Topalov-Anand becomes the best game of the year!
The voting for the best game of the year 2005 by the e3e5 website version is now concluded. We nominated the games that had taken top three positions is our monthly lists. Some experts decided to mention other games, which in their opinion deserved being included in top 36 at least, for instance, Ponomariov’s win over Topalov in Sofia or a glorious draw Anand-Topalov from the same tournament. Maybe we will change the regulations in future, although each of the nominated games entered the top 10 of at least one expert.
A few words about the procedure. We awarded 13 points for the first place, 11 for the second, 9 for the third, 7 for the fourth, 6 for the fifth, etc. 1 points goes for the tenth, of course. The experts normally were able to find an appropriate position for each game. This is Andrey Zontakh’s painful method: ‘First I selected 20 games, which I was especially reluctant to throw out. Then I grudgingly left 15 of them. And at the final stage I tearfully erased 5 more.’ He also describes his criteria, which probably reflects the opinion of many other experts: ‘Before making the final choice, I sank into deep thought about the definition of ‘best game’, and decided that, apart from integrity and tension of struggle, I will pay attention to a non-standard strategic character of the game. Theoretical importance is also an asset. Post factum I recognized that there were sacrifices in each game of my selection’.
I’ll note that some experts (although few) think that theoretical innovations usually come after through home preparation, and give their preference to more spontaneous games.
I some cases I generously allowed the experts dividing their sympathy between two or more games. This little indulgence did not affect the voting results at all.
29 players took part in the final voting:
Alexander Khalifman, Sergey Rublevsky, Andrey Volokitin, Magnus Carlsen, Victoria Cmilyte, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Michal Krasenkow, Evgeny Gleizerov, Sergey Shipov, Mikhail Kobalia, Evgeny Najer, Alexey Korotylev, Alexander Riazantsev, Vladimir Belov, Nikita Vitiugov, Vladimir Baklan, Andrey Zontakh, Mikhail Golubev, Alexander Rustemov, Pavel Tregubov, Ruslan Sherbakov, Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Zagrebelny, Denis Yevseev, Andrey Deviatkin, Sergey Soloviov, Vladimir Barsky and Ilya Odessky.
A small footnote. I approached Magnus Carlsen shortly before the deadline, and since he was in the middle of the tournament preparation, I asked Magnus to select 10 games without awarding places.
Let us proceed to the laureates. The game Topalov-Anand from Sofia won the contest in an indisputable manner. 272 points, 19 first places and 2 third places. Curiously, there were no second places.
These are the comments of the voters, both old ones from the Game of the Month contests and recent ones.
Sergey Ivanov: ‘I hesitated for a long time, which game of Topalov should I give the palm of supremacy, and finally I awarded the first place to the victory of Veselin over the Oscar-laureate of recent 2 years that was won in a fabulous for our contemporary supertournaments style. Using Sergei Shipov's term – it was a thermonuclear chess! In a quiet positional Queen Indian Topalov managed to find the opportunity to sacrifice first a pawn, then a knight and after that – a rook! It is noteworthy that White did not hurry to force the game playing without material and made ordinary developing moves as if nothing had happened. And Anand did not stand such pressure: with his king on f6 being in front of his army he hurried up to pass to the endgame without a pawn, which Topalov technically and elegantly brought to the victory. Bravissimo! This encounter reminded me of the famous victories of Kasparov in the Petrosian version of the Queen's Indian in the first half of the 80s.’
Sergey Zagrebelny: ‘The Bulgarian plays brightly already long since, and his victories in this year are by no means accidental. I will not be surprised if Veselin continues his triumphal streak in Argentina. In this game he was the person who lead the play. A combination of the knight sacrifice on f7 and quiet long castling on the next turn produces a strong impression.’
Michal Krasenkow: ‘A brilliant attack, although it was a bit spoiled by unnecessary exchange sacrifice on е7, which allowed Black to extend the struggle (correct is 23.Rе5)’.
The best game of the Russian Superfinal Motylev-Bareev finished second with 1 third, 5 second, and 5 third places. 177 points.
Sergey Ivanov: ‘It’s impossible to describe this fabulous encounter in a few words, one can write an article about it. Something incredible occurred on board, starting with the White’s 15th move 15.Bf6!: there was one blow after another (mixed up with counterblows) for the next thirteen moves – simply amazing; the pieces were flying over the board as if they had wings, and the opponents clinched like two boxers in belligerent fight... When the smoke lifted there was a prosaic ending with bishops of opposite colors and two extra pawns for White on board. However forty-move converting stage followed, but there was no single moment, when there were doubts that Alexander Motylev will have the most outstanding victory in his career. In my opinion, the mentioned 13-move piece will become history of chess art’.
Michal Krasenkow: ‘Here comes another brilliant attack. At some point it felt like the attacking resources were depleted, but Alexander very skillfully poured oil into the fire.’
Sergey Klimov: ‘Regardless of the sacrifice correctness, placing a bishop under attack looked very impressive! And how do you like the next move – Rad1! And what do you think about a nuance that the rook on b8 stands badly because it does not control the a7-square?’
Andrey Zontakh: ‘All the brilliances were left behind the curtains in this game, but Sasha told us everything in his notes in the 64, which clearly increased his chances’.
The game Aronian-Popov, played in the Aeroflot open, took the third place: 3 first places, 3 second ones, and 2 third ones. 140 points.
Michal Krasenkow: ‘A firework of brilliant sacrifices. I’d give it the first place, but I can’t find any annotations and afraid to risk – what if it is full of mistakes found by the computer?’
Nikita Vitiugov: ‘One feels integrity in this game, and it is not just a brilliant home analysis or very deep calculation of a single very lengthy line. However, if I remember, there is a serious improvement for Black somewhere.’
Sergey Ivanov: ‘The way White handles the game reminds me an avalanche sweeping its way through.’
These three games are ultimate leaders of the season. No other encounters were able to hit the 100 points mark. Further on the difference between adjacent places becomes barely noticeable, so I decided to present 17 top games.
4. Ponomariov-Kramnik (Wijk aan Zee). 1 first place, 4 second places, 1 third place. 91 points.
Andrey Zontakh: ‘A combative and from some point flawless draw with a number of beautiful final positions. A new idea to sacrifice the h-pawn made the 9.Nd5 Variation the most popular weapon against the Sveshnikov.’
5. Ivanchuk-Volkov (St. Vincent). 2 first places, and a third place. 86 points.
Michal Krasenkow: ‘Ingenious intuitive piece sacrifice in Tal’s style. I sat next to Ivanchuk and was highly impressed by his play. Well, maybe I am biased, and want to help the teammate awarding him extra points :-)’
NitikaVitiugov: ‘12.d5!! is a very original although typical for Ivanchuk intuitive piece sacrifice. Black’s extra bishop does not tell, and White carried out his attack. What an ingenious sense of harmony!’
Sergey Shipov: ‘Volkov is an ideal co-author! He is greedy and intelligent. Wins over such players are brilliant by definition. Sergey loses rarely, but all his losses from a recent TWIC can be taken to any hit-parade.’
Andrey Zontakh: ‘As Oleg Chebotarev’s trainer, I witnessed the games Najer-Chebotarev and Tseshkovsky-Chebotarev, in which neither Najer nor Tseshkovsky, both very creative players, did not dare pushing 12.d5!, despite a 40-minute thought. And I am very proud of my compatriot Ivanchuk, too.’
6. Anand-Adams, San Luis. A first place and 2 third places. 71 point.
Nikita Vitiugov: ‘A brilliant novelty and a skilled attack, and, moreover, played in the world championship!’
Andrey Zontakh: ‘A classical attack in the Zaitsev Variation of the Ruy Lopez (27.Nh4!), even if home-cooked. Curiously, we studied this line with Sergey Karjakin 3-4 years ago, looking for a counter-measure against 19...Qb6, but failed to wind anything after 23...Nхе1. Although even after this game the issue remains unresolved, right?’
7. Karjakin-Radjabov (Warsaw). A second and 2 third places. 70 points.
Michal Krasenkow: ‘A brilliant positional exchange sacrifice.’
8. Smirnov-Sakaev (Dagomys). 1 first place, 2 second and 1 third place. 69 points.
Evgeny Gleizerov: ‘An outstanding achievement of Pavel Smirnov, who normally pleases us with tactical masterpieces. And now it turns out that he can play in a completely different manner. The high point of this game if of course an incredible king march c2-d3-e2-f2-g3-h4-g5-f6-f7-e8-c6-b5. One could hardly guess around the 40th move that the game will be decided by the White’s king attacking the c6-pawn from the rear!’
Nikita Vitiugov: ‘It feels like the players’ names are mixed – Pavel Smirnov wins the endgame in Sakaev’s unhurried and impeccable manner.’
Sergey Klimov: ‘Smirnov defeated such an opponent in a completely drawish line like Capablanca, with petite combination and other things.’
9. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov (Wijk aan Zee). 2 second and 2 third places. 61 point.
Nikita Vitiugov: ‘A piece sacrifice followed by an intuitive offer of a rook and resulted in a crushing win!’
10. Ponomariov-Bareev (Khanty Mansyisk). A first and a second places. 57 points.
Sergey Ivanov: ‘The subtlest maneuvering and the most flawless endgame technique by Ponomariov.’
Sergey Klimov: ‘Winning a classical French endgame against a strong opponent is a big achievement.’
11. Kasimjanov-Kasparov (Linares). A second and a third places. 56 points.
Andrey Zontakh: ‘A classic CHAMPION’S victory: an important opening novelty, strong pressure and some fine finishing blows. The only minor flaw is rather poor resistance by the opponent.’
12. Sutovsky-Sokolov (Nottingham). A second place. 54 points.
Sergey Zagrebelny: ‘A rare hit-parade can do without a solo by Sutovsky. His ability to reach the enemy king is unique! He like knocking out, and not winning ‘by decision’. This time Ivan Sokolov became an unlucky victim. With surprising ease White concentrated his pieces against the Black’s king, and here we go... Emil not only regained the sacrificed piece, but got a very good interest. And his final sacrifices of a knight and a rook are just marvelous.’
Andrey Zontakh: ‘I am a great fan of Emil’s chess (by the way). In this game I was surprised how he managed to bypass the opponent’s centralized army and make it completely helpless.’
13. Svidler-Kasimjanov (San Luis). A second place.
Evgeny Gleizerov: ‘A fantastic escape combination! On the move 28 Black has all the pieces on board, and 5 moves later only a rook and a knight remained, like he played loser’s chess. And this tornado resulted in an amazing endgame, in which White has extra rook and bishop as well as the turn to move, but cannot avoid a draw. It is also important that Rustam’s brilliant combination was the only way for him to survive.’
Sergey Zagrebelny: ‘A brilliant tactical alertness by Rustam allowed him to construct an amazing perpetual check. However, before it both played less than perfectly, to put it mildly.’
Sergey Ivanov: ‘A draw with fireworks! Black acted contrary to all laws of chess, starting an attack by 24...Bc3! with a passive knight on e8 and the rooks being disconnected. The most surprising is that this attack could actually work out. After an error by Black the parties started exchanging blows, and White ended up with an extra piece, but Kasimjanov found a shocking escape combination. How can one stop loving chess after such a terrific moments?’
Andrey Zontakh: ‘An unforgettable escape construction for all times!’
14-16. Dreev-Dominguez (Poikovsky) (a second and a third), Riazantsev-Rublevsky (Warsaw) (a second), Topalov-Ponomariov (Sofia) (a third) – all 46 points.
17. Moiseenko-Svidler (Dagomys). A third place. 45 points.
In the end I submit the full list of voters and their decisions.
This is the “ideal” selection: 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Aronian-Popov 4. Ponomariov-Kramnik 5. Ivanchuk-Volkov 6. Anand-Adams, San Luis 7. Karjakin-Radjabov 8. Smirnov-Sakaev 9. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 10. Ponomariov-Bareev
Khalifman. 1. Aronian-Popov 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Dreev-Dominguez 4. Kotsur-Sutovsky 5. Alekseev-Mamedyarov 6. Svidler-Kasimjanov 7. Ivanchuk-Volkov 8. Sutovsky-Kramnik 9. Smirnov-Sakaev 10. Volokitin-Nakamura
Volokitin. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Anand-Adams, San Luis 4. Karjakin-Radjabov 5. Ivanchuk-Volkov 6. Sutovsky-Kramnik 7. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 8. Sokolov-Shirov 9. Aronian-Popov 10. Shirov-Bluvshtein
Rublevsky. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 3. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 4. Aronian-Popov 5. Anand-Adams, San Luis 6. Karjakin-Radjabov 7. Grischuk-Kamsky 8. Moiseenko-Svidler 9. Sokolov-Shirov 10. Ivanchuk-Volkov.
