While Topalov remained about as tight lipped as in yesterday’s press conference, Anand was clearly in a spirited mood and seemed willing to talk at length about his victory today. He openly admitted that he under-estimated his position in the early middlegame, and that it was only later that he realized that he had some winning chances. “Only after my 27th move was I confident that I was out of danger,” admitted Anand. “But in fact already White had a big advantage.”
The next game is on Tuesday, with tomorrow being the first rest day.
With the score tied at 1 victory each, some might think that the players find themselves back at the same situation as before the match began. But this is not true. The ice has been broken and the tension created by months of hard preparation and training has given way to an explosive match situation where both players now realize that the slightest slip will be severely punished. More so than ever, both players must show respect for each other’s skill and ambition on winning the title.
I believe neither player should be happy with his play so far, however. Anand was crushed in the first game without even being able to develop all of his pieces. And Topalov managed to find a way to lose a relatively simple ending with amazing speed. Undoubtedly nerves have played a significant role.
Instead of having a 12 game match for the world title, now we have a 10 game match for the world title. It will be interesting to see which of the players is better able to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances and increasing tension. My belief is that Topalov is still the favourite, and reading the news articles today I have found that an increasing number of grandmasters are beginning to agree.
One of the curious things that I have noticed in recent years , especially since the 2005 World Championship tournament in Argentina (where Topalov won his World Championship title in Fischer-like style) is that most chess players in the west tend to consistently underestimate the Bulgarian superstar, and seem to regularly want ‘the other guy’ to win against him! This is not only true in this match with the Indian superstar (where most pre-match polls have been little more than popularity contests) but in 2006 Kramnik was also preferred!
I am not certain how to explain such a bias, especially since not only is Topalov only 1 point lower rated than the highest rated player in the world (Carlsen) but he also possesses the most brilliant tournament record of his generation! And Topalov is the only player since Fischer to have shown himself capable of winning game after game,regardless of the level of his opponents.
Topalov is a superb sportsman, and one of the most gentlemanly individuals amongst the elite in the world. You will never find him attacking anyone in an interview, and his over the board behaviour is admired even by famous international arbiters! He is easy to approach and always willing to sign autographs and give interviews.
But the behaviour of the masses can not always be explained easily, and just has to be accepted as part of the sports world . Who knows, maybe his nose is too long and he is not beautiful enough! Jealousy might be part of it.
Or Topalov’s close and longstanding association with the controversial Silvino Danailov might also be part of the story. In anycase, it is difficult to ignore that Topalov is one of the most successful chess players in the history of the game…
Reporting on the match has been extensive and pretty fair, considering everything. Chessbase is one of the sites that is openly biased towards Topalov, and finds it difficult to mask its dislike for Topalov and his team manager (Danailov). Yesterday’s brilliant victory (by Topalov) only merited a short news item and the moves given without commentary. Today’s loss was given an extensive analysis only hours after the game was over!
But the sword cuts both ways: Danailov has made it clear that he could not care less what Chessbase thinks or writes.
Chessvibes is doing an excellent job of impartially reporting the results, and gives videos and photos almost immediately after the game is over. Clearly a professional site! The French site Europe-echecs is also a wonderful source of fair and accurate information.
And before going, I should mention that my old friend and onetime rival, grandmaster Ian Rogers from Australia, is doing a daily report for The Hindu (and probably other newspapers as far as I know–he is a widely respected journalist these days), but has also found it difficult to impartially report the match results.
Ian Rogers (shown here with his wife Cathy) has a reputation for colourful commentary
For example, while treating Topalov’s loss today as part of the natural order in the universe, Ian refers to yesterday’s loss by Anand as ”unexpected”, even though Topalov is higher rated, super-motivated, playing White in front of his home town and having already defeated his opponent more than ten times previously! He then goes on and when referring to the opening of today’s game (a Catalan), he mentions Kramnik as Anand’s ”great rival”, clearly intended as a slight towards Topalov. Finally, towards the end of his report in The Hindu, he writes that Topalov was ”despondent” during the press conference, which is pure invention (or wishful thinking–you choose!), especially if you read the reports of other journalists present. In truth, Topalov seemed exactly as despondent today as after his brilliant victory yesterday!
But what can you do or say? Chess is a sport like any other, and hecklers and die-hard fans are all part of the colourful mosaic! The Anand vs Topalov match is living up to its expectations….
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS