WCC 2006: Topalov powers to 1st victory over Kramnik

In Game Eight of the World Chess Unification Match, Veselin Topalov gave an impressive display of power in his defeat of Vladimir Kramnik. In the Meran variation of the Queen Gambit Declined, Kramnik appeared to have a space advantage, but had to walk a tightrope to avoid a few traps. Topalov was able to solve his opening problems in a tactical manner. Thus, Kramnik gave up a two knights for rook and pawn for and sought to increase pressure with his rook pair. This gave the Bulgarian the imbalances that makes him such a dangerous player.

Topalov played actively and after offering a trade of bishops, his two knights came alive and literally trampled over the two rooks. Kramnik made some weaknesses and the knights took up posts in white's camp. After 52 Rf2+, Topalov was offering mate in four with his two knights and rook. Kramnik resigned and now the score is deadlocked at 4-4. While Topalov certainly won praise for his play, many fans are still bitter about the antics of his manager,
Silvio Danailov.

Veselin Topalov on way to victory. Photo from worldchess 2006.com.

Veselin Topalov on his way to victory.
(Photo from worldchess 2006.com)

What transpires in the next 24 hours will be of great interest to the chess world. Some speculate that Kramnik's team will raise the game five issue (forfeiture) and threaten to quit. Others state that Kramnik may have been affected by all the non-chess politics. Of course, Kramnik has played solidly since the controversy broke, but in game eight, he was outclassed by a wide margin. Topalov is the type who will continue to press for the point and will most certainly look to score more over-the-board wins to neutralize any unfairness from the rulings.

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 5 October 2006