GM Veselin Topalov looking for answers.

GM Veselin Topalov on the move against GM Vladimir Kramnik.
(Photo by ChessBase)

WCC 2006: Kramnik holds lead, controversy brews

Vladimir Kramnik of Russia continues to hold a +2 lead in the World Chess Championship over Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov. The drawn games have been very exciting with Topalov nearly winning in game four if not for tenacious defense for Kramnik. The Bulgarian master has played energetically, but at key moments in game four played a bit cautious. He may realized that going down +3 would practically an insurmountable lead.

In the diagrammed position, Topalov allowed 15Bxh2+ which was certainly a surprise considering his two-game deficit. However, the sacrifice put Kramnik under tremendous pressure and he was forced to return the pawn in order to stave off a mounting attack. Many spectators and expert analysts felt that  Topalov had stronger continuations and the game soon ended in a tense draw.

A breaking story coming out of the Topalov camp is the accusation that Vladimir Kramnik is taking an excessive amount of bathroom breaks up to 50 times in a single match. In the formal complaint,
Silvio Danailov (Topalov's manager) provided a timeline of Kramnik's visits  which are based on video records.  He emphasized that the bathroom was not under surveillance.  (read complaint)

Topalov plays the speculative 15.Bf3!? allowing 15Bxh2+

Topalov plays the speculative 15.Bf3!? allowing 15Bxh2+

Many of the fans feel that the complaint may be a psychological ploy by the Topalov team to unnerve Kramnik, who is known to suffer from a variety of health issues.  There have been references to Bobby Fischer's demands in his match versus Boris Spassky. The compliant ends with a threat to withdraw from the match if certain conditions to secure the facilities are not met. This includes a ban on using the resting room and the unsecured bathrooms. He also requested the release of videos to the press to affirm his accusations.

There is no telling what impact this will have on the match, but it has certainly added a twist. If Kramnik goes on to lose the match, then many may accuse the Topalov team of unsportsman like tactics.  Topalov has many supporters, but the latest episode in an already shaky unification effort is sure to change the mood of the event and maybe win Kramnik fans.

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 28 September 2006