted there would be errors by both players before the match. Pure experience by Kramnik won these two games.

I was surprised to hear some comments about Kramnik's ability after his health issues surfaced. What about that last championship game with Leko, when he *had* to win? And he did. Can we question the effects of his health now after two wins? He's grinding through endgames well enough to produce wins. He's ready to be world champion again.

I wouldn't put too much emphasize on that last game. Leko showed some serious nerves in the past months when it came to holding an important last-round draw. So I guess that played a role then too. I'd say that it's more of a feat that Kramnik, obviously impaired, was able to hold on at all.

Mig, how do you think, would Topa find this line if he had more time:
55. Kd7 b5 56. Ne6+ Kg8!? 57. d6 b4 58. Nc5 Rc1 59. Nd3 Rc4 60. Ne5 Rd4 61. Nc6 b3 62. Nxd4 b2 63. Nc6 b1=Q 64. Kc7 draws Quite "human" don't you think? :)

Anyway, Kd7 seems like a reasonable move to play, but I guess Topa just didn't see blacks winning plan at that moment. Kramnik found it first - the king march to the b pawn.

Exactly, the pressure is just huge. For Kramnik, victory in this match will cement his reputation and credentials as the 14th World Champion, which some people now put in doubt either because he originally won it in a match he didn't qualify to play ( the Shirov affair ), or due to his lucklustre performances afterwards. But if he wins in Elista, history will cite him as the world champion 2000 - 2006 and then 2006-20xx, end of story. It's more than the current title that is at stake for him here, and his nerves seem to be up to the task as of now.

soikins, the point isn't that there is a single easy drawing line, but that it's a reasonable chance of a human finding the drawing ideas. Obviously you can concoct some incredibly difficult lines using tablebases. But even in your line, there is no reason to play the silly 59.Nd3 when the obvious ("human") 59.Kc6 draws trivially. It's not about finding the hardest drawing line, it's about finding the easiest.

55.Kd7 is quite reasonable, cutting off the black king. Putting the knight on c6 or c5 is also pretty straightforward and would be even if it didn't work. Even after what he played, Topalov could have put up more resistance getting his king back into the game with 59.Kd6.

Dear Mig:

L'shana Topa!

Why is Kasparov so needy that he calls Mig during important chess games?

Am I misreading the match stipulations, or do the players divide the prize fund ($1m) equally, no matter who wins?

If so, they're essentially playing for prestige! That's pretty cool. Just like the 19th century.

[...and for future lucrative matches going to the champion, I suppose.]

I agree that 55. Kd7 was a move that could be found even not seeing the drawing line - it is a logical move if one knows blacks winning plan. I think that Topalov did not see the plan and therefore missed Kd7.
And now look at Kramnik's moves 54-58 - he knew what he was doing. His technique is really amazing! And this is just one fragment of this great game that has two "blunders" in it, but nevertheles is a top level performance!
Great game indeed.

What amazes me, is that one always seems to have to explain why it is not a problem that Kramnik wins by such terrible blunders by his opponent (on the ICC, anyway).

Topalov himself was 1,5 - 0,5 after the first two games in San Luis. 1-0 after game one against Leko where he was is _quite_ bad shape on move 20, and in game two, both he and Anand missed at least two wins each.
Of course, no one was denying then that Topalov got lucky in both cases. However, common wisdom was that "luck was with the deserving".

Now, one often encounters a "Kramnik didn't win - Topalov lost" attitude...

Worldchessnetwork has audio coverage of the match. Game one commentator was IM Irina Krush, game two had GM Larry Christiansen

Topalov looks quite nervous on these pictures.


niceforkinmove: "These guys both exchanged mistakes in a prior meeting in sophia. (also I remember Topalov beat Kramnik in a miniature sicilain) I wonder if something about their play throws eachother off."

Correct, these guys have a recent history of blunder-prone games and I expect some more. Blunderwise, Kramnik is also on the plus-score.

Everything's going like I said. Topalov's style is totally harmless against Kramnik.

So much mud was thrown here here on Kramnik that ... the 2-0 score is just funny !! The "patzer coward" is back. I've always said that Kramnik was 2nd or 3rd best player ever. A lot of people were laughing at me...

Again : Kramnik has positive head to head records against Kasparov, Anand, Topalov. This "match player" who is supposed to have pitifull tournament results has won Dortmund 7 times, Linares 3 times, and so on...

