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Veselin Topalov vs Peter Leko
FIDE Grand Prix Zug (2013), Zug SUI, rd 2, Apr-19
Queen's Gambit Declined: Ragozin Defense (D38)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-19-13  Illogic: <OneArmedScissor: Leko tries to draw, loses instead.> Did you even look at the game? Leko played quite aggressively as black.
Apr-19-13  voyager39: Topa climbing his way back into reckoning...the devil is now #7 on liveratings!
Apr-19-13  dumbgai: Leko never managed to get around to playing Nf2+.
Apr-19-13  schweigzwang: I think both misplayed just before the first time control, and, as the saying goes, the advantage went to the one who made the second-to-last mistake.
Apr-19-13  donehung: NO draw for you Leko!
Apr-19-13  vinidivici: Very good game. This is Topalov style, win with style.
Apr-21-13  Hesam7: Just like the old times! Leko against Topalov gets a winning position out of the opening and then under time pressure squanders his advantage and ends up in a losing position. After the time control Topalov cleans up and claims the point.

I guess if Leko has not learnt how to manage his time by now, he never will. Moreover according to CG database everything up to 13...Qb6 was already played in Radjabov vs Eljanov, 2010 which makes Leko's time trouble even more insane ...

Apr-21-13  Hesam7: Strangely enough Leko's first mistake came on early. 24...Be4! was the best move:

click for larger view

And now all of White's 4 options (25 Ne4, 25 Nc4, 25, Bc4, 25 Rf6) leave Black with a large and stable advantage.

Apr-21-13  Eyal: According to what he said at the press conference, Leko was so surprised by getting such a good position out of the opening that he kept looking for something that he's missing... Later he apparently missed that 28...Rfe8 allows White to win an exchange, but Black's compensation (with the extra passed pawn and the very strong centralized knight) is good enough that it shouldn't be a serious problem - Black should still have at least a draw and after 35.Kh1? (instead of 35.Bxc3 first) maybe even a win before the blunder on move 39.
Apr-21-13  Hesam7: <Eyal: Leko said that he was so surprised by getting such a good position out of the opening that he kept looking for something that he's missing...>

Why was he surprised? I was not! The course of events I described fit many of his games. And his opening went well but not that well, for example in Leko vs Topalov, 2005 he was winning after 20 moves!

But seriously what you are quoting certainly fits his image of someone who lacks confidence.

Apr-21-13  Eyal: Leko vs Topalov, 2005

Yeah, since that game (where Topalov started his amazing 6.5/7 run in the first half of the FIDE WC) Topalov has become a nightmare opponent for Leko: until then Leko had a plus score against him; since then it's been +7 -1 =7 in Topalov's favor.

Apr-21-13  Nerwal: <Strangely enough Leko's first mistake came on early> It's not surprising at all he didn't find this. He may be critized for not finding 24... c3, but 24... ♗xe4 is unadulterated computer chess.
Apr-21-13  whiteshark: The game is vid-annotated for BCM by IM Andrew Martin, here:
Apr-22-13  Hesam7: <Nerwal: <Strangely enough Leko's first mistake came on early> It's not surprising at all he didn't find this. He may be critized for not finding 24... c3, but 24... Bxe4 is unadulterated computer chess.>

How is a move suggestion (not analysis) computer chess given the fact that the move is not counterintuitive (if anything it should be one of the candidate moves when looking at the position).

Apr-22-13  Nerwal: The move 24... ♗xe4 is counter-intuitive because everybody can see 24... ♗xe4 25. ♖xf6 ♕xf6 26. ♘xe4 in a couple of seconds, and, on general grounds, nobody wants to play with rook and pawn against the bishop pair in an open, tactical middlegame position. It requires a very deep investigation with a lot of calculations and very precise moves by black to show that after 26... ♕f4 and then something like 27. ♘f2 ♖a8 28. ♖c2 c3 29. ♗f3 ♖ae8 30. ♘g4 black not only is fine but has a promising game. And the resulting positions are still so complicated I am not sure the computer's assessment is fully correct.

