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Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik
"A Knight's Tale" (game of the day Jan-24-2008)
Corus Group A (2008), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 9, Jan-22
Semi-Slav Defense: Anti-Moscow Gambit (D44)  ·  1-0



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Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik (2008) A Knight's Tale
photograph courtesy of "LostEmperor"

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 17 OF 36 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-22-08  chessmoron: I thought 23...b3 was dubious.
Jan-22-08  think: My lowly computer labels 17. ... Qxd4 as Kramnik's mistake. It recommends Rhg8, protecting the knight, and preparing to meet Qg6 with Nc7.

From then on, Topalov kept an ever-increasing advantage.

This has everything you want in an amazing game: a novelty piece sacrifice in the opening, a Queen sacrifice, and a cute mating combination that prompts resignation.

Jan-22-08  square dance: <I always thought you were at least as good a player as Kramnik> and you were wrong.
Jan-22-08  Philidor: This is already a classical game. Beautiful play by Topa!
Jan-22-08  kingsindian2006: looks like topa decided to play inspiried chess for his hero bobby fischer....hes lost 3 games already and won 3.. theres a thin line between genius and crazy...this game shows it all......bring on kamsky...!
Jan-22-08  yalie: anyone have Kramnik's reaction to the game? for that matter - anyone have Anand's reaction to missing the 3 fold against Radja?
Jan-22-08  ivan999:
Jan-22-08  coskund4: If only Topalov doesn't lose so many games!
Jan-22-08  suenteus po 147: <coskund4: If only Topalov doesn't lose so many games!> But that is the nature of Topalov! He loses so that he can win. He must lose to win!
Jan-22-08  Chlipchlop: Amazing ! Kramnik loosing ! :O
Jan-22-08  aktajha: Beautifully played by Topalov but one thing I don't understand is: Why did Kramnik ever allow this variation.

There are 3 reasons not to:
1) He plays this variation himself, so he could show a possible defense against his own lines. 2) He has a huge amount of knowledge for the black pieces in the dxc4 slav defense. 3) This defense can go anywhere, losing or winning, totally not his style.

May be he wanted to win with black for a change and thought this variation played by Topalov would be a nice possibility, since he knows all the ins and outs.

Well Vladimir, think again and better luck next time!

Jan-22-08  crazy monk: Beautiful game by Topa, fire-on board, game of the year. This is the only way to beat Kramnik, is cause imbalance in the middlegame. Only Moro, Shirov and Topalov can play such game. Anand should imitate it closely.
Jan-22-08  Eyal: <acirce: Perhaps some kind of vague hope in 26.Qf7 Rf8 27.h3 Rxf7 28.hxg4 [Nxf4 29.Nxf7] Ne2+ 30.Kh2 Nxc1 31.Rxc1 Rb8 and counterplay based on the passer - but no, it shouldn't help.>

According to Topalov at the press conference, that's the line he didn't like so much when he rejected 27.h3 (he mentions Bg3 being temporarily out of the game here). Regarding alternatives to 29...Re8? he mentions the pretty line 29...Rc8(?) 30.dxe6! Rxc6 31.exd7 Qxd7 32.e6+, and only briefly the option of 29...Qe2 (with the threat of Qxf1+ followed by b2) 30.Rc3. He seems pretty certain that White is winning without too much trouble here as well, but is White's advantage really so clear after 30...b2 31.Rb3+ Kc7?

Also, it turns out that 12.Nxf7 had already been analyzed by Cheparinov 3 years ago and Topalov was saving it for a "special occasion"... so Kramnik was lucky not to enter the Anti-Moscow line in the Elista match.

Jan-22-08  talisman: wow...double wow...must've been what it felt like watching a young tal.makes you wish for no mgr. no baggage.i caught this at work and i tell ya i was first thought was i didn't think this was still possible at the top level.tip my hat to topa and this game.
Jan-22-08  Billy Ray Valentine: <aktajha: Beautifully played by Topalov but one thing I don't understand is: Why did Kramnik ever allow this variation.>

In fairness to Kramnik, he's also pulled out his fair share of miraculous defensive victories in these types of extremely tactical positions. This time he wasn't so lucky!

Jan-22-08  Veryrusty: Absolutely tremendous game by Topalov. Must have been enormously satisfying given the circumstances. And it certainly is admirable to see a positional/ attacking sac made against the world's best defender, and then to break through and win it. Truly a "my greatest games" game.
Jan-22-08  Ezzy: Veselin Topalov - Vladimir Kramnik [D43]
Corus 1:44:33–0:40:33 (9), 22.01.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Nxf7!< Wham! What the ….? When Topalov picked up the knight, Kramnik must of already started to write down 12 Nxd7 on his scores heet. This probably rocked him back a bit. It does look like a move that must of been analysed by Kramnik, but nevertheless he probably wasn't expecting it.> 12...Kxf7 13.e5 Nd5 14.Ne4 Ke7 15.Nd6 Qb6 16.Bg4 <This threatens to win in majestic style, chasing the black king all around the board. [17.Bxe6 Kxe6 18.Qh5 Threatens 19 Qf7 mate 18...Bxe5 19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Bxe5 Kxe5 21.Qg6 Threatens mate in 4 - 22 Nf7+ Kf4 23 g3+ Kb4 24 Ne5+ Kh3 25 Qh5 Mate. 21...Rhf8 22.Rfe1+ Kd4 23.Rad1+ Kc5 24.Ne4+ Kb4 25.Qd6+ c5 26.Qg3 c3 27.Rxd5 and black cannot escape defeat.]> 16…Raf8 17.Qc2 Qxd4?!< Probably not the best in an extremely complicated position. A more solid and defensive set up would be [17...Rhg8 18.Qg6 Nc7 Threatening 19...Bxe5 19.Qh7 Qxd4 20.Bh5 Nxe5 21.Nxb7 Nd5 and black defends everything and has well positioned central pieces, and a couple of extra pawns.] >18.Qg6 Qxg4 19.Qxg7+ Kd8 20.Nxb7+ Kc8 21.a4 b4 22.Rac1 c3 23.bxc3 b3? <It's difficult to know what Kramnik's thought processes were deciding on this move. It loses a pawn, the pawn is vulnerable to attack, it allows white to remove the knight from the strong d5 square.> 24.c4 Rfg8 25.Nd6+< [25.Qf7 Nf4 (25...Rf8 26.h3 Qxg3 27.fxg3 Rxf7 28.Nd6+ Kc7 29.Rxf7 Is still good for white) 26.Rb1 Ne2+ 27.Kh1 Nxg3+ 28.hxg3 Rf8 29.Qe7 Rd8 30.Nd6+ Kc7 31.Rxb3 Rb8 32.Rd3 Qh5+ 33.Kg1 Winning in style]> 25...Kc7 26.Qf7 Rf8 27.cxd5! <Much more spectacular than 27 h3 [27.h3 Qxg3 28.fxg3 Rxf7 29.Nxf7 Rb8 30.cxd5 exd5 31.Rc3 d4 32.Rd3 b2 33.Rb1 Is winning for white as he can mop up many of black's pawns. 33...c5 34.e6 Nf6 35.Rd2 Kc6 36.Rdxb2 Rxb2 37.Rxb2 Kd5 38.e7 Ke6 39.Nxh6 Kxe7] >27...Rxf7 28.Rxc6+ Kb8 29.Nxf7 Re8< [29...Rf8 30.dxe6 Nb6 31.e7 Re8 32.e6+ Ka8 33.Nd6 Rxe7 34.a5 Winning]> 30.Nd6 Rh8 31.Rc4 Qe2 32.dxe6 Nb6 33.Rb4 Ka8 34.e7?< unnecessarily losing the e7 pawn. [34.Rxb3] >34...Nd5 35.Rxb3 Nxe7 36.Rfb1 Nd5 37.h3 h5< I think Kramnik forgot he can't move his rook off the back rank. He just loses the g5 pawn.> 38.Nf7 Rc8 39.e6 a6 40.Nxg5 h4 41.Bd6 Rg8 42.R3b2 Qd3 43.e7 Nf6 44.Be5 Nd7 45.Ne6< WOW!! WOW !! WOW!! >1–0
Jan-22-08  Ezzy: Well, well, well, you couldn’t have scripted the last couple of days at the fantastic Corus tournament. Cheparinov the villain of the ‘handshake incident’ and then part hero of an incredible blockbuster novelty! What a masterpiece by Topalov. This must of shocked Kramnik to the core. I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time. Just when you think Topalov and his team are at the lowest moral on and off the board, they hit you with this game.

