Topalov narrows gap with Ivanchuk

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Who would have guessed that? Vassily Ivanchuk was very close to a loss against numer last Bu Xiangzhi, but just managed to draw. Topalov beat Cheparinov and is now half a point behind; Aronian is clearly not himself here and lost with White against Radjabov.

The shortest game of the day was Topalov-Cheparinov, in which the master crushed the pupil. L'Ami and Cheparinov had decided for the slightly surprising choice of the Gr?ɬºnfeld-Indian and Topalov apparently wasn't up for testing the Dutch/Bulgarian preparation; he went for the 5.Bd2 sideline. And so after move eight the players had already left theoretical waters; 9.Be2 was played in an Unzicker game (he was Black) from 1969! Instead of 11...c6 I propose 11...f5 because in the game, "Delroy" (as GM Jonathan Rowson calls the white d-pawn in the Gr?ɬºnfeld) became very strong very quickly, splitting the black forces into two camps. 12.Bg5! and 16.h4! were strong, and so were 18.b4! and 21.a6! - Topalov at his best. The real mistake seems to be 23...bxa6; the active White rook entered the enemy's camp decisively.

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk had gotten into big problems. In a Hedgehog (from the English) he had missed the strong move 26.Na4!, that yielded White a big advantage in the ending with rook, knight and pawns for both sides. Still, Ivanchuk "didn't see where White was winning." And indeed, it's hard to believe but the rook ending seems to be drawn all the time. An example, for the endgame lovers: 49. Rxa6 (49. Kc3 Re2 50. Rxa6 Rxf2 51. Rd6 f3 52. Rd1 Kf4 53. Kb3 Re2 54. a6 Re3+ 55. Kc4 f2 56. Rf1 Kg3 57. b5 Ra3 58. Kb4 Ra2 59. Kb3 Ra5 60. Kb4 Ra2 61. Kb3 Ra5) 49... Rxb4 50. Ra8 (50. Kc3 Ra4 51. Kb3 Ra1 52. Ra8 f3 53. a6 Kf4 54. a7 Ra6) 50... Rb3+ 51. Kd4 Rxh3 52. a6 Ra3 53. a7 Kg4 54. Rg8+ Kf3 55. a8=Q+ Rxa8 56. Rxa8 Kxf2 57. Rh8 f3 =.

Aronian again played a lot weaker today than he normally does, and at the press conference the journalists are starting to ask him whether everything's all right. Aronian says everything's fine but it's hard to believe. Anyway, Radjabov's King's Indian remains a good way to play for a win, especially against somebody who's out of shape. 17.Bb2 was new and actually White was doing fine for a long time, but in upcoming timetrouble Aronian played a lot of inaccurate moves. His exchange sacrifice already looked a bit shaky (after the simple 32.Bxe4 Rxa4 33.Qc2 Rb4 34.Rb1 he seems to be OK) and 39.Rg3? lost instantly.


Pairings rounds 9 & 10:

Xiangzhi, Bu - Topalov, V Ivanchuk, V - Aronian, L Radjabov, T - Cheparinov, I

Topalov, V - Radjabov, T Cheparinov, I - Ivanchuk, V Aronian, L - Xiangzhi, Bu

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