Reports | April 24, 2010 20:55

WCh G1: Topalov starts with crushing victory

stageVeselin Topalov defeated Viswanathan Anand in crushing style in the first game of the World Championship match in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian started with 1.d4, which was answered by the Grünfeld Defence. At move 24 Topalov, probably still in his preparation, sacrificed a knight which turned out to be completely winning. Update: video added.

For all the match details, rules and regulations we refer to our large overview article of last week. Here's a summary:

The match will take place April 21 - May 12 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Venue is the Central Military Club in Sofia, Bulgaria. The match will consist of 12 games, and if necessary, a 4-game rapid tiebreak, if necessary 5 2-game blitz matches and if necessary 1 sudden death game. The classical games will be played in pairs of 2, so there will be a rest day after every 2 games. No postponements are allowed. Topalov has White in games 1,3,5,8, 10 and 12.


April 24 – 17.00 EEST (16:00 CET) - Game 1
April 25 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 2
April 26 – Rest Day
April 27 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 3
April 28 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 4
April 29 – Rest Day
April 30 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 5
May 1 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 6
May 2 – Rest Day
May 3 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 7
May 4 – 15.00 EEST (12.00 UTC) - Game 8
May 5 – Rest Day
May 6 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 9
May 7 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 10
May 8 – Rest Day
May 9 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 11
May 10 – Rest Day
May 11 – 15:00 EEST (14:00 CET) - Game 12
May 12 – Rest Day
May 13 – Tie breaks

The time control for each game shall be: 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. The Chief Arbiter is Panaqiotis Nikolopoulos (Greece). The Deputy Chief Arbiter is Werner Stubenvoll (Austria). The total prize fund is 3 million Euros: 2 million for the players, 400,000 for FIDE taxes and 600,000 for organizational costs. The winner will receive 1,2 million Euros while the loser receives 800.000 Euros.

We've been thinking about bringing the games live, but as soon as we heard about potentional problems, we stopped preparing it. What's the case? Silvio Danailov, manager of Topalov and organizer in Sofia, told us that all media have to pay 15,000 Euros to transmit the games live. This also counts for big companies like Chessbase and ICC. At the last MTel Masters and the Topalov-Kamsky match last year this policy was already there, but back then it seemed that the Bulgarians were only after Chessbase, with whom they haven't had a very good relation for years now. It's interesting to see which media will oblige, and which will ignore Danailov's words. Update: Playchess and ICC duly covered the event live. To be continued...!?

Video game 1

Game 1

It all started a bit strangely, today. Several people were walking around on stage, including the arbiters, and then already at 16.35 Anand walked from the right hand side to the left, and sat down on one of the two chairs. He talked with the arbiters for about ten minutes, pointing at several things and looking at the lights.


The arbiters and Topalov before the first game

Everyone was waiting for some kind of speech, or other ceremonial start, but about five minutes to five Topalov suddenly walked to his chair and started filling out his notation form and adjusting his pieces. A bit over five o'clock, the Chief Arbiter asked Anand to come to the board too. The players shook hands, and then suddenly a very big guy entered the stage. It was bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman from Texas, USA, who shook hands with the players.


Ronnie Coleman, the players, arbiters and officials

Then Prime Minister Boiko Boris entered the stage, shook hands with everyone and made the first move. For half a minute it was all clicks and flashes of the cameras of about thirty to forty photographers and about ten TV cameras.


The 2010 World Championship match has started

After about seven minutes the light in the hall was put down, and all press had to leave. Just before that, interestingly, Silvio Danailov was seen using his mobile phone inside the playing hall. The organizers had planned to block the reception, but haven't (yet).

It looks like Anand mixed up something in his preparation, as he allowed a very strong knight sacrifice by Topalov in a Grünfeld Indian. 23...Bd7 looks OK for Black, while after 24.Nxf6! computers quickly indicate it's already over. Topalov only thought for 40 minutes in total against 1 hour and 33 minutes for Anand. This first win must be be quite a blow for Anand, and a major confidence boost for Topalov.

Update: at the press conference I asked Topalov whether Nxf6 was still preparation, since he continued to play fast afterwards. He didn't want to admit it, and said it was all very natural, but as Dejan Bojkov pointed out on his blog, "later on he confessed for the Bulgarian National Television that the game was very easy since Anand felt into an opening preparation".

Game 1

Game viewer by ChessTempo


The Central Military Club now has a beautiful concert/theater-like hall


View of the complete stage


All the way at the end the table, seats, chess set and clock are placed


The DGT board and DGT clock with sponsor logos that will be in all the photos


The notation form...

notation2 both latin and cyrillic


The placade


From the spectators point of view, this is left of the stage...


...and this is on the right


The arbiter's seat...


...with a TV showing views of four cameras, including the entrance of the rest room


The most beautiful press room I've ever worked in, which will be much more crowded soon...

...and has chess themed paintings on both sides


I grabbed an excellent spot, right in front of where the press conferences take place


Anand erred at an early stage in game 1...


...allowing Topalov to take the lead in the match


Anand resigns. This is a still from the (web)camera in Sofia. ChessVibes is not allowed to film during the game, except for the first five minutes. This is also part of the 15,000 Euros that has to be paid to get all the rights.

press conference

The press conference after the game

A video with the start of the game and the press conference will be added as soon as possible. Stay tuned!


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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.


john's picture

Is Deep Blue Anand's surprise second? The photographer just caught it waiting in the wings with the other chess board.

ops's picture

"15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move after move 61"
could it be little to less time for sometimes difficult endgame positions?

we wait for new opening chess moves:)

Erik Fokke's picture

Wat een schitterende serie foto's ! Scheelt me retourtje Sofia.
What a wonderful series of photo's. They save me a roundtrip to Sofia.

Let the games start.

e4e5f4's picture

is it the time correct ( 1st game 14:00 UTC - ) ?

Jens Kristiansen's picture

"Silvio Danailov, manager of Topalov and organizer in Sofia, told us that all media have to pay 15,000 Euros to transmit the games live..."
Peter, that was a really a bomb here, a few hours before take-off. Why didnt you mention that before? I know of a few smaller chess sites who plans to transmit and discuss the games.
Ok, it all depends on what is meant by "transmit the games live". All these sites - including ICC and PlayChess - will have to get to moves from the live coverage at the official site and then upload them. In a way you cannot say that they are "transmitting the games live". Or am I wrong on that?

Jens Kristiansen's picture

One more thing: This quote also stresses an aspect of this match that has concerned me for some time: How can Danailov both be manager of one of the contestants AND organiser?
I really never heard of that constallation before.

Peter Doggers's picture

I did mention it before, but only in the comments. I wanted to wait and see what would happen if Playchess and ICC would go live today. (I don't think the smaller sites are in danger.) Getting the moves from the official site and then transmit them will obviously be considered "live" by the organizers.

Marcel's picture

Great "live" coverage again! What a bunch of terrible ---deleted---, those people who are responsible for this digital disaster. Like the first round of Corus, the masters in China, chess will never be a global sport.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Nice photos Peter! I need to send you a request for permission use.

Good luck with the coverage. I know how challenging it can be, but I'm looking forward to your onsite interviews and press conferences.

Eiae's picture

Did they check the bathroom for strange cables?

vishal's picture

Awesome pictures!!

Guillaume's picture

Chessbase is transmitting the games lives. They're playing really fast so far.

Suneet's picture

This break my heart :(
I am sure this is last of gruenfeld from Anand's side... and that the champion will bounce back.

Guillaume's picture

The official site was broadcasting a French song during the first break of the commentators. I wonder if they paid the right to broadcast it.

unknown's picture

Great play by Topa!

Hortensius's picture

Anand outplayed!!

