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Mtel Masters 2007 r5

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Three more draws in round five, one each of small, medium, and large. Nisipeanu-Sasikiran had a comical start and a silly finish. The opening was a known piece of stupidity for White to get a slightly inferior position after three moves, no small achievement. 3..a6 is the refutation of 3.Na3, as has been shown various times over the years. One of those who learned that lesson long ago was my co-host for the first half of the round on ICC Chess.FM, GM John Fedorowicz. He fell into it against Josh Waitzkin back in 1994, only to realize he was struggling for equality after Black's simple 3..a6! (which took the suspicious Sasi some 15 minutes to play. His trainer, Lev Psakhis, "you can take five minutes to play such a move, but not more!") 4.Nxa4 b5 5.Ne3 Bb7. As the Fed put it, White would pay ten bucks to have his knight back on b1! A remarkable number of decent players have done this to themselves with White over the years, including Topalov and Danailov. Of course it's still a chess game with all the pieces on the board. But Nisipeanu and Sasikiran either couldn't or wouldn't make a try to unbalance things. They maneuvered around behind the lines for a long time (on the clock, at least) before finding a convenient set of exchanges and an even more convenient repetition of position. By that time I'd been joined by GM Jon Speelman, although we also mostly ignored that game. Looking at it now, Black could have played on a bit. (E.g. 25..Rxd1 26.Nxd1 b4 and the a2 pawn could be be an issue in the endgame.) But they'd clearly been intending to split the point for a long time and the Sofia rules can only lead the horses to water.

Topalov-Kamsky was a very interesting, if efficient, draw. Kamsky was super solid right from the start. He even had a few opportunities to play for more but said after the game he didn't want to take any undue risks while trying to get up to back up to speed at this level. In a live interview with Macauley Peterson on Chess.FM after the game Kamsky said he might have been better but wanted to ensure the draw. "Nothing against the players in America, but here they've just been hammering me with strong moves one after another. I'm slowly getting my level back. They're making me aware of what I'm doing wrong. Of course I'm looking forward to the Candidates matches, like everyone. Preparation has become a problem because first my desktop [computer] at home broke down and now my laptop here!" Topalov played an interesting idea, allowing Black to capture his knight on e5 to create a long pawn chain in the center. It transposed into a Tukmakov-Miles game from 84, not the first time during this tournament that Tukmakov's openings have come up, oddly. Topalov's ambitious 16.a4 almost backfired, but White continued to play aggressively with 18.Rd4. You have to give Topalov credit for always swinging for the fences even when he's not in great form. We spent some time looking at 18..Nxe5!? but couldn't make it work better than what Kamsky played. White's counterplay with b4-b5 was just in time to force liquidation and Black's 25..Kg8! eliminated the last of the danger. Lots of fun in the notes.

The biggest battle was between the two leaders, Adams on +1 and Mamedyarov on +2 in clear first. Adams set Black all sorts of problems by improving on a game he played against Svidler a few years ago. Black pushed back and got a big pawn center, but, just as Adams planned, it couldn't be defended. It looked like White could have gotten a better version of the endgame (22.fxe4 for one), but to be fair it still looked like Adams was still very close to winning. It was great to have a great endgame expert like Speelman on hand. Adams slowly improved his position while Mamedyarov could only wait passively and hope he wasn't lost. When Adams finally moved forward with his king with 53.Ke5? Mamed pounced with the move he must have been praying for the entire time, 53..e3 and, amazingly, it's White who is lucky to draw! Miracle swindle. Adams was lucky to have the 55.Bxa6 bail-out or else he might have been tortured in a theoretical pawns vs bishop endgame for a while. The main point of 53..e3 is 54.Kf6 Rc7 55.Be2 Rc6! 56.Rxc6 Bxc6 57.Kxg6 Bb5 winning the bishop. The White king makes it back in time and Black has the wrong color rook pawn but these endgames can still be lost with zugzwang. 54.Rxg6 Rd5+!? is a comical (if unnecessary) option that finishes in a perpetual check. White should still have been winning after 53.Kc3.

Today is the free day. At the half, it's Mamedyarov +2, Adams +1, Nisipeanu and Sasikiran =, Topalov -1, Kamsky -2. Topalov has just two whites in the second half, but one of them is against Mamedyarov. Let's hope nobody gets hurt today in the football (soccer) game of the chessplayers against members of the Bulgarian national team. For revenge, I believe Topalov will then play a game of chess against one of the footballers (or a coach) who is an avid player.


I'm tipping Mamedyarov to win ths tournament, with Topalov 2nd & Adams 3rd. I wonder what Kasparov thinks but i'm sure he's got too little time to be wasting on a chess match though.

Looks like they were scrimmaging against players/former players(?) of Levski (Sofia), whose shirt sponsor is naturally mtel. There are pictures from the footy match on the mtel website. Chess players are short...

A video of the Kamsky interview can now be viewed at http://www.chessvibes.com/?p=828&lp_lang_view=en

Hey Mig!
As the game was underway I thought Adams would win quite easily. His Ke5 was a wrong try. My comp showed afterwards that Kc3 was right with a huge advantage.
I guess you have to win such endgames to become winner of the tournament. In these days you NEED to convert such an adantage!

Just for fun, I made a little table of Topalov's relative rating performances in first and second round starting with MTel 05. For single-round tournaments I split the tournament in half and eliminated the middle game. This turned out to be particularly interesting as at the last two Coruses, while Topalov got roughly the same result point-wise, his competition was unbelievably stronger in the second half and consequently so was his rating.

Here is the table:
Rd 1 Rd 2 Delta
Mtel 05 2668 2790 122
Dortmund 05 2599 2733 134
San Luis 2806 2731 -75
Corus 06 2714 2758 44
Linares 06 2620 2772 152
Mtel 06 2733 2771 38
Elista 2594 2756 162
Essent 2430 2716 286
Corus 07 2712 2752 40
Linares 07 2690 2582 -108
Average: 2656.6 2736.1 79.5

Interesting, isn't it, how much stronger he nearly always does after the hump and how much of an exception San Luis is? Topalov's performance at the start tends to be low, sometimes as bad as 2500s and nearly always below 2720-2730. (looks like a very low performance or with a few losses puts you straight in the crapper performance rating-wise, but a very high one still makes it hard to pull your rating far above 2750). However, the second half performances are fairly consistent, the atrocious Linares result aside he tends to consistently perform a 2730-2770 range.

Now let's look at what this means for expectations for second half of Mtel. His first round is 2644. That means on second round, we should expect, on average, a 2724. The closest to that would be a 3/5 (2729), which would leave Topalov with an even score for the tournament. Now let's sit back and watch Vesselin crush the statistics.


Topalov just demonstrated his superior middle and endgame play by demolishing Nisi after an early Q exchange. Perhaps Nisi subscribes to the myth that Topy depends on opening advantages too much, and decided to test his middle and endgame play. Bad decision!

What marvellous subtlety, Neander_tal!

Thanks to you we now have certainty in threes: death, taxes and the smug sodden stench of your relief gas all over this website each time an opponent resigns against Topalov.

"Topalov just demonstrated his superior middle and endgame play"

Uh, no. He has the advantage starting in early midgame and considering the amount of time it took him to get there it looks like preparation. It actually took him longer to finish the opponent off than was expected from the observing GM, considering the position both players were in by move 25 or so.

Haha! ROFL! YK, so his win is actually a demonstration of his poor middle and endgame play, sorry my mistake! Poor old Topalov, if he could only play the middlegame better!

Clubby, that's your olfactory signature that you're noticing, its time to have a shower! Yes, I know, before you say it, its a riveting comeback. :-)

I will hold off debating this with somebody who understands that:

1. Every GM has strengths and weaknesses.
2. Nobody was saying Topalov has poor middle and endgame play.
3. Not every game is won through "superior" "demolishing" performance at each stage of the game.

Another high class save from Topalov after an abysmal opening. Not to belabour any point of course :-)

Today was by far the best performance from Topalov, draw result not withstanding--much more impressive than yesterday's win.

Was his middlegame and endgame good enough then? I still think its suspect, poor old chap.

Mig has instituted a new rule whereby every time you say "middlegame and endgame" you will be charged 5 dollars and the money deposited towards a fund to eliminate use of archaic British terms of famliarity from this blog.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 15, 2007 9:21 AM.

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