Veselin Topalov (IPA: [vÉ?.sÉ?'lin to'pÉ?.lof]; Bulgarian: Ð?ÐµÑ?ÐµÐ»Ð¸Ð½ Ð¢Ð¾Ð¿Ð°Ð»Ð¾Ð²) (born 15 March 1975) is a Bulgarian chess grandmaster and former FIDE world champion. In the October 2007 FIDE rating list, he is ranked fourth in the world with an Elo rating of 2769. His current trainer and manager is International Master Silvio Danailov.
Topalov became the FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. Topalov was awarded the 2005 Chess Oscar. In October 2006, Topalov had the second highest Elo rating of all time (2813).
Topalov played Classical World Champion Vladimir Kramnik in a twelve-game title unification match. The match was drawn at 6-6, but Topalov lost the tie-break 2.5-1.5.
Topalov was born in Rousse, Bulgaria. His father taught him to play chess at the age of eight. In 1989 he won the World Under-14 Championship in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and in 1990 won the silver medal at the World Under-16 Championship in Singapore. He became a Grandmaster in 1992.
Topalov has been the leader of the Bulgarian national team since 1994. At the 1994 Chess Olympiad in Moscow he led the Bulgarians to a fourth-place finish.
Over the next ten years he won a number of tournaments, and ascended the world chess rankings. As early as 1996, he was being invited to "supergrandmaster" events for the world's élite. Topalov's loss to reigning Classical World Champion Garry Kasparov at the 1999 Corus chess tournament is generally hailed as one of the greatest games ever played. Kasparov later said, "[During the game Topalov] looked up. Perhaps there was a sign from above that Topalov would play a great game today. It takes two, you know, to do that." In the knockout tournaments for the FIDE World Chess Championship, he reached the last 16 in 1999, the quarter-finals in 2000, the final 16 in 2001, and the semi-finals in the 2004 tournament. In 2002, he lost the final of the Dortmund Candidates Tournament (for the right to challenge for the rival Classical World Chess Championship) to Péter Lékó.
Topalov scored his first "super-tournament" success at Linares 2005, tying for the first place with Garry Kasparov (though losing on tiebreak rules), and defeating Kasparov in the last round, in what was to be Kasparov's last tournament game before his retirement. He followed this up with a one point victory (+4 =5 −1) at the M-Tel Masters 2005 tournament, ahead of Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Ruslan Ponomariov, Michael Adams, and Judit Polgar. The average rating of the participants was 2744, making this super-GM, double round-robin tournament the strongest in 2005.