M-Tel R5: Topalov beats Ivanchuk, now shared 1st

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Round 5 in SofiaDespite a very quick draw between Wang Yue and Carlsen, the fifth round of the M-Tel Masters in Sofia was arguably the best so far. Two fantastic 6.Bg5 Najdorfs offered lots of excitement with Shirov-Dominguez eventually ending in a draw and Topalov beating Ivanchuk with Black, after the Ukrainian didn't go for perpetual check in heavy timetrouble. At half-time, Carlsen, Shirov and Topalov share the lead with 3/5.

The 5th M-Tel Masters takes place May 12th to 23rd in a glass pavilion on the square in front of the National Theatre Ivan Vazov in Sofia, Bulgaria. It's a six-player double round-robin with Carlsen, Dominguez, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Topalov and Wang Yue playing. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves per player and 60 minutes per player till the end of the game. "Sofia rules" will again be used, so draw offers can be made only through the chief arbiter in the case of a threefold repetition, perpetual check or a theoretically draw position.

Round 5

Put Ivanchuk or Shirov behind the White pieces of a 6.Bg5 Najdorf and you know you will get a great game. Get both of them in the same round, and you'll have trouble chosing which board to look at for the rest of the afternoon!

Yesterday Kasparov called his play "spectacular" and today Ivanchuk was stealing the show once again, coming with the typical Nxe6 sac in the Sicilian and then following up with the blow 25.Rxf8!. At some point Topalov's defence mainly consisted of executing forced moves and as his king was stuck in the center anyway, he duly started a kingside attack himself. In timetrouble Ivanchuk should have gone for perpetual check, but instead he took Topalov's bishop, missing a very nasty pawn check that decided the game in Black's favour.

It takes two to tango and it must be said that Topalov's cool attitude, by playing several moves quite quickly, thereby increasing the pressure on the opponent, was impressive as well. This way he won his match against Kamsky, and today he fought himself back to shared first place in the standings.

In the same opening variation, Shirov was also clearly in his element. As if they had made a deal before the game, both Topalov and Dominguez went for the move 10...h6, which isn't the most popular choice against either 10.Bd3 or 10.g4. With a positional pawn sacrifice Shirov got a strong initiative that didn't stop when the queens were exchanged. His best chance for a win was probably at move 26.

Oh, and then there was also Carlsen-Wang Yue. A draw.

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Round 5 in Sofia

First escaping a bombardment of piece sacrifices, then several perpetuals, and finally winning the queen ending - in another trademark comeback, Topalov fights back to shared first place...

Round 5 in Sofia

...while poor Ivanchuk keeps wondering why all this is happening...

Round 5 in Sofia caption needed

Round 5 in Sofia

In another 6.Bg5 Najdorf, Shirov did take the draw when it was there...

Round 5 in Sofia

...and so Dominguez escaped as well

Round 5 in Sofia

On a semi-rest day, Wang Yue and Carlsen could join the spectators...

Round 5 in Sofia watch a great show. (But no, the women in Sofia don't seem to like chess that much)


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