Topalov Wins Game Eight!

The final position makes a pretty picture:

Topalov, playing black, whipped out a novelty in the well-trodden Meran Variation of the Semi-Slav. He managed to produce an objectively equal but materially imbalanced endgame where he had two knights against Kramnik’s rook and pawn. This is just the sort of position Topalov loves, and he managed to pounce on some inaccurate moves by Kramnik.

In the diagrammed position, white can’t avoid mate. Black has just played 52. … Rb2-f2. White gets mated after 53. Kg1 Rxg2+ 54. Kf1 Rf2+ 55. Ke1 Nd3+ 56. Kd1 Rd2 mate. Other moves for white just lead to faster mates. The black knights have set up shop on commanding posts, and the white rooks can only cower before them.

It was a brilliantly played game by Topalov and his first real win. Officially the match is now tied, though I suspect every chess fan still regards Kramnik as being up by one. For Topalov to win such a game as black is a major accomplishment.

Four games remain. I’m seriously rooting for Kramnik now. If he manages to win the match outright, even with the forfeit, that all of Topalov’s shenanigans will have to naught, and Kramnik will be the deserving winner. But if the match ends in a tie becuase of Kramnk’s forfeit in game five, or if Topalov wins only because of the forfeit, then the match will have failed to produce a real champion. And that would be a tragedy for chess.


  1. #1 Jeremy Henty
    October 6, 2006

    The Guardian Sport has a fun piece on the shenanigans of chess grand masters –,,329594192-108598,00.html

  2. #2 David Heddle
    October 6, 2006

    Hmm. Not being much of a chess player, I just have a simple observation. This may be the first time I looked at the board at the end of a game (from players at this level) and saw why the person resigned. Usually I look at in with a “dude, play, on!” attitude, even while realizing, of course, that I simply lack the proper skill and knowledge to appreciate why a resignation was appropriate. Cool stuff.

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 6, 2006


    Thanks for the link!


    I think this is one of those positions where even if you know next to nothing about chess, it just looks like black has the better of it. All of his pieces are in the basic vicinity of white’s king, whereas white’s are far from the action on the a-file. If you’re the white king, and you see all that firepower coming at you, you know it’s not going to end well!

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