- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov is FIDE’s new world champion, clinching the title with a round to spare at the title tournament in San Luis, Argentina.

Topalov held a tough draw with Black against former champ Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan in Thursday’s Round 13, giving him an unassailable 11/2-point lead over his chief pursuers, GMs Peter Svidler of Russia and Viswanathan Anand of India, with a round to go.

The Bulgarian rocketed out of the gate with six wins in his first seven games in Argentina, and has overcome a couple of dicey positions to preserve his lead in the second half of the double-round robin event. The big question now is whether a match can be arranged between Topalov and Russian Vladimir Kramnik, who holds the other half of the disputed crown and refused to play in the FIDE event.

Topalov may well have clinched the title as early as Round 5, when he took on Svidler, his closest challenger, with the black pieces. Not content with a draw, the Bulgarian twice unbalanced the play with adventurous ideas, earning a full point when his opponent faltered in the stretch.

Topalov’s opening preparation for Argentina was superb, and in this Najdorf Sicilian, he gets in the first novelty with 14. Ne3 Qa5+!? (14…0-0 and 14…Qe7 had been played here before) 15. c3 Nf3+!? (Topalov consistently took the sharpest option in the tournament, with excellent practical results) 16. Qxf3 Bxc3+ 17. Kd1 Qa4+, when 18. b3?? permits 18…Qd4+ 19. Kc2 Qd2+ 20. Kb1 Qb2 mate.

By 21. axb3 Bxa1 22. Nxa1, Black has a rook and two pawns for two bishops, but Svidler’s minor pieces struggle to find useful employment. Black strikes again as White drifts: 30. Be3?! (English GM Nigel Short, analyzing on the Chessbase.com Web site, said this move showed Svidler was losing the thread of the position) Nf5 31. Bf2 Nh4! 32. Bxh4 gxh4 33. Nc2 h5.

Black’s humble h-pawns do a magnificent job of holding back White’s kingside pawns, and a nasty pin on the c-file clinches things for Black: 35. Kc3 a5 (Rxg2!? 36. Ne3 Rxd3+ 37. Kxd3 Rh2 was an interesting alternative) 36. Bc4? (axb5 looks tougher, as White emerges badly from the ensuing tactical melee) Rc8! 37. Ne3 Rb5 38. Kd3 (too late now is 38. bxa5 d5 39. Rd1 Ke7 40. Rd4 dxc4 41. Rxc4 Rxc4+ 42. Nc4 Rg5, winning) Rxb4 39. Bxe6+ (cute, but Black stays in control) Kxe5 40. Nc2+ Kd5 41. Nxb4+ axb4.

Black’s pawns may not be pretty, but there are two more of them than White has, and the ending poses little problems. With the White king cut off from the queenside, Svidler gives up after 43…Rc3+ 44. Kd2 Rc4!, as 45. Rxh5+ Kc6 46. Rg5 b3 47. Rg4 b2 48. Rxc4+ bxc4 49. Kc2 c3 50. f4 Kd5 is hopeless.

• • •

Bulgaria claimed a second world champion this month when GM Liuben Spassov won the 15th World Seniors Championship in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, on tiebreaks over Czech GM Vlastimil Jansa.

Maryland expert Denis Strenzwilk, a longtime friend of this column, turned in a very credible plus-two result in the event, scoring two wins and a draw in his final three games to land in a tie for 29th place.

His closing kick included a nice upset of Swiss FM Peter Hohler — Hohler’s only loss in the event. Strenzwilk trots out a rare King’s Gambit sideline and his opponent proves unequal to the defensive task.

White loses castling privileges in just five moves, but comfortably recovers his gambit pawn on 10. h3 Qh5?! (Qf5 makes White work harder) 11. Bxf4! d5 12. Bb5+, when 12…c6? proves toothless after 13. Nd6+ Kd8 14. Ne5! Qxe2+ 15. Bxe2 Rg8 16. Nef7+ Kc7 (Kd7 17. Bg4+) 17. Nb5+ Kb6 18. Bc7+ Ka6 19. Nbd6+ b5 20. a4, and 21. axb5 mate can’t be stopped.

By 19. Nxd3 Ng6 20. Kg2, Black has done well just to hold the position together, but he appears to underestimate the power of the open central files and the shakiness of both his king and queen: 20…Be7?! (Qd7 was more prudent, as this developing move is too casual for the position) 21. Rhf1 Qe8 (Qg8 22. Nb4! keeps the pressure on; e.g. 22…bxb4 23. cxb4 Nxb4? 24. Ne5 Nxe5 25. Qxe5 and mate is inevitable) 22. Qe6!, picking off the d-pawn as 22…Qd7 unfortunately hangs the knight on g6.

Black’s 26. Nc5 Rxf3 is sheer desperation in the face of White’s numerous threats, but on 27. Nxb7+ Kc8 28. Rxf3 Kxb7 29. Rxe7 Qxe7 30. Qxg6, White is two pawns to the good. Strenzwilk ends things efficiently with 37. Bg3 Nc5 38. c8=Q+!, when 38…Kxc8 39. Rc7+ picks off the Black knight. Hohler resigned.

And a quick note of congratulations to U.S. GM Hikaru Nakamura. The 17-year-old New Yorker finished in a tie for second behind Armenian GM Levon Aronian in a strong Category 17 invitational tournament in Karabakh, Armenia. Nakamura finished ahead of such veterans as GMs Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Russian GM Alexey Dreev.

FIDE World Championship Tournament, San Luis, Argentina, October 2005

SvidlerTopalov

1. e4c523. Bd3Rac8

2. Nf3d624. Re1Nd4

3. d4cxd425. f3Rc3

4. Nxd4Nf626. Kd2Rhc8

5. Nc3a627. Rb1R3c5

6. Be3Ng428. b4Rd5

7. Bg5h629. Bf2Kd7

8. Bh4g530. Be3Nf5

9. Bg3Bg731. Bf2Nh4

10. h3Ne532. Bxh4gxh4

11. Nf5Bxf533. Nc2h5

12. exf5Nbc634. Re1Rg8

13. Nd5e635. Kc3a5

14. Ne3Qa5+36. Bc4Rc8

15. c3Nf3+37. Ne3Rb5

16. Qxf3Bxc3+38. Kd3Rxb4

17. Kd1Qa4+39. Bxe6+Kxe6

18. Nc2Bxb240. Nc2+Kd5

19. fxe6fxe641. Nxb4+axb4

20. Qb3Qxb342. Re7b5

21. axb3Bxa143. Rh7Rc3+

22. Nxa1Ke744. Kd2Rc4

White resigns

15th World Senior Championships, Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, October 2005

StrenzwilkHohler

1. e4e520. Kg2Be7

2. f4exf421. Rhf1Qe8

3. Bc4f522. Qe6Rf8

4. Nc3Qh4+23. Qxd5+Qd7

5. Kf1fxe424. Qh5Qe8

6. Nxe4Ne725. d5Nb8

7. Qe2h626. Nc5Rxf3

8. d4d627. Nxb7+Kc8

9. Nf3Qg428. Rxf3Kxb7

10. h3Qh529. Rxe7Qxe7

11. Bxf4d530. Qxg6a5

12. Bb5+Kd831. d6Qe2+

13. Nf2Nbc632. Rf2Qc4

14. Re1Qf733. dxc7Na6

15. Bh2Bd734. Qf7Qxf7

16. c3a635. Rxf7Re8

17. Bd3Bf536. Kf2g5

18. g4Bxd337. Bg3Nc5

19. Nxd3Ng638. c8=Q+Black

resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washington- times.com.

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