In this game Anand chose the solid QGD and after employing a relatively unknown idea, at least for Topalov, he easily equalized. Topalov, on the other hand, wanted to finish the match today. He took risks and displayed great self-confidence. However, with strong strikes 30...e5! and 31...f5! Anand took the initiative. Then something absolutely unbelievable happened: In less than five minutes, despite having more than half an hour left on his clock, Topalov committed suicide with 31.exf5? and 32.fxe4??. Anand obtained a decisive attack as a result, which he converted with great precision to the end.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6! A Queen's Gambit Declined! And a classic World Championship opening. Remember the famous Capablanca-Alekhine match? Or Karpov-Kasparov? To be honest, before the game I tried to guess the opening, and believe it or not, I actually managed to predict it! After all, which opening could be more solid or trustworthy than the good ol' Queen's Gambit?
3.Nf3 [I had expected 3.Nc3 in Kasparov style. 3...Nf6 (3...Be7 is how to avoid it- 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 and there are plenty of games to study. For example, Kasparov-Karpov 1985 as well as 2009!) 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 The point being that later White will develop his knight to the far more flexible e2, planning f3 and e4. 5...Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Qc2 Nbd7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.Nge2 Re8 10.0-0 Nf8 11.f3 ]
3...Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 [5.Bf4 is another main-line with thousands of games played.]
5...h6 It is important to include this little move.
6.Bh4 0-0 7.e3 Ne4 The Lasker Defence! The solidest of the solid.
8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 c6 10.Be2 A new little nuance. [10.Bd3 was more popular previously, but here black has an interesting idea. 10...Nxc3 11.Rxc3 Nd7!? 12.0-0 (12.Qc2!? ) 12...e5! ]
10...Nxc3 11.Rxc3 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Nd7 13.0-0 b6 One of the two main moves. [Hundreds of games have been played with 13...e5 as well. The position is always between slightly better to equal.]
14.Bd3 c5 15.Be4 Rb8
16.Qc2 [I thought that 16.Qa4!? was slightly stronger, but mainly for psychological reasons.]
16...Nf6! An idea from the Polish player, Grabarczyk, which was probably a surprise for Topalov. [16...a5 was used to be one of the main moves here, as well as Bb7 and Ba6.]
17.dxc5 [17.Bc6 covers the c6 square, and can thus be answered with 17...cxd4 18.Nxd4 e5! ]
17...Nxe4 18.Qxe4 bxc5 So, let's stop and evaluate the position. Black has a weak pawn on c5 and later possibly on a7 as well. On the other hand, his bishop, which will be developed to b7 on the next move, will be much better than the white knight. All in all the position is about equal.
19.Qc2 An ambitious move. Topalov is not satisfied with the very slight advantage he would obtain after 19.b3. [19.b3 was played twice against the inventor of 16...Nf6. 19...Bb7 20.Qf4 (20.Qe5 Rbc8 (20...Bxf3 ) 21.Rfc1 Rfd8 22.e4 Qd6!= ; 20.Qh4!? ) 20...Bxf3 21.Qxf3 Rfd8 22.Rfc1 Rd2 23.R1c2 Rbd8 24.g3 and White is a little better, but Black should draw this without any real problems.]
19...Bb7 20.Nd2 [20.Rxc5?! Bxf3 21.gxf3 Rxb2! is a trick that you will have to remember, because I don't want to mention it on every move.; 20.e4 can be answered with the sharp 20...f5!? Now, one of the possible lines is 21.Nd2 Rfd8 22.exf5 Bxg2! 23.Kxg2 Qg5+ 24.Rg3 Qxd2 25.Qxc5 exf5= ]
20...Rfd8 21.f3 This is slightly weakening, especially considering that later White would also play g3. However, White has to restrict Black's bishop, so the move is justified. [21.Rxc5?? Rxd2! ]
21...Ba6N Until now, they were following a German correspondence game from 2000, but now Anand accidentally plays a novelty, and a good one at that. Since White is blocking the h1-a8 diagonal, why not bring the bishop to another?
22.Rf2 Another fighting move. [22.Rc1 seemed more logical to me, but here Black could immediately draw, among the other possibilities, which would favor the World Champion. 22...Qd7 23.Nb3 c4 And White would to exchange the annoying c4-pawn for either b2 or a2. (23...Bd3= ) ]
22...Rd7 Simply doubling on the d-file. [22...Rd5 23.e4 Rd7 only look clever. White doesn't mind playing e4 anyway.]
23.g3 A committal move, but White needs space for his king. Here it became clear to me that it was not Anand, but Topalov who may be in trouble.
24...Bd3 Anand smartly decides to avoid making any committal moves, while it is not yet clear. He prefers to wait for Topalov to do part of the job. [More aggressive moves were also possible. For example, 24...h5!? 25.Ne4 (25.h4 e5 26.e4?! g5!-+ ) 25...Bd3 26.Qa4 Bxe4 (26...c4!? 27.Nd2 e5 28.Nxc4 Qe6 is unclear) 27.Qxe4 Rd2 with equality; Or 24...e5!? 25.e4 h5 26.Nc4 h4 27.Ne3 Qe6 and here White can play the non-standard 28.gxh4! with an unclear position.]