The depth involved is not the only obstacle. White has a lot of choices at various points : at move 25, as said, white has 4 possible moves; after 26... ♕f4, white has again about three or four moves, and after both 28... c3 and 29... ♖ae8 he has some choice. To make things worse, white can decide to insert g3 to push back the black queen at any moment, leading to more lines, not to speak about the possibility of a3. If any of those possibilities leads to white stopping black's activity, or even a favourable destruction of the b4-c3 pawn chain, then black is in huge trouble because of the potential of white's minor pieces, so, strategically speaking, he is trying to cross a minefield in this analysis. And, at move 24 of an otb game, the last thing a chess player wants to do is to start wandering into such maze, especially when the current position is so complicated he can be sure there will be similar subsequent complications til at least move 40. Topalov as black may have, but we have all seen how sometimes he inexplicably blundered.

There is also a couple of question about how big is black's advantage after 24... ♗xe4 compared to the game. After 25. ♘xc4 ♗d5 26. ♖e1 ♖fe8 27. ♘e5 the position looks rather unclear, although from the practical point of view black is surely easier to play than white. And after 25. ♘xe4 ♘xe4 26. d5 ♕xd5 27. ♗xc4 or 27. ♕xd5 ♘xd5 28. ♗xc4, there is no question whether black is better, but do those endgames provide any real winning prospect ?

Compared to 24... ♗xe4, 24... c3 is less strong, but simpler to calculate as there is only one line and its beginning is basically all forced : 25. ♖xf5 (25. exf5 ♕e3+ 26. ♔h1 doesn't look any good) cxd2 26. ♖c2 ♘xe4 27. ♖e5 ♕g6 28. ♗d3 and here black has some interesting tactical moves to escape the pin (♘f2, a ♖ on e8) but the simple 28... f5 ensures black is at least quite ok.

Apr-22-13  Hesam7: <Nerwal> If I was certain that after <24...Be4> White would respond with <25 Rf6?> I would happily play it. Then you have <25...Qf6 26 Ne4 Qf4 27 Nf2> by the way 27 Nd2? loses to 27...c3:

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Generally two BB > RP, however look at White's minor pieces: the a1-Bishop is not worth much and the other two minor pieces are utterly passive. Now add the weak pawns on a2 & d4 and you are looking at something which is approaching "technically won" territory. Black can continue with the simple <27...Rfe8> with the threat of ...Re2 & ...Qc1. <28 Bf3> taking away the a8-square <28...c3 29 Ng4 Nc4!>

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White does not have the time to take on h6 and Black will win the a1-Bishop for the connected passed pawns.

I think this line should be visible with the naked eye. I thought the other lines posed more practical problems.

Apr-22-13  Hesam7: <Nerwal> 24...Be4 25 Nc4 Bd5 26 Re1 Nc4! 27 Bc4 Qd6:

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We have equal material but with the d4-pawn safely blockaded Black is effectively a piece up. A player with Leko's technique should win this in a normal game with enough time left on the clock.

Apr-22-13  offramp: Day 2. Still no Zug.
Apr-23-13  Hesam7: <Nerwal> 24...Be4 25 Ne4 Ne4 26 d5 Qd5:

(A) 27 Qd5 Nd5 28 Bc4 (28 Rc4? Nd2) 28...Ne3 29 Rfe1 Nc4 30 Re4 (30 Rc4? f5) 30... Nd6 31 Rd4 Rb6

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(B) 27 Bc4 Qd1 28 Rfd1 Nc4 29 Rc4 f5

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In both cases Black is full healthy pawn up, win should be a matter of technique. And in terms of winning chances you should compare this to the game, where Black has no advantage after 24...Ne4? (and it stayed that way until Topalov blundered with 35 Kh1??).

Apr-23-13  Hesam7: <Eyal: Leko's game was ruined in the last two moves before the time control, made in severe time trouble. With 39...Kf7! instead of Bf7 Black is better>

39...Kf7 40 d6 Ng3 41 hg3 Re2 42 Kh2 Rd2 43 d7 Rd6!? (43...Rd7 44 Rc1 and eventually White will win the f6 pawn with Rc6-Rf6) 44 Qh8 Qd7 45 Rf1 Qe7

click for larger view

But the more I look at both 43...Rd6 & 43...Rd7 the more I think the draw is inevitable ...

