Anand Retains World Title
By GM Ian Rogers   
May 11, 2010
World Champion Anand at an earlier press conference
A fantastic World Championship match ended on Tuesday in Sofia with the titleholder Viswanathan Anand disappointing the local fans, winning the twelfth and final game against Veselin Topalov.

The match, which finished 6.5-5.5 in Anand's favour, could have swung either way - "No one would have been surprised to see either of us win the match," said Anand.

The2m Euro title contest had been deadlocked since Topalov's win of game eight.

Anand missed plenty of opportunities in game 9, Topalov repeated the favour in the next two games.

Then came the decisive and dramatic final game which might have been won and lost by ...superstition!

Yes, superstition. As I mentioned in the last blog, chessplayers are generally not superstitious but Topalov admitted after Tuesday's loss that he had avoided a repetition draw on move 26 because he was afraid of going to the rapid tiebreaks.

Not because Anand is one of the great rapid players of all time, but because the tiebreakers were to be played on Thursday the 13th. And the 13th was the same day that he had lost his rapid tiebreakers against Kramnik in 2006.

So Topalov pushed on looking for a win and was punished by a powerful Anand attack.


This was the first win for Black in the match and it came at a time when Anand might have been expected to be on the ropes.

However the Indian has shown extraordinary mental toughness in this match and he took his chance.

By the time Topalov resigned, many of the Bulgarian fans - who had come out in good numbers to watch the decisive game had wandered away from the playing hall.

Topalov's concession was greeted by modest applause and a shout of ‘Ja!' from Anand's fixer (and the organiser of the giant Mainz tournament) Hans-Walter Schmitt.

Topalov congratulated Anand and then started discussing his miscalculation which had cost him the game and the match.  ("These were virtually the first words we had exchanged since the match began," Anand admitted.)

At the post-game press conference Anand was generous to his opponent and clearly relieved to have survived such a tough contest.

"My opponent is a fantastic fighter. Either of us could have won this match. This was by far the most intense match I have ever played," a relieved Anand said after the decisive game. "When I woke up this morning I thought that this could be the saddest day of my life or the happiest. I have almost no experience in a World Championship match where every result is possible on the final game. I was not unhappy that it would be over soon."

At the press conference, Anand's seconds turned up at the Sofia Military Club for the first time. The team turned out to be identical to the four who had helped Anand beat Kramnik two years earlier - Nielsen, Kasimdzhanov, Ganguly and Wojtazsek.

Topalov was understandably quiet at the press conference; apart from most of the questions being directed at Anand it didn't help that a few times when the Bulgarian opened his mouth a clap of thunder drowned him out.

Anand will keep the world title until 2012 when the World Championship match will be held in London. Magnus Carlsen is the obvious new challenger for Anand but don't write off Topalov. He has twice narrowly out on the match title and at 35 is still young enough and with enough fire in his belly to work his way through the Candidates matches and perhaps provide another epic world title fight. Though Sofia 2010 will be hard to beat. 
Sofia World Championship
Game 9
White: V.Anand
Black: V.Topalov
Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defence

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3
No Catalan today - Anand goes for a more meaty Nimzo-Indian.
3...Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 cxd4 8.exd4 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Re1 Nbd7 12.Rc1 Rc8 13.Bd3
"This is the variation which gave me victory in my World Championship match against Kasparov," said Kramnik, "though I had chosen 13.Qb3 which is now said to be analysed to a forced draw(!). Ten years ago computers weren't as powerful..."
13...Re8 14.Qe2 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Qc7 16.Bh4
16.h3 has a better reputation, but Anand has a new manoeuvre in mind.
16...Nh5! 17.Ng5 g6 18.Nh3!? e5 19.f3 Qd6
Delaying the exchange on d4 until White has placed his bishop a little more passively.
20.Bf2 exd4!? 21.Qxe8+ Rxe8 22.Rxe8+ Nf8 23.cxd4 Nf6 24.Ree1 Ne6
Here Topalov's seconds entered the press room and were not entirely happy. Dutch GM Jan Smeets suggested that 25.Bc4 was strong just moments before the monitor showed...
25.Bc4 Bd5 26.Bg3 Qb4!? 27.Be5 Nd7! 28.a3! Qa4
28...Qb2! 29.Bxd5 Nxe5 30.Bxe6 Nd3! should be fine for Black.
29.Bxd5 Nxe5 30.Bxe6 Qxd4+?
An easy mistake to make, but 30...Nd3 was stronger.
31.Kh1 fxe6 32.Ng5! Qd6 33.Ne4
The computer programs - and the humans kibitzing with them - were crying out for 33.Rc8+ Kg7 34.Rec1 which apparently leads to a mating attack 10 moves hence!
33...Qxa3 34.Rc3 Qb2 35.h4 b5 36.Rc8+ Kg7 37.Rc7+ Kf8 38.Ng5 Ke8 39.Rxh7 Qc3 40.Rh8+?
This was the one missed win in this game that Anand was not happy about. With just three minutes left to reach the first time control, Anand panics and lets the Black king out of his cage. After 40.Re4 b4 41.Rxa7 b3 42.Rb7 b2 43.Kh2! White can stop the Black pawn and win the game.
40...Kd7 41.Rh7+ Kc6 42.Re4 b4!?
More risk taking by Topalov. 42...Kb6 was safer.
43.Nxe6! Kb6 44.Nf4 Qa1+? 45.Kh2 a5
46.h5!! gxh5
Too late Topalov realises that after the pawn race 46...b3 47.hxg6 b2 48.g7 b1(Q) 49.g(Q), Black can have two queens but he still loses after 49...Nxf3+ 50.Kg3!!.
47.Rxh5 Nc6 48.Nd5+ Kb7 49.Rh7+ Ka6 50.Re6 Kb5 51.Rh5 Nd4 52.Nb6+ Ka6 53.Rd6 Kb7 54.Nc4?!
Forcing Black to sacrifice his knight immediately, but 54.Nd5! was stronger. However the win after 54...Nd8 is tricky so Anand's desire to have a knight in the hand is understandable.
54...Nxf3+! 55.gxf3 Qa2+ 56.Nd2 Kc7! 57.Rhd5 b3?! 58.Rd7+ Kc8 59.Rd8+ Kc7 60.R8d7+ Kc8 61.Rg7! a4 62.Rc5+?
Anand used seven of his last 14 minutes on this move, unable, unwilling or simply too tired to risk 62.Rdd7! Qc2 63.Kg3! Qc6 64.Rdf7! when White's rooks will win the game.
62...Kb8 63.Rd5 Kc8 64.Kg3?
Another chance to play 64.Rdd7! goes begging and Topalov is in no mood to give Anand any more opportunities.
64...Qa1! 65.Rg4 b2 66.Rc4+ Kb7 67.Kf2 b1(Q) 68.Nxb1 Qxb1 69.Rdd4 Qa2+ 70.Kg3 a3 71.Rc3 Qa1 72.Rb4+ Ka6 73.Ra4+ Kb5 74.Rcxa3 Qg1+
Now Anand cannot escape the checks and a draw is inevitable.
75.Kf4 Qc1+ 76.Kf5 Qc5+ 77.Ke4 Qc2+ 78.Ke3 Qc1+ 79.Kf2 Qd2+ 80.Kg3 Qe1+ 81.Kf4 Qc1+ 82.Kg3 Qg1+ 83.Kf4 Draw Agreed

Sofia World Championship
Game 10
White: V.Topalov
Black: V.Anand

After ‘risking' the Grunfeld for a second time, Anand had emerged well from the opening but now lets his guard down...
"A bit careless," admitted Anand.
25.Ba6!! Nd4?!
Heading for an unpleasant but probably defensible endgame. Suffering a little less from shock, Anand might have calculated his way through 25...Bxa6! 26.Qxc6 Qa1+ 27.Kh2 Be5+ 28.Bf4 Bxf4+ 29.Nxf4 Qe5! when Black can hold.
26.Qc4! Bxd5 27.Qxd5+ Qxd5 28.exd5 Be5 29.Kf2 Kf7 30.Bg5 Nf5 31.g4 Nd6
The rest of the game saw Anand changing blockaders on d6 but always holding firm.

Despite missing a slightly better chance on move 44, Topalov never seemed to be able to make serious progress and the game was drawn on move 60 following Anand's first direct proposal of a draw since the game 5 farce.

Sofia World Championship
Game 11
White: V.Anand
Black: V.Topalov

The position is unpleasant for White, who must constantly defend his b pawn, so Anand decided to gamble on activity...
46.g4!? Nd6?
Played almost instantly by Topalov but 46...Ne7! would have won a pawn, e.g. 47.Kg3?! Nd5 48.f5 Ne3. Anand could defend better with 47.Rd2 but chances would have been good that Topalov would win the game and almost certainly the world title.
47.Kg3 Ne4+ 48.Kh4 Nd6 49.Rd2!!??
99 players out of 100 would have played the sensible 49.Kg3 and hoped that Topalov would repeat moves but Anand was willing to take more risks since "I didn't want to [stay] just clinging on and I didn't see anything wrong with this."
49...Nxb5 50.f5 Re4?!
Now Anand gets the attack he was looking for. Both 50...Rf4 and 50...Ra3 would probably have led to rook endgames where only Topalov has chances, though presumably Anand believed he could hold.
51.Kh5! Re3 52.Nh4 Nc3 53.Rd7+ Re7 54.Rd3 Ne4 55.Ng6 Nc5 56.Ra3 Rd7 57.Re3 Kg7 58.g5 b5 59.Nf4 b4 60.g6 b3 61.Rc3
"I briefly got a little excited about 61.Re8 but it was also not enough," said Anand.
Of course 61...b2?? 62.Rxc5 b1(Q) 63.Ne6+ leads to mate but "he can even play 61...Rc7 62.Nd3 Ne6 63.Rxb3 Nd4 64.Nf4 and it's still a draw," Anand explained.
62.Rxc5 Rxf4 63.Rc7+ Kg8 64.Rb7
One last cheap trick, but Topalov is not about to get too greedy now.
64...Rf3 65.Rb8+ Kg7 Draw Agreed
Anand offered the draw and Topalov did not even bother to call for the arbiter before extending his hand. 

Sofia World Championship
Game 12
White: V.Topalov
Black: V.Anand
Anand, having equalized from his new Queen's Gambit Declined line now makes a tacit draw offer.
24...Bd3 25.Qc1 Ba6 26.Ra3?!
"I refrained from repeating moves because I was afraid of playing the rapid tiebreakers; I had lost such tiebreakers in [2006] "said Topalov. "This was my mistake."
26...Bb7 27.Nb3 Rc7 28.Na5 Ba8 29.Nc4 e5 30.e4 f5! 31.exf5
"I was crazy to take the pawn - I missed 34...Qe8!", Topalov said to Anand after the game. After 31.Nd2! White has every reason to expect to hold the postion.
31...e4! 32.fxe4? Qxe4+ 33.Kh3 Rd4 34.Ne3 Qe8! 35.g4 h5! 36.Kh4 g5+ 37.fxg6 Qxg6 38.Qf1!
The only chance, but Anand takes his time and finds a clear win.
38...Rxg4+ 39.Kh3 Re7! 40.Rf8+
"I nearly had a heart attack when I saw 40....Kh7 41.Rh8+! but fortunately I am still winning," said Anand.
40...Kg7 41.Nf5+ Kh7! 42.Rg3 Rxg3+ 43.hxg3 Qg4+ 44.Kh2 Re2+ 45.Kg1 Rg2+ 46.Qxg2 Bxg2
Unfortunately for Topalov, the forcing 47.Rf7+ Kg6! 48.Rg7+ Kxf5 49.Rxg4 hxg4! 50.Kxg2 Ke4 51Kf2 Kd3! leads to an easy endgame win for Black.
Now, however, Anand has a slow but sure win.
47...Qe2+ 48.Kh3 c4 49.a4 a5 50.Rf6 Kg8 51.Nh6+ Kg7 52.Rb6 Qe4 53.Kh2 Kh7 54.Rd6 Qe5 55.Nf7 Qxb2+ 56.Kh3 Qg7 0-1

Topalov finally conceded the inevitable and the world title stayed with Anand.

See Rogers' previous in-depth analysis of the World Championsh, GM Rogers on Sofia: Topalov Strikes Back, with annotations of games 4 through 8 and Anand on Top So Far in Sofia after four rounds. Also look for GM Ian Rogers Chess Life Magazine story in the July issue.