There is some idea that must be a little bit scary for Topalov. Kramnik has a record of 82 undefeated games, including 20 games against Kasparov.

Since his come back after his illness, Kramnik has a 2882 performance on almost 20 games. Know what? That's just his chess level.

Nah, if 2880 were his level, he'd have that rating.

Kramnik is simply very good at absorbing attacks and turning them against the attacker. This works well against attacking players.

In the history of chess, one player (and no more) would maybe have been able to defeat Kasparov : Fischer. And another one just did it.

"Everything's going like I said. Topalov's style is totally harmless against Kramnik."

Not exactly, if you've seen the games. Kramnik was dead lost in one game and under extreme pressure in the other. It's not Topalov's style that's the problem, it's his blunders.

can anyone point me to somewhere where I can see video of the press conferences? or even transcripts- i'm interested in what the players are saying about the games.

"if 2880 were his level, he'd have that rating"

This sentence shows your misunderstanding of the conservative character of the elo rating used by fide.

Obviously, Topalov has more to lose in this match than Kramnik. Most people don't recognize Kramnik as a champion anyway. Topalov beat 7 of the top players in the world to become world champion. So, I guess he is more nervous. Plus, I would think that the match would be played in neutral territory viz. someplace other than Russia or Bulgaria. You never know if some of Zhukov's cronies are spying on Topalov's team and passing on secrets to Kramnik's team.

It is a shame Topalov's play has not be rewarded
in these first two games because of bizarre blunders (I mean, for a top player like him). The problem also is that he feels much more pressure than Kramnik to win; Kramnik just have to avoid blunders and play on and that is enough for him; he hasn't show any ambition of winning other that capitalizing Topalov's weaknesses.

Before the match, Kramnik was in a ver comfortable situation ... he arrived as the underdog and he knows that losing the match is not going to harm him a lot ... if he loses, history can say he was WC from 2000 to 2006. And Kramnik is not precisely the kind of person worried about being the #1 player in the world or worried about what is his place in history, he is very unassuming and this fits his personality very well ... just looks his interviews during his career.

On the other hand, Topalov wants to be part of the history and has shown during the last years his desire of becoming the #1 player in the world, and nobody doubts a win here means much more for Topalov than for Kramnik. He feels pressure to prove something to the chess world.

Topalov's has pressured himself to win, Kramnik is happy for playing competitive chess again. You see Kramnik's post match comments (like yesterday) and realize he is enjoying this moment ... Topalov is suffering it.

This history is quite typical in sports, a pressured player playing again a happy opponent in a comeback. Usually the latter wins and collapses are quite common ... I hope Topalov's team would be supportive in the task of aliviating tension, I hope his health does not suffer... however, having someone like Mr. Danailov at his side ... I am not very optimistic

Yes, , many people are talking about these games looking only at the results (2-0) and not the games himself.

Topalov has had the better position in both games but blundered them both into losses.

These people remind me of the music critic who reviewed a performance of Brahms' Piano Quintet. He wrote that it was strange, hearing the five pianos playing at once. :-) Clearly he had not attnended the performance, which was a single piano playing with a string quartet.

It's not the spying, it's the blunders!

No amount of spying in the world can make a 2800-rated player miss the simple 32 Rxg4+.

Ruslan: I probably understand the FIDE system quite a bit better than you, given that I have a degree in math and stats. Kramnik never reached 2880, even in his heyday. Conservatism wasn't an issue in that case.

"It's not Topalov's style that's the problem, it's his blunders."

Kramnik prefers a mid-19th century hundred-round fisticuffs duel. (Game One) Topalov prefers to set that fisticuffs duel atop a log rolling down the Colorado River. (Game Two)

Topalov has thus far failed in both game-styles. But he's landed some telling, near-fatal blows. And if he keeps getting these strong positions eventually he's going to start winning them. Kramnik would be the first to say that Topalov remains a most dangerous dude.

"Obviously, Topalov has more to lose in this match than Kramnik. Most people don't recognize Kramnik as a champion anyway."

Hardly true, again. Everywhere I look more people recognize Kramnik's title than Topalov's. But that doesn't matter one bit as in a couple of weeks this whole discussion can finally be laid to rest. Finally!

Topalov will not keep getting these better and winning positions if his morale collapses due to his blunders.

