Topalov Wins Grudge Match
By Jennifer Shahade   
January 22, 2008
Fabiano Caruana and Irina Krush are playing in the C-section of Corus. Photo courtesy Peter Doggers of
In round nine of Corus Chess 2008 (Wijk aan Zee, Jan.11-27), Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik faced off without handshakes or smiles. With a novelty and a brilliant sacrifice, Topalov won. This threw the standings into chaos as there are now ten players within a point of first place. Not shaking hands was almost grounds for disqualification when Cheparinov refused Short's hand, but Topalov and Kramnik both agreed to not show the love, so there was no problem. Topalov unveiled a knight sacrifice on move 12, that he credited to his second Cheparinov.


Topalov's awesome queen sacrifice in the heat of the battle deserves a diagram to itself:

Position after 26...Rf8

Topalov played 27.cxd5 here and achieved a winning position after 27...Rxf7 28.Rxc6+ Kb8 29. Nxf7 Re8 30. Nd6 Rh8 31.Rxc4 Qe2 32. dxe6 Nxb6. From here, Kramnik managed to last another 13 moves, but unfortunately for him, White's position was too strong to contain.

Before the ninth game, Magnus Carlsen was leading Corus A, but Aronian caught up to him after he lost today against Peter Leko. Leko's straightforward a-pawn march demonstrated how inept knights are in fighting against passed pawns.


In Corus B, Cheparinov apologized to Short in the nick of time for his refusal to shake hands, thus avoiding a forfeit. Read the backstory in Ian Rogers' blog live from the scene. The two ended up playing the game on the rest day. Short won a marathon game that lasted almost six hours:


Americans in C

Italian-American GM Fabiano Caruana continues his excellent performance in the "C" group, and leads the section with 7/9. Here is  Fabiano's attacking effort from today's round.


Irina Krush has 3.5/9, but her seventh round smash over GM Carlsson must have been some sort of consolation. What did she play in the following position?

Position after 19...Qf4. White to play and win.

Show Solution

Corus Chess 2008,  Group A

Wijk aan Zee, Jan.11-27, Standings after 9 rounds
1-2   Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen-5.5
3-5 Vladimir Kramnik, Teimour Radjabov, Michael Adams, Viswanathan Anand- 5
7-10.    S. Mamedyarov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Peter Leko and Veselin Topalov- 4.5
11.-  Judit Polgar and Loek Van Wely-4
13-14 P. Eljanov and Boris Gelfand-3

Group B

1. Sergey. Movsesian- 6.5
2. Etienne Bacrot- 6
3. Nigel Short-5.5

Click here for complete Group B standings

Group C

1. Fabiano Caruana- 7
2. Dmitry Reinderman- 6.5
11-12- A.Ushenina and Irina Krush- 3.5

Click here for complete Group C standings