Cmilyte. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Ponomariov-Bareev 3. Motylev-Bareev 4. Topalov-Ponomariov 5. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 6. Anand-Adams, San Luis 7. Grischuk-Kamsky 8. Karjakin-Radjabov 9. Aronian-Popov 10. Moiseenko-Svidler
Kosteniuk. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Anand-Adams, San Luis 3. Karjakin-Radjabov 4. Sutovsky-Kramnik 5. Smirnov-Sakaev 6. Shirov-Bluvshtein 7. Dreev-Minasian 8. Ivanchuk-Volkov 9. Motylev-Bareev 10-13. Sutovsky-Sokolov; Sokolov-Shirov; Adams-Kasparov; Aronian-Popov
Kovalevskaya. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Karjakin-Radjabov 3. Dreev-Minasian 4. Ivanchuk-Volkov 5. Motylev-Bareev 6. Topalov-Ponomariov 7. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 8. Grischuk-Anand 9. Sokolov-Shirov 10. Chernyshov-Grischuk
Krasenkow. 1. Ivanchuk-Volkov 2. Aronian-Popov 3. Motylev-Bareev 4. Smirnov-Sakaev 5. Karjakin-Radjabov 6. Sutovsky-Sokolov 7. Berg-Bareev 8. Dreev-Minasian 9. Topalov-Anand 10. Topalov-Ponomariov
Gleizerov. 1. Smirnov-Sakaev 2. Kotsur-Sutovsky 3. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 4. Sutovsky-Kramnik 5. Berg-Bareev 6. Svidler-Kasimjanov 7. Chernyshov-Grischuk 8. Aronian-Popov 9. Grischuk-Dreev 10. Topalov-Anand
Shipov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Quesada-Morozevich 4. Svidler-Kasimjanov 5. Ponomariov-Bareev 6. Aronian-Popov 7. Anand-Adams, San Luis 8. Sokolov-Shirov 9. Shirov-Bluvshtein 10. Moiseenko-Svidler
Kobalia. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Aronian-Popov 3. Motylev-Bareev 4. Topalov-Ponomariov 5. Sutovsky-Sokolov 6. Quesada-Morozevich 7. Moiseenko-Svidler 8. Ponomariov-Kramnik 9. Kotsur-Sutovsky 10. Shirov-Bluvshtein
Najer. 1. Ivanchuk-Volkov 2. Kotsur-Sutovsky 3. Aronian-Popov 4. Motylev-Bareev 5. Topalov-Anand 6. Sutovsky-Sokolov 7. Ponomariov-Bareev 8. Moiseenko-Svidler 9. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 10. Sokolov-Shirov
Korotylev. 1. Motylev-Bareev 2. Smirnov-Sakaev 3. Aronian-Popov 4. Karjakin-Radjabov 5. Moiseenko-Svidler 6. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 7. Kotsur-Sutovsky 8. Grischuk-Kamsky 9. Ponomariov-Kramnik 10. Ivanchuk-Volkov
Riazantsev. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Smirnov-Sakaev 3. Adams-Kasparov 4. Dreev-Dominguez 5. Aronian-Popov 6. Motylev-Bareev 7. Ivanchuk-Volkov 8. Karjakin-Radjabov 9. Grischuk-Kamsky 10. Anand-Adams, San Luis.
Belov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 4. Sutovsky-Sokolov 5. Sutovsky-Kramnik 6. Topalov-Ponomariov 7. Ponomariov-Bareev 8. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 9. Dreev-Dominguez 10. Anand-Adams, Wijk aan Zee.
Vitiugov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Svidler-Kasimjanov 3. Smirnov-Sakaev 4. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 5. Anand-Adams, San Luis 6. Ponomariov-Bareev 7. Aronian-Popov 8. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 9. Ivanchuk-Volkov 10. Motylev-Bareev.
