Reports | February 21, 2009 3:42

Topalov-Kamsky: third game drawn

Topalov-Kamsky Game 3The third game in the Challenger's Match between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky has ended in a draw. Against Kamsky's Gr?ºnfeld, Topalov went for the Russian Variation (4.Qb3) this time, but again the American grandmaster had no trouble reaching a comfortable position out of the opening.

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 3
In what was probably his first 4.Qb3 ever, Topalov went for the topical 7.Be2 move-order (letting the knight on g1 for a while), as was played in a number of recent top games, the latest being Carlsen-Dominguez, Wijk aan Zee 2009. Kamsky's 7...a6 is relatively new there, but the idea isn't, of course.

After the queens went off the board, the position became a tactical slugfest where every move contained a threat, but this time Kamsky had enough time on the clock to calculate accurately, and so he easily found his way in all the variations. In the resulting ending Topalov tried it for a while, but soon he had to admit that it was a dead draw.

On the official website, below the photos, each day a video of the press conference is posted. Probably (partly) because of the arrival of American journalist (and occasional ChessVibes editor) Macauley Peterson, who will report on the match for ICC until the end, it's now done in English as well.

But beware - it's still quite disappointing to watch, although at the same time also fascinating. The thing is: the players don't want to say anything. Really. Asked to describe the game, Topalov simply answered: "Very complicated, but after some time we reached an equal ending so it was a normal result." To which Kamsky added: "The ending was very interesting but the endgame was equal."

Macauley asked the question whether there were any draw offers prior to the end of the game and indeed, at the start of the repetition of moves, Kamsky offered a draw, but Topalov made two more moves before offering his hand anyway.

Then, Macauley again: "In the previous game we have seen the importance of clock management. Did you make some adjustments on the rest day?" Kamsky's answer: "Yes, some adjustments."

On the question by (probably a Bulgarian journalist) how he feels after three games in Bulgaria, Kamsky smiled and said: "I feel great." The journalist then made clear that he didn't understand why Kamsky kept on answering so briefly. "They're logical answers, they just happen to be very short."

Name Nat. Rtg
















Kamsky USA 2725
Topalov BUL 2796
1 ¬? 2

Photo © 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.


rdecredico's picture

Sometimes, and though it is perhaps cruel to admit, it is fun to watch how a cat toys with its mouse.

Michael's picture

@ Stefan Loeffler: check out 17...Rxb6!, e.g. 18.Bxb6 Nxd5 19.Rd1 and now the most cheeky move is 19...Bc2!? with the idea 20.Rxd5 Be4. White can then trap the bishop with f3, but Black eventually gets three pawns for a piece.
Besides, there is also 19...Bc4. An unforced sample line: 20.b3 Nxb6 21.bxc4 Bxe5 22.c5 Na4 23.Rd5 Bf6 24.c6 Rc8 25.Ra5 b3! 26.Ne2 Rxc6 27.Rxa4 Rc1+! 28.Nxc1 b2. Incredible, isn't it? This is just one of many fascinating lines. Kamsky's whole concept with the pawn sacrifice and Bd7-b5 is unbelievably cool. I might spend the rest of the weekend analysing it.

VB's picture

Both Topalov and Kamsky played very accurate and logically ended in a draw. Definitely a cool game, the previous two too.

4i4mitko's picture

i remember Kamsky said after the first game that usually during the match it's not common to discuss the games

Thomas's picture

"In what was probably his first 4.Qb3 ever ..."

Probably true, but Topalov played 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 (at least) twice: against Kasparov (Bosna Sarajevo 1999) and against Leko (Corus 2001). Not sure just how different this is ... well, in today's game he avoided transposing, playing Nf3 only on move 22 ,:).

Stefan Loeffler's picture

Your suggested improvement for Black 15...Bxd3 16.Bxd4 Rab8 runs into 17.e5 (rather than 17.f3? Bb5 with great compensation for Black indeed).

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