Machu Picchu Chess Photos

Click here to see all 200+ photos of this event.

Hi everyone!

Have a look at Chesspics’s exclusive photos from the recent match between me and Deysi Cori, at the most wonderful location in Peru: the Machu Picchu!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk on Colombian TV

Click on the video above to hear me speak Spanish on TV

Hi everyone!

See me and hear me speak Spanish on Colombian TV during last month’s Tarrito Rojo Chess Talent series of events in Bogotá and Medellin. You can also find my personal video about this trip here or embedded below:

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

May 2010 Women’s Chess News

Hello everybody!

While preparing several cool videos and photo albums of my recent trip to Peru I decided to let you know about the recent news about the women’s chess world.

From May 27 to June 4, 2010 the 2010 chinese women’s chess championship is taking place. After 4 rounds the elo-favorite Ju Wenjun (on the photo below)

is in the clear first place with 3,5 out of 4. Hou Yifan is playing in the men’s championship and after 4 rounds has 2 points.

From May 24 to June 3, 2010 the Maya Chiburdanidze Cup is taking place in Georgia. After 3 rounds 3 players have 100% – Anna Muzychuk (on the photo below),

Meri Arabidze and Sopiko Guramishvili, the full table can be found here.

The Hungarian Women’s Chess Championship 2010 which took place from May 15 to May 23, 2010 was won by Anna Rudolf. The full standings can be found here.

The winners of the Hungarian women’s chess championship 2010 (from left to right – Tóth, Rudolf, Göcző)

The Moscow Women’s Chess Championship is taking place right now in Moscow, Russia and with 2 rounds to go Nazi Paikidze is in the clear first place with 6,5 out of 7.

And finally IM Maxim Notkin published on the results of the voting for the best game of 2009. The victory by Judith Polgar over Boris Gelfand took 12th place:

[Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2009.11.28"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Polgar,Ju"]
[Black "Gelfand,B"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Eco "C24"]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Qe2 Be7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Bb3 d6 7.O-O
Nbd7 8.c3 a5 9.a4 b5 10.Bc2 Ba6 11.axb5 cxb5 12.Nbd2 Qc7 13.d4
a4 14.Bd3 Rfb8 15.Nh4 g6 16.f4 exf4 17.Ndf3 Nh5 18.Bd2 Nb6 19.g4
fxg3 20.Ng5 Nc4 21.Nf5 Bxg5 22.Bxg5 f6 23.Bh4 gxh2+ 24.Qxh2 Rf8
25.Be2 gxf5 26.Bxh5 fxe4 27.Qf4 f5 28.Kh1 Kh8 29.Rg1 Rf7 30.Bxf7
Qxf7 31.Qh6 Rf8 32.Rg6 1-0

the complete table of voting and the games that were nominated to take part in this voting can be found here.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk – Cori Chess Match in Machu Picchu

That’s me at the Machu Picchu after getting my trophy

Women’s Chess Promotion at its finest!!

Hi everybody!

I’m writing this post from the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge in Peru. This afternoon the most amazing chess match took place, in a location one could only dream of, one of the 7 wonders of the world: The Machu Picchu!

I was playing with the World Champion Under-16 Deysi Cori in what may be one of the most publicized matches of this year. The match was shown live on Peruvian TV live and dozens of photographers and TV crews from around the world came to cover this story. It was surreal, dozens of reporters were running around the Machu Picchu with satellite internet, relaying photos and videos to their headquarters live! Our train from Cusco this morning had a whole wagon for the Press!

NEW: the first game is on YouTube at this link.

Some photographers at work.
Most of them were on the other side, though :-)

I will tell you about the match in more detail soon (I have full videos of all games and of the whole event, as well as hundreds of nice photos, so get ready for new videos on my YouTube channel “ChessQueen” and new photos on ChessPics), but for the moment let me tell you how it went. Since the match was live on TV, the games were played in blitz 4 + 2 (4 minutes for the game + 2 seconds per move), which is a time control I am quite fond of (together with the 3 + 2 of the world blitz championship). So in this match against Deysi I won the first game quite convincingly, and in the second one I was 2 pawns up and only needed a draw to secure the first prize. But I lost concentration and lost the game, which made all of Peru jump in happiness and forced the match into a sudden death tie-break 3rd game. I’m pleased to say I won it in a nice style and so was able to take home the top prize.

The view from where we played was incredible, I have never been in such a wonderful place, and playing chess there was doubly as nice! Just look at the photo below, can you imagine playing there?

Deysi Cori playing me, Alexandra Kosteniuk, at the Machu Picchu

That’s me, Alexandra Kosteniuk and World U-16 Champion Deysi Cori

This has been a wonderful experience for me, the road to the Machu Picchu is unbelievable, I had to get up at 2:30 AM from Lima, fly to Cusco, then a bus, a train, another bus… such nice views, but the tough road was so worth it! Photos here are worth their weight in gold, believe me! I hope this event goes a long way to promote women’s chess in the world, as well as promote tourism to the Machu Picchu. If you haven’t seen the Machu Picchu in your lifetime, you’re missing on something very, very impressive.

Thanks to the organizers who made this amazing match possible. I’m going to bed now as tomorrow morning I will get up at 5 AM and see the sunrise here at the Machu Picchu. After that I go back to Cusco to do some more chess promotion, then I will have a big simul in Lima on Tuesday.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk in Peru – First Days

Receiving the diploma from the Rector of the UNI

Hello everybody!

I arrived to Peru during the night Wednesday-Thurday at around midnight, and already on Thursday had lots of events: first I met with the Rector of the University of Engineering (UNI), who gave me a medal and diploma of Famous Visitor. We also had a press conference, where it was announced that the match between me and Deysi Cori will take place in the Machu Picchu tomorrow Sunday.

Many officials of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism were present, even the cultural attaché of the Russian Embassy. It was said that our chess match at the Machu Picchu will no doubt increase the amount of Tourism to Peru, as well as promote chess in the country.

Me and Deisy Cori

The last 2 days we had an “Octogonal” tournament with 8 participants, 7 from Peru and myself. Yesterday I played quite poorly, only getting 2.5 points out of 8, but today was much better with 5/6, beating Jorge Cori 2-0 and tying with Deisi Cori 1-1 in our little matches. The winner of the “Octogonal” tournament was GM Emilio Cordova, and I tied for 4th-5th.

I have to get up tomorrow at 3 AM to fly to Cusco then the trip to the Machu Picchu will take about 4 hours, and at 2 PM I will play a 2-game match with Deisi. I will be sure to let you know how it goes. I already have plenty of photos and videos that I will post as soon as I have some time.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion and Chess Queen

Video Slideshow Kosteniuk in Greece

Alexandra Kosteniuk giving a chess simul in Greece in 2009

Posted by Admin

Kosteniuk Postcard to the US Chess Championship 2010

A “postcard” to our friends in St. Louis organizing and playing the U.S. Chess Championship!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

June 8th Anna Zatonskih Chess Benefit for Cardon Chlldren’s Medical Center

3-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Anna Zatonskih

Hello everybody!

I got an email from Norm Saba, M.D., FAAP, of the Cardon’s Children Medical Center, telling me that 3-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Anna Zatonskih will conduct a Chess Benefit to support Pediatric Rehab at Cardon Children’s Medical Center on June 8, 2010, from 6 to 10:00 PM.

You might remember some time ago we featured Anna in our Star Interview, it’s definitely worth a read.

So if you’re not far from Mesa, Arizona, it would be great to support this noble cause and meet Anna in person!

Also look below at information for the great summer chess camp June 21 to July 2, 2010.

The detailed information is provided below:

June 8th, 2010
6:00 – 10:00 PM
Saguaro Auditorium
Rosati Education Center, Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Rd., Mesa, AZ 85202, USA

Come Meet the Reigning and Three Time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Woman Grandmaster and International Master Anna Zatonskih and support Pediatric Rehab at Cardon Children’s Medical Center!

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to meet one of the best chess players in the world! All proceeds will go directly toward the purchase of much needed rehabilitation equipment. For example, a state of the art rehabilitation bicycle costs $5,000.00! Many other items are on the wish list for this unit that does so much to help children who have been disabled from injury or disease. WGM Zatonskih will speak about what it takes to balance motherhood with being a world class chess champion. She will also perform some feats of mental gymnastics as she dazzles you with her chess brilliance in her effort to raise money for a very special cause.

So please mark your calendars now and plan to be a part of chess history at Cardon Children’s!

Please RSVP by June 4th to Medical Staff Office at 480-412-3221 or

6:00 – 6:30: Reception
6:30 – 7:00 Dinner
7:00 – 7:15 Introductions – Norm Saba, M.D.; Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman
7:15 – 8:00 – WGM Anna Zatonskih
8:00 – Chess Exhibition
9:45 – Closing Remarks

Cost: $50.00 per couple or $30 per single

Please make your tax deductible donations to:

Banner Health Foundation (include “Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit” on your check) and mail them to Norm Saba, M.D.; Medical Staff Office; Banner Desert Medical Center; 1400 S. Dobson Rd.; Mesa, AZ 85202 by June 4th.
If you have questions feel free to call Norm at 602-228-2379.

Anna’s Chess Accomplishments:

1991: Mariupol, Ukraine City (Adult) Championship

1993: Bulgarian Women’s Champion

1994: Third Place World Junior Championship (Girls Under 16)

1999: Awarded WGM title

2001: Ukrainian Women’s Champion

2002: Ukrainian Women’s Co-champion

2004: Chess Olympiad silver medal with U.S. team

2008: Chess Olympiad bronze medal with U.S. team and individual gold medal

2006, 2008, 2009: U.S. Women’s champion

Anna will be one of the featured instructors for the 2010 Summer Chess Academy held June 21st to July 2nd at Imagine Elementary at Tempe; 1538 E. Southern Avenue; Tempe, AZ 85282.

For more information please contact Alan Anderson at 480-966-9542 or

Anna’s husband Grandmaster Daniel Fridman will be participating in the 2010 Copper State International Chess Tournament, June 2nd – 9th. For more information please contact Daniel Rensch at 602-618-2045 or You can also download a 2010 Summer Chess Academy Information and Registration Packet there.

Thank you for making this event a success and for helping raise funds to support the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit!

Name: __________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________


Phone: _________________________________________________

____ Yes, I (we) would love to join you on June 8th for this event!
Enclosed is our check for ___$50.00 (couple) ___$30.00 (single)
We would also love to help sponsor a much needed piece of equipment for the Pediatric Rehab Unit and enclose $______.

_____No, I (we) unfortunately cannot make it that night but still would love to support the Pediatric Rehab Unit with a donation of $______.

Please make your tax deductible donations payable to “Banner Health Foundation” and put “Pediatric Rehab Unit” in the memo portion of the check. Mail to: Norm Saba, M.D., Medical Staff Office; 1400 S. Dobson Rd.; Mesa, AZ 85202 by June 4th

You may also make an online donation by clicking below:
Under “Arizona” choose Cardon Children’s Medical Center and in the box below please type: “Pediatric Rehab Unit – Chess Benefit”

The families and children in the Pediatric Rehab Unit thank you tremendously for your generous support!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk meets Carvalho at Miami-Dade Title I Adminitstration District Chess Championship

Record 844 kids playing chess in Miami and 76 schools – so cool!

Hello everybody!

Yesterday I was at the Title I District Chess Championship for Miami-Dade Title I Chess Program. That’s a chess program, run in an excellent way by Elizabeth Tejada (see photo below), in which all of Miami’s kids in the whole public school system have an opportunity to learn and play chess at school. Lots of coaches take part in the program, and there are several chess championships along the way. The biggest one is the Title I District Chess Championship, to which I was invited yesterday.

I was very impressed by the very good organization, but most of all by the presence, from the very beginning to the very end, of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. I was told Alberto has not missed one of these chess events in years, and that he supports chess in schools 100%. So it was a blessing for me to meet him and to be able to talk about how to support chess more with kids.

We talked about future events and he was very open to my ideas, I hope we will have a chance to share some big news with you later on, which may go a long way to promote chess in Florida even more.

Title I Chess Coordinator Elizabeth Tejada,
Superintendent of schools Alberto Carvalho,
and me, Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alberto was infatigable and gladly accepted to pose in all photos, he seems even more used to that than I am! He also asked each kid their name, how they were doing in the tournament, and in school, and wished them the best for their tournament! That’s very impressive considering this was a day off (Saturday), and Alberto is in charge of the 4th largest school district of the whole USA!

Also, I met with Dr. Marta Perez and Dr. Wilbert Holloway, School Board Members, from M-DCPS and expressed to me their support to all chess players!!

Scott Lake Elementary Chess Teams are cool!

It’s not every day you get to be in a photo with the women’s
world chess champion and the superintendent for schools

Yes you recognized him on the right in the blue shirt:
Miami chess star and coach IM Blas Lugo

And of course lots of autographs!

I love to be present at prize-giving ceremonies
and hand out prizes to kids!

Every chess coach who came to the tournament received a free copy
of my book “How I became Grandmaster at Age 14

The Coordinator of the Title I Chess Program
Elizabeth Tejada gives me a certificate of appreciation
for supporting this event

The official photo album of this event is HERE. If you’re on the photos and you’d like a copy, just email me and I will send you one!

A nice post about the McMillan Chess Team is here.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

2010 US Chess Championship

Thanks to Betsy Dynako for letting us use this
great photo of Irina Krush from the 2nd round

Hello all!

The 2010 US Chess Championship is taking place from May 14 to May 25 in Saint-Louis. The defending champion Hikaru Nakamura as well as 23 strong players are playing for the US chess champion title. The full list of participants can be found on the official web-site of the Saint-Louis chess club, here.

The only lady in this great company is Irina Krush (on the photo below)

who started the tournament in beautiful style by defeating GM Gregory Kaidanov. Below is the pgn of her game which you can view by in this pgn-player by simply copying and pasting the moves in it.

[Event "ch-USA"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2010.5.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Krush,I"]
[Black "Kaidanov,G"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Eco "D31"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2
O-O 8.Rc1 c6 9.Ng3 Bg6 10.h4 h6 11.h5 Bh7 12.Bd3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3
Bd6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Nf5 Qe6 16.f3 Nbd7 17.Kf2 Rfe8 18.g4 Nh7
19.Na4 b6 20.Nc3 Ndf6 21.Ne2 Ng5 22.Nf4 Qd7 23.Qa3 a5 24.Rc2
Rad8 25.Rhc1 c5 26.dxc5 bxc5 27.Rxc5 Ne6 28.Nxe6 Qxe6 29.Kg2
d4 30.e4 d3 31.Qc3 d2 32.Rd1 Qb6 33.a4 Qa6 34.Rb5 Qa8 35.Rxa5
Qb8 36.Ra6 Rc8 37.Qd4 Qb3 38.Rxd2 Rc2 39.Rd6 Rxd2+ 40.Qxd2 Qxa4
41.Rxf6 1-0

The games of the US Chess Championship can be followed LIVE, here. Here is the press-release about the exciting first round:

Fighting chess featured at round one of 2010 Championship

By FM Mike Klein

The first round of the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship, held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, produced an uncharacteristically high number of decisive games, with eight out of 12 games yielding a winner. Normally at top levels of chess a draw rate of more than 50 percent would not be abnormal.

As the tournament began, the Swiss system pairing format pitted the top players against the bottom players. But since the tournament only invites the top rated players and makes open qualification difficult, there are no easy opponents in the 24-player field.

International Master (IM) Irina Krush of New York City, the only woman in the field, came in to the tournament ranked second to last, but she got off to a fast start. By beating Grandmaster (GM) Gregory Kaidanov of Lexington, Ken., she turned in the biggest upset of the round. Previously, she had never defeated Kaidanov in tournament play.

“My thinking process was not so smooth,” Krush said. “There were definitely a lot of lines I was scared of. Somehow, I kept control, even though I was doubting myself. I was concerned about my position.” She finished off her opponent by sacrificing a rook for a knight to force checkmate.

The other big upset came on board six as Glendale, California’s GM Melikset Khachiyan edged Brooklyn’s GM Aleksandr Lenderman in a close rook-and-pawn endgame. Lenderman is the former World Youth Champion but Khachiyan has been dominating the California chess scene as of late.

Recently relocated from the Pacific Northwest, current St. Louis resident and defending champion GM Hikaru Nakamura survived a tactical melee against GM Alexander Stripunsky from New York City. Nakamura used a nifty queen sacrifice to finish off his opponent. Nakamura said afterward that Stripunsky helped put him on the map – when Nakamura was 10, he defeated his first grandmaster, and it was Stripunsky.

The youngest player in the event for the second year in a row, 15-year-old GM Ray Robson from Largo, Fla., narrowly missed drawing former champion GM Gata Kamsky of New York City. Kamsky praised Robson’s intuitive decision to sacrifice a knight for three pawns. Afterward, in what looked like a tough endgame conversion, Kamsky showed effortless technique to convert the point. He also produced some aesthetically pleasing moves. “OK, it’s an element of the game,” he explained.

Third-seeded Baltimore resident Alexander Onischuk played the longest game of the day at more than five hours but got by New Jersey’s GM Joel Benjamin. Benjamin is playing in his 22nd consecutive U.S. Championship, a record.

Former World Championship contender and Estonian native GM Jaan Ehlvest got off to a fast start by beating GM Alex Yermolinsky of Sioux Falls, SD. Ehlvest, like Onischuk, lives in Baltimore.

Last year’s surprise second-place finisher GM Robert Hess did much to continue his winning ways in St. Louis by defeating fellow youngster IM Sam Shankland. Neither player has yet seen their 20th birthday. Tournament veteran GM Larry Christiansen of Cambridge, Mass., who first won the title back in 1980, found a spectacular checkmating attack on GM Dmitry Gurevich of Chicago. “When in doubt, attack!” Christiansen said. He is known for his swashbuckling rampages on the enemy king. The exciting game featured the two oldest players in the event.

Games ending in a draw included GM Yury Shulman (Chicago) against GM Vinay Bhat (San Francisco); GM Ben Finegold (St. Louis) against GM Varuzhan Akobian (North Hollywood, CA); GM Jesse Kraai (Bay Area, CA) against GM Alexander Shabalov (Pittsburgh) and GM Sergey Kudrin (Stamford, Conn.) against IM Levon Altounian (Tucson, Ariz.).

While a draw is not as good as a win, some players noticed the obvious. “Well, I have more points now than I had going into round one,” Finegold joked.

The most intriguing matchup of round two will take place on the top board, as Nakamura and Hess square off. Last year’s first and second-place finishers also met at the 2009 U.S. Championship, when Nakamura won.

The 2010 U.S. Chess Championship is open to the public and will feature live grandmaster commentary by GM Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade. Spectators can access the event by purchasing a membership to the CCSCSL, which costs just $5/month for students and $12/month for adults. Video of the commentary can also been seen live at or by visiting The championship quad finale will take place May 22-24 and will culminate with the $10,000 U.S. Championship Blitz Open at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24, an event that will feature U.S. Championship competitors and some of the top players from across the country.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk in Atlanta Simul & Seminar

Full concentration during my Atlanta 48-board simul

Hello everyone!

It’s time for me to share my impressions of this last weekend’s trip to Atlanta for the National Elementary Scholastic Championships.

I was impressed by the high level of the organization, and of the hundreds of chess kids running around the hotel, it was like chess paradise! The tournament took place in the Hyatt, right in the center of town, in walking distance from the World of Coca-Cola Museum (which I visited), and several malls and nice restaurants. There even is a subway that goes from right next to the hotel straight to the airport, that’s as convenient as it gets!

I started the event on Friday morning with a 48 board chess simul, which went very well and saw me winning 44 games, losing only to Tim Steiner (congratulations!), and drawing with Lazar Vilotijevic, Dex Webster, and Samuel Bennett, who played very solid games of chess!

Starting my game with Tim Steiner

Dex Webster making his best move

Samuel Bennett kept me fighting till the very end

After the simul ended, at the bookstore, there was a lot of activity. I signed over 1,000 autographs, there was a line for 3 hours straight to come and see me, I had to schedule two more book signings to accommodate more people. Lucky they had over 100 copies of my Diary of a Chess Queen (buy it here to get a free personal autograph), and they only ran out at the very end of the weekend. I’m so happy my book is turning into a chess bestseller. See the reviews posted on Amazon.

A very sweet little girl, photographed by her Dad

The crowd at the bookstore was amazing!

During the tournament, a FIDE Trainers Seminar for Women took place, as was announced earlier.

I gave a talk and answered questions on the last day.

The students learned a lot in 20 intensive hours of instruction, even had an examination at the end of the formal courses.

A nice group picture with all the people who attended.

Posing with the two head coaches of the seminar:
Grandmaster Alexander Chernin and Mikhail Khodarkovky

With the Executive Director of the
United States Chess Federation (USCF), Bill Hall
and the Editor of Chess Life, Dan Lucas

By the way, you should not miss the official ChessPics photo album of my stay in Atlanta. If you’re on any of the photos, please send me an email with the number of the photo and I will send it to you, at no cost!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Olympics Trivia Win Kosteniuk’s Chess Blitz Fever DVD

Guess who is next to me and win a prize!

Hello everybody!

Today I had the visit of a very well known sports champion.

Be the first to guess who she is an you will receive my new Chess Blitz Fever DVD!

Some hints: she has won several Olympic Gold medals and European titles. Many people also know her from a TV program…

The first person to put the correct answer in the comments will get my DVD.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Anand Keeps World Champion Title

Hi everyone!

Below you can find the last and decisive game of the match Topalov – Anand, which I commented live on Chessdom. Anand won it and retained his World Champion Title. Congratulations to Vishy!

Veselin Topalov – Vishy Anand

Round 12
WCC 2010


The last classical game of the FIDE World Championship between Anand and Topalov starts at 14:00 CET and it will be live on with the commentary of the World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Hello everyone! I’m Alexandra Kosteniuk and today with a great pleasure and interest I will be commenting for you the final game of the World Championship Match. The tension has reached the maximum level and the players are under an enormous pressure. Every move can be the last one. Topalov is playing White today. In this match out of 5 games which Anand was defending with Black pieces we have seen 3 games with the Slav Defence and 2 games with the Grunfeld. For the moment Topalov won two games out of these 5 with 3 draws.

The score now is 5,5 to 5,5 in case of a draw today we will see the tie-break, but of course Topalov will try to use his last White color in this last classical game of the match.

When you look at the chessplayers before this game you can only guess what do they feel, what are they thoughts and how are they feeling.

For me, the most difficult part of any chess tournament is time which I have after one game ends and the other one starts. As soon as the clock has started and I make my first move I can think about the position.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 O-O 7.e3 Anand opted for a very solid classical Queens’ Gambit Declined, the variation that is called sometimes the Lasker Defence. The positions that appear in this variation are considered to be quite solid for Black, but White has more space.

7… Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 c6 10.Be2 Nxc3 11.Rxc3 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Nd7 This position has been seen in many world championship matches and so far the players are following the theory which goes quiet far in this line. As we can see the choice of Anand was not a big surprise for Topalov who plays very fast.

13.O-O b6 14.Bd3 c5 15.Be4 Rb8 16.Qc2 Nf6 16. … Nf6 is not the most popular move in this position for Black. In most games that have been played before Black prefered 16. … a5 or Bb7. To understand this position better, let’s have a look at the game between Karpov and Jussupow where Black 16. … a5. The moves that followed are 16. … a5 17.Rc1 Bb7 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.dxc5 Nxc5 20.Ne5 Qf6 21.Nd3 Rd8 22.Nxc5 bxc5 23.Qe2 Rbd7 24.R3c2 a4 25.g3 Rd5 26.Kg2 g6 27.a3 h5 28.Qf3 Qe5 29.Qf4 Qxf4 30.gxf4 Rb8 31.Rxc5 Rxc5 32.Rxc5 Rxb2 33.Rc4 Ra2 34.Rxa4 Kf8 35.Ra7 Ra1 36.h4 Kg7 37.a4 Ra2 38.Kf3 Kf6 39.a5 Ra3 40.a6 Ra4 41.Ke2 Ra2+ 42.Kd3 Rxf2 43.Rb7 Ra2 44.a7 e5 45.fxe5+ Ke6 46.Kc4 g5 47.hxg5 h4 48.Kb5 Rb2+ 49.Kc6 Ra2 50.Kc7 h3 51.Kb8 h2 52.Rb1 1-0

Topalov is thinking for the first time in this game so we can say that move 16. … Nf6 surprised him. White can now take on c5 17. dxc5 and after 17 … Nxe4 18. Qxe4 bxc5 19. b3 can try to attack the weak pawn on c5. However, we shall understand that even if White wins this pawn Black might have enough chances to hold the game, since as a compensation for this weakness on c5 Black has a very strong ligth-squared bishop on b7. The other possibility for White instead of 17. dxc5 is to play 17. Bc6 and try to hold the pressure and to see what Black will do.

17.dxc5 Nxe4 18.Qxe4 bxc5 There was one interesting game played in this line which the players are still following between Kulaots and Grabarczyk: 19.b3 Bb7 20.Qf4 Bxf3 21.Qxf3 Rfd8 22.Rfc1 Rd2 23.R1c2 Rbd8 24.g3 Rxc2 25.Rxc2 Rd5 26.Kg2 Qd6 27.h4 a6 28.Rc4 Rd2 29.Ra4 Qd3 30.h5 f6 31.g4 Kh7 1/2-1/2 as we can see from this game Black was able quite easily to make a draw.

Now I think we already can say that Anand’s today choice of the opening was quite succesful, even though that Anand already played this opening with Black, but in this game he opted for 13. … b6 which he has never played before and even though Topalov seemed to be ready at first and played 16. Qc2, Anand used a rather new idea Nf6 and Topalov is now thinking while Anand, I’m sure still following his preparation.

19.Qc2 Bb7 Topalov played 19. Qc2 and after immediate repy from Anand Bb7 continues to think. The idea of Black is that after 20. Rxc5 Black has 20. … Bxf3 and then Rxb2, so the pawn on c5 is “undirectly” protected at the moment since Black has an idea of taking on f3 White will probably play 20. Nd2, not 20. Ne5? of course, in view of Bxg2 and Qg5. actually all this have already been seen in one game between two German players Bellmann and Schulze where White for some reason gave away his rook in one move and resigned later on 20.Nd2 Rfd8 21.f3 Qd6 22.Nb3 Ba6 23.Rd1?? Qxd1+ 0-1

20.Nd2 Rfd8 21.f3 21. f3 is quite logical move for a player when he sees such a strong bishop on b7. 21. Nb3 was worth consideration however. Now Black has several inetersting move including 21. … Qg5 and e5 since the pawn on c5 is still untouchable – Rxc5?? Rxd2!. Anand is thinking for the first time in the game. Black has a good position of course he has to remember about his weak pawn on c5 but his bishop on b7 is a great compensation for this weakness.

21… Ba6 21. … Ba6 Anand decides to move his bishop from the diagonal h1-a8 which Topalov closed by playing f3, to the dieagonal f1-a6. Nowadays when you play games it often seems that everything that is being played on the board have been analysed at home, especially when we are watching a game between two strong players. But the reality is not always like this. We have to understand that during a game only ONE actual line takes place while during a home preparation a player needs to look at several possible options.

22.Rf2 After 22. Rf2, White protected the knight on d2 but in order to attack the pawn on c5 he will need to protect the pawn on b2 as well by playing b3, meanwhile Black will be able to double his rooks on the d-file and re-create the threat of taking on d2 after Rxc5. Actually since there are no pieces on the first row, right now White needs to look afte his weak back rank. Probably Topalov wants to play g3 and Nb3 while Black will be doubling his rooks on the d-file. According to Topalov’s manager Silvio Danailov, Topalov is playing accordingly to the Sofia Rules, another words he doesn’t offer a draw but since this draw offer is still allowed in chess, sometimes it can be used a strong psychological tool. When a player offers a draw he is not only asking his opponent to find the next move but also to decide either to agree on a draw and finish the game or to continue playing.

22… Rd7 As it was predicted Anand started to double his rooks on the d-file, by playing Rd7. Now it’s time for White to answer the question of his next actions. Topalov needs to be careful since Black’s dynamical factors are quite strong and if White will try too hard to play for a win he can end up in a trouble. 23. g3 with the idea of making an escape-square for the king.

23.g3 the question is what to do after 23. … Rbd8? If White plays 24. Nb3 then Black has 24. … Bd3!? with the idea after 25. Qc1? to play Be4!

23… Rbd8 24.Kg2 that’s probably why Topalov moved his king to the second rank to avoid all such possibilities as Rd1. Now it’s time for Black to choose the plan. Anand has several interesting choices – he can start moving his pawns, by playing e5 or h5 or he can just wait by playing Rd5. He can also play f5 with the idea not to let White play e4.

24… Bd3 after 25. Qc1 – Ba6 can be a silent draw offer or Black has an idea with sacrificing the pawn but using the fact the white squares and first rank are weak at White’s camp – 25. Qc1 e5!? 26. Rxc5 Bf5 and then Qe6.

25.Qc1 Ba6 here we go, back to a6; of course, if White plays back to c2 Anand can still play e5 or h5. White has other choices as well, for example Ra3 and then after Bd3 back to c3.

26.Ra3 Topalov doesn’t want to give Black once again all these possibilities with the attack on the King-side

26… Bb7 27.Nb3 Anand decided to go back to the long diagonal and Topalov replied with immediate Nb3. The position remains equal but we won’t see a short draw today. Despite the fact that white’s r on a3 and knight on b3 don’t seem to be on the right places, now after 28. Rc2 Black will need to decide how to protect the pawn on c5.

27… Rc7 Rxa7 is not possible of course right now in view of Bxf3+, but Black should also remember about this pawn, for example after Rd5 Rxa7 is already possible.

28.Na5 Topalov decided not to play Rc2 but instead move his knight to c4. Now Anand should decide the destiny of his bishop, like in a famous russian fairy tale, he has three choices – to go to the right, to the left and straight. In chess language – to stay on the diagonal h1-a8 by playing Ba8 or to go to c6 or c8

28… Ba8 Anand decided to stay on the long diagonal and moved his bishop to a8. He wants to keep his bishop on this diagonal in order to have the move f5 after White plays e4. White always has to keep in my mind this dangerous bishop who is looking directly at the White monarch. Topalov has 47 minutes while Anand has 43.

29.Nc4 Topalov finished his knight’s maneuver by playing 29. Nc4

29… e5 it’s a very interesting side of Anand, he often chooses not the most obvious move, not the one that would be played by 90% of players, but another one, more unexcpected, which can be as strong as the most obvious, but will have a stronger effect on the opponent.

30.e4 Black wanted to play e4, that’s why Topalov prefered to play e4 himself, but now after f5 White is facing a very difficult and concrete problem. We are entering the concrete stage of the game where the words should be switched to the concrete lines and variations. White can try to support the pawn on e4 by playing 31. Nd2 but then after 31. … fxe4 32. Nxe4 Bxe4 33. fxe4 Rd4 the position is about equal although Black has some initiative

30… f5 31.exf5 e4 o la-la, like the french people might say! Topalov took on f5 and now after the break through e4 White’s position doesn’ look safe. Even sitting in fron of my screen I can feel the tension that is rising. The first time control approaches, the position of the white king is open and something interesting is going to happen. The spectators can be happy but what about the players? After 32. … qxe4 white is in a big trouble.

32.fxe4 33. Kh3 Rd4 (idea is simple Qg4#) if 34. Ne3 then Qe8 threatining to give checkmate again Qh5! White’s position suddenly started to look very bad, this bishop that was left on the long diagonal will have some words to say. Now will Anand be able to hold this pressure and find the best way to continue this game? If he wins it the match will be over! What a dramatic finish!

32… Qxe4 33.Kh3 Rd4 yes, 33. … Rd4! I doubt that Anand will let this win go away

34.Ne3 one more difficult move to find – Qe8! and the game will be practically over since after 35. g4 Black plays h5! So Qe8 and then h5 and Anand wins. Will he find these moves which shall be quite easy to find unless you are playing the final game for the world championship title and all your nerves are under high voltage and you feel and understand that a few more moves and the match will be over?

34… Qe8 Anand makes this move! What is going on right now in the minds of these two players? What are they thinking? What words is Topalov saying to himself? after such a long and ineteresting match to finish with such an absurd blunder. What a great game for Anand who refused of making a draw by repetition and continued to play. And his decision made such an impact on Topalov that 10 moves later Anand is winning. And tell me now that chess is not a game about psychology!!

35.g4 h5 and now after g5 Qe4 the game is over

36.Kh4 36. Kh4 in this situation there are no good advice for White

36… g5 Now the only move for White is 37. fxg6 since after Kg3 and Kh3 White is getting checkamted

37.fxg6 37 … Qxg6 with the idea Rxg4 is bringing the game closer to the desired for Black result

37… Qxg6 Black’s idea is simple to tak on g4 – Rxg4 and after Kh3 to play Qg5 with the idea to checkmate on h4. Тhe only move for White now is 38. Qf1 in order to have Rf8+ after Qg5. but in that case after 38. … Rxg4+ 39. Kh3 even though Qg5 is still possible, Black can make any other move such as 39. … Bc6 or Re7

38.Qf1 Here is a nice line how the game can be ended: 38. … Rxg4+ 39. Kh3 Re7 40. Rb3? Rxe3 41. Rxe3 Rh4+ 42. Kxh4 Qg4#

38… Rxg4 39.Kh3 Re7 as we mentioned this move has a very n ice idea – Rxe3 and then Rh4 and Qg4#

40.Rf8 Kg7 is not the best move, after Kh7! White’s only possibility would be to go for an endgame without a bishop after 41. Rh8 Kxh8 42. Qf8 Qg8 but now after 41. Nf5+! Black can not take on f8 in view of Nxe7 and Black is losing so he has to play Kh7 and his position is still winning. Kg7 is also strong of course, I just got scared at one point after seeing this Nf5+ Kf8?? Ne7 line. So 41. Nf5+ Kh7 42. Rg3 Rxg3+ 43. hxg3 Qg4+ 44. Kh2 Re2+ 45. Kg1 Rg2+ winning the game and then 46.Qxg2 Bxg2 47.Rf7 Kg6 48.Rg7 Kxf5 49.Rxg4 hxg4 50.Kxg2 Ke4 with a won pawn’s endgame.

41.Nf5 Kh7 42.Rg3 Rxg3+ 43.hxg3 Qg4+ 44.Kh2 Re2+ 45.Kg1 Rg2+ 46.Qxg2 Bxg2 47.Kxg2 Topalov took the bishop 47. Kxg2 since there were no chances in the pawn’s endgame, while here, even though he is still losing, he has the rook and the kn ight and that gives him a dreamlike hope for a draw. Of course Topalov will play till the very last moment because resignation in this game means today the end of the whole match.

47… Qe2 48.Kh3 c4 49.a4 a5 50.Rf6 if there were no pawns on the queen-side the position would have been different, but these pawns are here and White will not be able to protect them. Topalov’s idea here is to give away the knight for the c pawn and win the h5-pawn and then try to hold this endgame with the rook against the Queen, but of course Black will try to win the pawn on a4 as well.

50… Kg8 Anand is not trying to force the game, he is not looking forward to exchanging the pawns, he want to win white pawns but stay with his own pawns on the board

51.Nh6 Kg7 Now after 51. Nh6+ Kg7 52. Rb6 Qf3! White is in zugzwang since after 53. Kh4 Qe4+ White can not go back to h3 in view of Qh1# And once again Anand is finding a very interesting continuation, he doesn’ just take a pawn on b2 but finds a very tricky zugzwang, using the fact that White pieces are not very well coordinated

52.Rb6 Qe4 Qf3 on the 52nd move would have been stronger since there was no Kh2 move

53.Kh2 now Black has a possibility to play h4 since after gxh4 the rook on b6 will be lost after Qe2+ and then Qe3+ or Qf1 and Qf2+. Kh7 is lso a zugzwang, since now after the rook moves one of the white pawns will be lost.

53… Kh7 54.Rd6 54. … Qe5 attacking the pawn on b2 and the pawn on g3 (after h4) is very strong here although this is the position of such kind where every move there are several winning moves for Black.

54… Qe5 55.Nf7 Qxb2 56.Kh3 Qg7 the pawn on b2 is lost and now the chances for a miracle are fading away and Topalov resigned the game. Anand keeps his title! We have to congratulate Viswanathan Anand for this wonderful victory in this very hard and exciting match where everything was decided in the last decisive game. Thanks to Anand and Topalov for the very nice match and Vivat, Anand! Thank you for following the World Chess Championship with me GM Alexandra Kosteniuk on! 0-1

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk

Women’s World Chess Champion

Shahade wins unusual chess blitz game

Hello everyone!

You don’t want to miss this unusual chess blitz game, between Jennifer and Greg Shahade.

It’s a unique US Chess Championship warmup battle. The action spans from May 13-25 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Follow it at!

It will be an awesome event you’ll want to follow!

The 24 invited players include:

The defending U.S. Champion – GM Hikaru Nakamura

The winner of the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship – GM Larry Christiansen

The winner of the 2009 U.S. Junior Championship – GM Ray Robson

The top five qualifiers from the 2009 U.S. Open Championship – GM Alex Lenderman, GMs Sergey Kudrin, Alex Yermolinsky, Dmitry Gurevich, and Jesse Kraai

The winner of the 2010 ICC State Champion of Champions – IM Levon Altounian

The top 11 U.S. players by rating of the United States Chess Federation:
GM Gata Kamsky
GM Alexander Onischuk
GM Varuzhan Akobian
GM Yury Shulman
GM Jaan Ehlvest
GM Alexander Shabalov
GM Gregory Kaidanov
GM Robert Hess
GM Melikset Khachiyan
GM Joel Benjamin
GM Ben Finegold
Four wildcard spots:
GM Alexander Stripunsky
GM Vinay Bhat
IM Sam Shankland
IM Irina Krush
2010 U.S. Championship

Calendar of Events


Thursday, May 13, 2010 – Arrival Day

3:00pm – All Players, Arbiters and Commentators need to be checked into the Chase Park Plaza or Choice Hotel

4:00pm – Players’ Meeting, Signing and Photo Shoot

6:00pm – Opening Ceremony, Chess at the Plaza Park

Opening Remarks and Program

Drawing of the Colors

Announce all the Rounds Pairing

Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails


Friday, May 14, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 1

Saturday, May 15, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 2

Sunday, May 16, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 3

Monday, May 17, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 4

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 5

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 6

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – Public

2:00 – 8:00pm, Round 7


Friday, May 21, 2010

Players’ Rest Day

12:00pm – Human Chess Event on Maryland Avenue

2:00pm – Possible 4th Place Playoff


Saturday, May 22, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm, Round 8 of Swiss

Round 1 of Quad Finals

Sunday, May 23, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm, Round 9 of Swiss

Round 2 of Quad Finals

Monday, May 24, 2010 – Public

2:00pm – 8:00pm – Round 3 of Quad Finals

8:00pm – Open Blitz Tournament – Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Khorassan Ballroom


Tuesday, May 25, 2010 – Public

10:00am – 12:00pm – Possible Tie Breaker

12:00pm – 5:00pm – Community Day, Saint Louis Science Center

7:00pm – 9:00pm – Closing Ceremony and Reception, Chase Park Plaza Hotel

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Departure and Travel Day

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Kosteniuk Comments Topalov-Anand LIVE on Chessdom

Hello everybody!

Right now I’m starting to comment LIVE the last classical game of the match Topalov – Anand. You can follow my commentary on and watch the game LIVE, here.

Have a great chess time!


Tatiana Kosintseva wins Nalchik Chess Grand Prix 2010

Hello everybody!

On May 8 the 3rd tournament of the women’s FIDE Grand-Prix came to its end in Nalchik.

The winner of this tournament – Tatiana Kosintseva scored 9 out of 11 in this strong field and with this wonderful result took clear first place followed by Hou Yifan with 7,5 points and Nana Dzagnidze and Pia Cramling with 7 points. That was the first tournament for Tatiana in this Grand-Prix Series and I wish her all the best in the next tournaments which are scheduled to be in July, August and November 2010.

After first three tournaments of this Grand-Prix series (in Istanbul in March 2009, in Nanjing in September 2009 and Nalchik in April 2010) Hou Yifan is leading with 250 overall Grand-Prix points, here is the full table of contenders. I remind you that the winner of this Grand-Prix (the players who will get more points for her best three results out of 4 tournaments of the Grand-Prix) will get a chance to play a match with the women’s world chess champion in 2011.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Victory’s Day. We will always remember.

Hello everybody!

I’m at the airport in Atlanta right now, after a very busy week-end with 2 simuls and thousands of signed photo-cards, scoresheet books, medals, t-shirts and hundreds of photos taken. I’m heading back home. Everybody in America is celebrating Mother’s Day today and I want to send my warmest wishes to all the moms in the world, especially the chess moms!

But in Russia the 9th of May is Victory Day. It’s a very special day for all Russians and it is widely celebrated in Russia with parades, fireworks, special songs and movies. We will always remember all those who sacrificed their lives in order to bring peace to the world and end this terrible second world war.

Also with great sadness I’m writing that during this week-end the chess world lost two wonderful people and chess enthusiasts. On May 8 in Budapest the oldest chess GM Andor Lilienthal passed away at the age of 99. The TWIC web-site published a very nice article about this Grandmaster with best results and games of Lilienthal’s career, you can read it here.

Below I post the position of the most famous game of Lilienthal, where he managed to beat Capablanca in 26 moves. Try to find the best move for white.

The same day, May 8, in Kishinev Fedor Skripchenko, the father of my dearest friend Almira Skripchenko, passed away. I’m sending my deepest condolences to the families of Andor Lilienthal and Fedor Skripchenko. These people have done a lot of wonderful things for the chess community and we will always remember them! RIP, Andor and Fedor!

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Video of Tarrito Rojo Chess Talent 2010

Hi everyone!

I’m now in Atlanta, I just gave a 48-board simul at the National Elementary Championships, and a book signing right after it. I also visited the Coca-Cola Museum, (see my photo here), and now I’m getting ready to fly to Philadelphia as tomorrow at 10 AM I will give another simul in Cherry Hill.

My video about my recent trip to Colombia (Bogotá and Medellin) just got uploaded to my channel “ChessQueen“, I invite you to watch it in the embedded player above. It was really a nice trip, where chess & business were able to make an impact in the lives of many Colombians. In the video, I get a little emotional around minutes 3-4, I’m sure you’ll understand the way I feel.

The original post I made about the Tarrito Rojo Chess Talent is HERE.

The full photo album of the Tarrito Rojo Chess Talent 2010 is HERE.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion

Atlanta and Cherry Hill

Hello everyone!

I’m leaving for Atlanta today, tomorrow morning I will give a 50-board simul at the National Elementary Championships.

Then the next day I will fly to Philadelphia and will give another simul for Cherry Hill Chess, and I heard there are still a couple playing spots open.

The simul will be played at 10 AM at the library of

Cherry Hill High School West
2101 Chapel Ave.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

And you can sign up here. I will also be giving a seminar after lunch.

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women’s World Chess Champion


Hello everybody!

Just a short note to let you all know that right now I will be commenting LIVE the 8th game between Topalov and Anandon

See you there:)

Note: Topalov won and the score is now 4-4. Here is the text of the LIVE comments feed:

Veselin Topalov – Vishy Anand

Round 8
WCC 2010


Hello everybody! I’m Alexandra Kosteniuk and I will be commenting for you the 8th game between two great chess players Veselin Topalov and Viswanatan Anand.

Since Anand is leading in this match and today he will be playing Black, Topalov will try to do everything in order to use the white color. Since the end of this match is approching, and the world champion title is at stake, the tension is increasing and the players need to deal not only the moves on the board but also with their feelings.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3The game has started and we see the same variation as in the 3rd and 5th games.

7… c5 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 Again Anand is happy to exchange the queens and will be trying to hold this endgame.

11.Bxd4 Nfd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 Rc8 New move in this match, in games 3 and 5 Anand played 13. … a6

14.Bb5 a6

15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Ke2 In my database there are 2 games that reached this position, in both games GM Amonatov was playing Black. In both these games Black replied with 16. … f6 trying to solve the problem with the bishop on g6.

16… f6 17.Rhd1 Of course Anand was analazying this position at home and right now is probably taking his time to choose where he would go.

Nothing new so far, here is the game, that the players are following: Maletin-Amonatov, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Bxd4 Nbd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 Rc8 14.Bb5 a6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Ke2 f6 17.Rhd1 Ke8 18.Rac1 Rc6 19.Na2 Rxc1 20.Nxc1 Be7 21.Bb6 e5 22.Nd3 Bf7 23.Rc1 Bd8 24.a5 Ke7 25.Rc8 Re8 26.Rb8 Bc4 27.Rxb7+ Kf8 28.Ke3 Be7 29.Bc5 Bb5 30.b4 h6 31.Rb6 Bc4 32.Rb7 Bxc5+ 33.Nxc5 Rd8 34.Rc7 Kg8 35.Rc6 Bb5 36.Rb6 Bc4 37.h3 h5 38.Nxa6 Rd3+ 39.Kf2 Rd2+ 40.Ke1 Re2+ 41.Kd1 Rxg2 42.Nc5 Ra2 43.a6 Kh7 44.Kc1 Kh6 45.Rb7 h4 46.a7 Kg5 47.Kb1 Kf4 48.b5 g5 49.Na6 1-0

17… Ke8 Despite the fact that Black has two bishops, these bishops are the main problem of Black. He needs to decide how to finish development and at the same time not to end up with one bishop stuck on the king-side.

The adavantage of these kind of positions is that computers nowadays are still not great helpers in such endgames. Everything is about nuances that computers still can’t understand and only people can feel.

Now has come time for Topalov to choose what to do, in another game between Bocharov and Amonatov of 2007 that ended in a draw White played here 18. Bb6.

18.a5 Finally a novelty! The idea of this move is to make it more difficult for Black to exchange the dark-squared bishops, since right now after 18. … Bc5 White will probably play 19. Bxc5 Rxc5 and now 20. Rac1 (after 20. Na4 immediately Black has 20 … Rc2) with the idea after 20. … Rxa5? to play 21. Na4! and the undevelopment of Black pieces is the key factor here.

It’s always interesting to know how far the players have analysed this position at home, since a5 and Na4-b6 is quite an obvious idea in this position that should not be a surprise for Anand since in order to hold such endgames one needs to really look at them thouroughly.

Since Black can not play Bc5 and he still needs to finish the development of his pieces Bb4 with the idea of Ke7 and Be8-b5 shall be analyzed.

18… Be7

19.Bb6 So after some thought Anand played Be7 and Topalov immediately answered with Bb6. It’s interesting to know why Anand decided not to choose 18… Bb4, since now he once again is facing a very difficult question how to develop his king-side?

19… Rf8 A rather strange looking move, but otherwise it’s unclear how to delevop, Black can not move his king from the e-file yet, since he has to keep under control the d7 square.

It’s the first time in the game that Topalov is actually thinking. Again it’s not clear has he analyzed it at home and right now is just choosing between lines that he looked or he is just thinking. If he has reached this position in his analysis and taking under account that Rf8 is the first move that computer suggest, this position should not be the one where he stopped his preparation.

Black has several ideas – to play f5-f4 and to open his bishop on g6, or to play Rf7 and Kf8. Or even Rf7 and Bf8 although this set-up is rather provocative. Now, the key question is what White wants to do, what are his ideas.

20.Rac1 With the idea to play Na4, to exchange Rook on c8 and to use the fact that Black pieces are far from the Queen side. Right now Black can not play 20. … Kf7 in view of 21. Rd7. After 20. … f5 White will probably play 21. e5 and the idea of Na4 is still in the air. So it leaves us with 20 … Rf7, with the idea after 21. Na4 to play 21. … Rxc1 22. Rxc1 and Bd6.

20… f5 But Anand chose to play 20. … f5 anyway. Now it’s interesting what is he planning to do after 21. e5? Because now the line that I gave above 21. … Rf7 22. Na4 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 doesn’t really work because Black doesn’t have Bd6 at the end of the line.

21.e5 Looks like a joke, the line that computer at the beginning suggests here 21. … Rc4?! 22. b3 Rh4??!!! leaving the queen-side all alone.

21… Bg5 Is most logical move, Black is offering White to exchange the bishops after Be3. Since if White plays 22. Rc2 now, Black can reply with Bf4 attacking two pawns.

22.Be3 f4 An interesting decision and almost immediate reply. Either Anand is still following his preparation, or else something interesting is going to happen now after 23. Ne4!? The move 23. Bb6 shall not be forgotten as well.

First of all, let’s us try to understand what will happen after 23. Ne4, Black has to take on Rxc1 24. Nd6+ Kd7 25. Bxc1 and Black will need to go to the c-file with his King, protecting the pawn on b7. And later the game can continue like this 25. … Kc6 26. Bd2 Be7 27. Rc1+ Kd7 28. Bb4 Bxd6 (with the idea after Bxd6 to play Rc8) 29. Rd1 Rd8 30. Rxd6 Kc7 31. Rxe6 Re8 exchanging the rooks and reaching the endgame with an extra-pawn for White but the opposite colored bishops.

23.Ne4 After a few minutes of thinking Topalov decided to go for this line, now everything is forced.

23… Rxc1 24.Nd6+ Interesting, Anand is still thinking.

24… Kd7 Ok, finally he played Kd7.

25.Bxc1 After Kc7 or Kc6 White can also play Rd4, with the idea to play Rc4 or Rb4 or even g3, a very nice multi-purpose move!

25… Kc6 Black is in a very difficult position. To tell you the truth, although the match of such players are always awaiting with big interest and enthusiasm, the strategy for this kind of matches nowadays are rather uninteresting. Players, like Anand or Topalov, or even Kramnik are trying to minimize their risk and play positions with a small plus for White and try to hold a draw in boring and slightly worse endgames.

A match is not a tournament, even if you win with the score +1 it’s enough to get the title. This makes players play differently, not in an open and exciting style they usually play in tournament, but rather in very academical and unrisky ways.

26.Bd2 Be7 since Black will loose at least one pawn – either on f4, or b7, or even e6, he hopes to save this endgame after exchanging the bishop for the knight on d6 and then the rooks although the endgames with opposite-colored bishops are known to have many drawing chances, they are far from obvious. Meanwhile, the first long thought for Topalov in this game

27.Rc1 a big advantage of long theoretical lines for players is that the zeitnot can be avoided at least on the first time control. We are right now on the move 27 and Topalov has 1hour 15 min while Anand has a little bit less than 1 hour.

27… Kd7 so far the players are following the line that I gave a little bit earlier and if we prolong this line, it seems that White will win the second pawn as well, but it doesn’t mean it will be enough for a win

28.Bc3 Topalov prefers not to go after the pawn, but rather to play in the position like this – Bxd629. Rd1 Rd8 30. Rxd6 Ke7 31. Rb6 Rd7 32. Bb4+ and then Bd6, dominating over the Black pieces since with the bishop on c3 the pawn on e5 is protected and Black can not exchange the rooks after 30. … Kc7 31. Rxe6 Re8.

