SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
For the spectators a boring game, but not for Vishy and Veselin! Vishy seems about to jump out of his chair, while Veselin does not want to hear anything about it!
After a traumatic chess-weekend for both players and spectators alike, it now seems that Topalov and Anand have settled down and started to play serious chess. The third game ended in a seemingly colourless draw on the 46th move.
The Indian did not want to repeat the Grunfeld defence that brought him disaster in game 1, and instead chose the rock solid Slav defence, slowly changing pieces and killing all of the Bulgarian’s hopes of building an initiative.
But the players seemed to feel that more was happening in the position than what we spectators saw. “At one moment the position was quite dangerous,” said Anand at the post-game press conference, “but I think I defended well.” Topalov agreed: “I (believe) I had an advantage but I misplayed it and he was able to equalise.”
Post game press conference, with Antoaneta Stefanova (2nd from left) assisting
But the most bizarre part of today’s game was how the game was drawn. After both players had repeated several different positions several times (in a completely lifeless position), Topalov ran off to find the arbiter and asked the chief arbiter (Nikolopoulos) to offer a draw to his opponent….
Ian Rogers , the Australian journalist assisting the match, writes ”Anand accepted the proposal but, in a sign that relations between the two players may be deteriorating, neither player made a move to shake hands, the traditional way to finish a game. “I just forgot,” was Topalov’s explanation at the post-game press conference while Anand joked “Maybe the arbiter (is the one who) has to shake hands!”
I don’t think that either player can be faulted for his behaviour. But I have my reservations about why FIDE would allow some ambiguity about which rules are actually in effect in Sofia. According to Anand’s pre-match statements, he is playing under the official world championship rules , while Topalov’s team has made it clear that the Bulgarian is playing according to the Sofia rules (which state that the players must not speak to each other during the game, including when draws are to be offered).
Should some hostility arise from this particular ambiguity in the following games, then the match organizers, the arbiters and FIDE will have to take full responsibility for allowing this to get out of hand.
However, I don’t read too much from this little incident. High level championship matches have seen much worse and still end happily (or almost…). In the 1977 Candidates Finals between Boris Spassky and Viktor Korchnoi, relations broke down during the match and both players exhibited bizarre behaviour.
Especially Spassky, who for one game appeared wearing some scuba equipment! His opponent ,Korchnoi, was so distracted that he lost the game! Infact, he lost 4 games in a row…
Here are some more videos that capture some of today’s action:
Readers might have noticed that for the last couple of games Anand has not shown up in a suit while Topalov has. This probably has to do with the Indian’s sponsorship contract with NIIT, which has provided Anand with the very nice blue shirt in the photo above.
NIIT is a leading Global Talent Development Corporation, building skilled manpower pool for global industry requirements. The company which was set up in 1981, to help the nascent IT industry overcome its human resource challenges, has today grown to be amongst world’s leading talent development companies offering learning solutions to Individuals, Enterprises and Institutions across 40 countries.
The match is receiving a lot of international attention, even though not more than 100 spectators (not counting journalists) showed up to watch in the theatre where the match is being held. The organizer’s website (http://www.anand-topalov.com/
) has had as many as 500,000 visitors a day so far, and hundreds, if not thousands of chess sites follow the moves as they are transmitted.
With 3 games completed thus far, and the score being 1.5 points each, there remain 9 more games in the match. The first to score 6.5 points wins the match. Should the score be even at the end of 12 games, then a series of fast games will decide the winner, much as in the penalty shoot out in football.
Personally, I prefer that the match be decided in the first 12 games (regulation time). Tie-breaks introduce the element of luck. I am certain that neither player wants to see that happen.
At this point both players have shown psychological toughness worthy of any world championship duel. Today’s game was a bit disappointing to Topalov, especially because he had White and tried to gain something significant but was blocked by the Indian’s excellent defence. Anand showed two things. first that he intends to exchange Queens as part of his match strategy, and second that from now on he will refuse to take any chances with the Black pieces , especially after the disaster in the 1st game.
I suspect that the next few games will also be tight games where the White pieces will try for a little bit of nothing (advantage) from the opening and Black will limit his ambitions to making a safe half point. It makes little sense to risk more than this. Both players are still feeling each other out, while at the same time trying to avoid becoming distracted by the fact that the chess world wants a clear winner in this match.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS