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Amazing Topalov Wins Mtel 07

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The script was already written, the actors just had to play out their roles. Topalov beat Sasikiran in the final round to flip places with him and take clear first in the 2007 Mtel Masters. Incredibly, Topalov's +1 score was enough for clear first place. He played a gutsy, sacrifical game and won when the Indian missed the best defense in a very difficult position. Possibly the best game of the tournament as well as obviously the most crucial. Strictly speaking the 32.Nxh5 sac wasn't necessary, or even the best. Kasparov told me White could have won without the fireworks with a straightforward reorganization and attack on the weak black pawns. In the game Sasikiran could have walked the tightrope to salvation with 38..Qxd4, which looked logical enough. Perhaps he missed 39.Kg3 Kh6! and Black defends, leading to a draw. Sasi was down to three minutes on move 38, and his 38..Qe7 allowed Topalov to force a winning endgame with three pawns versus a bishop. He still needed to show some precision, which he duly did.

This is Topalov's third straight win on his home turf at Mtel, all of them coming after a rocky start and a powerful comeback. It almost seemed preordained that he would follow through again against Sasikiran today. The Indian underdog was the improbable leader by a full point just two days ago, but lost to Kamsky and then today to finish in the big pack with an equal score.

Mickey Adams balanced out the field as the only player with a negative score. He put the squeeze on Kamsky in the final round but Gata again showed his defensive chops to secure the draw and an honorable even score. Nisipeanu got a promising attacking position against Mamedyarov in a c3 Sicilian. Every white piece was aimed at the kingside but Mamedyarov got over in time to defend. Both finished on even scores, which are not created equal. Mamedyarov was a favorite in the event and started out with +2 only to fall into difficulties and struggle. He came close to losing a few more times as well. Nisipeanu surprised with his resilience, coming back to beat Adams after faltering.

In his live post-tournament comments to us on ICC Chess.FM, Topalov didn't say much to surprise, but it was nice of him to come on. Thanks to Macauley Peterson for the get. "It was very important to strike back after the loss to Mamedyarov, where I played terribly. I was lucky to get a good position out of the opening against Sasikiran and he didn't play too well. My style is very risky so I'm used to losing. It's not such a big deal. It's not easy to come back [after a loss] but it's just part of the game. There are three possible results: lose, draw, win. That's just the way the sport is. [At the press conference he said he wasn't happy with his play, but that his preparation had been good.] I made a couple of good choices in the openings. Today this was a good choice to play for a win; it went well against Sasikiran in both games. I played at a very bad level for the first three rounds. After this I will play in the rapid tournament in Leon."

Macauley asked him about the candidates and Mexico City but there seemed to be a misunderstanding. Topalov seemed to take it as a request for predictions and said he would prefer it if "players from different countries qualified." We also had a little chat with Vladimir Georgiev, who talked about how famous Topalov is in Bulgaria. Georgiev compared him to Madonna and Brad Pitt, no less. Congratulations to Topalov as the deserving winner of a tournament it seemed like no one wanted to win! He went from -2 to +1 and two players fell from +2 down to even. Kamsky fought back to even and should be in a good mood for his trip to Elista.

We were told that there aren't any prizes at the Mtel, only appearance fees. This was a little surprising. It's been common for years for the prizes at these big events to be almost tokens compared to the appearance fees the players get. Still, it's remarkable to simply abolish them. Had Sasikiran won the event it would have been very odd for him to get nothing but glory for the achievement while earning considerably less than the better-known players with their higher fees. A few years ago Linares went the other way, dropping (or cutting drastically) appearance fees and putting it all into the prize fund. With such a small field like Sofia, you think it would be enough to just have a balanced prize distribution.

Viva Bulgaria! Bob chorba for everyone! Now we've got Bosna with Morozevich and Short, and the last few rounds of the US championship.


I hope Kamsky is all warmed up for Bacrot. I suspect the warm up will give him a little edge to win.

I am happy you enjoyed your stay in Bulgaria and the "bob chorba" :) !

Great site! Thanks!

The Topalov-Sasikiran game looks strange to me. What was the purpose of 38... Qe7? 38...Qd4 and it looks like a draw.

Interesting comment by Mamedyarov on chesspro.ru (from the last press conference). When asked who played best in the tournament he named Adams ;) Things just never quite worked out for him, despite all the good positions he got.

Still, the tournament wasn't a ratings success or disaster for anyone. Perhaps it's for the best that no-one got any prize money...

A field of players all of them playing original, attractive chess and willing to fight. Seems to be the recipe for success. No boring rounds, a plethora of mind-boggling positions, a wide variety of openings discussed. This is as good as it can get.
Also nice coverage at the ICC. Good job Mig and commentators, especially mrhat who gives undiluted (i.e. no engine usage) GM insights and consistently does these nice recaps after switching to another game, and LarryC with his sky-high variations to seconds ratio.
Last but not least: my favorite player has won :-)) Congratulations to Topalov ! May this give him the strength to survive the charade which Kramnik+FIDE are pulling off later this year.

I also would have named Adams most of the way. He was playing very well and came very close to wins against Kamsky, Mamed and Topalov. The blackout against Sasi was just that. But he really got hammered by Nisipeanu.

This was by far the best the Chess.FM coverage has been, if I may say so. Almost all the analyst commentators were really engaged and on the ball every day. Really instructive and a lot of fun.

Mig, mentioning kasparov and leaving us dangling is not fair! What were his lines?? Also I think he too would have played the sac in a heartbeat, in a similar situation! Was he critical of it??

What a question. Of course the greatest player ever was critical of a sacrifice that objectively turned a winning or much better position into a draw. Who wouldn't be?

That seems to be a misunderstanding about Kasparov. Many other players made many more speculative sacrifices. Kasparov didn't often sacrifice "just because".

acirce, the sky is blue.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 20, 2007 8:21 PM.

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