How in the world can Topalov have no points from the two middlegame positons he has reached so far? Blunders.

Soikins at 16:46 found that 56...Kg8!? is Black's best winning try against 55.Kd7! Soikins is right, and his analysis of 58...Rc1 (which I haven't checked yet against Nalimov) is stunningly beautiful.

Check out the analysis of an alternative on move 58 (Nunn Convention): 55.Kd7! b5 56.Ne6+ Kg8 57.d6 b4 58.Nc5! Kf7 59.Kc6! Rc1 60.Kb5! Rxc5+ 61.Kxc5! b3 62.Kc6!

Beauty is truth, truth beauty

Topalov could have drawn with 42.Ng5 instead of Bg5.

I don't find the idea of putting the knight on the c-file to protect the king (and using the king to protect the knight) and pushing the d-pawn to be all that tough. The white king has to chase the black pawn. Heck, White can actually offer his knight and still draw. Look at 58..Rc1 59.Ke6!? White actually wins if black takes the knight.

The main thing to me is how it could possibly look better to have your king on the other side of the d-pawn, far away from the black pawn, as in the game.

ahh, I see Mig has obliquely noted "my" line (by transposition)--and his point that Soikins's line is not the only way to draw is well-taken.

Where's your normally strong aesthetic sense, Mig? I think the strange maneuvers by both kings in the 58...Kf7 line are quite beautiful.

It could be better to have the WK on the e-file if it were preventing the BK's approach--which did not happen.

As the game went, Mig's practical point is absolutely right.

Pascual, your description of Kramnik as a happy-go-lucky, unassuming type of sportsman who is currently content to just play chess without harboring any grander ambitions for his status and his legacy is, without a doubt, naive to the extreme. The person you describe never would have beaten Kasparov to take away his title, neither would he have mobilised himself to defeat Leko in their final game nor go through the last two uber-difficult games and persevere in the end, mostly due to his psychological steeliness. The guy has pride in himself and in his abilities, and don't confuse his lack of flamboyance on and off the board with lack of determination. Perhaps Topalov shared similar notions while preparing for this match - turn the hit up a bit and a content Vlady will crack. Well, turns out that the cracking threshold of the likes of Kaspy and Vlady was reached long before that of our 'unassuming' and 'content' friend.

And I would like to repeat, Kramnik has a great deal to lose in this much if it eventually turns out badly for him, regarding his legacy. The loser of this match may turn out to be remembered as an asterisk in chess history, Kramnik as the man who ended Kasparov's reign but did not quite establish one of his own ( not my opinion, but one that is certain to be argued by many of his detractors in the future ) , and similarly Topy will only be remembered as a slightly brighter and more legit asterisk in the constelation of FIDE approved Champions of the past ten years ( assuming no other similar successes await him in the future ).

But if Kramnik wins this match, the matter is settled. Kramnik's reign will become an undisputed fact. You think this would be a matter of small significance to any professional sportsman ?

And this is the "why 53...Re3 wins" line that Mig refers to in the blog article above--again, I think the Black king's strange dance is quite beautiful (Nunn Convention):

53...Re3! 54.d5 Kf8! 55.Kd7 b5! 56.Ne6 Kg8!! (one NC exclam and one wow exclam) 57.d6 b4! 58.Nc5 Kf7! 59.Kd8 b3 and wins

It's true that (with exception of San Luis) Topalov is a late bloomer but folks, unlike tournament play where he will be facing men of assorted chess skill and interested in gaining points, he will be facing what one now has to consider to be the world's best chess player who is interested in drawing the rest of the match. Three cheers for Kramnik on his excellent achievement in the opening two games of the match.

Once again, Kramnik sits a position, and wins because Topalov cant find the right continuation... By now self doubt will be creeping into Toppy's mindset and it will all be over soon.

I would love to see a Modern Benoni from Topalov.

Kramnik just has superior chess understanding. He defends NOT WORSE than Topa attacks, he has by far more superior endgame technique.
Kasparov himself didn't manage to crack Kramnik. For me Topa is something like "poor mans Kasparov", so his chances are rather pessimistic

So "superior chess understanding" leads you to play 31 ... Bxf8??, losing instantly?

Did he lose instantly gmnotyet? Didn't Topalov blunder in the next move? Was his blunder a smaller one than Kramnik's?
Lets not forget that in chess the person who makes lesser mistakes is the stronger one. Kramnik made lesser mistakes in 2 consequent games.
Players like Kramnik are very unique. He is able to hold any tactics from any top-tenner(including Topalov), has a remarkable opening repertoire and unmatched endgame technique.
Topalov's chances are miserable.

Mig, I cannot understand why Kasparov is not impressed with Topalov's play. I imagine he (Kasp) would be proud of getting such a winning condition against Kramnik. I think the way Topalov is playing is very very impressive.

Not finding the move Rxg4 is a psychological thing. Most probable, he prepared Qxg6 many moves before and did not stop to look at the position at that stage.

I do not think this match is over although it will be very difficult for Topalov.

But thanks for the great chess!


This isn't a beauty contest, it's a world championship match. You have to put points on the board. We can discuss coulda and shoulda and compliment Topalov for his aggressive play and near misses, but 0-2 is nothing to be proud of. Ask Topalov if he's proud of his play so far. Then run.

Maybe the first player to get a winning position on the board can be considered to have superior chess understanding. After that, repeated blunders may determine the sporting result.

Topalov is playing the most exciting chess at world championship level we have seen in years. That is something to be proud of.

Topalov wants to win and he shows it. That is making the chess interesting. If some people do not appreciate that, I guess it's their problem.

1984 Karpov was leading Kasparov by 4 points after nine games. Kasparov's first win game after 32 games. After being beaten by Karpov in the first games, Kasparov settled for draws.

Why Kasparov was so popular even though he as a loser at the start? He was not showing anything characteristic to world champion by losing to Karpov in the first games. But people just loved his active play. He made mistakes, that is for sure, but his style was different and people love it.

Topalov may not become new Kasparov, but at least he is showing that it is possible. And he is also showing that computer evaluations can be reversed by imaginative play. I just want to see a champion that is playing like Topalov.

It takes two to tango.

well , so far ,i dont see any reason for kramnik fans to get satisfied with his play,both the games were dictated by topalov.But it is kramnik who is up 2-0, very strange!(nothing to say about topalov's missed opportunities last game)
But as i feel ,it is not Topa but Kramnik who will be under tremendous mental pressure from the next game onwards,he knows he dont deserve to win in either game (got quite outplayed actually) but got 2 full points instead,and that too he cant disclose publicly(already after 1st game press asked did he feel sorry for topalov etc in interview)! its a torture for him. For topa,i am confused ,he,who can create such a fantastic and sudden attack from nowhere,how can miss such an easy win!! something strange is happening at Elista......

Mtel last year, in one of his games against Kramnik, Topalov blundered a piece which neither player realized. He won the game because just a few moves later, it was Kram's turn to hang a piece and this time Topalov realized his opponents error.
Asked about the game, Top said basically the same thing: Why be sorry for a win even if he was "technically" lost for about 30 sec while his piece was en prise. Such things happen. Same thing here. Kramnik is just being honest. Such is life and both players know it. You win games because your opponent makes mistakes, be that many very tiny ones or a few big blunders.

Kramnik is under no pressure at all - at least not greater pressure than before. He will have a close look at those two games and then think to himself: Fine, I do have to play a bit better than before, but if I do, I can just wait him to hang himself.

I agree. The pressure is on both players. Dont forget its Topalov who has to win games now.

Mig, did Garry make any comments about the openings thus far ? I remember him saying in a post match NIC interview in 2000 something along the lines of ' come on, why switch from e4 to d4 against Kramnik, what can one hope to achieve with that against him ' etc. Seems that Garry must have lost his edge in preparation besides playing skills back then, Topa team unrivalled now in stirring up the forces of chaos against any opponent and playing style.

No reason for Topa to panic. Kramnik does lose very rarely, but against Topa he finds himself more often lost than against any other current opponent. Just keep creating tense and dynamic positions, and everything is there to play for - from equalizing and then winning, to going down in the worst route in WC history. Either way, great stuff for us all.

2-0 means nothing against a player who is able to win five or six games in a row. Topalov is just warming up. And the message he delivered with game II was unambiguous. Now Kramnik has the opportunity for a full day to look at the middlegame positions he got. Next time Topalov sees Kramniks eyes they will reflect pure anguish as to the upcoming 10-game torture.

It's amazing to me that the anti-Kramniks discount out of hand, or IGNORE, the fact that Kramnik defeated KASPAROV in a match to become World Champion.

I guess he was just 'lucky' and had no business being in that match either, you know, being lower rated and all.


The 2-0 result now fairly guarantees that every game remaining will be a fighting affair. Topalov may very well go down 0-6, but it will certainly be a very LOUD 0-6...

And the possible chant from Topalov fans 'Remember Corus!!' is completely out of place. Topalov defeated the likes of van Wely, Karjakin, Aronian, out-of-retirement Kamsky, Bacrot and Sokolov.

Performing that type of comeback against "Vlad the Destroyer" is a completely different matter all together.

But, you know, he is rated 70 points higher....


I can't help but think this could be a repeat of Fischer-Larsen, Fischer Taimanov, 1971...

Poisoned Pawn, it means something. Kramnik will win this. Head to Head records mean something in chess and this one is incredible. At the end of the match people will call Topalov the Shirov from Bulgaria. No chance whatsoever.
Kasparov may consider himself to be a lucky man - he lost his title to the best match player of all times.

Kramnik will be even more aware - Toppys coming out with guns blazed and Vlad will dry out the game. Swap Queens, rely on your technique and its all over.

Time to cry for the "toppiboys". I think the politican from Baku now bites his ass.

Kramnik almost overdid the whole defensive thing in Game 2. White's entire army was aimed at the Black kingside! If this was an example of "rope-a-dope", he might want to tone it down a little (but it seems to work for him a lot, so maybe not). Great game.

As a Topalovfan I think Kramnik will win... Topalov might pull one back and surely will put a lot of pressure on Kramnik but I think Kramnik will be able to handle it...
what I don't understand is all the people laughing at Topalov... at least he had the heart to take Kramnik on despite his poor record against Kramnik... he could easily just ignore Kramnik (something a lot of WC have done)... lets not forget Kramnik came back to form in Turin and Dortmund and his bargainingposition before that was quite poor... Now I hope that after Kramnik wins this he upholds his part of the bargain and as an extra wins a few big tourneys ... I believe he is a great player who after his win against Kasparov just forgot the enjoy the chess and show everybody he's the new boss...

As for topalov... he'll be around and still will win his fair share of tourneys... Kramnik is probably the best matchplayer around but Topalov could claim he's the best tournamentplayer around...

Here is a link to the news conference after the game.


The first paragraph is very odd. Did Kirsan leave with Topalov before he was questioned and not Kramnik? Did Kirsan prep Topalov about his blunder before the interview and leave Kramnik to the reporters? If so I think that is *very* unfair and inappropriate!


Well as a Kramnik fan, I still think Topalov will win. Sure it sounds silly to say now, but I have this sinking feeling this thing isn't over yet. If anybody today could come back after such a rough start, it's the Bulgarian. He is playing great for 70% of the game, and he just needs a piece of the calmness that took Alekhine and Kasparov over the top.

Why are people laughing at Topalov now? It's just crass rudeness. Maybe many are angry about all the Kramnik-bashing, but that's no reason to denigrate the FIDE world champion, world No. 1, and decisive winner of elite tournaments. If Kramnik wins this thing it will be the 2nd greatest result of his career, not some cakewalk.

What about Kramnik winning this 6-0. And in 2 years there will be the (re-)match of the century:

Kramnik vs. Kasparov

That would be a 100.000.000 dollar match (with Bobby Fischer doing the commentary - of course).

Don't forget, even after Topalov made his big blunder he still had a big advantage. Kramnik slowly outplayed him turned the tables and won.

I didn't mean to imply that Kramnik only won these games because of Topalov's mistakes - far from it. Of course his play is beautiful overall, even if he's getting into objectively dangerous positions. So far, he's proving himself once again to be a ferocious defender, endgame player, and psychological warrior.

I'm just saying Topalov isn't playing as bad as the score shows.

I think Topalov currently plays better chess than Kramnik. However Topalov lacks "match experience". He had to take the draw in the first game. He would have sent a clear message: "I made a draw with black and I had a slightly better position. I could have pushed but tomorrow I have white."

Topalov plays only with talent, while Kramnik plays with talent, experience, technique, carefulness, psychology, etc.

Shots at championship matches are a little hard to get your hands on. Add to that a 12 game match and maybe the stress is showing.

Are you kidding? 31..Bxf8 was one of the worst moves of Kramnik's life. It takes a tricky but defendable position and turns it into mate in four.

