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Anand-Topalov WCh, g10

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The conventional wisdom of "Anand better, Topalov tougher" seems to have been borne out fairly well so far, which is handy for cliche shufflers like myself with no time to read, let alone do, any proper evaluation of the games. Anand had Topalov on the ropes in game nine but the Battling Bulgarian once again showed how hard it is to get the stake through his heart, chop off his head, and set the remains on fire. Which of Anand's seconds was in charge of bringing the holy water? As Topalov himself put it before the match, his advantage consists of five fewer years.

A wonderful duel so far, despite, or perhaps because of, a lack of accuracy in the last two. Consider how rich the games have been, one after another. Now, just for comparison, flip through the Kramnik-Leko match games from 2004. Wait, don't, you'll sleep right through today's game 10. Topalov now has two whites in the final three games and Anand's Slav is looking more fragile than a new Tory coalition government. The match is tied 4.5-4.5, Topalov has white in game 10. Official site.


Apart from the reference to country of origin, I see that Nigel Short has written a self-assessment.
"Anand is a great, chess genius - I mean that sincerely - but he is also a flabby, middle-aged Indian." -- Nigel
Ah, the eloquence of a haughty Englishman.

It may come down to physical condition, but that can't account for Anand's performance in game 1, and I doubt the volcano factored in given his play in game 2.

Anand had a strong opening. Shutting down Topalov's games 3 and 5, and taking outright points in 2 and 4. Count game 1 as a Tal-like aberration, Tal would regularly drop the first game, it was a curse.
Then Anand fails to capitalize on not one, not two, but three whites - in progressively more disheartening fashion - and he fails to find the most obvious continuation in game eight, instead letting his misplaced bishop pop the draw as if it was a balloon..

So something's up. Three nail biters to come, no matter who you're rooting for.

To Short's point about physical condition. Maybe Short should remind himself that the standing is 4.5-4.5.
It's even.
And if Anand had drawn game 1, played the draw in game eight and won game 9 one of the three times he could have... IFs, indeed, then we wouldn't be speaking of physical condition.

It would actually have been over.

Not much work going to be done over the next few days, I'm afraid.

[ Mig forgets to put up the health warning ]

WARNING - if you have high blood pressure or any heart condition please refrain from watching the next three WCC games.

I don't know how to describe his play, very impressive?? so I would like to see more of Anand in the coming days in top level matches and tournaments.

Go Anand Go!!

This championship is already won by you, (a perfect 10 from Short??!!!, I'm sure Topalov would also give you a perfect 10 at the end!) so just go complete the formalities and collect the spoils in the next three regular games.

I would love to be in the heads of both Anand and Topalov.what they are thinking and going through? how they are coping with the pressure? I am just tired after yesterdays game,and shocked at Anand's missed chances.Hang in there Vishy!

I think it's long past time for people to realize that Topalov has one of those mysterious gifts we will never fully understand. 100 years on we are still talking this way about Lasker, who bamboozled opponents from every type of position, including many objectively losing ones. It's not luck. It's not simply errors by his opponents. Topalov has an unmatched ability to create positions he plays better than his opponents. Kramnik did the same thing and much of his success was due to that. We saw what happened when he couldn't get those positions against Anand in 2008.

Topalov is much the same way, as we saw in those Catalan losses to in Sofia. Topalov would be getting crushed here without Anand missing his best chances, yes. But most of Topalov's game is based on his opponents missing their best chances while he doesn't return the favor. All the makings for a classic battle.

But, objectively speaking,who has played better chess? I think Anand.But, to credit of Topalov he has been successful in creating problems on the board for Anand to solve.It's like Anand solves one problem,then Topalov is at it again.And,this seems to be exhausting Anand, both physically and mentally.

Looking at the score, I think that objectively we'd have to say that they have played equally good chess through round 9.

I know you love Vishy :)
But "Objectively speaking, who has played better chess?" as you said.

Well, it's a match that one must won, it's not a litterature competition.
It reminds me what I've often seen in a chess club longtime ago (45years) :
we saw russian bumps coming and beating up the club champion playing his "parrot-like opening"- sure beautiful to look at- while, with strange moves that nobody understands, the russians suddenly escaped from any "dead position" and finally won !

Moral :
The local champion knew only books like a super-parrot, while the russian simply knew chess, he provoked the mistakes that he knew were beyond the knowledge and the understanding of our local champion.

That’s why I love chess. Fortunately it’s not a beauty contest. Simple rules, clear goal and unquestionable winner - the one who wins a game is the same for fans and haters. Very much unlike of "who is better chess player".

It’s interesting topic for discussion though.

Through this match I've come to really appreciate the quality to Topalov's playing that Mig refers to above. He is a mine layer, sowing the board with complications. Rare to see Anand actually approaching time trouble - not of the kind that Grischuk struggles with, but enough to misplace his rook on the 40th move yesterday.

It's easy for us kibbitzers to be opinionated, with engines humming away constantly. What it's like sitting at the board during this is unimaginable. But I saw someone suggesting that WCC-players should have heart rate monitors attached, and we should be able to follow the output live. That would be fun.
I liked misanhp's comment about yesterday's game being something you watched while crouched behind the sofa -- that's what it felt like at times.

Mig, you didn't forgot the defibrilator, did you? Please put it above the tag cloud. Exciting! Will anyone be able to take his eyes off the screen? This match really goes beyond rooting for one or the other. Just chess!

I'd love to see the heart rate information. But maybe it wouldn't be fair to the players; they could perhaps hide it from the live audience.

Although I root for Anand, I think that Topalov may be more talented but isn't as focused on the big-picture development of his game. Anand seems to have better preparation and maturity, which counts for a lot (although Topalov's prep has been fantastic as well), but Topalov doesn't want to go away.

I think we all love to see two contrasting styles compete in any event, and I've been thrilled by the exciting match we've seen so far. Thanks everyone for this!

To All of You !
Please pass this message to every chess player of your acquaintance :

" Any chess player over 65 years old, are not allowed to follow the Anand-Topalov chess match in live, they might suffer an heart attack, and Fide took no insurance against that!"

Tories not quite in government yet. A strange feature of the constitution as the media prattled on about all night is that until Brown resigns the Tories just have to wait their turn...

I hope Anand will have the Last laugh. If Anand Can hold 3 games or even win one then he will have the last laugh.


Do you know that :

"If my aunt had balls, it would be my uncle"

:) just kidding.

Opening choice will be very interesting today. You've got to believe that Anand has done some serious Grunfeld preparation otherwise game one was an even stranger choice. Maybe roll the dice now and trot it out. Would that be better than grovelling for slow Slavic equality? I dont think Vishy really relishes the "slightly worse" positions the way Kramnik or Leko seem to. From Topa's point of view now is the time to kick Anand when he's down. Kasparov used to sometimes keep back openings till late in the match e.g. the Scotch 1990 and many other times. This would be the perfect time for Topalov to surprise Anand early.

Anand is hungry, the flabby middle-aged tiger is angry, we may live to see a Volga-Benko today

I wouldn't bet much against another quiet Slav myself...

I too feel it will be slav.But,is Anand ready to just defend another position with no advantages for himself? I think he has to play something which will give him some chances.Time to take some risks!

Isn't is great that we are discussing Chess, possible strategies and approaches, fatigue factor etc and not possible shenanigans by Danailov. The ones he tried at the beginning were mild and shouldn't have impacted the match in any way. In all, the Bulgarians have been great hosts contrary to the fears of many.

Regarding the opening choice, I don't think Anand will go with the Slav. In the earlier games, he was ok with being down slightly and still be able to draw in the endgame. Given the fatigue, stress etc., he has not been solid towards the end. Hence it is in his interest to surprise Topa in the opening and at least get a time advantage so that he can at least draw (or win if Topa overstretches).

If he draws this game, there are only two games left, both preceded by rest days and hence fatigue should be less of a factor. The rapid tie-breaks are also preceded by a rest day.


Is this racial indignation about Nigel just knees jerking, or is there actually anything to it?

I mean, does anyone sincerely believe that the upper echelons of Indian society, on average, are not less interested in physical fitness than the upper echelons of European society? It could be true. I would just find it surprising.

One GM told me Rh8+ yesterday was the worst move ever played in a world championship match. I'm thinking he probably hasn't studied Steinitz-Chigorin too carefully, but still.

There's an odd little story here about the "disappearance" of Danailov: http://www.blitz.bg/sport/article/60122

Apparently he wasn't anywhere to be seen for game 9, and his mobile phone was switched off and giving an automatic message in Italian...

Assuming Topalov does go on to win, by the way, which was the last time a player who understood chess less well than his opponent but was superior (if at all) in what one might call sporting qualities, won the world championship match?

Obviously Tal-Botvinnik 1960, but since then? Arguably Korchnoi-Karpov 1978. Maybe the first time Gazza beat Karpov? Maybe even, dare I say it, Anand-Kramnik?

I do realise we are in no real position to make such absurd assessments, but that doesn't stop it being fun. It seems to be commoner than I had imagined before starting to make a list.

wow, a grunfeld! Anand's got guts!

Woha!! Grünfeld Defence from Anand.

I couldn't find it straight away, but after the Leko match didn't Kramnik say something about still being confident for the last game as the player who played the better chess almost always triumphs in the World Championship matches (it sounds banal, but it's not so self-evident!).

