Reports | February 22, 2009 7:42

Kamsky wins game 4 to level match score

Kamsky-Topalov Game 4Gata Kamsky defeated Veselin Topalov in the fourth game of the Challenger's Match to level the score: 2-2. In a Zaitsev Ruy Lopez, the American sacrificed a pawn for strong pressure, won two pawns back and then converted his material advantage in the ending.

The Kamsky-Topalov World Championship Semi-Final Match takes place February 16th to 28th in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Challenger’s Match consists of eight games and possible tie-breaks and has a prize find of US $250,000 which will be shared equally by the players. The winner qualifies for a World Championship Match against Viswanathan Anand.

Game 4
Again, Topalov went for 1...e5 and this time it was the Zaitsev Variation he had prepared. With 12.Ng5 (a move sometimes played back in the seventies) Kamsky avoided the topical lines and then came up with a very creative pawn sacrifice (26.b3) to untangle his queenside. The American had judged correctly: his pressure on the c- and d-files meant more than enough compensation. After a few inaccuracies by Topalov, Kamsky won his pawn back and then another one, and eventually this decided the game. (Don't miss Ian Rogers' great first piece on the events in Sofia!)

Name Nat. Rtg
















Kamsky USA 2725
Topalov BUL 2796
1 ¬? 0 2

Kamsky-Topalov Game 4

Kamsky-Topalov game 4: the final position

Photos © Ivan Stoimenov - courtesy of the official website



Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


me's picture

"Simple Topalov fanboyism?"

You assume much too much. I'm not his fan. Never has been.

ivaningbg's picture

Hi,guys.I am Bulgarian and I am pretty sure,Topalov will be the next champion!Kamsky is good,but not the best one.Topalov now is the only one who has more then 2800 ELO,none else exept him!The victory will belong to Vesko Topalov!!!!!

guitarspider's picture

Danailov was the driving force behind the Fide offer to Kramnik. You can search for the news items yourself, but I will quote Karpov here, with whom I totally agree.

"Here are the comments from Karpov about this matter:

Topalov´s absence in the next World Championship cycle is scandalously absurd. But we have to remind ourselves of how these strange rules came up. They decided after San Luis by those same people of FIDE that went according to the decisions of Danailov and Topalov. They thought that after the magnificent results of Topalov in 2005, Kramnik simply would not have any chance to win. This was designed to get rid of him definitively. They invented these rules, according to which one of the participants of the match in Elista would not be allowed to play in the following cycle. There is a wonderful Russian proverb: "Do not dig a hole for somebody else, you yourself will fall into it". This exact situation was what happened with Topalov and Danailov. They dug a hole to for Kramnik, but they were those who fell in it."

Danailov has tried to get an anti-Fide image after the match, like he and Topalov were cheated by Fide. The truth is Topalov was the Fide champion and Fide would've done everything to have him win. Remember the toilet tapes they just handed out like nothing? Danailov and Topalov have a lot of friends within Fide, look at how easily they could circumvent their own clause.

You still didn't answer my question, how does agreeing with “No player should get any favor” but disagreeing with “No player should be seeded into the cycle whatever his rating” go together? Simple Topalov fanboyism?

guitarspider's picture

@ pete: I did not say Kramnik deserved the match. But I think it was necessary to end all discussion. Kramnik shouldn't be at the Candidates Tournament (I'm just assuming he will be), just like Topalov shouldn't be playing this match.

@ me: How is it possible to agree with "No player should get any favor" but disagree with "No player should be seeded into the cycle whatever his rating"? Doesn't seem logical to me.

me's picture

Since you are mentioning the word ilogical. You said:

"It was TOPALOV who wanted a clause in the match contract with Kramnik that excluded the loser from the next cycle."

Where did you get this from? It doesn't make any sense.

Let's see some facts:

1) Before the match, Topalov was directly seeded into the 2007 WCC, while Kramnik refused to participate in the candidates and was thus out of the cycle.

2) If Topalov would have won, his and Kramnik's status in the cycle would remain unchanged.

3) Kramnik won, so he switched places with Topalov - he got Topalov spot in 2007 WCC and Topalov was out of the cycle.