Apr-23-13  Nerwal: <Now add the weak pawns on a2 & d4 and you are looking at something which is approaching "technically won" territory.>This position looks to me like a tactical matter, not a technical one. This is such a sharp, complex position. Black's advantage is not so static than short-term: his pieces are more agressively placed. He has to convert this into something solid before white can activate his pieces or break the b-c pawn chain. One flawed move and all this advantage goes away. If instead of Qf4 black plays 26... ♕e7, the static nature of the position hasn't changed and ♘e4 will have to retreat. Right ? Well, not so : 26... ♕e7 is met by 27. ♗f3 and now 27... g4 28. d5 makes things work for white tactically. 27... c3 28. d5 with huge complications is the same story.

Now about 26... ♕f4. 27. ♘g3 is worth a look, but let's stick to 27. ♘f2 ♖fe8. First let's look at another plan : 28. g3 ♕e3 29. ♔f1 c3 30. ♘g4 ♕e6 31. a3.

click for larger view

White has achieved something : black queen is pushed back, the b4-c3 chain is about to be shattered, black's knight is still on b6 and white's minor pieces are about to become more active. So the evaluation of this position needs some care - we are already 8 moves deep after 24... ♗xe4 ! Well, apparently this position is clearly in black's favour after all four moves 31... h5, 31... bxa3, 31... ♘d5 and 31... ♖a8, but only thanks to lengthy tactical lines that are completely impossible to foresee at move 24.

Another try is 28. Bf3 c3 29. Ng4 Nc4 30. g3 Qd6 31. Qd3 with a similar conclusion after 31... h5 : it doesn't work tactically (but it could have).

A third one is 28. Bf1 with the ideas g3-Bg2-Ne4 or Rc2-Ng4-Rf2-Qf3 and again an unexpected tactical move ends up spoiling white's efforts.

<with the d4-pawn safely blockaded Black is effectively a piece up. A player with Leko's technique should win this(...)>I tried to continue this line with some computer moves. It went 27. h4 ♖bc8 28. ♗xd5 ♘xd5 29. hxg5 ♕g3 30. ♕f3 ♕xf3 31. gxf3 ♖xc1 32. ♖xc1 hxg5 33. ♖c5 ♖d8 34. ♖a5 f6 35. a3 =. Well good job playing black, Houdini... No doubt black can improve on this, but my feeling is it's not a mundane, technical win. ♘d5 looks great and ♗a1 looks bad, but that's not the end of the story. Less apparent but just as real are black's weaknesses on dark squares, a not so safe king, and white's more active rooks.

<In both cases Black is full healthy pawn up, win should be a matter of technique.>The first endgame offers black winning chances (probably not a sure technical win though), but in my opinion white draws in the second one without much problem, starting with something like 30. Rc6. White's better piece activity and an exposed black king provide a fair amount of compensation for the missing pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Illogic: <OneArmedScissor: Leko tries to draw, loses instead.> Did you even look at the game?>

Doesn't matter whether or not the poster bothered to review the game-just a typical cack-handed, mean-spirited bit from the endless supply of vitriol dispensed by <OAS>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Hesam7: <Nerwal> If I was certain that after <24...Be4> White would respond with <25 Rf6?> I would happily play it. Then you have <25...Qf6 26 Ne4 Qf4 27 Nf2> by the way 27 Nd2? loses to 27...c3....>

This position looks nasty for White and seems very passive indeed: the type of thing I might have defended in my youth, but to which my aversion has grown with age.

Activity, above all activity!

Apr-28-13  Ulhumbrus: 8...c4?! may be intended to prepare the moves ...g5 followed by ..Ne4 . If so Topalov ptevents the latter move by 9 Nf3-d2!

Leko then plays 9...g5? all the same, disturbing the king side pawns a second time but without the ability to play ...Ne4

11...Bxc3 concedes the bishop pair and strengthens White's centre as well.

Apr-28-13  lost in space: Very active play by Leko with black. My impression (without having analyzed the game deeply) is that Black had equalized, eventually even more and lost due to weak moves shortly before the time control (move 40)
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