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Mig on Chess #2. December, 13, 1997
Mig on those difficult GM games

While watching top-level chess do you ever get the feeling that these 2700 GMs are playing a rather different game than you are? They often ignore the principles we have been told a hundred times never to ignore, make moves that look like typographical errors and that confuse even the fastest Pentium processor, and somehow it always comes down to an even pawn ending. How can we mortals learn anything from these games?

Apparently these maestros of the 64 squares have heard our plea and, at least for the past few days, have presented us with some games that are just plain, well, normal. Who among us wasn't at least a little pleased when GM Morovic of Chile hung a whole knight in a 1st round playoff game against World Junior Champion GM Tal Shaked of the USA? I won't kick poor Ivanchuk while he's down (and out) for his terrible loss to Seirawan, but watching that certainly made me feel a little better about the last time I got wiped out before my chair was warm.

So now that the heavy hitters are here, now that the best of the best are in action, could we expect a return to obscure games with 30 moves of theory and combinations we couldn't calculate with three extra days and an abacus? Nope.

In what was obviously an effort to make the masses (that's us) feel better about the hundreds of chess books and magazines we own, super-GM Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria broke a bunch of those rules you're not supposed to break in his game with Dutch GM Jeroen Piket, and lost just the way the books say you will! I would like to thank Piket for proving, in some small way, that the thousands of dollars I've spent on chess junk in my life weren't all wasted. In the lighthearted spirit of the holiday season, let's make fun of Topalov as he tries to come back after playing the opening like he'd been studying Kasparov's "anti-computer" lines. Okay, okay, I'll be nice. Yeesh. How about this then, I'll take out my battered copy of Capablanca's "Chess Fundamentals" and we'll see if we can find where Topalov goes wrong.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4

Capa sez: "The control of the center is of great importance." Veselin, are you listening?

5. ...Bb4 6. Bg5 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxc3+

Capa sez: "Before development has been completed no piece should be moved more than once, unless it is essential in order to obtain either material advantage or to secure freedom of action."

Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if GM Topalov has read this classic.

9. bxc3 Qa5 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. Bxf6 gxf6

Capa sez: "...once the opportunity is offered, all the pieces are thrown into action "en masse" when necessary; and that all the pieces smoothly co-ordinate their action with machine-like precision"

Hey, just like in all my games! Piket eliminates Black's good knight and ruins Black pawn structure in one move. Topalov can't avoid this with 11. ... Bxb5 12. Nxb5 Qxb5?? due to 13. Qd8 mate! Back-rank threat, just like in all those tactics books.

12. Qb3 a6 13. Be2

Capa sez: "...tries to hinder his opponent's development..." Piket refuses to help Black develop.

12. ... Nc6 14. 0-0 Qc7 15. Qa3! Rc8 16. Rad1

[TN. MC Rfd1 had been played by Khenkin before in 1989 and 1990 against Kramnik and Akopian respectively]

Na5 17. Qc1 Ke7?

Capa sez: "Her blouse fell to floor and slowly she^M^M^M^M^ Whoa, wrong book! Ahem, "The winning of a Pawn among good players of even strength often means the winning of the game."

Topalov ignores the morsel on c3 and improves his king position, protects his f6 pawn, and connects his rooks. But is his king safe on e7 anyway? After 17. ... Qxc3 18. Qf4 Ke7 19. Nf5+! exf5 (other moves are worse, take a look) 20. Qd6+ and Black can starting thinking about whether he wants an aisle or window seat on the flight home. Or 18. ... Nc6 19. Qxf6 and Black doesn't even have a pawn to help him forget his ugly position.

[17. ...h5 probably forced. MC]

18. Qh6 Bc6

Capa sez: "...we shall devote a little time to some combinations that often arise during the game, and which will give the reader some idea of the beauty of the game, once he becomes better acquainted with it."

Mig sez: "Frequent napping during play can cause the loss of many rating points." Topalov ignores the threats created by Piket's 18. Qh6. Wouldn't you have just taken that tasty pawn on c3? Or centralized your queen to e5? What do these 2700s know anyway? Well, 18. ... Qxc3 19. e5! fxe5 20. Nf5+ and here we go again. But maybe 18. ... Qe5 19. Rfe1 and while still difficult it makes White's job a little tougher.

19. Nxe6!

Check please! You may want to cover the eyes of any children watching. If this weren't an elimination match Topalov would be at the gift-shop looking for "I Heart Groningen" t-shirts. The end can be summed up in exactly one word: "Open lines to the opponent's king."

Qe5 20. Nd4 Rcg8 21. f4 Qc5 22. Kh1 Rg6 23. Qh3 Bxe4 24. Bf3 Bxf3 25. Rxf3 Qc7 26. Nf5+

Capa sez: "Direct and violent attacks against the King must be carried en masse, with full force, to ensure their success."

I still don't know what this has to do with Catholic church services, but it seems like Piket has read "Chess Fundamentals"! 26. Re3+ finishes things off a bit faster, but maybe Piket wanted to stretch things out a bit to savor the victory in front of the home crowd.

26. ... Kf8 27. Rfd3 Nc6 28. Rd7 1-0

Capa sez: "Black's toast." White's knight dominates the scene, completely trapping the black king. After the black queen moves, White plays 29. Qd3 and it's lights out. A great game from Piket, and a copy of "Chess Fundamentals" and ticket home for Topalov.

Piket,J (2630) - Topalov,V (2745) [D39]
FIDE WCh KO Groningen NED (2.2), 12.12.1997
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Qb3 a6 13.Be2 Nc6 14.0-0 Qc7 15.Qa3 Rc8 16.Rad1 Na5 17.Qc1 Ke7 18.Qh6 Bc6 19.Nxe6 Qe5 20.Nd4 Rcg8 21.f4 Qc5 22.Kh1 Rg6 23.Qh3 Bxe4 24.Bf3 Bxf3 25.Rxf3 Qc7 26.Nf5+ Kf8 27.Rfd3 Nc6 28.Rd7 1-0



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