Kramnik Strikes Back!

And to think that just a few days ago it seemed like this match would end abruptly because of an insane dispute over visits to the bathroom.

Topalov scored back-to-back victories in games eight and nine to take a one point lead in the match. Kramnik was back on ihs heels, and some among the cognoscenti were talking seriously about a complete psychological collapse on his part. Add to that the fact that both of Topalov’s wins were impressive and convincing, whereas Karmnik’s earlier wins had more to do with luck, and it was not looking good for the champ.

But as he has done so often in the past, Kramnik saved his best stuff for the crucial moment. This morning he won game ten in classic style, and the score is once again tied. Here’s the crucial position, with Kramnik playing white:

Kramnik once again used the Catalan. He obtained just the sort of slightly better, risk-free position he likes so much. Kramnik had been pressuring him slowly for the last twelve moves or so. Topalov had been forced to play passive defense, which is not his strong suit. If it had been Peter Leko, or Anatoly Karpov in his prime playing black, the defense would probably have held. The computer rates the diagrammed position as slightly better for white, but after wholesale exchanges on b5 with 24. … Bxb5 25. axb5 Qxb5 26. Qxb5 Rxb5 the game would probably have ended up in a draw.

But Topalov misanalyzed the position and uncorked 24. … f6??. After 25. Nd7! Rf7 26. Nxb6 Rxa7 27. Nxd5 white has a decisive material advantage. Topalov struggled on for a while, but several further inaccuracies on his part made Kramnik’s job pretty easy. After Kramnik simplified to an easily won endgame, Topalov decided to pack it in.

All tied up with two games remainiing. Game eleven is on Tuesday, with Topalov playing white. How will it end? Stay tuned!


  1. #1 Dave S.
    October 10, 2006

    Game 11 was a fighting draw, although it was Kramnik with black doing the fighting.

    Topolov v. Kramnik (Game 11)

    1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Rb1 Nbd7 9.c5 a5 10.a3 e5 11.b4 axb4 12.axb4 Qc7 13.f4 exf4 14.exf4 Be7 15.Be2 Nf8 16.0-0 Ne6 17.g3 Qd7 18.Qd3 Ne4 19.Nxe4 dxe4 20.Qxe4 Qxd4+ 21.Qxd4 Nxd4 22.Bc4 0-0 23.Kg2 Ra4 24.Rd1 Rd8 25.Be3 Bf6 26.g4 Kf8 27.Bf2 Ne6 28.Rxd8+ Bxd8 29.f5 gxf5 30.gxf5 Nf4+ 31.Kf3 Nh5 32.Rb3 Bc7 33.h4 Nf6 34.Bd3 Nd7 35.Be4 Ne5+ 36.Kg2 Ra2 37.Bb1 Rd2 38.Kf1 Ng4 39.Bg1 Bh2 40.Ke1 Rd5 41.Bf2 Ke7 42.h5 Nxf2 43.Kxf2 Kf6 44.Kf3 Rd4 45.b5 Rc4 46.bxc6 bxc6 47.Rb6 Rxc5 48.Be4 Kg5 49.Rxc6 Ra5 50.Rb6 Ra3+ 51.Kg2 Bc7 52.Rb7 Rc3 53.Kf2 Kxh5 54.Bd5 f6 55.Ke2 Kg4 56.Be4 Kf4 57.Bd3 Rc5 58.Rb4+ Kg3 59.Rc4 Re5+ 60.Re4 Ra5 61.Re3+ Kg2 62.Be4+ Kh2 63.Rb3 Ra2+ 64.Kd3 Bf4 65.Kc4 Re2 66.Kd5 1/2-1/2

    The last game on Thursday.

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