25.Qc1 [25.Qa4 was dangerous. 25...Qg5 (25...Bb5= ) 26.e4?! (26.Ne4!= ) 26...Qe3 27.Qa5 Qe1 28.Qxc5 Be2! 29.Nb3 Rd1 30.Kh3 R8d3 and White is in danger to say the least.]
25...Ba6! The c5-pawn was hanging, and Vishy decides to come back with the bishop and ask Topalov what he thinks.
26.Ra3 I had no doubts that Topalov would play on.
26...Bb7! Now that c5 isn't in any danger, Vishy returns the bishop to its rightful spot. Now the bishop also smiles towards White's king, who will suffer a lot in this game!
27.Nb3 [27.e4 can be answered by 27...f5! 28.Qc2 g5! and the bishop smiles again!]
27...Rc7 28.Na5 Ba8 Of course!
29.Nc4 If any other move had been played, then 29...g5! was strong. [For example 29.e4 g5! and now let me demonstrate how White could end up if he calculated badly. 30.Re3 Rd4 31.h3 h5! 32.g4 hxg4 33.hxg4 f5! 34.gxf5 g4! opening the diagonal for the bishop and winning; or 29.Rc3 g5 30.Nb3 g4 31.e4 gxf3+ 32.Kxf3 f5 33.Nxc5 Qg7!? and it is clear that white king is not the happiest piece on board.]
29...e5! Played instantly. Anand is playing it safe. 29...g5 was possible here as well, but it would lead to a double-edged position. [For instance 29...g5!? 30.e4 (30.h3 f5 31.Kh2 (31.g4 h5! ) 31...h5 with an unclear position.) 30...g4 (30...f5!? ) 31.Qxh6 gxf3+ 32.Kxf3 Rd4 33.Nd2 Rcd7 34.Kg2 Qd8 35.Rf4! Rxd2+ 36.Kh3 Bxe4!! 37.Rxe4 R2d4 38.Ra4 Rxe4 39.Rxe4 Rd4 40.Re5 Rd5 41.Re4 Rd4 is a truly beautiful draw.]
30.e4 Other moves were possible, but then Black would be able to play e4-f4 securing the d3 square for a rook, or make some other useful move.
31.exf5? Crazy. [31.Nd2! was the right move. 31...fxe4 32.Nxe4 Now Black can choose between equalizing or keeping his bishop and the pressure with 32...Rd4!? (32...Bxe4 33.fxe4 Rd4= ) ]
31...e4! 32.fxe4?? Even crazier. Without any calculation it seems pretty obvious that it is very dangerous to expose your king this much. So it was even more surprising that Topalov played this and the previous move so quickly! [Something like 32.Re3 was essential, but it is clear that 32...exf3+ 33.Kg1 Qg5 is not really what White wants. Black is clearly better.]
32...Qxe4+ From now on Anand never let Veselin escape, nor gave him a single reason to hope.
33.Kh3 Rd4 34.Ne3
34...Qe8!! THE move, that Vishy had to find. I assume that it was the one that Topalov had missed.
35.g4 h5! It is hopeless for White. All Black's pieces are ready to meet alone with the white king.
36.Kh4 g5+!? Vishy chooses the most elegant way to keep his title. [36...Qd8+ 37.f6 hxg4 was winning as well; but surprisingly 36...hxg4?? loses the advantage. 37.Nxg4 and White's king doesn't feel so bad anymore with a knight on g4 to keep him company, and a queen coming to g5.]
37.fxg6 Qxg6 38.Qf1 Rxg4+ 39.Kh3
39...Re7! Anand again goes for the most beautiful solution. [For example 39...Kh7 to avoid checks, was winning too.]
41.Nf5+ [41.Rxa8 Now I can imagine how happy Vishy was while executing his moves. 41...Rxe3+! 42.Rxe3 Rh4+!! 43.Kxh4 Qg4# Ohh, what a picture!]
41...Kh7! Naturally not taking the rook which would turn the tables upside down.
42.Rg3 Rxg3+ 43.hxg3 Qg4+ 44.Kh2 Re2+ 45.Kg1 Rg2+ 46.Qxg2 Bxg2 At this point, some people got very nervous, screaming that they had found a draw. The calm World Champion, however, had seen everything in advance.
47.Kxg2 [47.Rf7+ Kg6! 48.Rg7+ Kxf5 49.Rxg4 hxg4! 50.Kxg2 Ke4 51.Kf2 Kd3 and the pawn ending is hopeless.]
47...Qe2+ 48.Kh3 c4! Our human Champion is as precise as an engine.
49.a4 a5 50.Rf6 Kg8! It is zugzwang!
51.Nh6+ Kg7 52.Rb6 Qe4 [52...Qf3 would win as well, but Anand decided that today was Zugzwang Day! 53.Kh4 Qe4+! 54.Kxh5 Qd5+ ]
53.Kh2 Kh7! Zugzwang again!
54.Rd6 Qe5 55.Nf7 Qxb2+ 56.Kh3 Qg7! Great and flawless play by Anand! A perfect game to defend one's title with. 0-1