WCC 2009 - Kamsky wins Game 4!

Today in round 4 of the 2009 World Chess Challenge Gata Kamsky won his first ever game against Veselin Topalov and evened the score of their match at 2 points each. With Kamsky playing white, the two combatants swiftly abandoned the Grunfeld opening of the last two games in favor of a closed Ruy Lopez. This led to a nice tight position in the middle game for Topalov on the kingside. Both men managed the clock well through the first 25 moves, but Kamsky used a 10-minute plus think at move 26 and another 6-minute plus analysis at move 31 to find himself under 20 minutes with 1/4 of the moves still to go until the first time control. Topalov, however, matched him with a 7-minute plus think of his own at move 31 and 5 minutes more at move 33.

With no pointed attack brewing from either player and Topalov playing tight defense the game looked very drawish. But after exchanging a bishop for Topalov's queenside knight, Kamsky left Topalov's queenside populated with nothing more than the black queen and a b-pawn. Kamsky dropped his queenside rook to c6 and as the first time control approached the men were fighting over the d6 pawn - each with both rooks, a bishop, and their queen aimed at it.

At the time control Topalov found himself trying to stave off a queenside breakthrough, pressure on his queen, and the potential breaking open of his wall of rooks defense in the back. This led him to a nice long think at move 42 (9 minutes plus) which Kamsky promptly followed with a protracted analysis of his own (more than 25 minutes). Only two moves into the next time control and Kamsky was down to 30 minutes! A flurry of moves traded off pieces, but Topalov found himself still on the defensive as Kamsky looked to finish things off from the unusual position of a knight pair over a bishop pair. At the midpoint of the second time control Kamsky was down to under 15 minutes and seemed to have a plan, but would Topalov play along?

At the second time control excellent defensive work by the world's #1 ranked player Topalov neutralized the brunt of the attack, although he was still a pawn down and Kamsky had a dangerous passed pawn at d5. Giving up his pawn advantage to get his king into a better location Kamsky pressed his passed pawn. A few moves later Topalov gave it one last good analysis and resigned. The score is now even at 2 with 4 games still to go. Tomorrow is a rest day, so game 5 with Kamsky again with white will be played on Monday. To follow it live, visit the official site here.