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Veselin Topalov vs Francisco Vallejo Pons
Dos Hermanas XIV (2008) (rapid), Dos Hermanas ESP, rd 2, Apr-20
Spanish Game: Classical Variation. Modern Main Line (C64)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-21-08  Grumpi: Cool game!
Apr-21-08  ikipemiko: Very nice win by Topa!!
Apr-21-08  Whitehat1963: I'm always amazed by Topalov's daring-looking play. He reminds me of Tal, but he rarely gets the knockout from his tactics, instead he still has to rely on his abundant technique in the endgame. He truly is the most exciting of the elite players.
Apr-21-08  luzhin: Vallejo should have counter-sacrificed with 28...Bxd5!. After 29.Qxd5 Qc5+ 30.Qxc5 bxc5 White's attack has disappeared and Black's position is perfectly playable.
Apr-21-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <luzhin> Do you mean 18...Bxd5?
Apr-21-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: 20. Bf6+ & 21. fxe5+ = two Double Checks in a row!

If 23 ... Nxf6 then 24. dxc6 & 25. Rae1+ regains the piece.

<abundant technique in the endgame> That is a very generous assessment. =)

Apr-22-08  luzhin: Sorry, ganstaman;yes,I meant 18..Bxd5 19.Qxd5 Qc5+ 20.Qxc5 bxc5.
Apr-22-08  euripides: It's quite a delicate ending. I think the position after White's 58th would be drawn in the absence of Black's c pawn:


click for larger view

when either 58...Ra4+ or 58...Rc7 look drawn.

Apr-22-08  Whitehat1963: <That is a very generous assessment. =)>

<tpstar>, are you saying that about this game in particular or about Topalov's games in general?

I'm not suggesting that Topalov is the best endgame player out there, but my knowledge is insufficient to make a good assessment. Obviously, Kramnik and Anand come to mind as good endgame players, but to my eyes, anyone in the top 100 looks like an endgame genius. Leko seems like more of a finesse player than a tactician, and I suspect his endgame is also very strong. Of the top players, it is only Topalov and Morozevich who strike me as more tactical (and maybe Polgar?) and of the two, I think Topalov is the better endgame player, but what do I know? What's your assessment?

Apr-22-08  Whitehat1963: In fact, when I look at games like this one:

Topalov vs Leko, 2005

I think, yes, Topalov has great endgame technique.

Apr-22-08  kingsindian2006: by move 20 , topas queen is under fire and hes down 2 pieces for the attack..and then he checks the king with a pawn...gotta love it..topas sharpening his swords for kamsky ..
Apr-23-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <Whitehat1963> Topalov's main strengths are opening preparation in ultrasharp lines, his ability to navigate unclear complications (like exchange sacrifices), and his indomitable fighting spirit. Surely his GM-level endgame is solid and sound but also probably the least reliable of the top ten today.

He has produced exquisite endgame wins like Topalov vs Kasimdzhanov, 2005 while this R vs NPPP ending was a miracle save Aronian vs Topalov, 2006 . Yet understanding that Q&P endings are incredibly tricky, I was surprised that an elite GM couldn't win this Topalov vs Anand, 2005 and draw this Morozevich vs Topalov, 2007 . The worst example was Topalov vs Kramnik, 2006 where 55. Ne6+? lost but 55. Kd7 drew. It's so easy for us spectators to pass judgment on these great players (with their clock ticking), but this really is Endgame 101: control the Queening square with your King while blocking the opposing King out. That loss was particularly devastating as he worked so hard in that game, then couldn't save the draw.

You have made an excellent observation how Topalov's tactical skirmishes often lead to a superior endgame which still requires some tangible technique to convert, compared to other famous tacticians (e.g. Tal) whose brilliancies usually end in the middlegame.

Apr-23-08  Whitehat1963: Thanks for the clarification, <tpstar>. I value your opinion highly.
Sep-23-08  Whitehat1963: Excellent Tuesdayish endgame puzzle after 41...Rxd6.
Feb-26-09  notyetagm: Another masterpiece by Topalov.
May-23-09  WhiteRook48: yes, 42. ?
42 Rxe8+!!!

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