Two more games down in the big chess match. Game Three saw the first draw of the match. Topalov once more opened with his queen pawn, but Anand wisely avoided the Grunfeld this time. Instead he played the super-solid Slav Defense, and a fairly conservative variation at that. Topalov got the requisite small advantage out of the opening, but he was never close to breaking through Anand’s solid defense.
The real action came in game four. Anand, playing white, once more went with the Catalan Opening, which worked so well for him in Game Two. Twenty-One moves later he reached this position:
Position after 21. … Qc5-a7
Anand noticed that all of black’s pieces were over on the queenside, leaving the black king feeling a bit lonely. What happened next is worth enjoying in slow motion.
He played 22. Ng4, transferring the knight to the kingside and eying the tasty morsel on h6. Topalov’s sense of danger let him down, and he quickly replied with 22. … Rad8. The knee-jerk consensus among the grandmasters was that this was definitely a weak move, but that it is unclear whether Topalov could still hold the position.
At any rate, this is where Anand opened up a can of whoop-ass. He ripped open the king side with the sacrifice 23. Nxh6+! gxh6 24. Qxh6 f6 leading to this position:
Position after 24. … f6
To continue the attack white must transfer one of his rooks over to the kingside, which he will do via the fourth rank. That means clearing the fourth rank. He played 25. e5! even though this entails a further investment of material. After 25. … Bxg2 26. exf6 we have this amusing scene:
Position after 26. e5xf6
In desperation Topalov tried to give back some material with 26. … Rxd6 but he was still in dire straits after 27. Rxd6 Be4 28. Rxe6 Nd3
Position after 28. … Nb4-d3
Black actually has some threats of his own. He is threatening to take the rook on c1, the pawn on b2, and worst of all he is threatening mate on f2 with his queen. But the cool as a cucumber 29. Rc2 addresses all three. The game concluded with 29. … Qh7 30. f7+ Qxf7 31. Rxe4 Qf5 32. Re7 and Topalov resigned in this thoroughly hopeless position:
Black has no adequate way of stopping the mate on g7. For example, 32. … Qf6 33. Qh7 mate. Or 32. … Rf7 33. Rc8+ Qxc8 34. Qg6+ Kh8 35. Qh5+ Kg8 36. Qxf7+ Kh8 37. Qg7 mate.
A humiliating loss for Topalov. The pressure is really on him now to keep the match competitive. Can he recover? Game five on Friday!