Reports | February 24, 2009 1:37

Kamsky blunders and loses fifth game

Topalov-Kamsky Game 5In a slightly worse position that was probably tenable, Gata Kamsky blundered horribly today dropping a healthy pawn. He then decided to try his luck in a queen endgame two pawns down, but the American had to resign at move 51. In the Challenger's Match in Sofia, Veselin Topalov now leads 3-2.

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 5
To the surprise of many chess fans and journalists, Topalov played with the white pieces today, and not Kamsky. Even after the fifth game had finished, match regulations on the official website still quoted the rule:

"The colors shall be reversed after game 4. (The player getting the white color in game 1 shall play game 5 with the black color)."

This idea was borrowed from the Anand-Kramnik match of last year, the idea being that there wouldn't be just one player profiting from a White game after a rest day.

However, during the negotiations that took place in November in Dresden, this idea was abandonded for being too complicated for such a short match, and so an amendment to the rules had been signed by all parties prior to the match, but this hadn't (and still hasn't) made it to the official website.

A funny consequence of all this was that online commentator Sergey Shipov, who always annotates the game live in Russian at Crestbook, had mixed up the names of the players and was discussing reasons for Topalov to chose the French, and recognizing the style of Sutovsky in Kamsky's handling of that opening! ;-)

Unfortunately there's not much more to say about the game than what you've already read in the intro. Just when the worst was over for Kamsky, he blundered a pawn and then he had to make a choice between two evils: continuing with a pawn down in a hopelessly passive position or going for a queen ending with two pawns down. He chose the latter, but this was clearly lost too, as was shown by Topalov, who finished the game off accurately.

A huge setback for the Kamsky team, who again have to deal with the situation of being one down. But on the positive side, they have two Whites to work on against just one left for the Topalov team.

Name Nat. Rtg
















Kamsky USA 2725
Topalov BUL 2796
1 ¬? 0 1 3

Topalov-Kamsky Game 5

The fifth game Topalov-Kamsky

Photos © Ivan Stoimenov - courtesy of the official website



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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.


joe's picture

Kamsky is extremely boring in the press conference. If you have hard time sleep just listen to his brief and boring comments with his monotone voice. He does not understand that the Bulgarians assembled one quarter of a million for this match from which he'll get half. And the least he can do is answer the questions faithfully in the press conference. Kamsky really boring! boring! boring! ingrate! ingrate! ingrate!

Popuscu [Bulgaria] 's picture

Hello everybody;

yesterday when I follows the game I was almost sure that Topalov will go for a dynamic play after 29.Nd3 Qxa2 30.b4 Qa1 31.Ra2 Qd1 32.Rxa5 instead of the "static" 29.b3 but I was wrong.

My general felling about game 5 is that it consists of slow manouvring.
When Kamsky played 2. ...e6 I was expecting the sharp winawer variation which may arise after 3.Nc3, but Topalov deviated. The tension is deacrising during the match.
Will Topalov play the caro kann in game 6?? He employed it succefully and managed to force an easy and quick draw against Anand few months ago.

ChessGirl's picture

Well, IMO you can´t always play aggressive. Maybe sometimes you´re not feeling so well, you have a headache that doesn´t let you concentrate, or you just want to be very carefull because it´s a really important match and there´s a lot at stake, as is this case.

Michael X Tractor's picture

FIDE failing to follow their own published rules? Who could ever have dreamed of such a thing???

bertjeweetwelbeter's picture

he just blundered with Nxb4. Before this move the position was equal. On the webcam you saw him shaking his head with disbelief for few minutes.

Just a blunder. I hoped he kicked topalovs ass

VB's picture

the position was no equal but with advantage for white 32..d4 was ?! This just spoils black position and weakened d pawn. Also gives c4 punkt. It was just a matter of time Topalov to press him heavily.

pete's picture

Good game by Topa, congratulations for the win. Kamsky made it easy though, he certainly had the advantage after the last game but blew it away .... maybe his nerves are not made of steel after all :).

Hope to see a good fighting game tomorrow.

Mike's picture

Me: "Why Kamsky did not play game 5 as White?" Well, sorry, I missed the above article mention to the "official rules which was borrowed..." But to keep it unchanged on the official web site was a disorganization error...

Mike's picture

Why Kamsky did not play game 5 as White? I think Kamsky is is not making well use of his opportunities, and Topalov is wining in the psychological terrain too. For example, after a good win in the Ruy Lopez, Topalov bravely invited today Kamsky for another battle in this terrain, but Kamsky did run away, which was a bad psychological signal emitted to his opponent...And Topalov forced the French into a static position with few pieces and without any chances of active play for black, due to the permanent weakness of the isolated pawn. Topalov is wining when he has the permanent pressure over Kamsky who blunders in time management or with a bad mistake..

VB's picture

I'm not sure whether Kamsy will try french again in this match.

flordiane's picture

on bobby fischer's word about the russian chess

VB's picture

Topalov back in the lead! Kamsky position was hard to hold anyway!!!

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