So why on earth would Topalov demand such a clause??? It makes no sence whatsoever. It is far more logical that it was Kramnik (or someone within FIDE who had something against Topalov) who came up with this clause.

Topalov was certainly not the one who came up with it, because he had nothing to gain from it. He could (and did) only lose something. Topalov and Danailov are not that stupid and arrogant.

VB's picture

I think Topalov will play white in game 5. If so I bet on 1-0 and the six game will be also very interesting and important.

Castro's picture

Tchigorin and every other Great! It is a myth that Tchigorin really praised knights more than bishops, in general. He had many games in which he exchanges knights and keeps bishops. Now, he praised them, and played them very well, having memorable wins that way, sure.

Wim's picture

Great and interesting game by Gata!

VB's picture

So far very interesting gaemes. Even the two draws were extremely interesting.

Alexander's picture

Excellent game! On ICC there was much stir about whether Kamsky saw 43.Bxf8 with the following 44.Qc1, but apparently he did.

F3MDR's picture

An extremely nice game by Kamsky.

Looks like Topalov will have to change the course of the match in Round 5, possibly by playing something other than 1.d4.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 by Topalov might be another good idea, just to get Kamsky out of his comfort zone.

Caveman's picture

Anything can happen now. Cool!

Mauricio Valdes's picture

score is even and it is haltime.......
the underdog has leveled the cool is that dude?

test's picture

I'll be honest: I am no big fan of Kamsky, but I dislike Team Topailov with a vengence.
Hence I am routing for Kamsky, but fear he will not be allowed to win this match.

val's picture

This first ever victory over Topalov will certainly give a vital boost to Kamsky´s spirits, which even might even out both players´ chances.

guitarspider's picture

Kamsky has clearly played the better chess so far. Even the game Topalov won was more Kamsky losing than Topalov winning. Strange choice to go for the Zaitsev against Kamsky. I hope Gata can beat Topalov and get the match with Anand he should have gotten right away. He has a good chance after the restday, he has white twice in a row after all.

4i4mitko's picture

i was thinking b4 before Be6
25. Rd1 b4
26 cxb d5

Ark's picture

Kamsky will be playing White again in R5. Go go and crush Toppy like an ant!

Castro's picture

I think game 5 will be played repeting colours, that is, Kamsky - Topalov again.

Kamsky is really a phenomenon, that was already known. What a retirement and what a comeback. From his 14-15 years on he showed he can win games from anyone, and he does it!

And yeah, it looks like this choice for black was realy bad. This is not Topalov's kind of opening at all! I predict Center-counter for game 5 ;-)

Castro's picture

wau! We told the same thing at the same time!

jussu's picture

I am glad to admit that my prediction was grossly wrong.

R.Mutt's picture

me: "It was known since June 2007 that the winner of 2007 World Cup (played in November/December 2007) will have to play a challenger match against Topalov."

Yes, it was known. But that does not mean that getting into this match is not an absurd privilege for Topalov. In June 2007 the rules were changed in Topalov's favour.

Arne Moll's picture

Very cool game by Kamsky!

guitarspider's picture

I totally agree with R.Mutt. Topalov shouldn't be playing this match and this is no lie. He used his connections and got seeded, without any reason other than being Topalov. Just because the rules are the rules does not mean they are justified, especially in this case where they were changed mid-cycle (again).

Peter's picture

Very nice game by Kamsky indeed!

b4 seemed to be a mistake indeed, perhaps Topalov got desperate to complicate the game. Qc3 was ok, but according to Dennis Monokroussos, it might be a bad practical decision.

I don't think Qa8 would have made much of a difference. After your line, black can't take the pawn on e4, so white stays a healthy pawn up with a nice position. Black's pawns on b5 and e5 look a lot worse on the other hand. Certainly not equal.

Popuscu [Bulgaria] 's picture

to Peter;
thanks a lot ...

I should check again my analysis after Qa8 .... It seems that it remains bad in view of your positional observations. I am not sure if there remains some tactical resources.

I understand that Topa was aiming to complicate the game with b4 by putting the a5 bishop under fire in next moves.

me's picture

If Topalov didn't deserve to be in this challenger match then I don't know who does.

1.) He was left out of the 2007 World Championship. It is plain ridicolous to leave the #1 ranked player out of the World Championship cycle.

2) At that time there was a rule that said that any former champion or +2700 rated player can challenge the World Champion to a match. If the prize fund is 1 milion $ then the Champion MUST accept. Topalov did make a valid 1 milion challenge, but Kramnik/FIDE refused on technicality that the guarantees are from the "wrong" bank.

3) Topalov challenges again, this time with guarantees from the "right" bank. Kramnik/FIDE ignores the challenge until it is impossible to play (because of WCC in Mexico)

4) Kramnik miracoluosly gets a free shot in case he loses the title in Mexico. Since FIDE is giving free passes like candies, they give it to Topalov too (but he deserved it much more than Kramnik).

pete's picture

bad day for Topa ... my personal opinion is that the Ruy Lopez does not suit him, he should be playing something more dynamic. Kamsky proved that he really has nerves of steel and his victory was impressive, congratulations.

I hope we will see something more energetic and interesting tomorrow ... like the first two games, this one was too positional for my taste.

guitarspider's picture

@ me: You're wrong. It was TOPALOV who wanted a clause in the match contract with Kramnik that excluded the loser from the next cycle. He was arrogant enough to believe he'd beat Kramnik and wanted him out. What happened is that he was the one on the outside. But instead of competing with others and play for qualification he preferred to use his connections and get a ridiculous seed into the cycle. If the world number one does not want to compete with others (he should be confident enough to get the spot, don't you think?), he should not be in the cycle.
Topalov was not willing to play, he shouldn't be where he is, end of discussion.

I believe it was Fide bringing up the time argument, which is not unreasonable. Remember, had Topalov not included the clause he would surely have been in Mexico, it's his own fault.

Kramnik getting a rematch was necessary, because there are a lot of people who believe World Championship matches can only be decided in matches, not in tournaments. To end all possible discussion a match was needed.

Demanding more candies can not be the way to go. Instead we should seek to abolish all favoritism and keep people out who are not willing to qualify via the cycle. To say Topalov deserved it more than Kramnik is ridiculous. Neither deserves any favors and both are good enough to qualify via the normal cycle, which is exactly what they should do!

me's picture

I agree with the last part. But only the last part.

4i4mitko's picture

the main thing is to respect your opponent but Kamsky can crush Topalov only in your dreams there were no problems for making draw in this position

Popuscu [Bulgaria] 's picture

I do not understand why Topalov gave up his siciliaan najdorf. Now he is playing passive chess: all his pieces where in the third rank until move 26 !!!!

I thinkh that 30. ...b4 was a blunder or even 26. ... Qxc3 poisoned pawn. After this moves, Topa's position was difficult.

I guess that he misses a drawing chance: 41. ... Qa8 42.Bxd6 Red8 43.Rc7 Qa5 44.Rxd7+ Rxd7 45.Nd5 Bxd5 46.Bxf8 Rc7 47.Qd1 about equal.

And the b5 pawn is over protected

pete's picture


"Kramnik getting a rematch was necessary, because there are a lot of people who believe World Championship matches can only be decided in matches, not in tournaments. To end all possible discussion a match was needed."

it is ironic how you blame Topalov for everything, but when it comes to the one you support you close your eyes. Kramink did not deserve the rematch!

I think FIDE should have let Topalov play in Mexico and end all that bullshit with that. Those two matches after 2007 were not needed and only complicated the situation

Mike's picture

Did you notice? Take a look at the position after the moves 49.Rc7 Qd6... I see it as a classical and spectacular example of the Knights Pair crushing the Bishops Pair!! Tchigorin is for sure smiling a lot with this Kamsky game!

me's picture

"I hope Gata can beat Topalov and get the match with Anand he should have gotten right away."

Again this lie that gets repeated again and again. It was known since June 2007 that the winner of 2007 World Cup (played in November/December 2007) will have to play a challenger match against Topalov. Kamsky, as well as everyone else, knew that in case of win he will have to play against Topalov. And it was also known that the match is scheduled for November 2008 in Bulgaria!

I don't know what's with all of you. You are either ignorant (so please stop talking about things you don't know) or you are deliberatly spreading lies.

Latest articles