Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov began the FIDE World Championship in San Luis, Argentina, with a furious pace, taking the clear lead before today's fifth round. He won three games and drew against India's Vishy Anand, but even in that game Topalov missed several wins. Lurking a half-point behind the Bulgarian is four-time Russian champion Peter Svidler. Both are the only undefeated players among eight grandmasters contesting the FIDE world title. The 14-round event ends on Oct. 15.

Anand, a pre-tournament favorite, won two games with the white pieces, but his play as black against Topalov was shaky. On Saturday the Indian lost to the current FIDE world champion, Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, who is now fourth with a 50 percent score. The Hungarians, Peter Leko and Judit Polgar, lost two games, won one and drew one. Both Russia's Alexander Morozevich and England's Michael Adams seem to be out of form, sharing last place with two losses and two draws.

Unexpected Apparition

Last June, Adams played a match against a computer program, Hydra, and was smashed 51/2-1/2. The defeat shook Adams's confidence and worse -- the monster machine exposed weaknesses in his opening repertoire. But even with solid opening preparation Adams could not have predicted Anand's fascinating novelty on the 23rd move in the Zaitsev variation of the Spanish. Anand discovered the amazing idea several years ago, analyzed it thoroughly, stored it in his memory and waited for his chance. It came in San Luis.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 (The variation was contested on the highest level in the 1990 world championship games between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.) 17...c4 18.axb5 axb5 19.Nd4 Qb6 20.Nf5 Ne5 21.Rg3 g6 (Black has to be careful. White has enough firepower on the kingside to strike quickly. The game Kotronias-Fox, Cork 2005, ended fast after 21...Kh7 22.Nf3 Nbd3 23.Be3 Qc7 24.Bxd3 Nxd3 25.Bxh6! g6 26.Bxf8 Rxf8 27.Qd2 and black resigned.) 22.Nf3 Ned3 (All this was played previously, but now comes the striking novelty.)

23.Qd2!! (A shocker that dazzled and puzzled everybody, including Adams and the computer programs. Protecting the pawn on f2, the white queen can join the attack on the black king from square h6. Previously, after 23.Be3 Qd8 24.Nxh6+ Bxh6 25.Bxh6 Qf6 26.Bxd3 Nxd3 27.Re2 Nxb2 black was doing well.) 23...Bxd5?! (Clearly, a nervous reply that hopes to bring the light bishop into play. The critical move is 23...Nxe1!, but it appears that white has at least a draw by perpetual check. After 24.Nxe1 Ra1! 25.Nxh6+ Bxh6 26.Qxh6, the greedy 26...Rxb1? loses to 27.Rxg6+! fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kf8 29.Bh6+ Ke7 30.Bg5+ Kf8 31.Qh6+ Kg8 32.Bf6 and white mates. But either 26...Nxd5! 27.Rxg6+ fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kf8 29.Qf5+; or 26...Re5! 27.Nf3 Rxb1 28.Rxg6+ fxg6 29.Qxg6+ Kf8 30.Nxe5 Rxc1+ 31.Kh2 Qxf2 32.Qxd6+ leads to a perpetual check.) 24.Nxh6+ Bxh6 25.Qxh6 Qxf2+ 26.Kh2 Nxe1 (Eliminating the dark bishop 26...Nxc1 does not help because of 27.exd5 Ncd3 28.Re6! and white breaks through, for example 28...Qxg3+ 29.Kxg3 fxe6 30.Qxg6+ Kf8 31.Qh7, threatening 32.Ng5. The tricky 26...Re5, with the idea 27.Be3? Qxg3+ 28.Kxg3 Rh5 to trap the queen, can be met forcefully by 27.Rxg6+ fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kh8 [Or 28...Kf8 29.Be3! Qxb2 30.Bd4! wins.] 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Bh6! and white wins.)

27.Nh4! (White is ready to rip black's position apart with a sacrifice on g6.) 27...Ned3? (Loses quickly, but the advantage is tilting to white anyway. The best defense seems 27...Ra7, but the Junior 8 program refutes it with 28.Nf5! Qxg3+ 29.Kxg3! gxf5 30.Qf6! Re6 31.Qd8+ Kg7 32.exf5 and black must lose material.) 28.Nxg6! (The clincher. Black suffers on the dark squares.) 28...Qxg3+ 29.Kxg3 fxg6 30.Qxg6+ Kf8 (After 30...Kh8 31.Bg5 Re6 32.Bf6+ Rxf6 33.Qxf6+ Kg8 34.exd5 wins.) 31.Qf6+ Kg8 32.Bh6 (After 32...Ra7 33.Qg6+ wins.) Black resigns.

Glorious Past

Cary Utterberg's fine work "De la Bourdonnais versus McDonnell, 1834: The Eighty-Five Games of Their Six Chess Matches, With Excerpts From Additional Games Against Other Opponents" was issued by McFarland (www.mcfarlandpub.com) on the eve of the FIDE World Championship in San Luis. The 1834 contest at London's Westminster Chess Club is often considered the first unofficial world chess championship. For the first time all the games were recorded, pioneering the way for today's databases that we now take for granted. What makes this book remarkable is the mixture of old and modern notes to the games and opening surveys -- from the 19th-century masters to Kasparov. This marvelous work should be enjoyed by any tournament player. We show an amazing position from the book (White:Ke7,Qc3,Bh4,Ng4, P:h5; Black:Kg8,Rb8,Rf1,Bb7,Bh6, P:c5,d5,e2,f3,g3,g7,h7) that appeared in a game between Deschapelles and his pupil, De la Bourdonnais. White mates in five moves: 1.Nxh6+ gxh6 2.Qh8+ Kxh8 3.Kf7 Rg8 (or 3...Rf8+ 4.Kxf8 e1Q 5.Bf6 mate.) 4.Bf6+ Rg7+ 5.Bxg7 mate; or 1...Kh8 2.Nf7+ Kg8 3.Qxg7+! Kxg7 4.Bf6+ -- the importance of the white pawn on h5 -- 4...Kg8 5.Nh6 mate.

White mates in five moves.