Posted by: Mig at September 24, 2006 15:23

Everyone keeps talking about this mate in 4. But my Fritz9 does not show it. there is a mate in 4 with wrong play but

31 ... Bxf8
32 Rxg4 Bg7
33 Qc7 Qc1
34 Ng1 Qg2+
35 Rxg2 Rxg2

this is not mate but with loss of queen one can resign. just trying to set the record straight. It wins the queen but not mate in 4.

However, I do admit Kramnik made a mistake here. 31 ..... Kxf8 was the correct defense.

But the chess gods were shining on Kramnik this weekend.

Next I want to give my opinion on Topalov playing 32 Qg6+ instead of the Rxg4 move.

I find this understandable under the pressure. I suspect that he looked at it positionally. Rxg4 leaves the king open and the Queen hanging. Remember Topalov has his queen hanging. he must save the queen. he also is using the rook to protect the king from check and complications due to a check that might open opportunities for Kramnik.

With those 2 problems in the air, I guess Topalov did not look at the concrete positon and moves. I can only guess that he felt it was better to take off the pressure by "saving" the queen while checking Kramnik's king and keeping his own king with the rook protecting it.

These lower level club players who claim everyone saw Rxg4 as "the" move. are blowing smoke. they have fritz running. sure it is easy to see with Fritz running. But not so easy when the weight of the world is pressing down and there is no place to go for advice and the clock is ticking.

If these moves had been made in a game between Fritz and Rybka then sure go ahead and complain. there must be a mistake in the computer software program which can be "fixed". but this is real people. Maybe it will help everyone to understand they they are not perfect either. and that the mind makes mistakes.

By the way Mig you are doing a super job. Keep up the good work. all your comments are spot on.

and if there is anyone who does not think Mig is really really great. then go away or drop dead. LOL. If you dont like this blog then dont come back and dont read it. but if you read it then keep your opinion to yourself.

I'm a huge Kramnik fan. But can anyone tell me why moving the bishop 5 times in the first 16 moves should be a great strategy? After this his position seemed to be nearly lost, as Topalov demonstrated with his attacking play.
Everyone is talking about who understands the game deeper - Topalov or Kramnik. But as far as I understood this game Topalov knew that out from the opening he should have very good winning chances. Kramnik perhaps thought he would get enough counterplay otherwise he would have chosen another line.
So all that talking about who has a deeper insight in the game makes no real sense to me.

Topalov is playing exciting, brilliant chess and Kramnik can do little to counter his powerful attacks. Instead, he's been on the defensive for most of the time.

Topalov is arguably the best chessplayer in the world right now, and his superhuman rating is second only to Kasparov's best.

Topalov's been dominating the chess world for the last two years, beating weak, strong and super-strong players alike.

Topalov has obviously been preparing for this match for a long time, as shown by his excellent opening play, which Kramnik failed to return.

Topalov has achieved superiority over Kramnik, who proved to be a nut too hard to crack even for Kasparov himself. Twice.

Yesterday, Topalov brought Kramnik to a position where the latter was forced to either face mate or resign.

Topalov is attracting more and more fans with his aggressive and imaginative play, whereas Kramnik's preparation has been unimpressive at best.

Kramnik has two wins in as many games.

Nuff said.

Well, Mark Crowther pointed out that Smyslov lost 3 of his first 4 games at the World Championship level, in his 1954 match with Botvinnik, and came back to tie the match after 12 games. So there is hope for Topalov yet.

And like another poster said, let's not forget Kasparov going down 0-5 in his first World Championship appearance.

There may yet be some hope for Topalov. Either he is going to stage the greatest comeback in World Championship history or go down in flames like Fischer-Larsen and Fischer Taimanov.

Mig, when you say "ask topalov if he's proud of his play so far, then run" ... are you speaking seriously? I mean... the guy is short, meagre, skinny...

With Jonah Lomu, Tyson, Le Banner, I would certainly avoid this (or any) kind of joke. But I strongly doubt that Topalov's ultimate mastership of the exchange sacrifice would give him better chances in a classical Gormallic situation.

Ruslan that "classical Gormallic situation" was a priceless one, bravo!

Impossible, how GOOD your work is. I am realy surprised. http://spankzilla.byethost7.com/

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 23, 2006 10:31 PM.

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