Sofia, round 10: Topalov-Bacrot, Svidler-Kamsky
Topalov (2804) - Bacrot (2708)
Annotated by Konstantin Sakaev
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Nbd7 6.Bf4 Nh5 7.Bd2 Nhf6 8.Rc1 Veselin repeats the scheme which brought him a success against Kamsky in the first half.
8...e5 Etienne immediately deviates.
9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.Na4 Nxe5 12.Bc3 Topalov has a small but lasting advantage.
12...f6 A necessary move, restricting the White's dark-squared bishop by the f6-pawn.
13.Nb6 Rb8 14.Nxc8 The move f7-f6 a bit weakened the light squares, and Topalov utilizes it immediately.
14...Rxc8 15.g3 Аn alternative 15.e3 seems better to me. Black can then develop quietly with 15...Be7, and the game may continue 16.Be2 (taking the pawn is pointless - 16.Bxe5 fxe5 17.Qh5+ g6 18.Qxe5 0-0 with excellent counterplay on dark squares) 16...0-0 17.0-0. Then the bishop comes to d4, and one can choose between advancing pawns on the queenside and playing in the center by f2-f4 and e3-e4.
15...Qd7 16.h4 Qf7 17.Bh3 Nd7 18.b4 Rd8 19.f4 Be7 20.h5 Topalov is ready to set up the battery on the b1-h7 diagonal by Bf5 and Qd3. If I remember correctly, recently he won a game against Adams using this idea.
20...g6 Etienne does not want to face the aforementioned plan, so he rejects castling.
21.Qb3 Creating a threat e2-e4. The most sensible defense is 21...Nf8.
21...Rg8 Etienne wants to counterattack! However, his king stuck in the center, and the d7-knight does not have much prospective. White has a clear advantage, but the position is double-edged, and a single mistake can decide the game.
22.e4! No break for Black! A more quiet move like 22.Bd4 also keeps the advantage.
22...gxh5 23.exd5 cxd5 Correct, the queens have to be kept on board, in order to have counterplay against the White's king. Bad is 23...Rxg3 due to 24.d6. The endgame after 23...Qxd5 24.Qxd5 cxd5 25.Kf2 is in White's favor.
24.Kf2 h4 25.Bxd7+ Topalov decides playing safer, but this move possibly leaves out some of his advantage. One has to analyze 25.gxh4 or even a positional sacrifice 25.Bf5!?
25...Rxd7 25...Kxd7 is unsatisfactory: 26.Rxh4 Qg6 27.Bd4, threatening with various pawn breaks on the queenside.
26.Rxh4 d4 The move 26...f5 would weaken the e5-square, which could tell in a rook ending.
27.Qxf7+ Kxf7 28.Bd2 Rg7 29.Rh5! From here the rook can be transferred to the queenside after the c5-c6 break. Black has a difficult ending due to weaknesses on h7 and d4 (the White's king is too close to the d4-pawn), bad bishop, potentially vulnerable queenside pawns (after the c5-c6 break) and general passivity of the pieces.
29...Bf8 30.c6 bxc6 31.Rxc6 d3 Bacrot tries playing actively to use his only saving chance, but it seems his counterplay is too late.
32.Rxa6 The most stubborn for Black is 32...Kg8 (not 32...Bxb4 33.Bxb4 d2 in view of 34.Rh6!)
33.Rh1 Looks somewhat weaker than 33.Kf3. 33.Rxf6 yields nothing: 33...Rge7 34.Rg5+ Bg7 35.Kf3 Re2 36.Bc3 Rc2! The most accurate is 33.Kf3!, meeting 33...Rge7 by 34.Rh2! Black can play 33...Ra7 34.Rxa7 Rxa7 35.Ra1 Ra3 36.g4! Then White activates the king, trades the a2 and d3 pawns and slowly wins.
33...Rde7? Equals to resignation.
34.Kf3 Another easy win is 34.Be3.
34...Re2 35.Rd1 h5 Black creates no threats, one can push a pawn 36.a4 or take a pawn 36.Rxf6.
36.Rxf6 h4 37.gxh4 Rgg2 38.Be3 Be7 39.Ra6 Rxa2 40.b5 Rab2 41.Rxd3 Bxh4 42.Rd7. Black resigns.
Svidler (2743) - Kamsky (2671)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8 A rare but very sensible move. More often Black starts transferring the knight to e6 by 11...Nd8, but Kamsky completes development first. The king's rook can hardly find a square better than e8 anyway.
12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 Grischuk in a similar situation took on d5 with the bishop, keeping a microscopic advantage. It looks like capturing with the pawn does not yiled even that little.
13...Nd4 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.a4 Bf6 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Peter did not show much ambition in the opening, the Ruy Lopez looks rock-solid at the moment, and nobody can do anything with it. Draw is a very likely outcome in this position.
17...Bxa8 18.Bd2 Bb7 19.Re4! A good move - White forces the opponent improving his pawn structure. Perhaps Peter has a microscopic advantage, too, but it is clearly insufficient to win.
19...Rxe4 20.dxe4 c5! 21.dxc6 Bxc6 Black should not fear - the doubled d-pawns are quite valuable.
22.Qf3 Be5 23.g4! Another excellent decision! This move does not contain any particular straightforward idea, it is based on general consideration - White plays on the light squares, gains space, and weakening of the king's shelter is insignificant.
23...h6 24.Kg2 Played in the same unhurried positional manner. The position is drawn, but Black has to show patience to achieve it, and showing patience is the last round is particularly challenging.
24...Qb7 25.Bd5 Bxd5 26.exd5 White threatens playing Qf3-e4 and then f2-f4, and if Black decides securing his bishop by g7-g5, it will not solve his problems, as there will be too many pawns on dark squares. In this case White can advance h3-h4, and after f7-f6 the Black's position will look draught-like.
26...g5 27.b3 Kg7 28.Qe4 Qc8 29.Kf3 f6?! A strange move - Kamsky was not forced playing it. Now I think the problems for Black increase, his position may even be losing. White can, for instance, put the king to e2, and then play Qf5, or carry out h3-h4 and then h4-h5.
30.Qf5 Qb7 31.Qe4 Qc8 32.Qf5 Qb7 33.Qe4 Qc8 Game drawn! Probably Peter feels tired - I think he could have tortured the opponent for many more moves.
Having obtained a hardly noticeable opening advantage, Peter started to play very subtly and, in my opinion, got certain winning chances. It seemed like the game will continue, and Kamsky will have to work hard for a draw, but suddenly an unforced more repetition followed. Maybe Peter felt tired or considered the position being drawn - only the player himself can give a definite answer.
In a complex struggle Anand outplaued his opponent, was close to a win, but before the control committed a mistake, which made his win doubtful. Ponomariov defended tenatiously, while Anand did not use all his chances, and the game ended in a draw.
Inspired by his recent wins, Topalov played powerfully, while Bacrot looked tired and doomed to lose. The Frenchman's position was tough, and he failed to create any problems for the opponent. Topalov occupies the first spot in the final crosstable, and we congratulate him with this fact.