Whatever the controversy’s, all you can do is admire this chess masterpiece from Veseiln Topalov. A novelty knight sacrifice, a queen sacrifice, this game had it all. Many people have said it, but we probably all ready have the game of the year. Topalov’s been on the losing side of a few, so I suppose he deserves to claim a brilliancy for himself.

I suppose the only way Kramnik can think about it is by telling himself ‘it’s just one of those things that will happen.’ He got hit by a special move and wasn’t prepared with any analysis to navigate himself through the massive complications.

I can’t believe it. Just when the tournament is reaching its peak of excitement, I have to go away next weekend and I will miss the last 3 rounds. I am not a happy bunny. I wont even have computer access to join in the banter with you guys. Well whatever, at least I witnessed one of the most amazing chess games that have ever been played at the highest level. Truly sensational!!

Blimey, chess is cruel. It’s as though Kramnik was a sitting duck ready in waiting to be thrown into a trap where he can’t easily escape.

A classic if there ever was one!!!!

Jan-22-08  Shams: <Ezzy><Many people have said it, but we probably all ready have the game of the year. Topalov’s been on the losing side of a few, so I suppose he deserves to claim a brilliancy for himself.>

agreed. I think it was Mig who called him "a modern-day Kieseritzky". This game is really lovely.

Jan-22-08  Hesam7: Kramnik lost to Topalov but deservedly so since he played such an atrocious opening! I mean in this opening Black violates every single opening principle I was taught!
Jan-22-08  KamikazeAttack: <<aktajha: Beautifully played by Topalov but one thing I don't understand is: Why did Kramnik ever allow this variation.>>

Well he never foresaw the sacrifice. No one knew about it except Topalov.

The Anti-Moscow variation had been under pressure lately from the Kramnik and Radjabov victories. For Kramnik to venture into it, he must have had his own defence to known lines lost by black recently.

Ironically, he wanted to use this occassion to showcase that defence lol.

All the top GMs have nasty novelties up their sleeves. As a GM, just pray u don't run into one like this or the "child abuse" that Kramnik unleashed on Carlsen in Amber last year.

It is all very interesting when something like this happens. Credit to Topa for a great execution.

Jan-22-08  parisattack: <Kramnik lost to Topalov but deservedly so since he played such an atrocious opening! I mean in this opening Black violates every single opening principle I was taught!>

I guess we're missing something - but I totally agree. 'Ugly' is one thing, 'anti-positional' another. I think we just have to wait until the Slav madness passes - hopefully soon but not likely. Kramnik is the leading exponent of the style-of-the-day, Safety-First. It's the Topalovs who are keeping classical chess alive for us.

I see ChessBase is slow posting their daily Corus piece. Perhaps they are trying to figure out a spin on this game since they are so pro-Kramnik. :)

Jan-22-08  KingG: <<Stonehenge: The idea of Nxf7 in this opening isn't new: M Bosboom vs A Yuneev, 2000 >

And there's also P H Nielsen vs Kiril Georgiev, 2000.>

Kramnik himself played one of those Nxf7 sacrifices, although unfortunately he lost from a promising position:

Kramnik vs Anand, 1997

Jan-22-08  whatthefat: Fantastic game! This is a surely a real blow to 5...h6.
Jan-22-08  KingG: <This is a surely a real blow to 5...h6.> If that is the case, then the whole Semi-Slav isn't in good shape, after 5.Bg5!. Personally, I think that 12.Nxf7 will soon be analysed to a draw(probably by repetition), as these things tend to be. Still, this is probably the most exciting novelty I've ever seen 'live'.
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