A gem of a game, and the draw a fair result. We saw Kramnik on fire, and Topalov fighting hard not to get burnt to a crisp. Topalov fought back exceptionally well – taking the upper hand in the major pieces endgame and forcing Kramnik to bale out into a perpetual check.
In an Open Catalan, Kramnik came out fighting. Not content to sit back on his two-point lead, both side’s active intentions led to a complicated struggle. Kramnik pulled off a major surprise with 16. Bg5!. Topalov fought stubbornly in defense, but Kramnik maintained his slender advantage and managed to convert it into a heavy pieces endgame. Topalov’s active play in the endgame (26… e5!) forces Kramnik on the back foot, and the explosive 35… f5!! is enough to convince Kramnik to force the draw.
- Vladimir Kramnik (2743)
- Veselin Topalov (2813)
- Queens Gambit: Catalan
- World Championship 2006, Elista, Game 3
- ECO Code
Topalov switches from to Bogo-Catalan into a main stream Open Catalan, perhaps as a means of keeping Kramnik on his toes, the opening certainly didn’t fail him in game 1.
A sharper rarely-seen sideline – typical of Topalov’s active style. He could easily have gone straight for equality with Bxg2. We are following in the footsteps of Tkachiev – Solozhenkin, the only other Grandmaster game with this line.
12.Nxc6 is a viable alternative
There wasn’t much to be gained by 13. Kxg2. Kramnik seeks the more active continuation.
13… Bc6?? 14. Nxc6 unleashes a discovered attack on the Black queen. Black has to drop a piece.
Shredder 7: 13… Nc6?? 14. Nxe6 Qb6 15. Nxc5 Bh3 16. Qxb6 axb6 17. Nxb7 O-O 18. Nd6 Nd7 19. Be3 Nc5 20. Nd5 Rab8 [2.96/13]
Topalov’s improvement over Solozhenkin’s 15… Be7.
15… Be7 16. Bf4 Rc8 17. Nf3 Nc4 18. Na4 b5 19. b3 Ncb6 20. Nxb6 Nxb6 21. Qxd8+ Bxd8 22. e4 f6 23. Rd6 White’s superior development lands him a strong rook backed with active minor pieces. 23… Ke7 24. Nd4! e5 25. Nf5+ Kf7 26. Be3 g6 27. Nh6+ Kg7 28. Rad1 Tkachiev effortlessly activates all his pieces, constantly harrassing his opponent with threats. 28… Rb8 29. Rd7+! Nxd7 30. Rxd7+ Kf8 31. Nf7 White is thoroughly dominating the position. 31… Rg8? (31… Be7 although better, does not save Black.) 32. Nd6 g5 33. Rf7# Tkachiev – Solozhenkin, France 2000, 1-0 (33)
Kramnik has come out fighting! The bishop is untouchable.
16… Qxg5 17. Nxe6! and Black has two main variations:
- 17… Ne5 18. Nxg5 Nxd3 19. Rxd3 +/-
- 17… Qe7 18. Nxg7+ Hitting the defender of d7 – the Black king. 18… Kd8 (18… Kf8 19. Nf5 +-) Shredder 7: 19. Nd5! Qd6 20. Nf5 Qe6 21. b4 Nc4 22. bxc5 Rxc5 23. Rab1 +-
17. Ne4 Nc4 18. Rac1 += Shredder 7 offers the variations:
- 18… Nde5 19. Qb1 Bxg5 20. Nxe6 fxe6 21. Rxd8+ Bxd8 22. Qa1 Bc7 23. b3 O-O [0.81/13]
- 18… Nce5 19. Rxc8 Qxc8 20. Qb1 f6 21. Bf4 Kf7 22. Nf3 Ng6 23. Bd6 [0.44/12]
- 18… Nxb2 19. Qb1 Nxd1 20. Nd6+ Bxd6 21. Bxd8 Ne3+ 22. fxe3 Rxc1 23. Qxc1 Kxd8 24. Qb2 Kc8 25. Nf3 Nf6 26. Qb6 [0.94/12]
- 18… Ndb6 19. Qf3 Ne5 20. Bxe7 Qxe7 21. Rxc8+ Nxc8 22. Qh5 Nc4 23. b3 N4d6 24. Ng5 g6 [1.06/12]
- 18… Bxg5 19. Rxc4 Be7 20. Nf3 Rxc4 21. Qxc4 O-O 22. Qa4 Nb6 23. Rxd8 Nxa4 24. Rd7 f5 25. Rxe7 fxe4 26. Ng5 [1.12/12]
- 18… b5 19. Bxe7 Qxe7 20. b3 f5 21. bxc4 fxe4 22. Qxe4 Nf6 23. Qe5 O-O 24. Qxe6+ Qxe6 25. Nxe6 Rfe8 26. Rd6 bxc4 27. Rxa6 [1.95.11]
Shredder 7: 19… Nde5 20. Qe4 O-O 21. b3 f5 22. Qh4 Qe8 23. e3 Rf6 24. Qf4 Ng4 25. Rxc4 Rxc4 26. bxc4 Qxa4 [0.29/14]
The most active continuation
Shredder 7: 20… Nde5 21. Qe4 f5 22. Qb1 Qb7+ 23. Nf3 Ne3+ 24. fxe3 Rxc1 25. Rxc1 bxa4 26. bxa4 Qxb1 [0.41/14]
Opening the d-file and gaining entry to the seventh rank with tempo.
The only move that gives Topalov a fighting chance; he avoids going straight into a difficult rook endgame.
Active defence. Topalov opens the third rank as well as threatening to keep pushing the pawn.
Considering the passage of play, this move does nothing to prevent Black’s counterplay.
And so Topalov whittles White’s initiative and forces a passive retreat.
The mobility and coordination of the black queen and rook is astonishing.
By sacrificing a pawn, White has regained the initiative.
Now the a-pawn pawn falls.
The threat of opening up the f-file is dangerous and pushes the game into Black’s favour. Black’s a-pawn is now untouchable. This forces White to bale out into a perpetual check.
36. Rxa3 fxe4 -+
A splendid game that does credit for both players. Topalov shows his aggression and creativity are unharmed after a tragic start. He is the moral victor in this battle.