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Peter Leko vs Veselin Topalov
Corus Group A (2008), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 6, Jan-18
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. English Attack (B90)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-18-08  ivan999: it must be said that leko was in time trouble on both increments.
Jan-18-08  MichAdams: Leko had been Fischer's friend, so how could he fight today against his beloved Najdorf?
Jan-18-08  bgkuzzy: Even though I'm Bulgarian, and I'm happy when Topalov wins, I must add that both wins for him by far in Corus were due to pretty obvious blunders by his opponents. He is playing nicely, but far from what is capable of.
Jan-18-08  bgkuzzy: Even though I'm Bulgarian, and I'm happy when Topalov wins, I must add that both wins for him by far in Corus were due to pretty obvious blunders by his opponents. He is playing nicely, but far from what he is capable of.
Jan-18-08  Kangaroo: Here is the list of mistakes from Leko's strategy.

(1) His move <23. f4?> - Better would be either <23. Nc6> or <23. Bd4> or <23. Rd1> followed by <23 ... exf3 24. gxf3> maintaining control over <e4> and <g4> squares.

(2) <36. b4?> would better be replaced by <36. Rxe4> staying away from troubles in the central part of the board.

(3) Trading queens via <49. Qxe4> was the last drop. Black connected pawns happened to be much stronger than those isolated ones of Leko.

With such a high level of his opponent's cooperation, Topalov still deserves credit for his allegiance to the Najdorf system! He is now entering the tournament with 50% having 7 rounds ahead and two hot Azeri boys (Radjabov and Mamedyarov), plus his two old rivals - Anand and Kramnik!

Jan-18-08  grebenarov: Leko must be thankful though for Topa took him out of his usual DRAW-state. He now doesn't have the most drawn games in Corus anymore:)
Jan-18-08  Gouki: 20 chessbucks on Topalov losing to Carlsen tomorrow :D !

or possibly a draw, but who knows...

Jan-18-08  Ezzy: Leko,Peter (2753) - Topalov,Veselin (2780) [B90]
Corus Chess 2008 Wijk aan Zee (6), 18.01.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.a4 Be7 11.Be2 Qc7 12.0–0 0–0 13.Rfd1 Rfd8< Novelty. Anand v Svidler Amber Rapid 2007 went 13...Nb6> 14.a5 b5 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 Rac8 17.c3 Qb7 18.Ra3 g6 19.Na1< The start of an interesting knight tour to the more active b4 square This knight does a lot of work in this game and gives white an edge when it appears on c6.>19...Re8 <Topalov prepares his central play, whilst Leko prepares his queenside play.> 20.Nc2 Bf8 21.Nb4 Bg7 22.Rc1 e4 23.f4 <Leko doesn’t want to allow 23...Ne5> 23...Ng4 24.Bxg4 <The knight was better than whites bishop.> 24...hxg4 25.Qe2 Nf6 26.Rd1 <There are different plans available in this position, and I like the imaginative computer plan (If computers have an imagination:-) - of 26...Ra8 followed by 27...Qd7 28...Qf5 bringing his queen to the kingside. Then ...Nh5 with some activity.> 26...Rc4 27.Qd2 Qc8 28.Raa1 g3 29.h3 Nh5<With the idea 30...Rxc3 31 bxc3 Bxc3 and 32...Bxb4 >30.Rac1 Bh6< With the idea 31...Nxf4 32 Bxf4 e3!> 31.b3< Leko could win the exchange with 31 Nc6 32 b3 but the psychological thought of going the exchange up against Topalov, seems to much to bear for Leko :-)> 31...Rc7 32.Nc6 Ng7 33.c4 bxc4 34.Rxc4< Threatens 35 Bb6 and wherever the black rook moves b7 or d7, white has Ne5 or Nd8 winning the rook because of the discovered attack on black's queen.> 34...Qd7 35.Qc2 Rb7 36.b4 <I wonder what demons Leko saw in [36.Rxe4 Rxe4 37.Qxe4 Rxb3 Perhaps he didn't want black's rook any breathing space.] >36...Nf5< [36...Nh5 37.Rxe4 Nf6 38.Rxe8+ Qxe8 Looks right up Topalov's street, as he is attacking the e3 bishop and can severly pressure the d5 pawn with moves such as ...Rb5]> 37.Bc1 e3 38.Re1 Rb5 39.Qd3 f6 <The counter play Topalov gets with this move and 41...Qf7 gets him right back in the game.> 40.Re4 Rxe4 41.Qxe4 Qf7 42.Nd4 <[42.Bxe3 Qxd5 43.Ne7+ Nxe7 44.Qxe7 Rxb4 45.Qxf6 Qe4 46.Kh1 Bxf4 Is not the kind of position Leko wants after having an edge in the middlegame. Topalov has defended well.]> 42...Qxd5 43.Qe8+ Kh7 44.Nxf5 Qxf5 45.Qxe3 Rxb4 46.Qxg3 Re4 47.Rxe4 Qxe4< Aiming for b4> 48.Qe3< Now if 49...Qb4 50 Bd2 >48...f5 49.Qxe4? <Wow, what a strange decision giving Topalov connected passed pawns>. 49...fxe4 50.Kf2 d5 51.g4 d4 52.Bb2 Bg7 53.Ba3 Kg8 54.h4 Kf7 55.Bc5 Ke6 56.h5 gxh5 57.gxh5 d3 58.Ke3 Bh6 59.Bb4 Kd5 60.Bd2 Bf8 61.Bc1 Bc5+ 62.Kd2 Kc4 63.h6 Bf2 64.Kd1 e3 65.Bxe3 Bxe3 66.h7 Bd4 0–1

A game rich in idea’s and plans. Topalov must be elated at winning this, where conversely Leko must be devastated.

Leko had a definite edge with his knight on c6 looking strong, but Topalov had hidden resources which kept the game in balance. 39…f6 preparing 40…Qf7 was one of those important resources which kept the game dynamically equal.

For the life of me, I would never give my opponent connected passed pawns by choice. But that’s what Leko decided to do thinking they posed no problem. Well they did and Leko lost a game he shouldn’t have. A big blow for Leko.

Is Vesko again on the comeback trail?

Jan-18-08  ongyj: No complains. Leko was simply outplayed, even in a draw-like position. Topalov's god-like when handling such positions, complicating matters in 'still waters' to his advantage. I actually look forward to a Kramnik-Topalov rematch, because the two opposing styles seemed fun to watch =)
Jan-18-08  hasanelias: It was very stupid to take the knight and not the rook. 44.Nxf5??? Better was 44.Nxb5 axb5 45. Bxe3 Why Leko? sad move.
Jan-18-08  djmercury: Drawmaster Leko just for the sake of simplification turned a drawn position in a loosing one and Topalov had no problems to convert.
Jan-18-08  ongyj: <hasanelias> I didn't check with an engine, but after 44.Nxb5 Nh4(Threatening checkmate on g2) 45.Re2 Qd1+, 0-1, So it seems that the Black rook is immune from White's Knight capture.
Jan-18-08  acirce: Well, I am very puzzled over Lékó's strange decision to play 49.Qxe4?? Lékó's blundering, though, does not mean that it was not a great game by Topalov.
Jan-19-08  Gilmoy: My first reaction to 44.Nxf5 was similar to <hasanelias>'s. I treated it as a Puzzle of the Day. Saw 44..Nh4 instantly, got stuck on 45..Nxf3+? and Qxf3. After 20 seconds I finally saw the rest of <ongyj>'s line with 45..Qd1+.

Pattern recognition: The pawns on g3/g2 act like a Rook: they're a 3-wide horizontal wall to White's K. So White already has weak back rank (WBR). Picture that in your mind like a big red blinking neon sign: "WHITE HAS WBR." Now replan, and the sac opportunities become more obvious.

Both those guys probably saw it around 40 :) Surely Topalov played 28..g3 thinking "busts him up for Qg3-Nh5-Bh6 -- or he accepts WBR", and Leko winced while playing 29.h3, thinking "can't have Qg3, I'd never boot her out -- but now I have WBR".

Jan-19-08  TITIKIZA: <hasanelias: It was very stupid to take the knight and not the rook. 44.Nxf5??? Better was 44.Nxb5 axb5 45. Bxe3 Why Leko? sad move.> 44.Nxb5 Nh4 is decisive. No solution.
Jan-19-08  ongyj: <acirce> No intention to ridicule Super GM Leko, if I remember right, the engine analysis (supplied by the generous contributors around 48.Qe3 is 0.00=. I think this kind of thing happens, no matter at which playing level/field, when you set yourself to draw mode.

White had already given up any willingness to win by then. Unfortunately, Topalov is a fighting machine that doesn't take draw offers often. One of the common guidelines to make a draw is to "make exchanges to simplify the position", until there's insufficient inbalances to win/lose the game. Leko probably thought that the position will steer closer into a draw with the queens off the board. This mentality probably took over Leko at that moment, instead of thinking a bit more objectively about the pros and cons of every possible move.

Well deserved victory by Topalov. If anything, Leko was outplayed, both over the board, and probably psychologically.

Jan-19-08  euripides: 51.Ke3 looks more natural and if Black plays Bg7 White can bring the bishop to d4. I suppose the problem is 51...g5 when White has to allow g3 gxf4 gxf4, when his remaining f4 pawn will be vulnerable and Black's king can reach f5 quickly. It might be something like this that Leko missed or underrated.
Jan-19-08  gorash: <ongyj> your comments seem quite funny to me. "well deserved victory by Topalov", "Leko was outplayed". Topalov did nothing special in this game, it was Leko who had the edge until 42.Nd4 I guess. the position was equal thereafter, and Topalov won because of the blunder 49.Qxe4? I think Topa isn't particularly proud of this game either. no offence, but your statements are just ridicuolus
Jan-19-08  ivan999: well its not like leko blunders every day. if nothing else, topalov made him blunder.
Jan-19-08  Scarecrow: I wouldn't call it a 'blunder' and not because the move wasn't bad. I think Leko was afraid of leaving Qs on board when he had like 7 minutes and Topalov 27. I guess 49. Qxe4 was a conscious decision, though an utterly bad one. I imagined playing myself in that moment and while I'm not fond of complications, I knew I would have to force myself to play 49. Qa7+ where death may come suddenly (if I overlook something), but most likely not come at all. Whereas after the text move death comes slowly but arrives for sure.
Jan-19-08  ongyj: <gorash> Just because you don't agree with what someone else has said doesn't render what was said as "ridiculous".

Does Topalov not deserve the victory for playing on in a equal position? When player A wins a game against player B, isn't player B outplayed? Even if it's a "blunder", the opponent must know the correct continuation and "punishment". I don't see how my statements are far from the truth, since they are largely factual. Even if opinionated, it's nowhere near what you term as "ridiculous".

And finally "no offence, but your statements are just ridicuolus" Politically correct statement(s) aren't made like that.

Jan-19-08  Knight13: Sucks that Leko blundered.
Jan-20-08  Ulhumbrus: 8...h5 disturbs the Black King side pawns but 10 a4 disturbs the White Queen side pawns. 18 Ra3 begins a plan which takes fives moves including the withdrawal of a N to a1. Its eventual purpose is to play Nb4 and the pawn advance c4.

However to borrow a remark by Lasker, a lot can happen in five moves, five moves in chess is a long time. The trouble with such a plan is that the opponent may vandalize the plan by opening the game before Leko can complete it, and that is what Topalov does by 22..e4!

23 f4 avoids opening the e file but this concedes the square g4 to Black's N, and Topalov occupies g4 at once by 23...Ng4 attacking Leko's QB.

24 Bxg4 concedes a part of White's aims already, because Leko has no longer his King's Bishop to attack the a6 pawn after the pawn advance c4.

Leko did not of course begin his plan with the intention of seeing it vandalized: that was how it turned out. There must have been something which Leko did not foresee in time, which suggests the question: What was it that Leko did not foresee in time?

Suppose Black tries to vandalize White's plans right at the start. However after 18 Ra3 Black can't play 18...e4 at once because on 19 fxe4 Nxe4 the h5 pawn is en prise. 18...g6 defends the h pawn.

Then on 19 Na1, the move 19...e4 opens lines in a way which helps White instead of Black eg after 20 Bd4.

Topalov therefore spends the next three moves on transferring his KR to the King's file and his KB to the long diagonal, so that the pawn advance ...e4 will help him instead of helping Leko.

After 21...Bg7 preparations are complete and now 22..e4 helps Black instead of White.

The important point of this preparation is that Topalov is able to complete it and advance the e pawn before Leko can complete his plan.

Leko either did not foresee this in time, or there was something else which he did not foresee in time.

The game suggests a lesson on timing in chess: If you want to begin a plan which takes several moves to complete, your opponent must not be able to complete before then a plan which prepares to vandalize your plan.

There is another possible explanation for Leko's loss in this game: Is it possible, that like Polgar, Leko was upset by the news of Fischer's departure and that this worsened his play?

Jan-20-08  sergeidave: What's wrong with 37.Rxe4?
Jan-20-08  Ulhumbrus: <sergeidave: What's wrong with 37.Rxe4?> The X-ray 37...Nxe3! in reply. The Black R on e7 acts upon the N on e3, its defensive power coming right through the R on e4
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