A comment from Shipov on his Live Journal page supports what you wrote: http://crestbook.livejournal.com/

"What can be said about the game? Anand guessed right with his opening line, got an initiative, played brilliantly, had a hundred thousand million ways to win the game, but didn't have enough energy. When he had to calculate the last, decisive variation to the end, to hit the puck into a practically empty net, his strength abandoned him - and again he gave Topalov a chance, which he used, and then... simply on account of the fact he's a weaker chess player Topalov again gradually ended up in a hopeless situation. And again received a pardon!"

Though to give a little context. Before:

"I'm absolutely exhausted. I feel like that horse in the circus that falls from a great height and, to the joy of the spectators, speaks with a human tongue: When on earth will I finally die? :)"

After: "The game was so exhausting and complex that the mistakes of the players are not a reason to criticize them. They're living people and did all that lies within human powers."

It is as I predicted, the grunfeld is back :) and that too a rare line 10...b6

Misha, now you're reading the most gossipy Bg newspapers -- yes, they can be fun, the headlines are totally absurd, but a great source for learning the language of a country with words and constructs that typically you will not find in the (boring & lifeless) instructional texts.

Anyway, Danailov went out to meet a delegation from the Chinese Chess Federation yesterday -- the chairman, others, and also GM Yue (sp?) actually joined the commentary on the game briefly. According to the paper there are other Grand Slam representatives for discussions too. It is time to look past that match, no matter the outcome.

No, Danailov will not do a favor to many of you to just quietly go away in the woods and disappear -- I consider Mig would lose 50% of the traffic if it weren't for the Danailov/Topalov-subjects to rock the blog here with a guaranteed frequency…


And there I was imagining he'd been kidnapped by the Red Brigade in Italy :) It's a really odd story to print, though - you can imagine the journalist cares whether Danailov's present or not, but to imagine your readership cares...!? Well, except obviously for certain distant chess observers :)

Has anyone got the mms address for the video live-stream ? They should out it on the official site, god damn it !

Here I go:


Yesterday, Topalov's seconds Smeets and l'Ami said (30-80% in jest?) that Anand's opening choice - abandoning the Catalan - was already a moral victory for their boss. What to say about today's opening?

Agree with Mig on Topalov, however at the game 9 press conference Veselin himself said he had been lucky...

As Shipov put it at the end of yesterday's commentary: "Of course he was lucky but, without any doubt, he deserved his luck".

I wonder if Anand has a superstitious attachment to that blue shirt.

Someone tell Irv.

Meanwhile, is it me, or are we already out of theory? 14...Qd6 looks kinda new to me. Even 13 Rfd1 I'm not familiar with, not that that means much.

...cxd4 is the novelty. until then it exist in mega database

We need Svidler! Either commenting with his incredible style or helping Anand with his Grunfeld.

Using this much time already when having chosen to play the Grünfeld is just... Whack.

While I know a bit about the Grunfeld (obviously on my level), 10.-b6 was already new to me ... . Are the predecessor games in Megabase old ones, or by somewhat lesser players?

Na5 is better now

According to Chessok this has all been played before excluding 15.d5 at lower level:

1-0, Noori Amir (IRI) 2171 - Aghamohammadi M (IRI) 2024, Iran 2000)

Maybe someone should explain how, if according to Shipov in the above comment Topalov is the weaker player, how he has a 12-11 score against Anand in classical games spanning 15 years? Not to mention a higher rating and many more tournament wins in the last 5 years? I mean especially as far as tournament results go in the last 5 years it is no contest.

One would think results should matter when making such evaluations.

Maybe because Kramnik trashed topalov in a match and Anand trashed Kramnik in a match.
In maths it goes something like
If a>b and b>c then a>c

That comparison makes no sense ,but anands performance in 2006-2007 was unmatched.

Wouldn't the logic fail if Kasparov trashed Anand in a match, Kramnik trashed Kasparov in a match and Anand trashed Kramnik in a match ?

Per Stockfish,

If black plays 19...e6 now that should help Black equalize fairly quickly

According to that site, right above the table you refer to evaluating Anand's 2006 performance:

"A one-year period of games represents too small a sample upon which to make a judgment -- interesting, but not very meaningful. "

It also qualifies Kasparov as 10th (!!!) and Karpov as 11th (!!!)

I wouldn't say so, even if i think Nf4 wasn't white's best move. I really don't know why, it just doesn't feel like the way one should play against the Grunfeld.

Sure it would ... But we're talking Topalov and Anand right? So lets stick to the common denominator of Kramnik.
And its a little more logical to compare two matches in a 3 year period (Elista-Bonn) rather three matches in a 14 year period.

"Wouldn't the logic fail if Kasparov trashed Anand in a match, Kramnik trashed Kasparov in a match and Anand trashed Kramnik in a match ?"


Surely we're going to have at least 1 short draw, to remind us of Kramnik's reign?! Maybe that draw is today!

Didnt say it was very meaningful .Just that Anand peaked during 06-07 and so likely that he was atleast equal if not better than topa for the last 5 years .

Why not take Kasparov as the common denominator and look at the lifetime scores of Topalov and Anand ag. Kasparov.


Of course, head to head score is the best way of determining who is the better player.

But why should you arbitrarily draw the line at last 5 years ? Because the results of Topalov have been better in that time frame ? Why not consider tournament wins through their entire playing career ?

Shipov has his opinion and he is entitled to it.

Why are so many people wasting their time on all these historical comparisons when there is an interesting game going on, which is what this thread is meant for?

These unncessary digressions happen is almost all threads in chess forums. Which is surprising, given that chess players are supposed to be focused and disciplined?

Head to head score is 12-11 for Topalov spanning 15 years.

How is he weaker?

IM Ipatov: After a dubious "too much solid" 18.h3?! Black has equalized the game,the White's center now can be attacked by Black "e" and "f" and with strong Bishops b7 and g7 and a Queen d6

Ok Curious notweaker..Hppy..now please concentrate on the game

Why not just snag the pawn with 21. ... Bxd5 22. exd5 Qxd5?

Back rank too weak I think.

I never said that he is weaker.

I am saying that if Shipov considers Topalov to be weaker, he is entitled to his opinion.

Derek, at a quick glance, that line would fail to 23. Bd2 and if the black knight moves 24. Bc4! winning the Queen.

f5 played anyway. after Bd5 there was Qd2. Isn't this the typical Grunfeld endgame in which black can make white suffer a bit after a little inacuracy?

22. f3 played.

Now Q-e5 looking to exchange Queens with Q-a1 or if White plays 24. B-f4 then Q-d4+ to try draw by repetition.

Black's knight on a5 is weak, could be along term liability (but at the moment it covers the c4 square).

Of course he is entitled to his opinion, my question is how he arrives at this conclusion, which I am also entitled to ask considering head to head score, rating and recent tournament results.

I would say that if Anand manages to exchange queens soon, he'll be slightly better because of his pawn structure - fewer weaknesses, fewer islands. Not enough to win, though.

Additionally, Topalov has a consistently higher rating than Anand, which is a factor to be considered in this match. However, I guess that Anand has the better chances, for if it were not his blunders, he would be ahead in the match.

I think Shipov just refers to the ongoing match, and it seems that he values wins by outplaying the opponent higher than those from opening preparation or resulting from a blunder. Is it a matter of "chess understanding" (however this is exactly defined) vs. fighting spirit?

In the previous thread, Lone-Tiger called me a "chess purist" - I tend to agree, so do most people who know me personally as a chess player in games and post-mortems ... .

A couple of people made the same point on his forum, so if he responds I'll let you know. I think the way it was formulated wasn't as thought out as it usually would be (he was exhausted after the game), but he also said something fundamentally similar in his preview of the match, which is looking pretty accurate about now (except for the opening cataclysm in game 1!): http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2010/04/anand-topalov-eyjafjallajokull-be-damned.htm#comment-216925

Currently the a2-g8 diagonal looks like a raking weakness for Black with his king at the receiving, but no easy way to take advantage of it seemingly?

receiving *end*


What is your elo?


Seriously, did Anand not consider Ba6 when playing Nc6???? Why is he thinking so much????

Currently 1970, "historically" up to 2100. But the considerations I discuss (purist vs. fighter) apply at all levels: In my small club, there is also a "mini-Topalov" (or Tal) against whom I have a roughly even score spanning the last 10 years or so ... .

Anand is so fidgety, he looks physically uncomfortable. Hope he doesn't have any ailment.

Thks Thomas,

But Fide Elo?

Oh man, I have a bad feeling that Anand missed Ba6 altogether :-( I also have a bad feeling that Anand is going to collapse in the rest of the match. He looks so uncomfortable physically. What's up with him??

Bh6 was a good move.

I meant Ba6.

Only national Elo ... but what does it matter?

Blockade on d6 = dead draw.

Topalov starting these "problem -composer-type move" which make every chess player furious at him...

He wouldnt have possibly missed it . Just making sure that thats the endgame he wants to play/defend.

Shipov's also a bit concerned about Anand. He says that in good condition Anand shouldn't have had any difficulty in calculating 25...Ba6. Now he's going to have a worse endgame despite the opening going well.

NikoStavrev: 25...Nd4 was poor, Topalov has serious advantage in this endgame

I'm clearly nowhere near the level of these guys, but this looks like a long enduring pull for White.

How can White ever win this once Black gets his blockade on d6?

Per Stockfish:

White has no more than a slightly better evaluation. As long as Anand does not make pressured moves under time pressure this should be draw

Again long hours of being under (slight) pressure for Anand.
This about tiring your opponent and Topalov's contribution to chess development.

