Vladimir Kramnik won the four game, rapid chess, tie-break match this morning. It was a real nail-biter of an event! Game one was a blunder-filled draw. Kramnik won game two in his usual style, grinding Topalov down in a difficult, technical endgame. Topalov struck back with a win in game three, trapping Kramnik’s king in the center and then annihilating him with a whirlwind attack. But Kramnik won game four in yet another technical endgame. Let us record the final moments for posterity:
Kramnik, playing white, is a pawn up in what is surely a winning endgame. But there are still technical problems to solve in breaking black’s blockade of the white pawns. Topalov made things easy for his opponent by bashing out 44. … Rxc5??, the idea being that after 45. Rxc5+ Kxb6 it is white who has to play carefully to hold the draw. But Kramnik eaisly found 45. Rb7+! which wins on the spot because of 45. … Rxb7 46. Rxc5+ Kb6 47. axb7 and white is simply up a rook.
So Kramnik managed to win it over the board and all of Topalov’s shenanigans are now moot. Kramnik is now the sole legitimate claimant to the title of World Champion. Over the board the match was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Not one of the eleven played games was a short “grandmaster draw.” The match contirbuted greatly to the theory of the Slav Defense.
As for Topalov, a lot of players have found it impossible to return to peak form after losing a match for the World Championship. Peter Leko and Nigel Short come to mind. I suspect that won’t happen in Topalov’s case. I think he will be among the world’s elite for several years to come.
Thanks to everyone for putting up with all the chess blogging over the last few weeks.