CHESS Lubomir Kavalek

By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, October 9, 2006

The World Chess Championship between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik in Elista, Russia, is tied 5-5. With two games remaining in the match, Kramnik's victory yesterday in the tenth game is huge. If the match ends with a 6-6 tie, a tiebreak for the world title is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 13.

The Agony of Forfeit

The legendary world champion Boris Spassky was recently in San Francisco, giving a series of lectures and playing a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics Institute. On Oct. 1, Spassky suffered a mild stroke, but recovered well. He flew home to France Saturday.

Spassky was the last player to win a world championship game by forfeit. During the 1972 world championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, Bobby Fischer protested the filming of the match and forfeited the second game. Spassky could have walked away with the match victory, but gave in to Fischer's demands and continued to play. After 10 games Fischer led 6½-3½ and won the world title in 21 games with the score 12½ to 8½.

Topalov's protests in Elista over Kramnik's restroom visits were clearly aimed to disturb his opponent. Forfeiting Kramnik in the fifth game underscores Topalov's unsportsmanlike behavior and the unprofessional conduct of the FIDE officials. Last week, we expected the match to resume with the score 3-1 in Kramnik's favor, but the FIDE president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, awarded the forfeit point to Topalov. Suddenly the score was 3-2. Many leading grandmasters, including the notorious rivals Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov, believed that Kramnik should not have continued the match. Instead, Kramnik played and drew two games before suffering two consecutive losses. It looked as if Topalov was going to coast to a match victory, but Kramnik bounced back and tied the match yesterday.

The Endgame

Today we will continue the analysis of Game 2 between Topalov and Kramnik. After surviving the rollercoaster in the first 36 moves, the players headed for the endgame.


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 0-0 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Bg6 15.Ng5 Re8 16.f4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 f5 18.Be3 Nf8 19.Kh1 Rc8 20.g4 Qd7 21.Rg1 Be7 22.Nf3 Rc4 23.Rg2 fxg4 24.Rxg4 Rxa4 25.Rag1 g6 26.h4 Rb4 27.h5 Qb5 28.Qc2 Rxb2 29.hxg6 h5 30.g7 hxg4 31.gxf8Q+ Bxf8 32.Qg6+ Bg7 33.f5 Re7 34.f6 Qe2 35.Qxg4 Rf7 36.Rc1 Rc2 37.Rxc2 (This is the position we abandoned last week. In order to survive, Kramnik has to exchange the queens. But when and how shall he do it? The players still had a few moves to make the time control.)

37...Qd1+ (Kramnik picks up the rook with a check. The immediate 37...Qxc2 was worth trying, for example 38.Ng5 Qb1+ 39.Kh2 Qc2+ 40.Kh3 Qd3 41.Qf3 Bh6! 42.Nxf7 Qxe3 43.Qxe3 Bxe3 44.Nd8 b5! is fine for black.) 38.Kg2 Qxc2+ 39.Kg3 Qe4 (Another choice was 39...Qf5, but hard to calculate after 40.Qxf5 exf5 41.fxg7 f4+ 42.Bxf4 Rxg7+ 43.Kf2 a5.) 40.Bf4 (Swapping the queens 40.Qxe4 dxe4 and playing 41.Ng5 was recommended. After 41...Bh6 42.Nxf7 Bxe3 43.Nd8 a5 44.d5! white breaks through and wins; and after 41...Bf8 42.Nxe6 white's pawn avalanche is dangerous. But is white winning easily after 41...Rxf6 42.exf6 Bxf6 or after 41...Bxf6 42.Nxf7 Kxf7 43.exf6 a5 44.Kf4 Kxf6? ) 40...Qf5 41.Qxf5?! (The time control was over and Topalov was probably still thinking about a win, since he had a forced draw after 41.Ng5 Rc7 42.Nxe6! Rc3+ 43.Kh4 Qh7+ 44.Kg5 Qh6+ 45.Kf5 Qh7+ etc.)

41...exf5 42.Bg5?! (Topalov decided to protect his f-pawn, but he was now fighting for a draw. After 42.Ng5 the play is forced: 42...Rc7 43.Ne6 [43.fxg7 a5!] 43...Rc3+ 44.Kh4 Bxf6+ 45.exf6 Kf7 46.Nc7 a5! [not 46...Kxf6? 47.Nxd5+ winning] and black is fine.) 42...a5! 43.Kf4 (After 43.fxg7 Rxg7 44.Kf4 a4 black is better.) 43...a4 44.Kxf5 a3 45.Bc1! (Stopping the a-pawn with the knight is worse, for example 45.Nd2 Rc7 46.Nb3 a2 47.e6 Bxf6 48.Kxf6 Kf8 49.Ke5 Rc2 50.Kxd5 Rb2 51.Bh6+ Ke8 52.Na1 Rb1 53.Nc2 b5 54.Ke5 b4 55.d5 b3 56.d6 Rd1 and black wins.) 45...Bf8 46.e6 Rc7 47.Bxa3 (After 47.e7 Bxe7 48.fxe7 Rxe7 49.Bxa3 the fork 49...Re3 decides.) 47...Bxa3 48.Ke5 Rc1 49.Ng5 Rf1?! (Missing 49...Rg1 and only after 50.Nf7 Rf1!, winning easily.) 50.e7 Re1+ 51.Kxd5 Bxe7 52.fxe7 Rxe7 53.Kd6 Re1? (Using computer endgame tables, John Nunn pointed out a win: 53...Re3! 54.d5 Kf8 55.Kd7 b5 56.Ne6+ Kg8 57.d6 b4 58.Nc5 Kf7 59.Kc6 Rc3 60.Kb5 b3 61.Na4 Rc2 62.d7 Ke7 followed by 63...b2. Kramnik's move gets the rook out of the knight's range. Nunn's move limits the knight and supports the advance of the b-pawn.)

54.d5 Kf8 55.Ne6+? (Elbowing the black king with 55.Kd7! draws, for example 55...b5 56.Ne6+ Kf7 57.Nd8+ Kf6 58.Nc6 Rb1 59.Kd6! b4 60.Kc5! b3 61.Kb4 the white king chases the b-pawn and wins it.) 55...Ke8 56.Nc7+ Kd8 57.Ne6+ Kc8 58.Ke7 Rh1! 59.Ng5?! (After 59.Nf8 Rh8! 60.d6 Rxf8! 61.Kxf8 Kd7 black wins, but 59.Kd6 would have made it more difficult for black.) 59...b5 60.d6 Rd1 61.Ne6 b4 62.Nc5 Re1+ 63.Kf6 Re3 White resigned.

Solution to today's two-mover by L. Kubbel (White: Kb7,Qf4,Bf8,P:c2; Black: Kb5,P:a5,c5): 1.Qe3 Kc4(or 2...a4) 2.Qxc5 mate; or 1...c4 2.Qe8 mate; or 1...Kb4 2.Qb3 mate.

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