Baklan. 1. Aronian-Popov 2. Ponomariov-Kramnik 3. Topalov-Anand 4. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 5. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 6. Svidler-Kasimjanov 7. Motylev-Bareev 8. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 9. Anand-Adams, San Luis 10. Berg-Bareev
Zontakh. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Sutovsky-Sokolov 3. Motylev-Bareev 4. Ivanchuk-Volkov 5. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 6. Moiseenko-Svidler 7. Ponomariov-Kramnik 8. Sokolov-Shirov 9. Anand-Adams, San Luis 10. Svidler-Kasimjanov
Golubev. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Ponomariov-Kramnik 3. Anand-Adams, San Luis 4. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 5. Sokolov-Shirov 6. Grischuk-Anand 7. Motylev-Bareev 8. Berg-Bareev 9. Ponomariov-Bareev 10. Volokitin-Nakamura
Rustemov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Ponomariov-Kramnik 3. Svidler-Kasimjanov 4. Ponomariov-Bareev 5. Sokolov-Shirov 6. Dreev-Dominguez 7. Karjakin-Radjabov 8. Moiseenko-Svidler 9. Anand-Adams, Wijk aan Zee 10. Topalov-Ponomariov
Tregubov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 3. Chernyshov-Grischuk 4. Motylev-Bareev 5. Karjakin-Radjabov 6. Aronian-Popov 7. Ponomariov-Kramnik 8. Smirnov-Sakaev 9. Ivanchuk-Volkov 10. Kasimjanov-Kasparov
Sherbakov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Ponomariov-Kramnik 3. Motylev-Bareev 4. Shirov-Bluvshtein 5. Sutovsky-Sokolov 6. Sokolov-Shirov 7. Ivanchuk-Volkov 8. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 9. Smirnov-Sakaev 10. Kasimjanov-Kasparov
Ivanov. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Motylev-Bareev 3. Ponomariov-Kramnik 4. Dreev-Dominguez 5. Anand-Adams, San Luis 6. Aronian-Popov 7. Sutovsky-Kramnik 8. Moiseenko-Svidler 9. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 10. Berg-Bareev
Zagrebelny. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Aronian-Popov 3. Ivanchuk-Volkov 4. Sutovsky-Sokolov 5. Motylev-Bareev 6. Dreev-Dominguez 7. Berg-Bareev 8. Anand-Adams, Wijk aan Zee 9. Timofeev-Nisipeanu 10. Ponomariov-Kramnik
Yevseev. 1. Ponomariov-Bareev 2. Адамс - Ананд 3. Topalov-Anand 4. Ivanchuk-Volkov 5. Grischuk-Kamsky 6. Topalov-Ponomariov 7. Leko-Svidler 8. Smirnov-Sakaev 9. Grischuk-Dreev 10. Berg-Bareev
Deviatkin. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Dreev-Dominguez 3. Topalov-Ponomariov 4. Moiseenko-Svidler 5. Sutovsky-Sokolov 6. Ponomariov-Bareev 7. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 8. Shirov-Bluvshtein 9. Smirnov-Sakaev 10. Aronian-Popov.
Soloviov. 1. Aronian-Popov 2. Mamedyarov-Cheparinov 3. Moiseenko-Svidler 4. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 5. Topalov-Anand 6. Motylev-Bareev 7. Shirov-Bluvshtein 8. Ponomariov-Kramnik 9. Svidler-Kasimjanov 10. Dreev-Minasian
Barsky. 1. Ponomariov-Kramnik 2. Kasimjanov-Kasparov 3. Quesada-Morozevich 4. Chernyshov-Grischuk 5. Riazantsev-Rublevsky 6. Motylev-Bareev 7. Svidler-Kasimjanov 8. Ivanchuk-Volkov 9. Aronian-Popov 10. Grischuk-Anand.
Odessky. 1. Topalov-Anand 2. Anand-Adams, Wijk aan Zee 3. Karjakin-Radjabov 4. Motylev-Bareev 5. Topalov-Ponomariov 6. Anand-Adams, San Luis 7. Motylev-Bareev 8. Ponomariov-Kramnik 9. Aronian-Popov 10. Shirov-Bluvshtein
Carlsen. Ponomariov-Kramnik, Aronian-Popov, Kasimjanov-Kasparov, Topalov-Anand, Sokolov-Shirov, Dreev-Minasian, Almasi-Lutz, Berg-Bareev, Anand-Adams, San Luis, Motylev-Bareev
It stunned me that despite apparent unanimity, nobody managed naming the top three! Kobalia was close, but he shifted the second and the third games. However, Mikhail named “correctly” only 4 games out of 10. Also 4 hits have Khalifman, Gleizerov, Belov, Rustemov, Yevseev and Barsky. There were no excessively original experts, who’d guess right 3 or fewer games from the final list. The median was 5-6 games. It turns out that strong players are not that egocentric, right? Rustemov and Odessky have 7 hits. Public opinion was best expressed by Tregubov (of course! the ACP president) and Vitiugov (future president?), who noted 8 games that entered the final list.