I don't think Anand missed Ba6. The long think before 25th move was to decide between 25 ...Bxa6 (equal, gives him a bishop pair and initiative but more complex with Queens on) vs 25 ...Nd4 (slightly inferior, gives Topa the bishop pair, but queens off and simpler). Anand chose the latter option, somewhat wrongly IMO.


Only if Anand blunders again, which is imo highly unlikely.

There is no way for White to make progress here - the only suspense is how they will manage to repeat the position.

By blockading with N-d6, Black can explore b6-b5

Wouldn't the long think have been before 24... Nc6 then? Both 25... Bxa6 and 25...Nd4 are critical lines, requiring precise calculation before one or the other is staring you in the face.

Well, I have a feeling it shouldn't be all that simple against the bishop pair, but we'll see

Considering Anand's results in the last few games, this was the correct practical decision. This endgame should be not hard for him to hold, avoiding to play with queens on the board and calculating too many long and tricky variations.

This will be a draw and Topalov gets nowhere with this game as white. Good result for Anand.

Anand is in for another long/tense defense now.

Anand start thinking long again ...

32 ...Bf6 seems the best option as it could potentially free up the knight and also provide room for the kingside pawns to advance.

Ne8. trying to put the knight on c7 to activate the queen side pawns?

The N is generally a much better blockader than the B. Look at all the squares it's covering! Don't let abstract principles like 'the bishop pair' lead you away from what the position is telling you...

"Head to head score is 12-11 for Topalov spanning 15 years.

How is he weaker?"

Because many of the posters on this blog are major Anand homers. They love to say that there man is the greatest champion of all time, most universal player, etc.

I like Vishy just as many others do, but I'm not a homer. There's a difference between being a homer and being a fan. I'm a fan of chess primarily. Many of these posters are just homers of Anand and not fans of chess.

Here's the definition of HOMER:

Someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have. (from Urban dictionary)

btw, Kramnik did not "trash" Topalov. He beat him in tiebreak games. Let's be accurate.

Huh? There's nothing abstract about the B pair here, they are very powerful and effortlessly control Black's pawns on both wings while stretching Black to the limit to defend the centre and both wings. There's zero chance for Black to win here, and all the chances for White.

At the start of his commentary today Shipov recommended that Anand switch from his passive Slav: "As paradoxical as it sounds, when you're tired it's much easier to attack than to defend patiently for a long time. Though in fact it's logical. The key is - "for a long time". When you've got no reserves of energy it's easier to act than to suffer".

I see 32 ...Ne8 more as a no-op or a waiting move asking for white to take the initiative as black doesn't have too many options. The knight will very likely come back to d6 to block the pawn. But taking it to c7 could be an option as that could net black its own passed pawn.

It should be easy for Anand to defend here, but we have seen it already that he has serious problems to see even easy moves after hours of play.
Topalov's plan for this match (hence that Slav ending preparation) is to exhaust his opponent in long games...how is that for sportsmanship in a "mind-game" ?

Not sure it's easy at all - Shipov gives a line with pushing the h pawn where black's hanging by a thread: 32...Ne8 33.h4! Nd6 34.a4 Ne8 35.h5 Nd6 36.Bf4! Bxf4 37.hxg6+! hxg6 38.Kxf4

Seriously? I despise Topalov as much as the next guy, but I see nothing unsporting about playing tough until your opponent cracks. If Anand can't keep it together for a whole game, maybe he should start exercising and train properly.

Who said anything about unsporting!?

Sorry, missed Ovidiu's comment - I'm with you,Derek :)

Ovidiu did. Two posts above my post.

"It should be easy for Anand to defend here, but we have seen it already that he has serious problems to see even easy moves after hours of play.
Topalov's plan for this match (hence that Slav ending preparation) is to exhaust his opponent in long games...how is that for sportsmanship in a "mind-game" ?"

I suppose Kramnik could argue the fairness of losing a match to Anand owing to the fact that his opponent and his team had better prep, and that he was consistently having to work through opening novelties over the board. Well it's all part of the game. I daresay that most of the chess games I've lost were due to fatigue. It's a huge factor.

I know you are an Anand homer, but don't be blind to Topalov's gifts. There are several chess geniuses in our universe. Anand isn't the only one.

I really do despise Topalov, though. I'll never get over Toiletgate. I hope Anand pulls it together and crushes him.

Yep, White must clearly push the h-pawn. Seems like the only way to create something more to play for than only the rather firmly blocked d-pawn...

Ovidiu, give us a break. Whatever plans Topalov had, Anand had his own. I understand your frustration, but nobody forced Anand to use the Slav. He chose it himself, opting for defending inferior positions without winning prospects. If this backfired or played into Topalov's hands, that was his fault.

And for me as chess fan, trying to neutralize a brilliant attacking player by playing something similar to the Berlin crap Kramnik used against Kasparov and trying to bore him and us to death does not reflect too well on Anand either.

I guess sportsmanship for some worshipers of Anand is just showing up and let him win without posing any problems whatsoever.

There shouldn't at least be time pressure issues this game - not at least till move 40 and likely even later.

Anand is moving quickly as opposed to going long thinks. He has been for the longest time the fastest or among the top 3 players in the world at rapid play over the board.

I really do feel that he needs to balance his caution with his instinct. In the past couple of games he was a bit off the base in that regard in the intuition/instinct part.

"And for me as chess fan, trying to neutralize a brilliant attacking player by playing something similar to the Berlin crap Kramnik used against Kasparov and trying to bore him and us to death does not reflect too well on Anand either."


its job is done on c7, will Anand switch the kinght to f6 now?

I've just seen lots of comments here repeating basic principles like 'doubled pawns are bad' or 'centralization' or 'the two bishops', regardless of what's on the board. I didn't say black had winning chances. But I see nothing concrete for white, either. Though I'm not sure why Anand is blockading with the B now and pushing pawns. Seemed more clearcut just to sit there.

Despite what the engines say, I like Anand's queenside pawn advances (b6-b5, a7-a6). Instead of being passive and waiting for something to happen, he is creating threats of his own without taking any risk.

Well, I guess we get a good dose of technique today from both sides for the rest of the game. Should be instructive.

Btw, I still think Anand will hold comfortably here. A draw will be a good result for Anand.

Anand must hold this game, or else it's match over imo.

"I see nothing unsporting about playing tough until your opponent cracks"

Until he is so exhausted that stops seeing even elementary combinations...well, if it were boxing or other physical contests I would agree.
But this is chess, supposedly about being able to come with moves of deeper wisdom and foresight than your opponent, not about who stops first from thinking and blunders like a beginner because of tiredness.

I think White's plan is to advance the kside pawns and try to exchange one, ideally leaving the h pawn. The bishops would then tie a piece down to its defense and White's superior mobility might win. The bishops would operate on both sides. Another piece must blockade the passed pawn. Any thoughts?

Is Anand trying to play a dynamic defense, instead of just sitting there passively? He decided to move his king closer to his pawn majority, but it weakens his king side, inviting Topalov to advance his pawns there. This game is not boring at all!

Another critical position around the first time control!? Certainly if Anand needs to find the odd-looking ...Na8.

"But this is chess, supposedly about being able to come with moves of deeper wisdom and foresight than your opponent, not about who stops first from thinking and blunders like a beginner because of tiredness."

Ovidiu, you don't seem to have a clue about tournament chess.

"I think White's plan is to advance the kside pawns and try to exchange one, ideally leaving the h pawn. The bishops would then tie a piece down to its defense and White's superior mobility might win. The bishops would operate on both sides. Another piece must blockade the passed pawn. Any thoughts?"

I basically agree. Black may hold, but he'll have to suffer a bit first.

Shipov thinks 39...Bg3 was simply a mistake. Topalov quickly found 40. g5. Not looking good...

White's counterplay is a potential kingside advance that leaves black with a weak pawn on g6 or h7. Black also needs to defend d6. That's 2 weaknesses and White's two bishops work on both simultaneously to pull the black defense thin.

If Black takes the h pawn, then his weakness is left on the h file which is further away. But if he doesn't take it then he risks a Bxg6 sacrifice creating a passed h pawn.

40. g5 was nice, now the w sq B springs to life...

I don't get ..b5 and ..a6, introducing the idea of White's king penetrating via c5

perpetuals at 40?

After Anand's B-g3

Shipov: I think it's just a blunder. Utterly unpleasant now 40.g5!

Which Topalov played. Rybka suggests B-f2+ for black which Anand has played.

So they battle on.

Exactly. Long before all of this, a teenager called Robert James Fischer started terrorising his opponents by not taking draws in dynamically equal positions, but played on till the position was positively sterile. His stock reply to draw offers was "Of course not". His opponents, including former WCs and WC candidates, struggled mightily to get half a point against him.

I don't trust Anand's ...a6 and ...b5 setup. White can place a lightsquared bishop on c8 which ties the knight down. It's a weakness that black didn't need to make.

Normally, you need to create two weaknesses in order to win. White has some targets (in addition to the kingside weakness)

ignore :)

> I don't get ..b5 and ..a6, introducing the idea of White's king penetrating via c5

Me either - it didn't seem like the right position for 'active defense', and now after 40.g5, it's unpleasant. Probably still a draw, but with a lot more effort and possibility for error now...

Another threat is Bg4-e6-g8-xh7. Rybka seems to think black's just about holding, but it's a horrible position to play. My guess would be that if Topalov doesn't make a clear blunder he'll win.

Topa is going into a long think here. He is calculating the possibilities of Ke5 followed by Kf6, sacrificing the center pawn while going after the kingside pawns.

And he rightfully rejected the plan. Doesn't seem to work. Black has queenside counterplay.

Now w's bishops take over.....a long hard day now for Anand

43. Bg4+ has to be the move here. Bishop can then go to c8 if black allows it, or follow the kindside path mentioned by misha. Depends on where black moves his king.

Zurab now suggests 44. Kf3! Where does the bishop go?

Oh this is horrible for Vishy. Passive defense with no prospects of ever getting more than half a point. Topalov can dance a jig with his Bs and K with zero risk. This is a classic example of why the 2 Bs are so much better in open positions with multiple pawn islands. Nothing abstract here. I think this is almost 1-0. When he went into this endgame after a long thought on move 25, I thought that he had blundered allowing 25. Ba6, and now I'm pretty sure that was the case.

What we need now is 44. Bc8 Nd6+!! :)

At least the black knight got back where it belongs... did Shipov call it the "prodigal parrot" in his commentary!??

the roles are reversed from yesterday. Now it is Topalov who tries hard to look for a win ... it's just that he is not it time trouble :-).

"What we need now is 44. Bc8 Nd6+!! :)"

I might have fallen for it! hehe!

Ah, he did! Some Soviet culture I'd missed out on:http://bearsandvodka.com/2010/01/kesha/ :)

I'm hoping that Anand has some finely calculated tactics to save the day. Else it's a collapse reminiscent of Karpov collapsing against Kasparov at the end of their first match.

Yes, *now* there's nothing abstract about the 2B's. After black's queenside pawn pushes and 40.g5, white is definitely squeezing hard. What I don't get is why Anand didn't just sit tight. He must have seen something - maybe he'll enlighten us afterwards - but it couldn't have been as uncomfortable as this...

This kind of position was always on the cards with the 2 Bs.

The link here for Shipov's english commentary says account suspended


White can not exchange the black-square bishops

Not sure if there was one clear mistake for white (though Shipov analysed a 44. Kf3! line to a win) or just a few minor inaccuracies, but suddenly Vishy seems ok. And he's playing quickly. Time to count those chickens!??

there is an interesting line where white bishop goes to g8 (after exchanging the black square bishops) sac itself for two pawns.

I would say this is worth considering - exchange the dark bishops and go for a win by advancing the g-h pawns and threatening with the d pawn at the same time.

Though the sickly Karpov didn't start collapsing for what, two or three months.

I like 45 ... Nc4! Maybe the Vish can pull it out of the bag? Did Topy dither too long? Can these two never gives us a boring game???? :-)

Why is Vishy ok now?


Topalov: 33min Anand: 1h&2mins


I dont know at what point white had a 'clear' win, but at this point at move 47 black is more than OK

Now Anand has queenside pawns rolling;

Rybka at ChessOk has it at +0.00

Shipov: 46...Bd6 And now black can create counterplay on the queenside. The invasion of the white bishop on g8 is welcome! The worst is over for Anand. How's that for surprises! There's your salt and pepper*. However, the struggle's not yet over...

* that doesn't make much sense if you don't read his introduction! (and even then...)

Is it not possible that Anand calculates better than Shipov ?

Just checking my understanding(?): seems like if all the pieces disappeared, it would be easy win for black (black king blocks white passer, black gets Q side passer, white has to kill it, black kills white passer and wins race to K side, getting K side passer with King in front; a won game).

It looks like Topalov's plan of entering Black's camp with the white-squared bishop with 44.Be6 was wrong and squandered all his advantage. Instead the 44.Kf3 line was much more promising.

I'd agree with that.

Sure, though Shipov's a former top-20 GM with a computer (& occasionally Kasparov) to help him, so his comments are worth taking note of.

I went off to shower, came back, and the Vish has equalized!

Shipov's English site is up now, but it is stuck on move 43.

Mishanp - where are you seeing Shipov's analysis?


I wonder how many GMs would split the point here if it weren't a WC game.

Anand should play 48...Ba3 and get one B off and life becomes a lot easier and it is almost equal. Wonder why he's thinking so long?

I'm reading the Russian: http://online.crestbook.com/antop10-10.htm You can see the analysis there, or run it through an automatic translator for the text.

He played ...Ba3, good for him.

hah, after a long think Anand offers to trade the black-square Bishops again, not sure Topalov can avoid it. if Bf4 then ... Bd6.

Looks a clear draw now! And Anand has enough time, so a blunder is less likely.

So what's to prevent White from Be6 with idea of Bg8?

Shipov says black's position's even a bit more pleasant after the exchange.

That looks like a really good question to me.

Topy's Bg4-Be6 was a shot to nowhere, only helped Anand to get rid of his troublues

53. Be3 looks obvious here. Isn't the bishop better in these situations with pawns on both wings?

I meant 53. Bd3. Still think white is slightly better.

At move number ? With black king on f8 h-pawn can not be taken.

52...Na3 - was expecting 52...Nb6. Anand's not worried about 53.Bd3?

Amazing technique by Topalov then.

Move 51 or 52...

Why Topalov did not play 53 Bd3 jailing black's knight and keeping an eye on g6?

Okay, now 1/2-1/2.

yup, Bd3 was the only chance to continue

Shipov agreed with you - though white's only playing for a draw now.

Did you see they just BARELY touched fingers at the handshake.

No chess tomorrow. :(

draw ? not sofia rules ?

Anand just swung the match in his favour...

Anand holds as black and did so in a non insane manner. Topalov is now under huge pressure as he really needed to win one here with his last two whites. I do not think Topa's chances increase if this goes to rapids.

It was a White win (though 30 % prob)but Anand capitalized on Topas nervousness

I will still fancy Topalov's chances. Anand will be under huge pressure in the last game;regardless of the outcome of the next game.
Top would be too but he has committed lesser obvious mistakes in the match, and seemed to have handled pressure better.

Topalov showed a little bit of respect for Anand!? Against Kramnik, in a similar situation (Corus 2007) he had played till the very last pawn was gone.

In my opinion it's 50/50 in rapid if it goes to tie break. This match as well as Corus could not be huge confidence builders for Anand.

> Why Topalov did not play 53 Bd3 jailing black's knight and keeping an eye on g6?

It looks like Anand could trade the a and b pawns for white's a-pawn, give up the N for white's d-pawn, and capture the g5 pawn with the K - the resulting ending is a draw even without the two black pawns.

Anand should not have accepted the draw, clearly Topalov nedds to find the right moves to draw ? Why give it away, let the Weasel sweat a little. Starting to think something is not quite well for Anand.

Of course he is entitled to his opinion, my question is how he arrives at this conclusion, which I am also entitled to ask considering head to head score, rating and recent tournament results.

I don't think head-to-head is the best indicator of overall strength (or gap in strength) between 2 players.

Better to judge results against a pool of similar-ly rated players -- ie. results against 2700+ players.

Why? Stylistic differences can matter in head-to-head games. Everyone -- even top players -- has an opponent where they play below their normal form for such style reasons (or they just find sitting opposite them too disagreeable to perform 100 percent).

I didnt see the game end ..How did it end in a draw? Where are the Sofia Rules? Did they call the arbiter?

Nonsense... it's a dead draw.

Why spend any extra energy in a position you are not going to win?

Best to get back to the room, have a beer, and sleep for a few hours....

"Better to judge results against a pool of similar-ly rated players -- ie. results against 2700+ players. "

In that case, his higher rating makes it again impossible to argue he is a weaker player since that rating is achieved by playing ag. the world's elite in all the top tournaments.

No, Anand could not stop the draw. Topa sacs his bishop and his king takes the a pawn.

If Topalov does not achieve a win in the regular games then the chances in the rapid games are 70:30 for Anand. I think we might have had a minor momentum swing today, although that these momentums swing way too often to really try to keep track or make too much of them.


Not a good day for Topy, his attempts to play again for slow pressure (18.h3 ?!) evaporated quickly.
His momentum may have come to an end, and switch back to Anand.

we keep reaching the same conclusions, Dimi..:)

The way Anand defended the endgame today made it looks like the two-bishops advantage is overrated.

Well maybe Topalov's momentum came to an end. But who really thinks the present game showed any evidence of momentum going in Anand's direction? Neither player seemed to be pressing the other into great defensive burden, did they?

What must Magnus Carlsen think? Magnus doesn't have the same experience with match play, but observing such imprecision in a dual that is designed to proclaim the winner better that him must be eliciting some disgruntlement but also no small amount of confidence.

Magnus's only worry must be that, if Topolov wins, Danailov, the king of toilet tactics, will do anything to prevent Magnus from getting his rightful shot at the title.

Tsanko Tsanev, the Bulgarian journalist who previously wrote a crazy article on Anand and the Russians - http://tinyurl.com/32kxree - is a great source of curious details and wacky comment (the volcano!?). The text here is basically just Google translate as it's not really worth spending too much time over:


"Heavy clouds over Sofia forced Topalov's doctors to give him extra oxygen. The gloomy weather leads to its reduction and more rapid fatigue. Medics fear a new volcanic cloud over Bulgaria, which can melt the Bulgarian super GM's freshness.

The tough ninth game for the world chess title against Viswanathan Anand showed that both opponents are tired. The Indian urgently requested ginger tea, which helps to better concentrate and give energy. In the middle of the game a fly appeared that the judge was asked to kill. Both opponents seemed nervous and tense. For the first time Topalov spent a lot of time, but his opponent did the same and even had time trouble at the end of the game."


"Veselin Topalov received family support from his brother Alexander yesterday before the important ninth game of his World Chess Championship against Viswanathan Anand.

The Topalovs met for the first time since the beginning of the match and had dinner together. The brothers have a habit of getting together in tough moments to inspire courage. Vesko came out for another hard battle with the same black suit and red tie which brought him luck in the victorious eighth game. Anand remained faithful to his clothing and appeared for the eighth time in the blue scout shirt which once brought heavy defeat in the first encounter.

Waiters and technicians were thrown into a panic yesterday. On the 19th move, and a half hour after the start of the game, the world champion suddenly asked for ginger tea. Arbiter Werner Shtubenfol from Austria rushed to pass on the Indian's request for the beverage. Waiters at the Central Military Club hastily sliced lemon but did not know where to get the tea. A special man was sent to find it in a herbal pharmacy."

Ah, gingerteagate. It was only a matter of time before Anand attempted to swing momentum in his favor through such dirty tricks as polite requests and the consumption of stimulants.

Magnus only needs to worry about how not to lose in qualifying cycles, like he did against Kamsky last time. Hopefully, unlike his coach, he won't use his world ranking to seek a free WC match despite losing/not qualifying in a proper cycle.

Well, I guess now we know why Anand is world champion instead of Shipov.

Magnus will get his shot, but first let's see if he can deal with Kramnik.

And Aronian as well.

It could be the nature of the position, but something I clearly noticed is a radical change in Anand's play in the middle of this game. He started playing quick good moves -- this is what he used to do long time ago and something he never did in this match until now.

I have known him to play fast when he thinks his position is lost, but this was not that case.

Good point, Harish, I noticed the same as well. Hopefully this points to some attacking White play day-after-tomorrow.

However, to take a more nuanced view, while Anand played fast, he was still reacting to Topalov almost the whole of this game i.e. Topalov was dictating the trajectory of play. This is something that Anand has been unable to shake off in the second half of this match (barring a brief period with the rooks yesterday).

chessbase has this funny stats on G10

* Chairs: Anand's chair is a bit lower – a good two cm – lower then Topalov's.
* Yawning: Anand-Topalov 3:0 [plus five separate occasions of someone in the audience falling asleep and actually snoring]
* Water refills: Anand-Topalov 5:5
* Trips to the WC: Anand-Topalov 4:5. The players are accompanied by the arbiter. Anand once took a long walk down the corridor to the WC without actually using it; he was still followed all the way by an arbiter.
* Coughing: Anand+Topalov-Nikolopoulous 0:16
* Death toll: One fly menace, killed by the arbiter at the request of the players

From TheChessMind:

60.Bc4 1/2-1/2. Apparently at this point Anand more or less offered a draw, Topalov in a ridiculous gesture looked to the arbiter for approval, and the game was drawn.

But the arbiter is not supposed to say anything! Infact I'm sure under FIDE rules you are not supposed to discuss the game with the arbiter . So how did Topalov get "approval" for the draw?

Maghnus needs to be able to beat ordinary 2700 players in matches before he takes on Topalov or Anand. Also, you guys do know Anand's lifetime score against Carlsen in classical games, right? It's nearly Kasparov-Shirov.

Anand's rating, and his tournament results, have been weak of late because he's spent two full years in training for WC matches with Kramnik and Topalov. He's been hiding prep and avoiding his best lines since 2007. And in 2007 he was practically invincible.

Is he playing Dortmund this year?

Damn that arbiter. That fly was an experimental information-gathering prototype. He just cost us 2 million dollars.

The draw offer was incorrect even with traditional rules (it was not accompanied by a move). Funny that Topalov actually accepted it, and a nice little victory for Anand.

I guess you can always ask the arbiter if you're not sure about the rules. In this case, the arbiter probably just confirmed that Topalov was allowed to accept an incorrent draw offer.

You make a good point on Anand hiding his prep; In these days with computers novelties OTB have a very short life.

I remember that one of Kasparov's novelties in Sicilian, a direct d5 thrust which secured an awesome win at the time against Karpov, was proven to be unsound a year or so later.

These days it is evaluated on the fly and by the end of the game team members of both players pretty know the pros and cons of it.

I was also superficially thinking (or rather not) that Anand's tournament performance during this time are not in the same league as that of Kasparov or Karpov.

But then they had the luxury of adjournaments without the double-edged sword of computers.

I think the queenside pawn advance by Anand (I was the only one supporting it in this forum :)) was what saved Anand. It was Topalov-like in a way - not very sound but enough to confuse and scare the opponent. It was certainly better than not doing anything where he would have been defending all the time and even a minor inaccuracy could have cost the game.


"Until he is so exhausted that stops seeing even elementary combinations...well, if it were boxing or other physical contests I would agree.
But this is chess, supposedly about being able to come with moves of deeper wisdom and foresight than your opponent, not about who stops first from thinking and blunders like a beginner because of tiredness."


So, would you apply the same statement to Carlsen? After all, Topalov at least sometimes wins through great preparation or deep tactical insight. Carlsen almost always wins by Sitzkrieg.

Were you at the venue today? I could hardly have imagined it'd come to this but, given his uncharacteristic blunders in games 1, 8 and 9, it does look like we need you to be at the venue Sunday and Tuesday! :)

> Carlsen almost always wins by Sitzkrieg.

I actually didnt know this about Carlsen. He is not an aggressive player?

You’ll probably like this one – Zhirinovski (MP Russia) wants an investigation into whether Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Governor of Kalmykia, has had contacts with UFO’s.


Personally, I am curious to find out the truth.


I think Carslen can now flatten all these guys more often than not - say about 60% of the time. Thus his performance in a one-on-one match should be better than the more random results of tournaments where the 40% chance of loosing to Kramnik, Anand, Topolov or Aronian can have a disproportionate impact. The question is whether we will ever have a sensible classic match-based candidates cycle.

If it goes fine, the current candidates cycle will be classic match based on the 8 players of which we already have six. (1.Anand/Topalov, 2.Kramnik, 3.Carlsen, 4.Gelfand, 5.Kamsky, 6.Aronian )
The nominee will most probably be Radjabov if he does not qualify through the Grand Prix which actually starts in 3 days in Astrakhan. But I dont know why Ponomariov is playing (as per http://astrakhan2010.fide.com/ ) in that as he has not played in any grand prix so far. Rather Kasimzdzanov who is supposed to play is not playing (well he is on Anand's team at the moment).

In the press conf. today Anand was quite jovial.. he chuckled quite a bit while he said "Sorry Peter, you will have to ask that question at the end of the match"

And the question was whether it was psychologically difficult for him to get back to the Grunfeld. To Topalov whether he was happy to see the Grunfeld his reply was "there is no secret that I play 1.d4 and hence it was expected".

I'd love to see Ivanchuk qualify!

"Anand's lifetime score against Carlsen in classical games ... nearly Kasparov-Shirov"

Huh? According to statistics at the FIDE rating pages, Carlsen's _recent_ score against Anand (since October 2007) is +1=8-2 - earlier games are rather irrelevant as there was still a rating gap between both players (e.g. Anand 2792 - Carlsen 2710 in the July 2007 list).

But to all those evaluating Carlsen's chances in a future match, and thinking that he probably laughs at Anand and Topalov: We do not know yet how Carlsen will handle the special tension of a WCh match - even if it's not preceded by a road trip from Oslo to Sofia ,:)

After watching the press conference today, I'm convinced that Anand has more left in the tank than we thought. He was relaxed, joking, etc...

If anything, Topalov looked a bit more fatigued to me...

Can't wait for Game 11... I have a feeling Vishy has something in his back pocket - maybe e4??

I'm not so sure... if anything, Anand was *much* closer to winning Game 9 than Topalov was to winning today... yes, Topalov had a pull in the position, but did he really miss an outright win?

I am still skeptical abt anand's chances. He might(most probable) try to pull something attacking tomorrow and I hope it doesnt backfire..
Good thing is he has a rest day to ponder over whats he gonna play.

I hope its a e4 or even a c4 :)
Tension! tension! tension!

The games have been exciting for the most part, a lot to do with the "sofia" rules in my opinion. If it was Kramnik Anand it would be safe to say 1/3 of the moves would never have been played. But for a world chamionship match it has been sloppy, many mistakes and second/3rd best moves throughout. Even Anands sack of the night was pretty automatic. Don't know maybe its just me but with only 12 games the players seem nervous and scared, I know they can both play better than this.
p.s. Anand would be happy to get to a blitz playoff, I know I would if I was him.


The mistakes and "second/3rd best moves" are partly a function of the kind of chess these guys are playing. Topalov revels in complicated positions with material imbalances - at the very least, he revels in playing chess that leads to such positions. Add to this the fact that we've been playing long games and are in the closing stages of the match. In such environments, you are bound to see off-engine inferior moves. As you say, it is likely that the chess would have been 'purer' against Kramnik, but I dare say it would have been more boring as well.

I checked out the press conference just now; and quite obviously, Anand is more relaxed and energetic - belying all the "flabby Indian" talk. Perhaps he's pleased he doesn't fight back from a deficit in his last game as white. But more than anything else, it suggests that he may indeed have a novelty up his sleeve day after tomorrow. Topalov, OTOH, looked even more of a zombie than usual, no disrespect.

Remember what happened to Ivanchuk when he faced Ponomariov for the FIDE world championship -- he self destructed.

"Remember what happened to Ivanchuk when he faced Ponomariov for the FIDE world championship -- he self destructed."--->yup that exactly is my fear too regarding anand in r11 :(

Anand will go for the jugular Sunday! I predict a repeat of the Nimzo.

On a side note, I wouldn't want to be Nigel in his next game vs. Vishy. Nothing like giving the opponent a little extra incentive...

>On a side note, I wouldn't want to be Nigel in his next game vs. Vishy. Nothing like giving the opponent a little extra incentive...

I'm also waiting the next Short-Tkachiev...

This match has been rather poor quality vs say Fischer v Spassky 1992

I remember that weaker GMs were trashing the play in Fischer v Spassky 1992 -- saying there were too many errors

But those games were played to a finish using a very unique time control

The games were exhausting and the players were exhausted at the end


FvS 92 saw some beautiful games - such as the Spanish in game 1 and the first Rossolimo Sicilian by Fischer

It had ugly -- but effective -- novelties ie 2nd Rossolimo with Spassky's antidote

It had short blunders too -- Spassky's error in the Exchange Ruy game was exactly the same as Anands in game 1 /Grunfeld

On balance, the older players in FvS 92 seemed better able to handle the strain of playing every game to a finish than these younger/modern players who seem lost when asked/forced to play out games to simplification

58...gxh5 (instead of the ...Nf4 played) looks promising to me. Has it been analysed by Shipov or others? I wonder why Anand didn't try longer as:
- he had nothing to lose
- lot of time
- had a rest day ahead

Possibly the temptation of making a mockery of the team Topalov's self-declared Sofia rules was too irresistible to Anand :)


Regarding Short-Anand, I don't expect that to happen in any tournament as Short has (wisely) decided to play in his own league because of the thrashing he got when he tried a few times in the higher league (such as Corus A).

In 1972 Topalov's knight sacrifice from Game 1 would still be regarded a stroke of genius. The verdict whether it was sound in the end would still be out. But everybody would accept it was effective over the board. We would still analyze the different lines and search for the best defense.

"All very odd, thinks IM Malcolm Pein." from chessbase few days ago can be interpreted as saying

Anand lost his games on purpose, I mean Kf7 (excuse mixed up the moves), f4? 1900 level miss, and then holding until end and blundering Bc6 to resign 2 moves later. Squandering win twice before time control in game 9. Suddenly picking up pace after mid game in game 10 to draw , strange cheerful press conf.

Amidst all the above, a brilliant game G4 completely outplaying Topalov.

So is Anand feeling he has to keep Topalov's team under the illusion that Topalov has chances otb otherwise Danailov will try other tactics?

"Even Anands sack of the night was pretty automatic."

If I am not much mistaken he would have to sacrifice every piece but the queen in one of the lines.

Big interview with Kramnik (in German) at http://www.zeit.de/sport/2010-05/kramnik-schach-wm-anand-topalow
I will translate some parts - mostly not surprising what he said, but sometimes how he said it:

[On game 9:] "This gives me pleasant memories. They play the variation which gave me my second victory in the WCh match against Kasparov. ... Anand played 13.Bd3, I had chosen 13.Qb3. This is now said to be analysed to a forced draw. Ten years ago computers weren't as powerful yet. ... Almost every game of the match has an opening from my repertoire. I am flattered that both players appreciate my ideas."

Q Did it surprise you that particularly Anand copies your openings, and played the Catalan four times?
"It's a logical choice. Topalow didn't have good results against the Catalan. At least statistically this opening was his weak spot. This strategy was actually easy to predict, but for Anand it worked."

Q With black Anand copied a rare line of the Slav Defense from you.
"That's my discovery which became rather popular. It doesn't make much sense to play it in a tournament because one gets practically no winning chances. But you have excellent chances for a draw. That's a typical strategy for black in a WCh match, and hence it's a typical WCh opening."

Q Were you shocked about game 8?
"Both played horribly, but I have to say that it was the only weak game of the match. Altogether the level is very high. The match shows that Anand is the better player, Topalov plays very well but not quite at his [Anand's] level."

Q It is well-known that you don't like Topalov
"I don't say this because I don't like Topalov, but I try to be objective. His trademark is excellent results, not excellent games. Sometimes he also plays fantastically. But, different from others, he still has good results when he doesn't play well. Maybe he knows tricks unknown to us mortals."

[I will skip the part on the Elista match which doesn't have anything new ...]

Q Anand is 40. How come he still plays that strongly?
"Because he is one of the really great players. And because he lives very professionally. Of course he doesn't have that much energy any more. He completely focuses on being in top form at the WCh. My impression is that Vishy plays better than ever. The last three years were the best of his career. This may sound strange as he is already 40, but Ivanchuk and Gelfand also play their best chess with 40. This gives me hope, maybe I will achieve the same [Kramnik is 35]."

Q How did you see the end of game 9?
"Topalov was completely dead. I don't know when I saw that much luck the last time. [Hmm, has Kramnik forgotten game 2 of the Elista match?] It's close to a miracle that he didn't lose. Vishy must be very deceived."

@Conspiracy Theory

If you're looking for food for your theory, I'd think that Rh8+ should be more than enough.


Thanks, good stuff! It's amusing that the interview was conducted during game 9 - just a shame they didn't ask for a running commentary...

The bit about Gelfand and Ivanchuk reminded me of one answer from Gelfand's interview at Crestbook:

"Who, in your opinion, is the stronger chess player: Boris of 1990-93 and the victories in the interzonal tournaments, or the winner of the World Cup 2007-2010? (It's worth mentioning that you are, it seems, the only person to whom such a question isn't rhetorical at all).

Gelfand: But why, it would also for instance be appropriate to Ivanchuk. He played brilliantly then and plays brilliantly now. In general it's a complicated question. I know Tal was also asked and said that "the current Tal would easily outplay the Tal who became world champion", you can find the exact quote in his book... It's hard to say: then I had more boldness, and now more experience - but which is more important?!... Ian Rogers, a grandmaster and Australian journalist said about me that of course in 93 I was stronger. Now, apparently, only in flashes, while then I would more often demonstrate play of the highest level. Although, as I recall, at that time I also had collapses of energy just as I do now. After a good tournament I could be much weaker in the next. That, clearly, is some sort of global problem over the course of my whole career, that I lacked, and lack, stability. So I'd avoid giving a definite answer to the question...

By the way: it's not only me - chess itself has changed. Although the opponents, in essence, weren't any weaker then. Our generation, which reached the top in chess in the early 90s - Ivanchuk, Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, Shirov... - still remains at the top today." http://www.crestbook.com/?q=node/1180

Also on game 9 - Vasiliev's photos at Chesspro capture the effect it had on the players better than e.g. the press conference video: http://chesspro.ru/_events/2010/at5.html

In case anyone's interested here are some random photos I took in Sofia (the day I actually did some sightseeing I forgot my camera...), and at Rila Monastery (a day trip from Sofia): http://tinyurl.com/2va3htk

Thank you for the translation mishanp. My instincts tell me that if Topalov survives tomorrow, he has the better shot at winning the last game and the match. I think the 9th game haunts Vishy more than it appears and a high pressure last game may prove difficult for him to handle.

Thanks mishanp / Thomas great posts .........

Thanks again, mishamp. Good, punchy pictures. Would make good HDR projects, if you're into that sort of thing.

Thanks, Thomas and Misha, for the great posts as usual.

Kramnik, as always, is frank, honest, objective and refreshing to read.


"I have to say that it was the only weak game of the match. Altogether the level is very high. The match shows that Anand is the better player"

I agree with Kramnik about the level but even if Anand has seemed slightly better it's just one match, and it's 5-5, hard to say if it really shows that he is a better player.

If we left out the atypical game 8 (Topalov played badly, Anand played worse), the score would be 5-4 for Anand - or 4-3 to 4.5-3.5 when the interview was held (during game 9) ,:) .

Anyway, Kramnik clearly didn't look only at the result - what to make of the two most exciting draws?
Game 7 - Topalov was pressing, which was mostly the result of Cheparinov's opening preparation. Yet it seems that he was never close to winning the game.
Game 9 - Anand was pressing over the board, and a few moves away from winning several times.
Another issue is how much incidental blunders should affect the overall evaluation ("average quality of moves")?

Kramnik may not be objective, he says that he "tries" [sic] - and I agree with what Kapalik wrote about his interviews.

Nice pictures, Mishanp! Looks like you have an excellent camera and a keen pair of eyes! Are you in any of these pictures?

chessvibes translation says:
"This strategy was actually difficult to predict, but for Anand it worked. With the Catalan he got his two victories."

where as yours replaces the word difficult with easy. curious...
thanks for your translation anyway.

"Kramnik may not be objective, he says that he "tries" [sic] - and I agree with what Kapalik wrote about his interviews"

Kapalik wrote that Kramnik always is objective :) Seriously, I don't care if he is objective or not, it's a short match with an even score and a couple of games from now I guess people will be saying that whoever won was the better player etc.

Did you also read the comments at Chessvibes? Their translation is wrong, at least if I make the reasonable assumption that my German is better than Peter Doggers' - I am a native speaker ,:) .

In the given situation, Kramnik is quite objective to himself - acknowledging that he may be a bit biased about Topalov.

If the result is all that matters, we will indeed soon know who was the better player - but maybe he was only better in rapid or blitz? And even if Topalov wins in the end, Kramnik won't be proven wrong - all he talked about is until and including game 10.

Still, at least in football/soccer some people still argue that "the better team didn't win". A recent example is the Champions League match Bayern Munchen - Manchester United, a distant one the 1974 WCh final Germany-Netherlands ... . Only in some sports, e.g. my other hobby running, no questions can be asked: whoever was a (split) second faster was better, period.

No, I'm just behind the lens :) I shared a car to the monastery with an American guy & two Australian girls. Glad you liked the pictures, though the photos were very much just point and shoot. The camera's a Canon IXUS60 - great for that purpose but not too sophisticated & a bit long in the tooth now, I guess!

If this is true then Anand would go for a short draw with white in game 11, giving the impression he is looking towards the tie-break. Danialov will then have all his focus on doing something sinister on the tie-break day, but Anand will give Topa the thrashing of his life with black in game 12.. :)

No this just proves that you can be pretty good at one activity, say chess, and be completely clueless about everything else.


This is going to be very long, but otherwise I'll just keep scattering snippets among the comments... Here's a further translation of sections of the first part of Gelfand's Q&A session at Crestbook. There's more there, e.g. his favourite games, moves and best and worst match experiences. Highly recommended: http://www.crestbook.com/?q=node/1180

- In order to become a good chess player do you have to have natural talent – or is hard work enough?

It’s a very interesting question, absolutely, of course, unexplored. But then, how would you explore it? What is talent? And what level of “good chess player” are we talking about? I think that practically anyone, if they set themselves the goal of becoming a grandmaster and work hard and a lot, can achieve that goal, as long as they can organise their work well. But in order to become a top-class grandmaster – then, of course, you need a combination of many qualities – talent, and work, and an effective approach to work, and energy and a tough nervous system.

- Which older chess players influenced you most, and who made the greatest impression on you?

I’ve tried to learn from all players but, no doubt, I was most impressed by Yury Razuvaev and Valery Myrachvery’s “Akiba Rubinstein”. I read it again and again in my childhood. And even today when I meet Yury or we talk on the telephone we often return to that book, to Akiba’s games. The striving to play deeply in the opening, and the so-called “long plan”, that is when a game’s played from the beginning to the end in one key… That’s what I like in chess, and it comes from Akiba.

I met my first trainer, Eduard Aronovich Zelkind, when I was 6 years old. He’d only been a trainer for a few years at that point. I was incredibly lucky because, as experience shows, a lot depends on what sort of trainer you come across first. The foundations that are laid out remain for your whole life. There are players at the very highest level who from their first steps in chess solved combinations – and only that! I think that’s how it was for Polgar and Mamedyarov. They have an incredibly well developed combinational vision, and they’ll have it all their lives… For us Zelkind, of course, also developed our tactical vision. I’ve still got a notebook with the first positions that he gave me. I still couldn’t write so either he or my parents would write down my homework. Bishop sacrifices on h7 are noted there… But he also taught us the endgame. At 9 years old I knew rook endgames to the same level as many current grandmasters, with no false modesty.

[About training sessions with Petrosian]

What did I learn… Firstly, spending time with a player of such great standing is an incredible event for a boy, and some things from that time still remain with me. He said, for example: think about every move, even if you’re playing blitz – don’t simply bang out a move. Every move should have some sort of idea. I still try to follow that. Or some types of position that he would explain… I’d lose a game and he’d say: what was there to think about here, exchange one rook, leave the other, transfer the knight to here and white wins. A global kind of thinking.
At that time, by the way, among the match losers were Ivanchuk, Anand, myself and Korchnoi… I remember as if it was today that at the closing ceremony Korchnoi sat between me and Ivanchuk. And he said: “guys, don’t get upset, you’ve got every chance to become world champion. I reached my peak playing in Bagio, aged 47… Then I played another match for the world championship when I was 50. In this hall here there are lots of guys who shout that they’re going to be world champion, or promise they will be. They haven’t got a hope, while you’ve got every chance. So work on it and everything will be good”. I remembered Victor’s words and continue to work, not thinking about results, but about the process of improvement itself.

With regards to chess players becoming weaker after 40… It strikes me that it’s linked to motivation. If you don’t lose it then you don’t lose your strength. Take Anand, Ivanchuk… So that if you maintain a high level of motivation I don’t see any reason why at 40 players show grow weaker.

- At the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s with the duels between the two Ks you were a bit of an onlooker when it came to taking part in a title challenge. Did you think then that you had the strength, that you were capable of making that step up to becoming involved in the struggle, or was the advantage of Kasparov and Karpov indisputable?

Perhaps it hindered me, and continues to hinder me, that I've never directly thought about a title challenge. I've always thought about developing, how to improve my play, how to solve some concrete problems - to learn a new opening, to play a certain type of position better… Perhaps that enthusiasm, that desire to become world champion, has always been lacking in me. But of course it’s true that it was always difficult to play Kasparov.

- What distinguishes an IM from a GM?

I wouldn’t even know what to say. Before it was easy. Now there’s such title and rating inflation that it’s really difficult to comprehend. It even seems to me sometimes that some players with a rating of 2500 play stronger than others with 2650. There’s so much corruption, so many people have bought the title of grandmaster, or at least one norm! By some counts – a third. Therefore the title has been devalued and at times I’m even ashamed to be called a grandmaster. But in general – what distinguishes a stronger player from a weaker: the range of positions which he can play; the depth that he senses and can find in a position; and endgame understanding means a lot… Though in general there are different possibilities. Chess players have many qualities. At times a certain international master knows and understands everything, but he doesn’t have a fighting character, while another plays worse, but has a really strong sporting animus, and so achieves greater successes.

- Do those who become grandmasters have an above average intellect and memory? Or can anyone who tries become a GM? Are these two qualities that can be developed, or do you need a certain mould of brain and talent?

I don’t think that many of my colleagues have such a high intellect, and then what do you consider intellect? As for memory, it’s well known that Spassky, Alekhine and Karpov didn’t have exceptional memories, but they were the greatest of players. And then you can name a lot of players with exceptional memories who couldn’t get beyond the first category. You need a specific memory for grasping certain types of position, typical ideas, as I’ve already said.

Can anyone who wants to become a GM? It’s a complex question which I’ve already touched on. I’d repeat: it seems to me that it’s possible. Especially if you have unlimited opportunities to study 24 hours a day. Plus an enormous desire to do it – that’s the main thing – whatever it is in life you’re aiming for. On the other hand that’s not the most important goal. The main thing is, why do people play chess? It seems to me that it’s most important to do it for the pleasure it brings you.

Can the intellect and memory be developed? Let’s leave the intellect aside, it’s an abstract concept. While memory can in some ways be trained. At my level I pay more attention to systemising my knowledge. So as not to remember everything, but only the most important things. And as for development… I play the game “Memory” with my daughter and have it on my computer. If children can develop their memory then adults can too… No doubt there are some methods but here the question isn’t for me, a chess player, but for a specialist in the field of psychology.

Nice pictures mishanp

From Gefland's interview - "At times a certain international master knows and understands everything, but he doesn’t have a fighting character, while another plays worse, but has a really strong sporting animus, and so achieves greater successes."

I think this quote encapsulates exactly what we are seeing here in the Anand-Topalov match.

Very interesting words. Thanks for posting this mishanp.

"At times a certain international master knows and understands everything, but he doesn’t have a fighting character..."

It is rubbish what Gelfand says.

I do know and understand everything about linear differential equations and I do not need any "sporting animus", not a iota of it, to solve each and every one of them, in whatever form it may appear and of whatever degree.
It is a chapter of mathematical analysis ("calculus" for our US people) which has been completely understood.

It is precisely when you do NOT fully understand, when you are faced with uncertainity due to INCOMPLETE knowledge because the solution can not be reached by computation, etc..it is ONLY then when anxiety pops up and thus when psychology (courage vs. fear, indecision vs. resolution, fighting spirit, etc) can come into play.

Yes you are right, pressure, the will to win,
the ability to perform under stress aren't factors in competitive chess. My bad. Gefland who makes his living in this environment obviously knows nothing about that which he speaks.

That and your analogy is of course simplistic and flawed, but you know this as you are cut from the same cloth.


"It is rubbish what Gelfand says.

I do know and understand everything about linear differential equations and I do not need any "sporting animus", not a iota of it, to solve each and every one of them, in whatever form it may appear and of whatever degree."

I'm willing to take into account what a GM says about chess. As for the math, if we extend the analogy you provide, perhaps its harder than you think to solve the DE when the characteristic equation (of high degree!) has nonobvious roots, and you have 5 minutes to do it, and your job depends on it -- even though you understand the algorithm, in principle.

US calculus person

@I'm willing to take into account what a GM says about chess...

you need to take into account, but not to swallow credulous a nonsense

@ even though you understand the algorithm

as difficult as to mate K+R vs. K, Gelfand fails to realize that the lack of an algorithm, the uncertainity, is cause anxiety..courage is about taking risks not when the situation is about robotically applying an algorithm, in such situations there is no need for any 'character'..for all charcters the answer is the same and is applyied automatically without any emotion

Thank you, mishanp, for the translations and pictures!

And not to multiply posts above necessity: Thank you, Ovidiu, for providing me with few moments of laughter for your statement "I do know and understand everything about linear differential equations".

I was trying to summon my friends to go and check the WC games in Sofia, but I was stunned to realize that hey care more about the bridge tournament they participate in than Chess. Others are using the St. George Holidays for other activities. I just realized that in general the Chess people are fewer and rather in between, a few freaks Worldwide, those who care about the ancient game in the days of all kinds of other attention thieves…


Well, to be fair to Gelfand, his comment doesn't refer to K+R vs K situations. By "understanding everything" he surely means something like "the principles" or "laws" by which needs to solve the presented problem. Of course, except in the most simplistic situations, rarely is there _complete_ knowledge (b/c of the number of variations). At those points, I surmise in chess, as well as in math, often those with courage will actually solve the problem, and others of weaker fortitude will not, even though the latter will fully understand the solution once shown to him.

@ Of course, except in the most simplistic situations, rarely is there _complete_ knowledge

Exactly, gald that at least I got you thinking instead a 'swallowing' it all up just because GM Gelfand said...there is complete not only in the 'most simplistic' situations, there is complete knowledge in fully analyzed opening variations, in the "forced lines/combinations" which can be calculated mentally to the end, or in the basic chess strategic principles (say, passed pawn or whatever) ..but it is also that in such situations there is no need for a 'character' , every knowledgable player chooses/moves automatically and does with no fear.

However the situation is different in, for instance , the chaotic positions which Topalov aims for on the board. In such situation is often impossible to reach a definite conclusion and it is only then when doubt, fear, indeciseveness, etc. spring, and the character, the psychology of the player becomes apparent, plays a role in the decison takes... Otherwise, when all is known, 2+2 is equal 4, whatever the character of the matematician.

Ovidiu: "However the situation is different in, for instance , the chaotic positions which Topalov aims for on the board. In such situation is often impossible to reach a definite conclusion and it is only then when doubt, fear, indeciseveness, etc. spring, and the character, the psychology of the player becomes apparent, plays a role in the decison takes... Otherwise, when all is known, 2+2 is equal 4, whatever the character of the matematician."

Mikhail Tal: ""You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one."


It isn't just Topalov. Kasparov was doing it in the 80's with what Kramnik described as "unsound" variations and attacks. Purists like Kramink and others here fail to understand that creating such minefields on the board, even if not "scientifically sound", will favour the deeper player who knows he will outplay his opponent.

It is the same old debate, over and over again. Every club player has seen the completely unimaginative "correct" and boring players who try to rely on their superb opening preparation to win a pawn and win the game be blown away when faced with imaginative if not entirely correct play that requires some creativity and deep calculations, not to mention fighting spirit to beat. It drives the purists nuts. Even at the elite chess level, you see similar debates with purists like Kramnik be completely blown away by players like Morozevich, but on the other hand players like Morozevich rarely if ever achieving enough stability and consistency to become world champions.

Philosophically, you can put the purists on the scientific camp and the tactical, brilliant fighters at the artistic, romantic camp. Until chess gets completely solved by computers, it is as much an art and a sport as it is scientific.

Me, I'll take the tactical geniuses every time. You may enjoy Kramnik-Leko, with correct short draws and occasionally a nice, deep game, but most people will agree tha Tal, Kasparov's 80's style end even Topalov is much more exciting and enjoyable no matter what the purists think.

I should also mention that the purists are always scared to prove the romantic artists wrong over the board, opting for dry, dead positions instead. What did Kramnik do against Kasparov? He resurrected the Berlin zombie, resulting in one of the most uninteresting if not outright boring World Championship matches ever (with Kramnik-Leko a close second!). In essence, refusing to fight, which of course never bothers the purists.

Or he uses the Petroff. Certainly valid strategies, just as the catenaccio style was in soccer, but it was used mainly by weaker teams, in order to reduce any technical gap against stronger teams by playing a hyper-defensive style, also called negative soccer.

Do I call his use of the Berlin Defense or his Petroff or his Slav Defense Anand was using in this match "negative chess"?


"Until chess gets completely solved by computers.."

no need for that, GM Gelfand has already got "at times a certain international master knows and understands everything"

" when faced with imaginative if not entirely correct play that requires some creativity"

"creativity"-(not surprisingly, Gelfand forgot about it)- is another important feature which (just as with the "fighting spirit" and courage) we can talk about only when the way to go is uncertain, unknown.
There is no creativity involved in solving linear differential equations, the successful procedure is known (can be learnt by anyone and applied robotically afterwards however complicated the equation may appear at first sight).

This reminds me of a problem in a university level math course: "a man runs laps around a stadium. prove that there is at least two instances in time which his speed is constant". Not sure I state the problem correctly, it's been a long time :-)

there is no creativity in solving linear differential equations. However, there is creativity in picking the right method to solve real world problems. We all know the standard techniques and principle of plays, but how many of us know which to apply for a certain position?

There is no complete knowledge in opening theory. The complete knowledge of basic chess strategic principles is of the form "a passed pawn is something good most of the time". The completeness ends whenever you have to weigh two principles against each other. There is plenty of need for fighting spirit in every tournament game, on every level, with every kind of playing style. One who thinks he can stay in his comfort zone because he knows everything will learn better in a lot of painful ways.

>Exactly, gald that at least I got you thinking
>instead a 'swallowing' it all up just because GM

Thank you for that :)

> Gelfand said...there is complete not only in the
> 'most simplistic' situations, there is complete >knowledge in fully analyzed opening variations,

Unless you forget the very long lines in a pinch.

>the "forced lines/combinations" which can be >calculated mentally to the end, or in the basic

Unless you make a mental mistake (unless, again,
we're in the 'most simplistic' situation)

> chess strategic principles (say, passed pawn or > whatever) ..but it is also that in such

The 'whatever' is crucial. Often positions demand conflicting principles being applied.

>situations there is no need for a 'character' , >every knowledgable player chooses/moves >automatically and does with no fear.

I disagree, unless we're in the most 'simplistic
situation', which no one, including Gelfand was talking about.

"Philosophically, you can put the purists on the scientific camp and the tactical, brilliant fighters at the artistic, romantic camp. Until chess gets completely solved by computers, it is as much an art and a sport as it is scientific."


Ovidiu - do you ever stop to think before spinning absurd arguments out of the imprecision of everyday language? (especially in translation!) That's the second time in a few days. I'd go out on a limb to say that Gelfand doesn't think anyone knows literally everything about chess, any more than I think someone's omniscient if I say he "knows what he's doing".

You mentioned originality, which Gelfand "forgot about". I don't really see how not using the word is supposed to mean it slipped his mind, but if you want something a bit more specific (from the many things I left untranslated) he talked about how another one of his trainers always asked his pupils to look for "non-standard positional decisions", in any position. Words which, again, he took to heart.

Or do these sound like the comments of someone too dogmatic to understand that there are different approaches to chess:

"All the same the foundation laid in childhood remains with you - someone thinks using the pawn structure, someone else mainly sees tactical blows. And this overall way of looking continues for your whole life. Of course, with hard work you can neutralise your weaknesses and increase your range... Perhaps it's part of your inborn talent that you see in such a way and not otherwise. Or perhaps you can say that that was how were brought up - it's very difficult to distinguish afterwards."

By the way, at the end of the comparison of IMs and GMs I just realised that I left out the last phrase :( "...and so achieves greater successes" should be followed by, "becoming a GM".

@..."I'd go out on a limb to say that Gelfand doesn't think anyone knows literally everything about chess."

well, in your clear translation :

"At times a certain international master knows and understands everything, but he doesn’t have a fighting character.."

...it sounded quite straighforward to me.
And wrong, the issue here being exactly that one never knows everything and that it is precisely the way one handles, well or bad, the uncertainty, the unknown (i.e. risk, creativity) is what makes the difference and where one's character/psychology comes into play.

Seriously, would you have gone off on this tangent if Gelfand's exact words were "knows and understands more"? That they're not is just a function of rhetoric (it sounds clumsier to have a comparative phrase first) - plus the Russian всё (all/everything) can also function more as an emphatic particle without any specific meaning.

Mark Glukhovsky, the last guy interviewed at Crestbook, also had interesting comments to make on what you need to be a top chess player:

And for those who are too young to have followed the great matches of Karpov-Kasparov, here is a great video of their 1990 match with both players also commenting and analysing each game (almost 3 hour video!):


This is what chess was once all about. The poverty of the Kramnik era becomes immediately apparent when remembering how previous world champions approached and played the game.


What Kramnik says is just that Topalov is better prepared in this match, but Anand plays better over the board, and therefore it evens out. Does it really seem like such a controversial statement?

misha and Thomas,

Many thanks for your translations.

Here's hoping the Bonn and Sofia matches will attract an author capable of matching Bareev's superb "From London to Elista."

nice! thanks for all the good work..do you have your own english blog?

Nope, no blog as yet...

A blog where you posted your translations would be awesome :) Especially if comments were disabled, so that it worked more like an archive one could check back on.

I read the Chessbase game wrap-up, and my thoughts and comments during the game seem to be echoed there, including that Anand missed 24. Ba6! and that the resulting endgame was not the easy draw some folks were making it out to be, and that he equalised the endgame after 45...Nc4! Good to know I understand something every now and then!

Kramnik on luck.. Hah! Let's see, could anybody be luckier than to lose a qualifier but still be hand picked for the final? How about the one move blunder but for which Topalov would have taken an early lead in their match, the kind of "luck" he says Topalov now has against Anand? When Kramnik concentrates on playing his positional masterpieces, it's a thing a of beauty. That doesn't extend to his comments.

latest news about the match are in Publikuvai.com

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 7, 2010 12:13 AM.

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