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Vladimir Kramnik vs Veselin Topalov
Novgorod (1997), Novgorod RUS, rd 1, Jun-11
King's Indian Defense: Orthodox Variation. Glek Defense (E94)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-26-04  charms: 20. Rb1 is most amazing.
Oct-13-05  HardBoys: Powerful game thru-out by Kramnik.
Topolov can perhaps play 26...f4
instead? Attack on the Kingside?
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: This is a great game, and highly enjoyable to play over. Some of Dolmatov’s notes below, taken from Damsky/Kramnik <Kramnik: My Life And Games>

In the introduction Kramnik and Topalov are called <the two youngest participants, the most promising players in the world>. The tournament took place in 1997, and the book is from 2000 (before Kramnik beat Kasparov) although I don't know when Dolmatov's notes are from. It's not a surprising assessment after Topalov's brilliant 1996, but it's useful to be reminded that he was considered such a fantastic talent, even though he would be at least one notch behind the KKA triangle until 2005.

<16..c6?! If 16..f5 Topalov was concerned about 17.c5!? but 16..Bh6!? came into consideration, when neither 17.b5 Bxe3 18.bxa6 Bb6 19.axb7 Rab8 20.Rab1 Nd6 nor 17.c5 Bxe3 18.fxe3 c6 is dangerous for Black. White would probably have had to fight for the initiative with 17.Nd5!? Bxe3 18.fxe3.>

<20.Rb1! A brilliant positional decision. Firstly, it defends against 20..a5, secondly, it plans the pawn advance a3-a4-a5, and finally, it prepares 21.Nb3, when in reply to the almost obligatory 21..b6 White can begin an attack on the queenside with 22.c5. In general, an excellent ’mysterious’ rook move.>

<20..b6?! An unsuccessful attempt. 20..f5 was essential, in order after 21.exf5 gxf5 22.f4 Bh6 to try and divert White from his play on the queenside, although here too he would retain an appreciable advantage with 23.g3 followed by Kf2.>

<22..bxa4 Extremely risky. More circumspect was 22..a6 23.Nb3 Bxb3 24.Rxb3 Bh6 25.Bxh6 Nxh6 26.Ra3, although here too after both 26..Nf7 27.Bg4 and 26..Kg7 27.axb5 axb5 28.Rxa8 Nxa8 29.Nxb5 cxb5 30.Bxb5 Black’s position is unenviable.>

Later <33.Nc4!> is given an exclam, <36..Bd4?!> criticized with <passive defence by 36..Re7 37.c6 Bc7> suggested instead, and <38..Be5?> called the final mistake in the game: <Only with 38..Rc8 could Black have still tried to hold on.>

<Playing through such a game provides enormous aesthetic pleasure. White’s play was exceptionally consistent.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Although the notes in Kramnik's book are attributed to Dolmatov they are a close match to Kramnik's notes in Informant #70 so I suspect they are a joint effort; perhaps from the post-mortem. 7..Na6 is a relatively modern idea. It seems to make the most sense in closed Kings Indian positions after d5. 12 de is a logical attempt to take advantage of the position of the N on a6. 12..fxe was played in Karpov-Kasparov game 7 of their 1990 match. Though the game was won by Karpov it is not clear how much he got out of the opening. Topalov's new move 12..dxe is puzzling since it seems to play into Kramnik's strength. After 16 b4 it is not that easy to create activity for the N on a6. No question; 20 Rb1 is a cool move.
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