SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Challenger Veselin Topalov showed that he is infact just human in game 4 of his 12-game match for the World Championship after he provoked World Champion Vishy Anand into attacking him and ended up getting mated in only 32 moves. The Indian began a brilliant sacrificial attack against Topalov’s King on the 23rd move and followed it up with vigorous and energetic attacking play. The score is now 2.5 to 1.5 The first player to reach 6.5 points will be declared World Champion.
The Bulgarian admitted afterwards that he immediately realized he was lost when Anand made his 23rd move. According to GM Ian Rogers, who is in Sofia as a journalist , Anand was pleased with his performance. “It was a very complex position, with a lot of tension on the queenside,” said Anand. “I thought [my 23rd move] was clinching it but you can’t be 100% sure.”
POSITION AFTER TOPALOV’S 22nd MOVE
ANAND PLAYED 23.Nxh6 ch , RIPPING OPEN TOPALOV’S KING POSITION
Ian goes on to write that Anand was coy when asked if the sacrifices were prepared with his team. “I won’t be able to tell you that until the match is over,” said Anand, who has managed to keep the identity of some of his helpers secret as well.
The post game press conference went well and both players were in as good spirits as could be expected after such a tense and complicated game.
At one point a journalist asked Topalov ” How could you explain the reason behind your bad result today?”
A slight grin instantly appeared on the Bulgarian’s face as he thought about how to respond. He replied ” If I was able to answer this so easily…probably the result would have been different.”
At this point the grin turned into a broad smile.
Topalov always reacts to defeats calmly and philosophically. As he explained during the press conference, if you accept to play according to the Sophia rules, then you must be willing to risk setbacks that naturally occur from time to time.
After 4 games have been completed in the 12 game match (essentially the end of the first period of a hockey game) it is worthwhile to step back and evaluate what has happened and try to put into some rational perspective the direction that events have taken.
While most match forecasters have probably been frustrated up to this point , the same thing can not be said of the fans! The fans surely are more than satisfied , having witnessed 3 decisive games and only one boring draw. No one could have predicted this!
The match proceeds in an atmosphere of great tension and even greater expectation, especially given that the rivalry between the two superstars has attracted the attention of much of the world. So far each game has astounded the experts. Game 1 saw Anand humbled virtually right out of the opening. In game 2 Anand played a brilliant psychological game, forcing an early ending when every one else (Topalov included) expected the Anand to go for broke with some type of attacking game. The Indian scored a surprisingly easy point. Game 3 saw both players exchange pieces and make a boring draw. And today’s game saw Topalov provoke the Indian, something that he quickly regretted when he went down in smoke in just 32 moves in a flurry of sacrifices.
Against this general background, and with a rest day tomorrow, both teams will take stock of their match strategy to date and re-evaluate their objectives for the coming games. Certainly neither team will be entirely satisfied with the quality of play exhibited so far, especially with respect to defence, but the Indian team surely must be more than satisfied with the sporting result (2.5-1.5).
The impression is formed that the player who wields the White pieces has a significant advantage: White has won all 3 of the decisive games so far, but with much co-operation from the Black side! Perhaps the only correct game played so far was the rather boring 3rd game…in that game Black made a reasonable attempt at establishing a solid position, but at the price of forfeiting any winning chances.
I don’t want to second guess Topalov’s opening strategy with the Black pieces, especially since he achieved fully acceptable positions from the opening of both games. But as the Bulgarian said himself in the post-game press conferences, the positions were very complicated and he played poorly in the middlegames. The question that he and his team have to answer before the next Black game for Topalov (game 6), is whether they continue to have the same degree of faith and confidence in their opening preparation under the changed circumstances.
”It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
I have no doubt that Topalov and his team is fully confident of victory in this match for the World Championship. The Indian has taken a minimal lead for the first time, and experience and history of world championship matches have shown that such a lead is most difficult to maintain and is not a very good indicator of final success.
Furthermore, the Bulgarian’s philosophy in chess anticipates such setbacks from time to time, carefully weighed against his remarkable and unique talent for being able to win 4 or 5 games in a row! Topalov has prepared this match for a long time, and being the great competitor that he is, he is mentally tough enough to view today’s result as just a temporary setback. Topalov does not need any excuse for losing to day…
I have no doubt that after the loss earlier today, painful though it was to his fans, Topalov and his team spent the evening watching the semi-final soccer match between Barcelona and Inter Milan!Charismatic Portuguese-born Jose Mourinho saw his Inter Milan team eliminate Barcelona right in their own back yard and qualify for the finals of the Champions League! Jose then ran on to the field in front of 96,000 screaming Barcelona fans, savouring the moment of a lifetime…
Psychologically, ofcourse, the average chess fan just looks at the score and imagines how he would feel if he were Topalov at this point in the match. Depressed, most likely. But professionals like Topalov (and Anand) would have never gotten this far or achieved the great successes that they have if they were not able to get over the obstacles that high-level competitive chess naturally puts in their way.
Winners don’t give up just because their opponents are playing well. I anticipate a great remaining 8 games, with as many surprises and turn-arounds as you would expect to see in any great sports struggle. I leave you with the inspirational speech by Al Pacino that he gave at half time to his team in the locker room , when his team was losing (Any given Sunday
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS