In a tremendous clutch performance Anand took charge with black against a dithering Topalov and whipped up a crushing attack with remarkable speed. The pretty retreat 34..Qe8! was the final nail in the Bulgarian's coffin. Well, not quite. That would have made a tidy story, but in fact it was still quite sharp and Anand wisely took his time to work things out while Topalov maintained desperate hope of reaching an endgame like R+N vs Q. He found every desperate chance but there just wasn't as much fight in the white position as there was in Topalov. He even got his endgame after the time control, but with an open king it was hopeless. Anand maneuvered his queen precisely and Topalov eventually resigned game and match after move 56. Anand renews his title and takes home 1,200,000 euros, minus the 20% FIDE tax they charge for not getting in the way. Topalov gets 800,000.
What a game, what a match, what a world champion, Vishy Anand!
Suitable for framing:
It certainly wasn't easy. Anand's gaff in the first game started him off with a loss and in need of an alternative defense to Topalov's 1.d4. The sturdy Slav came to the rescue, but the long grinds he had to defend cost him on the endurance side of the equation even though he quickly took the lead with wins in games two and four. Topalov's tremendous fighting qualities allowed him to level the score after being outplayed badly in two consecutive Catalans. Anand's strategic decision to slowball Topalov, playing like Kramnik with slow positional whites and, after the Grunfeld went into the shop, ugly passive blacks, paid dividends early. It clearly wasn't as easy for Anand to do as for Kramnik, however, and he got into trouble in several long defenses, including the loss in game eight.
Against Kramnik in 2008 Anand forced very sharp play whenever possible and was a very successful fire to Kramnik's ice. In Sofia the Indian chameleon went the opposite way, illustrating why Topalov doesn't have very good results against the Catalan. Anand did look very uncomfortable on the black side of those ugly queenless Slavs, however, and Topalov is a formidable grinder. The only real problem with the match, and right about now I'm sure at least one person (Topalov) would agree, is that it needed to be around six games longer. Topalov proved himself worthy of everything but the title in the end. And though it was by the narrowest of margins, Anand showed he's a cut above the rest even at 40. Or, as a fellow 1969'er, especially at 40.
In today's final game, Anand went with the ultra-solid Lasker QGD, which is about as close to the Petroff in spirit as things get against 1.d4. A slight exaggeration, but let's just say Anand was happy to take a draw and head into rapid tiebreaks on Thursday. Topalov had other plans, of course, and went about trying to stir up trouble. This he managed to do, although they did follow book for nearly 20 moves. Black had an isolated c-pawn, but Anand defended actively and the pawn mostly served to distract Topalov enough that he forgot about his own weaknesses. Anand did not. With several pieces offsides, Topalov's king came under fire after he played not the first over-committal pawn pushes of the match. The end couldn't come quickly enough for Anand's cheering section in the comments -- 36..Qd8+ was the preferred computer execution -- with nearly 25 minutes on both clocks at that point there was little doubt that it was a case of the white king being dead and long live Anand the king. Anand didn't even rush in the endgame, playing zugzwang games with his queen instead of grabbing the b-pawn. It was almost like he was enjoying himself, but I'm sure he just wanted to make absolutely sure there were no miracle perpetuals.
The official site has been great getting the moves out without crashing and the compliments have been high on the webcam as well. Kudos to the organizers. One blackout, no shenanigans, no rapid tiebreaks. Topalov lands in the group of eight candidates along with Aronian, Kamsky, Gelfand, Kramnik, Carlsen, the organizer wildcard, and the Grand Prix second-place finisher, who will be known in a dozen days in Astrakhan.
BIG thanks to everyone in the comments who turned this into a real live and post-game event coverage site despite my near-total abdication on several days due to work and the new baby (who is doing great). Analysis, translations, links, really fantastic. It's an honor to pay your hosting bills! mishanp in particular gets a gold star, or green clover, or whatever lucky charm he likes for his ceaseless posting of good material.
From the Preview Dept from Harish in the comments: "Ok next match Anand-Carlsen 7-5." Yikes! The man is probably still post-morteming game 12!
[Site "Sofia BUL"]
[White "Topalov, Veselin"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4 8. Bxe7
Qxe7 9. Rc1 c6 10. Be2 Nxc3 11. Rxc3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nd7 13. O-O b6 14. Bd3 c5
15. Be4 Rb8 16. Qc2 Nf6 17. dxc5 Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 19. Qc2 Bb7 20. Nd2 Rfd8
21. f3 Ba6 22. Rf2 Rd7 23. g3 Rbd8 24. Kg2 Bd3 25. Qc1 Ba6 26. Ra3 Bb7 27. Nb3
Rc7 28. Na5 Ba8 29. Nc4 e5 30. e4 f5 31. exf5 e4 32. fxe4 Qxe4+ 33. Kh3 Rd4 34.
Ne3 Qe8 35. g4 h5 36. Kh4 g5+ 37. fxg6 Qxg6 38. Qf1 Rxg4+ 39. Kh3 Re7 40. Rf8+
Kg7 41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3 Rxg3+ 43. hxg3 Qg4+ 44. Kh2 Re2+ 45. Kg1 Rg2+ 46. Qxg2
Bxg2 47. Kxg2 Qe2+ 48. Kh3 c4 49. a4 a5 50. Rf6 Kg8 51. Nh6+ Kg7 52. Rb6 Qe4
53. Kh2 Kh7 54. Rd6 Qe5 55. Nf7 Qxb2+ 56. Kh3 Qg7 0-1