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Kramnik-Topalov g3

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Veselin Topalov has been written off before and come back to win. But those were tournaments and this is a match and he's already felt the difference. He has black today and obviously can't afford another loss. He can still afford not to play too sharply with Black. He has no reason to shy away, however, having reached excellent positions in the first two games. Official live broadcast here.

Mainstream coverage has been so-so. Don't miss Kavalek in the WaPo. Susan Polgar's blog is providing coverage amidst the gigantic graphics. Mihail Marin continues to rock the mic at ChessBase. The Mal and Mark show's got some flavour at TWIC. Some very good stuff at Chesspro, with some in English.

Post other links if you got'em. Feel free to update the game and the result. I have a long night of work ahead and may sleep through this one. Too bad I'm allergic to coffee.



Didn't know you're allergic to coffee :) I don't drink coffee either. 7 AM NY time is tough to do a live coverage but I will try. My kids will wake me up before that anyway.

How many die hard chess fans from the West Coast would actually wake up at 4 AM to catch all the actions?

Thanks for bringing other interesting tidbits.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

IM Andrey Deviatkin is giving live commentary himself and translating GM Shipov's comments from Russian on http://www.chesspro.ru/match/ site.
Really good stuff over there.

How many die hard chess fans from the West Coast would actually wake up at 4 AM to catch all the actions?

I live in Seattle and I did wake at four for the first game. Set an alarm and everything; fortunately I didn't have to worry about work that day. After somehow staying mostly awake for the whole game I passed out and didn't rise from bed again until early afternoon. I don't think I'm going to do that again.

To follow up on soikins post, Peter Svidler's comments on game 1 in English can also be found on www.chesspro.ru

I usually have a better chance of staying up than getting up. (Hold the pill jokes, thanks.) If I go to sleep at 2 or 3 there is no way I'm waking up at 7. Just not going to sleep is easier. But this is from someone who doesn't have to go to work.

Topalov might want to stabilize himself with a less blood-curdling draw with black but after this next game I think he needs to go back to his normal style.

Assuming he can draw the next game, he needs to go for broke---at least to the extent he already was going for broke---from game 4 on. He should get at least a couple of wins that way and frankly, it is the only way he is going to win the match.

Kramnik will not hand any games to him with blunders from those arid positions he so loves.

I live in Seattle too. That 3:30 a.m. wake-up is brutal for someone not used to little sleep. Somewhere around the two hour mark I start resting on my couch, then darting to the computer when I hear a move being made. I look at the screen and study the move for 30 seconds, then go back to my couch and pass out until the next move jolts me.

I think Topalov should continue to do his usual pawn (or piece) sacrifice for compensation routine. When he tries to play solidly and defensively with black, he'll sometimes mess up and lose anyway.

The first two games of the match have been a nightmare, because now the Kramnik fans are doing their best junior varsity cheerleading routine. Kramnik is my third favorite active player, and I like his style and presentation for the most part, but his fans can be a little much. It's like they circle the wagons everytime something or someone threatens his image, no matter how small or trivial. It must be years of the Kasparov-Kramnik flame wars that summon the Kramnik defenders like Pavlovian dogs anytime their favorite son wins a game (or draws a game it seems). I know this doesn't apply to every Kramnik supporter, but it seems about half of them are like that.

Most Topalov fans get their inspiration from his drive and search for complex fights, not necessarily the final result. His successes over the past two years have been icing on the cake, but it isn't the only thing. Maybe Topalov loses this match by a big margin, maybe he doesn't. Maybe he'll be devestated by losing this match. I don't think so. But despite his seriousness in preparation and his intense focus at the board, he never struck me as someone who goes legacy shopping.

One last note about the so-called "nerves" that Topalov is succumbing to in this match. People tend to forget that a huge boatload of his wins in the past two years have had significant blunders in them. His opponents have blown up, and so has he on numerous occassions. During San Luis 2005 Topalov - Morozevich, Gregory Kaidanov opined that he simply uses up so much energy finding complex positional and tactical ideas during the run-up to the first time control, that he's vulnerable to missing what patzers armed with computers and lounging in their easy chairs refer to as, and I am paraphrasing here, inexplicable mistakes. That second game was a tense affair, and I'll give Kramnik's Bxf8 a pass too because there was so much tension and craziness that led up to that moment. When Topalov initiates a tough fight, there are going to be mistakes by both sides from time to time. And unfortunately for him, he's made more of them so far.

Please, please Vesselin, win this third game. If just to quiet the Topalov haters for one day. I'll take that - that would make my Tuesday. Please, oh please. Mig, make it happen.....

Mig, do you know: Who "found" the prize fund - Topalov, Kramnik or Kirsan? And who is the sponsor of the fund?

I am still pretty neutral on this. I like both players. I am very impressed by Topalov's play. He is wonderfully deep and creative in his play. I feel bad that the score is so against him. However, I do hope he stays calm and the wins will come.

Kramnik, has a good style also. I like Kramnik. He has been lucky. I am beginning to appreciate his style.

The 2nd game was so complex and seemed to maintain the tension for so long that I gave up on my Fritz9 program and felt that the players understood the position much better and much deeper than the computer. Also, I became exhausted by the continuing tension. the players must have been pumping adreneline like crazy. I dont know how anyone can maintain such a high level of tension for such an extended time.

Kudos to both players for a great start to what will hopefully become a historic match.

It is nice being neutral. I can sit back and decide who is the better player and really just enjoy the chess. so far, I have not decided who is the better player but have enjoyed the chess far beyond my expectations.

Recently, I have watched Topalov destroy everyone over the board. Kramnik so far has been just able to barely hang in there requiring both skill and luck.

I view game 3 as crucial. if it goes like games 1 and 2, then Topalov is lost. He needs for his luck to change. He might be smart to take a draw in game 3 just to break the rythmn of the match. then with white go back to full attack.

Everybody talks about Topalov. Topalov will do that, Topalov will do this... looks like most people here consider Kramnik as a non-existent part of the match. Looks like he's not able to win a game by himself, that he's not able to put up pressure on Topalov...

I really can't believe it. Kramnik leads 13-5 in his head to head record against Topalov, leads 3-0 in their last three games, has white, and everybody speaks as if he were some kinda passive element of the confrontation, "sterile" chess player, "arid" moves...

Boys, I think that Kramnik has ALSO a decent chess level (most than us all btw), and that he ALSO wants to keep his title. Today, he will put as much pressure as possible on Topalov because it's THE day to kill the match : Topalov is not far from being psychologically destroyed.

Topalov has a hard choice, either try to play for a win with black and take big risks to go to 3-0 without even Kramnik's help, or sit gently, play a game that does not fits his style and accept to fight for a draw when he's 2 points down ...

Today is THE day for Kramnik to play a nice, solid game with endless pressure from move 10 to move 60. And even if most of you, Topalov admirers, seem to say that Topalov had the upper hand in the two first games, you guys forget that Kramnik had a better position on move 20-25 in his first game, and that with this systems he has proved to be quite dangerous since his successfull come back to chess.

Today I put my bet on a 3-0 with a first good game by Kramnik.

Hi everybody,

www.e3e5.com has coveredge with English commentary by Sakaev and Yemelin.
Pretty good stuff as far as I can see.

Its 1 pm when games start here in Vienna. So the only thing I have to worry about is my bad counsciousness having to write some scientific paper...

Topalov just has to get himselfe away from comitting those crazy blunders. If that guy could fix up his nerves he could give Vlad a pretty tough time.

Best wishes

Kramnik rocks, Kramrock's a nick !!!


I think nobody underestimates Kramnik (I'm sure neither did/does Topalov). But to some extent Topalov did blew those 2 games. You have to give him credit because he did get promising positions, something Kasparov wasn't able to pull of against Kramnik. That being said, Kramnik is playing like a rock and seems to be very up to the task ahead.
And let's be honest, the match has already seen more action then the whole Kramnik-Leko match =). The two big K's are gone, the chessworld sure as hell can use this rivalry.


I think nobody underestimates Kramnik (I'm sure neither did/does Topalov). But to some extent Topalov did blew those 2 games. You have to give him credit because he did get promising positions, something Kasparov wasn't able to pull of against Kramnik. That being said, Kramnik is playing like a rock and seems to be very up to the task ahead.
And let's be honest, the match has already seen more action then the whole Kramnik-Leko match =). The two big K's are gone, the chessworld sure as hell can use this rivalry.

Michael Gehsperz, you are right, patzers with computers are becoming boring those days.

You're wrong on two other points. The first one is about "inexplicable mistakes" : missing Rxg4+ wasn't superGM or Fritz level. I saw it during the game, in a few seconds, I'm rated 2200, and there really wasn't much to analyze.

Topalov's explanation, "I played the move a tempo" and "I don't have 20 mins for every move" is typically a ... professionnal mistake. Any GM will explain you that before your move, you have to check up the elementary tactics. You have to analyze, compare, then chose your main candidate move, store your main variation in your memory, and then check up the elementary tactics of the start position and of the main variation.

I do this kind of "tempo move mistakes" myself, but I'm 2200. Being a patzer (and an amateur) I have some excuses. I don't play my life on the board, I just play for pleasure. Topalov doesn't.

When such a thing happens to me, it's psychologically hard to overcome. That's why I think that missing this move has really had a catastrophic effect on Topalov's faith in his tactical abilities.

Missing a mate in three for him is as bad as missing a mate in one or leaving a hanging piece for me. I don't check hanging pieces and mates in one because at 2200 I'm not supposed to do so. It MUST be part of the subconscient thinking process. It almost never happens to me. And when it happens, I think for a long, long time "god I'm such a patzer I should stop playing" (which is probably true by the way !!!).

So comes the second point : I think that an attacking player who has lost his faith in his elementary tactical skills will loose many minutes to check up what he'd never check up under normal conditions. He'll calculate long variations twice, check up elementary things, and loose a considerable amount of time in those operations, and he'll miss time for the deeper ideas.

Therefore, his playing level will be affected. And therefore I think that Kramnik's chances with white are getting higher and higher.

If you add to this some facts I've mentionned above (fact that Topalov has to choose either a risky game with black that may end up the match at 3-0, or a quiet game where he'll have to fight for a draw getting him closer to the 12 games limit), then you see that today Kramnik really has a lot of good reasons to win the game.

I'm in the central time zone (I live in Texas) and I'm dumb / sick enough to stay up for the first few hours of historic games like these. For the record I admire both players, but would like to see Kramnik win this one. All the hateful nonsense over the years about him being a coward or a "drawnik" or faking a serious medical condition ticked me off. Obviously he's still a scrapper. If Topalov whips him, I'll applaud him though. There's no real reason to cheerlead like a football fan...unless that turns you on I guess.

I guess Topa is listening to Abba's Waterloo right now: "I feel like I win when I lose..."

Now that Kirsan has changed the format of the candidates matches to a round robin tourney, it is only fitting that Kramnik prevails in this match. Hope that Kirsan will see the value and interest in having a head to head match for all the marbles. If the results continue in Kramnik's favor, I believe even Topalov will somehow push for a rematch to save face. I was concerned and saddened that somehow this would be the last individual match for our beloved World Chess Championship, but somehow, someway, the voices of the players themselves will demand one to one matches. With the drama and extraordinary excitement this match is providing (blunders are part of the game) we have not even reached boiling point. I'm looking forward to at least two more matches between these perfectly placed combatants. Their styles are contrasting, therefore leading to exciting chess for fans. The K vs K battles were wonderful although they were 12 years apart. Just imagine how tight the knot could be squeezed between these guys. Rematch in 2008 going a full 24 games, with proper promoting, would bring chess back to at least the "A" sections of our print media, where it was during the K vs K battles. At the end of this match, there really be be no loser. The game itself, stands to win. What more can chess fans want.

Thank God games start at 4:00 PM here. When I tune in at 6:00 PM, the game is already in its "heating" phase. It couldn't be more comfortable for me.
I agree with Ruslan on every point. Today Topalov will have a bad day, even if he makes a draw.
My last remark is about Shipov's coverage. During olympiad he commented with an unbelievable bias. It was so confusing especially because he didn't only say that all the russians always stand better but he almost always evaluated Armenians positions as lost: should you turn off your engines and listen to Shipov during the rounds, you'd always bet that Armenia would gain 0.5 points in a round.
Chessbase commentary is the best: Yasser is unmatched at audio and on-game analysis, and Marin is "a patzer's dream" post-game analyser. He doesn't give you enormous number of complex variations but only the key ones; instead he always points the key ideas and strategic ideas in a position.

For the first two games there was free live audio available at
http://audio.worldchessnetwork.com:8000 (open with a streaming audio program like winamp or itunes, not your browser)

However, it should be noted that you get what you pay for, and both chess.fm and playchess seem to be of higher quality on the commentary.

What an unjust and completely unsubstantiated comment by PlayJunior about Shipov's "unbelievable bias"! I hope nobody here believes in such paranoid nationalist nonsence because those who can read in Russian know perfectly well that Shipov is extremely professional in his coverage. He has earned his reputation over many years (and events!) so I hope it is not that easy to foul it. Just now he is commenting on-line at ChessPro (with IM A.Devyatkin translating some of Shipov's staff from Russian) and we all can enjoy it: only Yasser is in the same league!

After 12.Rd1, the position seems to be very dry. Exactly what Kramnik wanted, and Topalov did not want, in this situation.

Okay, I get the live audio at worldchessnetwork, free. As posted by Steve Wollkind, but who is doing the commentary?

Official site features Ernesto Inarkiev's post-game analysis. Don't miss.

Kramnik's position at move 18 is exactly what he looked for. Anyway, it will be a 70 moves torture for Topalov. Strictly no counterplay, just some more activity for white. And from my patzer's perspective, Kramnik has good winning chances.

Topalov is really having a bad time. Under pressure, his pieces have worse squares, tactical stuff for white, attacking perspectives for white, and no counterplay at all. Right now, it's hard not to say that everything is not strictly following the path of my predictions.

"Right now, it's hard not to say that everything is not strictly following the path of my predictions."

Well, I'll say it then: everything is not strictly following the path of your predictions. :)

"Anyway, it will be a 70 moves torture for Topalov."

Actually a 70-mover is to Topalov's advantage, as long as it is at least a draw. If Topalov's long-term stamina is superior to Kramnik's (as many had suggested), his best hope now is to face an exhausted Kramnik in later rounds.

Valchess it is "paranoid nationalist" when a professional GM mixes his wishes with reality. I remember a game where Sargissian playing white got a dominant position, the opponent saced a piece but soon had his attack blocked. With computer showing something like +2.5 Shipov was saying "it is a complex position where everything will be decided in mutual zeitnot". What the ...., he was just a piece up, the opponent resigned 3-4 moves later. I am sure I would win that position against Shipov, and that is professionalism?
If there is a log of Shipov's comments we can check it.
On the game-Topi is in trouble. 3:0 would be the most marvelous and unexpected score. Who could predict it?

Topalov's problems are not his style, it is his blunders. He should continue to play with the style he feels most comfortable playing, but perhaps it would be wiser for him to consider lines in greater depth and with more concentration while ahead. A lot of people speak of Topalov's success at MTel but what many forget is in a lot of those games it's not that he played great chess, it's that he was outblundered by his opponents. Right now, he is playing a man, who now that he is back in good physical condition makes few blunders and has a technique rivaled by few men in history of the game.

Since return from arthritis, Kramnik neither showed signs of tiredness nor had his performance worsen towards the end of the two tournaments he played in (if anything, it got better in Dortmund). I would wait before assuming that his stamina is an issue. The first two slugfests we saw would take a lot out of anybody. We should see a short draw soon.

PlayJunior, I am not going to discuss that concrete episode without having those Shipov's comments in front of me (although it looks unplausible in your description). Well, let's suppose that you are right and Shipov did make an erroneous comment. That can occasionally happen with everybody. However your claim that Shipov consistently and intentionally evaluates positions by armenian playes as bad (because - as you are implying - he does not like armenians) is ridiculous and outrageous.

In my opinion, making such strong allegations of prejudice (racist? nationslist?) you should use your real name. This at least assumes some responsibility on your part.

Draw. Looks like Kramnik bailed out in time pressure.


Topalov did what he had to do today. He made his opponent work for a draw, without blundering into a loss. Some of Topalov's moves today were arguably too risky, but he counted on Kramnik playing stock-exchange chess, which Kramnik duly did. It takes an iron stomach to concede connected passed pawns to an opponent who specializes in endgames.

I am certainly not predicting a Topalov comeback. But aside from winning, the next best thing was to force Kramnik to work for a draw. Aside from losing, the next worst outcome would have been a short draw that allowed Kramnik the equivalent of a rest day.

I am saying this as neither a Topalov supporter nor a Kramnik supporter, but as one who is just trying to put himself in both players' shoes.

Kramnik didn't work hard for a draw in Game 3! He spent time on move 17 and made a conservative choice. Acc. to S. Polgar he made a surprisingly conservative choice with 32 cxd5 instead of 32 exd5 (interesting for postmortem.) Either he doesn't want to risk anything, and was ambivalent at move 17, or he wants to make Topalov feel he has no chance to win the match, and to aggravate Topalov's frustration by letting him think about the interesting variations unplayed.

Up till the last five moves or so the initiatives was all Kramnik's. Then he made a mistake and quickly drew.

"Kramnik didn't work hard for a draw in Game 3!"

I am writing in comparative terms. See Kasparov-Kramnik 2000 for the alternative. Although he was never really in danger in this game, Kramnik worked plenty hard. Mind you, Topalov did too. If he can get back in it (and I'm not suggesting he will), it may come down to stamina.


K will be content to draw his next as White.
Toppy wins his next two as White.
After game 6, we're knotted up 3-3.

Hey... it could happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


OT: Mig, I have a browser (IE6) issue with this site... the comments often disappear on me when I scroll to the bottom. Weird. Just to make you aware.

Based on recent Chessbase article I have a new rule to chess: Better looking guy always wins head to head matches.

Kasparov was clearly better looking than Karpov, Kortchnoij or Nigel Short but obviously lost to Kramnik. Topalov has no chance against Kramnik who is "Tall, aristocratic, impeccably dressed, he could make a successful career as a model".

Bobby Fischer was also a very handsome man, this is reason he beat old soviet farts. Young Karpov might have had some chances against older Fischer, this is the reason why Bobby never played him.

this is a known bug. Reloading the page a few times usually helps. You also can't mark passages past the archive links on the left. That could be remedied with a small js-script but I doubt Mig has time or interest in trying this.

Easiest for you: switch to Mozilla.

was there ever a time when Petrosian looked better than Botvinnik? Not that this is saying much... ;o)

Has anyone here done an analysis of 17. Ne4, rather than 17. Bxe7. This was reported as more promising. Unfortunately, at the office, there isn't much time for serious analysis. If anyone has looked at this alternative in depth, it might be interesting to post some variations here. Thank you.

My wife tells me that Spassky had it all over Fischer in the looks department and that Capablanca was better looking than Alekhine. She also said no contest between Kramnik and Topolov. I told her I'm still rooting for Topolov and she wished me "good luck". Hmmmm, women and intuition?

"Has anyone here done an analysis of 17. Ne4, rather than 17. Bxe7."

Susan Polgar analyzed it on her blog. She clearly preferred 17.Ne4. After Kramnik played Bxe7, she wrote:

"So this is typical Kramnik! He wants to avoid any complication and secure a safe position. After the trade of Bishops and symmetrical pawn structure, Kramnik is happy to draw this game and he plays like it. Some may not like his style but it works for him and that is all that matters."

In the match situation, it's Topalov who has to come out guns a-blazing. Kramnik will play solid positional chess, and let his opponent take the risks, and perhaps over-press his case. After Games 1 & 2, who could disagree?

Of course! Spassky was a hottie!!

Shredder seem to like 31. Rb8, various continuations should leave white with an advantage. Any thoughts?

Kramnik as a model? Highly questionable, to say the least.

i dont have a board with me at the moment but 31...Rd2 32.Rd8 Rd8 33.Qd8 Kg7 34.Qd2 a5 seems fine for black.

Did you guys look at the pictures from the official site?

I must admit that if I didn't play chess myself and had at least a faint idea of how much tension and excitement can come from following a match, the pics with that plexi-shield in front of the players and everything - the silence can virtually be felt through the pictures.

Just looking at the pictures, I would conclude, that chess must be extremely boring...

Gilles: that was pretty much the line Shredder saw. After 34...a5 it gave +2.4 for white... Perhaps Shredder knew how to beat Topalov here, unlike Kramnik ;)

After 34 ... a5 doesn't 35 Qc2 threaten to just ram the c-pawn through? And if Black's Queen drops back then the a4 pawn falls, White can bring his a-pawn forward to secure squares for his Q and push the c-pawn some more, pick off the other a-pawn, and then it's easy. (I'm very tired and at work though, so I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, like White hanging a Q, for example.)

Keres was the looker par excellence. No wonder he wasn't allowed a match with Botvinnik!

"Everybody talks about Topalov. Topalov will do that, Topalov will do this... looks like most people here consider Kramnik as a non-existent part of the match."

This is a good point I think, but two considerations come to mind. One is that swashbucklers like Topalov will always be more popular with the public. In general players like that take personal responsibility for the game in a way that a player like Kramnik does not. They impose upon themselves some existential onus whereas other players play the positions a bit more objectively. In short, we admire players who take great risks and can still achieve excellent sporting results.

Second, Topalov is the one who is behind in this match. So it is natural to ask what his strategy will be. It's not as interesting to speculate what Kramnik should do to keep his lead; this is obvious. He needs to maintain his composure and play solidly. He can win the match by drawing the rest of the games.

It is ridiculous how some ppl manage to bring everything into racism. I do not call Shipov racist. He just wanted the leaders(Armenians) to lose and Russinas to win which is normal for a chess fan; anyhow, he was a commenter not a regular patzer in a chat window. His passion made his comments so subjective that he was giving WRONG evaluations of positions too often. This is not racist, this is just a BAD COMMENTER. The game I mentioned was the most ridiculous one because a whole piece up(+2.5) is too much for a GM to evaluate a position "unclear".

"no contest between Kramnik and Topalov", Chesstraveler?

I think your wife means neither is even qualified to enter a contest based on looks.

Why would "wanting Russians to win" be normal for a chess fan? Not so. Kramnik may not even win this match and has not impressed thus far... and I don't agree that Kramnik is in good form given the fact that he didn't even see a mating attack and has to scramble to avoid losing three of the games thus far.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 26, 2006 1:06 AM.

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