28… Bxd6 but instead Black can play 30. … Kc7 31. Rxe6 Bd3+ 32. Kf2 Bb5 and it’s not that obvious how White can avoid exhanging the rooks, but of course after 29. Rd1 Black can just play Bf5, but in any of these lines Black will need to play very carefully since he can not afford to make even a small mistake here

29.Rd1 Bf5 Anand opted for Bf5 and now after 30. Rxd6 Kc7 and then Bd4-b6

30.h4 But Topalov plays h4! he has another idea in mind, he wants to play Bb4-d6 and then win the pawn on f4. Now Anand will need to decide what kind of position he wants to defence – with the White rook or White bishop on d6, or White pawn on this square. Most likely we will see the position with White pawn on d6. White will win the pawn on f4 and Black can only hope to be able to activate his rook by playing Rc8-c2.

30… g6 Anand once again is suggesting Topalov to make his choice

31.Rxd6 so Topalov chose to take with the Rook, now after Kc8 how White wants to avoid exchanging the rooks? maybe it would have been better for Topalov to continue waiting and play 31. Bb4 for example? It is known that sometimes “the threat is more dangerous than execution”

31… Kc8 Most likely Topalov will continue with 32. Rd4, but the problem is that after Rf4 Black will have Bd3+ and the rooks will be exchanged anyway. I always admire players who are willingly go to play such positions with Black because the only thing in these position Black can hope for is to make a draw and in order to make it one has to suffer all the way through the game.

32.Bd2 now the following line is interesting 32. … Rd8 with the idea of exchanging the rooks, 33. Rb6. If Black plays 33. … Rd5, then after 34. Bxf4 Rxa5 35. g4 White wins the pawn on e6 that’s why Black instead of Rd5 can play 33. … Rd4 protecting the pawn on f4. Another interesting question how to evaluate the position after 32. … Rd8 33. Bxf4 Rxd6 34. exd6? Is it such a clear draw? I wouldn’t be so sure, White has the following plan – to bring the king onto e5 and then-f6-g7 to force Black to play h7-h5 and then to go with the king to g5 and to play g2-g4 creating the secong passed pawn. But of course Black will not just wait and see, although, does he have a choice? Probably he will need to give away the e-pawn in order to save the game by playing e5.

32… Rd8 of course Anand played Rd8 otherwise White could have won the pawn on f4 and keep the rooks on the board which would have been even worse for Black. This is the kind of situations where Black needs always choose a lesser evil.

33.Bxf4 Rxd6 34.exd6 Kd7 So the players reached this intriguing endgame. Whte’s goal is obvious to create the second passed pawn.

35.Ke3 Bc2 So White will most likely to continue to march his king. What Black will do? Maybe he will try to attack the pawns g2 and f3?

36.Kd4 Ke8 Anand played Ke8 with the idea to play Kf7 and Ba4-d7. At the beginning I thought it’s not possible, but in fact after 37. Ke5 now Black will play Kf7 since after 38. d7 Black has Ke7 move. After 37. Kc5 now Black will move his king back to d7 and after 38. Kb6 he will play Kc8. Maybe it’s just a fortress, we will wait and see what Topalov has in mind.

37.Ke5 Kf7 so Anand almost finished his pieces relocation, on the next move he wants to move his bishops to the diagonal a4-e8.

38.Be3 Ba4 Yes, the plan is completed, now Black king is potecting the king-side while the Black bishop is guarding the pawn on d6.

39.Kf4 Now let’s try to understand does white have any winning chances here? Even if Black just waits and moves his bishop back and forth I can not see any ideas for White for the moment. But maybe Topalov still has something to say? I think White’s plan can look like this: White will bring his king to h6; then he will push the pawn to h5 exchaning the g6 pawn to h pawn. Then he will push his g pawn to g6, put the bishop on g7 and bring the king to f6, but the problem that Black can also move, and by playing Be8 at some point he will just stop this plan.

39… Bb5 40.Bc5 of course the game can continue like this for hours, but it’s still not clear how White can try to break up through Black’s fortress

40… Kf6

41.Bd4 The first time control has passed, players have enough time now to find the ultimate truth about this position.

41… Kf7 42.Kg5 Bc6 43.Kh6 Kg8 Nothing has changed so far, Topalov is moving his king to h6.

44.h5 Be8 45.Kg5 Kf7 Everything is going as planned. White has moved his king to h6 and his pawn to h5 and Black played Be8. There are limited number of ideas for both sides in this position, so normally it should be a draw.

46.Kh6 Kg8 47.Bc5 gxh5 Anand decided to take the pawn on h5, now he will play Kf7 in order not to let White to go to f6.

48.Kg5 Kg7 Ok, the idea behind Kg7 is the same not to give White a chance to go to f6

49.Bd4 There maybe some kind of zugzwang. If White take the pawn on h5, then plays Kh6 and then pushes his pawns to f4 and g5. Black will need to retreat his bishop from the e8-h5 diagonal and then White will play g6 and after hxg6 Kxg6 he achieved his goal of getting to the f6 square.

49… Kf7 if before playing g6 White will be able to get his bishop to g7 and then play g6, then after hxg6 Kxg6 and Kf6 white will win this endgame since after Bd7 Ke7 white will win the bishop

50.Be5 50. Be5! since after 50. Kh5 Black could have played e5!? and White can not take on e5 in view of Ke6+ and Black even wins. Now Black can try to relocate his pieces once again by moving his bishop to c2 – Ba4-c2 and the king to d7.

50… h4 Anand wants to play Kg6 after Kxh4 and set up another barrier for White

51.Kxh4 Kg6 now Black can just move his bishop and wait, it’s unclear how can white improve his position. White can move his King to e5 and try to play g4 and f4, but Black will just move Bd7-c8 then White will try to play Kd4 with the idea of playing Kc5-b6-c7. If White’s king will reach the square c7 then Black can end up in zugzwang and will need to give the pawn on b7 and after f4-f5, white will create the second passed pawn and will win. Now at least it’s clear what is the plan for White. But of course if White tries to transfer his king to the queen side, Black can always move his king to d7

52.Kg4 Bb5 53.Kf4 So, I understand that this kind of endgame is not the most exciting ones and I can even feel that some people are about to leave their screens, but let’s us try to see a brighter side. First of all, computers are not great helpers here, meaning that you can not evaluate this kind of positions using your software. It’s not about concrete moves here but rather plans. But on the other hand this position has its evaluation it’s either won for White or it’s a draw and every move is very important. That’s why Anand is spending quite a few time on every move. It’s very unpleasent situation for Black, because White is not risking anything, he is just playing, moving his pieces from one side to another. While Black needs to calculate all these long lines in order to find a set-up which will bring him the desired result. So White is going to put his King to e5 now, then will try to push his pawns to g4 and f4, then will go to b6 and then to c7.

53… Kf7 Anand decided to let White move his king to g5 and we are back to the position that we have already discussed. White has 2 plans – to create the second passed pawn or to play Kh6 and then to push the pawn g6

54.Kg5 Bc6 55.Kh6 Kg8 56.g4 the most terrible thing that White can continue torturing his opponent for a long time, he can move his pieces from one side to another. He can always switch from the plan with the king on h6 to the king on e5 while time is running against Anand.

That is why Anand resigns. He decided to give up probably he just didn’t see how to defend and prefered not to continue this game. It seems that the plan g5, Bg7, g6 is too strong and Anand didn’t see how to defend. We have to applause to Topalov, he went again for this endgame and using the nuances of this position outplayed his opponent even though that Anand was defending well and reached a very interesting endgame with opposite-colored bishops, but this kind of choices when Black from the very beginning accepts to be the weaker side, it’s always double-edged. So the score is now even 4-4 and the most interesting games are ahead. I wish all of you a good day and am looking forward to see a very exciting ending of this match, hopefully with more fire on the board:) Thank you for following with me GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, see you for more live coverage on! 1-0