Chess Notes

By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff
Globe Correspondents / May 15, 2010

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Today, Patrick Wolff annotates game 2 of the ongoing Anand Topalov world championship match. At this writing the score is 4-4. Game 2 seems to be a candidate for a chess museum of curiosities. Viswanathan Anand had lost the first game. In this game, he gave up a gambit pawn, which seemed passably strong in the center. He then offered the exchange of queens and voluntarily accepted double unconnected pawns. The maneuver might be defended as a psychological ploy.

But we can’t put it down because it worked. Topalov’s moves 25 and 27 were weak, and all of a sudden Anand got back his deficit pawn. Toward the end Anand transposed his isolated pawns into two powerful passers. Topalov must have felt like an investor suddenly wiped out in the stock market, as he watched one passed pawn wreck his position.

a) So far and for the next several moves, we are deep within theory. Black wants to hold the d4 pawn and finish developing; White’s idea is to use the lead in development to probe Black’s weaknesses.

b) According to IM Malcolm Pein, 12. . .Be7 13.Nf4! is slightly better for White. On a7 the bishop defends the d4 pawn but it is also passive.

c) Not 13. . .b6? 14.Bb4!

d) 14.Bxd5 exd5 15.Bb4 Qf6 16.Nd2 (16.Bxf8? dxc4) 16. . .Re8 17.Nf3 is possible.

e) Anand’s move seems to be new. Objectively it may not be too dangerous, but from a practical perspective it puts Topalov in the kind of position he dislikes, where he lacks active play.

f) Pein suggests 16. . .Nc5 is even slightly better for Black but I am not sure it is so easy. For example, 17.Bxd5!? exd5 18.Nd6 may be tricky.

g) The next 6-7 moves are natural but lack a plan and Black drifts into a passive position.

h) Not 20. . .Rbc8?? 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Nc6 winning the a7 bishop!

i) I would be very tempted to try 24. . .e5!? as I do not see a refutation and it tries to free the position.

j) This must have been planned with 24. . .h5 but the resulting exchange only helps White.

k) Subtle and powerful. If the knight moves from f6 the pawn drops, while also holding the e2 square to take the poison out of . . . Rxd3. Now Black has trouble holding onto his pawns.

l) Now the a-pawn falls and Black’s position goes with it.

Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.

Anand Topalov World Championship 2010 (2) Catalan Opening

Anand TopalovAnand Topalov
White BlackWhite Black
1. d4 Nf623. Nc6 Bxc6
2. c4 e624. Rxc6 h5? (i)
3. Nf3 d525. R1c4! Ne3 (j)
4. g3 dxc426. Bxe3 dxe3
5. Bg2 a627. Bf3! (k) g6
6. Ne5 c528. Rxb6 Ba7
7. Na3 cxd429. Rb3 Rd4
8. Naxc4 Bc530. Rc7! Bb8
9. O-O O-O (a)31. Rc5 (l) Bd6
10. Bd2 Nd532. Rxa5 Rc8
11. Rc1 Nd733. Kg2 Rc2
12. Nd3 Ba7 (b)34. a3 Ra2
13. Ba5 Qe7 (c)35. Nb4 Bxb4
14. Qb3 (d) Rb836. axb4 Nd5
15. Qa3!? (e) Qxa337. b5 Raxa4
16. bxa3 N7f6 (f)38. Rxa4 Rxa4
17. Nce5 Re8 (g)39. Bxd5 exd5
18. Rc2 b640. b6 Ra8
19. Bd2 Bb741. b7 Rb8
20. Rfc1 Rbd8 (h)42. Kf3 d4
21. f4 Bb843. Ke4 1-0
22. a4! a5