Topalov throws the switch to Yawnsville

It completely beats me what Topalov is playing at. He is known for his swashbuckling attacking style, and is being slowly ground down by the very hard to beat Kramnik. His response? Get your manager to make all sorts of allegations that you’re cheating and play quite aggressively early on in games, but never really chance your arm. Because Kramnik forfeited a game, and there was a ‘swtichover’ (a bit like changing ends in tennis) Topalov has just played three games in a row as white.

At this level playing white is an advantage and most match players try to draw with black and win a few with white. Since he went to the lead Kramnik has been prepared to draw games even where he has an edge. Topalov? Well he gets into quite good positions as white and then plays so cautiously that they turn into draws against a player who is probably one of the hardest players to beat in the world. Then seeing the game turn into a draw, Topalov takes unnecessary risks and gets into a worse position without ever really creating many chances.

So I’m sick of it I’m afraid. Tonight Topalov has been playing black and has played the same defence that Kramnik played last night. It’s perfect if he were playing for a draw, but it’s a bit late for that. In any event, he nearly won the first game with black. All quite mysterious. It’s not that easy to create a complex dymanic position against Kramnik if he’s trying to keep it simple and positional. But Topalov doesn’t seem to be trying.

As Grandmaster Susan Polgar (I think she’s a grandmaster, she’s #1 woman in the US and # 2 – I presume to her sister Judit – in the world) says of his latest opening effort.

This is the kind of position that is perfect for Kramnik with little chances to lose. I am very surprised of Topalov’s opening choice today and actually in this match.


Postscript: Topalov has just managed a quite brilliant win – and Dr Nicholas Gruen has made a complete fool of himself. Thing is, Topalov is very good at a game which is similar to Kramnik. He can manouvre around with the best of them – he doesn’t need a massive kingside attack (like he managed in game two but blundered into a loss).

It would have made good sense for him to play the quiet but edgy game he has played in the last four games at the start of the match, but down one (and perhaps two) game(s) it looked crazy – like he had to mix it up more. But this is a brilliant win – a little like the win he missed in the first game. A magician on the board. A pity Kramnik resigned as the mate that was coming was delicious with Topalov’s three remaining pieces all in on it and Kramnik’s two rooks looking on sadly on the other side of the board in the forlorn hope of supporting Kramnik’s past pawn!

And I don’t know how you recover psychologically from being bewitched by your opponent like this. At move 35 Susan Polgar was claiming it was a bit better for Topalov but grandmasters were split 50:50. Five moves later Polgar said that Kramnik’s position was “extremely difficult”. Another four moves later Polgar said Topalov would score his first win over the board and seven moves later again Kramnik resigned with mate coming up in five moves.

PPS. Here’s the game – enjoy!   When I was watching this last night I couldn’t figure how the hell Topalov would break free of Kramnik’s active (but constantly frustrated) double rooks. Neither could anyone else until Topalov showed us. Mind you Polgar immediately called Kramnik’s losing move Kxg3 an aweful move.   Looked fine to me :)

(This is a horrible move and it may cost Kramnik this game. As I said many moves ago, Black had chances. You just have to have a feel for this kind of position. You only the feel for it by playing out positions like this hundreds / thousands of times. That was part of my training when I was younger.)

She also said that it was the kind of position that you would back a human against a computer. Now it looks like Topalov is playing anti-computer chess and playing fast to try to unnerve Kramnik and keep him out of the dunny!

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