Heisusingrybka's picture

I think Topalov is cheating

Heisusingrybka's picture

I forgot to mention that the way he (Topalov) cheats is with his Watch.

chess's picture

it seems that Anand did not analyse this position at home before.

gogomil's picture

of course he did, he played realy super fast first moves

vamsi krishna's picture

Anand lost...cheating

chess's picture

when he would analyse this position after move 18 and later, he would not lose or play other better moves before.

Luis's picture

What should you do if you prepare the Grunfeld for the match and you are crushed...
I guess he will have some alternative but at least it is dissapointing

chess's picture

maybe Anand must play his positional slavic, not grunfeld:)

unknown's picture

"I think Topalov is cheating"


Maybe "volcano effect"?

He was outplayed, but match is not over. But we must admit that Topalov was better today...

Go Topa!

Topafan's picture

Danailov's master plan of erupting the volcano finally paid off! Anand will never recover from the inhalation of ashes

Jonas's picture

Sad day for chess... cheatalov won.

Vla's picture

Personnaly, I found this game (one of) the most boring I have ever seen. They played like rockets till move 24, then one blundered (because he did not prepared it) and all ended in 4 moves. Very interesting indeed...

I hope all the games won't go on that way : super fast preparation-play, blunder then immediate victory!

Seems like GM canno't cope or bear anymore holes in their preparations!

Jeremy Meindl's picture

Better preparation by Topalov, or else Vishy forgot his, as his position blew up pretty fast. While this match is interesting I think Magnus would beat either of them in a heads up match. Too bad FIDE processes are so slow and messed up that he'll probably be closer to 30 by the time he gets his chance.

chess's picture

here you can see what Anand usually plays:

this is not gruenfeld with black.

Janis Nisii's picture

I'm glad this was a hole in the preparation and not a blunder by tiredness from the long trip.
Great photos Peter!

M L's picture

wow! Great win by Topalov. =) Hope Anand bounces back though.=)

unknown's picture

"blunder by tiredness from the long trip."

Anand was in Sofia on Tuesday. Game was played on Saturday. at least 3 full days to rest. He didn't walk from Frankfurt, he went by car. Those pictures from the trip (on chessbase) were funny (holes in the road). They were chosen on purpose.

Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn, Germany's picture

SPASSKIJ in1972 won the 1st WCC game on move 27 (!) by Bobby Fischer - but he lost the WCC match! So let´s wait what happens the next 11 (?) games! Surprise - Surprise - Miracles! :-)

Martin Matthiesen's picture

No, Spasskij won in 56 moves. If you are talking about Bxh2?, that was on move 29, and is no longer considered the decisive mistake.

Zeblakob's picture

LOL. Anand played an opening which he almost never played to surprise Topa.
This is a well known strategy in the history of WCC; however Topa expected that and has prepared openings which Anand never played as well.

Looks like anti-...-anti-anti strategy.

Zeblakob's picture

@Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn;

analysys later proved that even after the miserable Bxh2!?; Fisher was able to force a draw in 3 ways.

Manu's picture

Shouldnt Topalov be the number one player in the live rating list by now???

Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn, Germany's picture

Thanks, you are correct as to move 29 instead of 27 in the 1st game of Spassky - Fischer 1972! But why (sic!) Fischer captured the poisened pawn by 29 ... Bxh2? remains a mystery to this day! It certainly was sort of a psychological provocation, wasn´t it?! A (later) draw was even possible as has been analysed afterwards by computers - not over the chess board! - "Actual" decisions by ANAND will follow, hopefully! :-)

ops's picture

If Kasparov has this opening, position after move 18 on his laptop?

it is sad that players can not improvise over board, when they are out of book.
this happened also as Anand played against Aronian in russia last time.

T. Goto's picture

This win is something Topalov needed. As Aronian mentioned, Topalov, despite his enormous strength, blunders time to time. I suppose this is something common to tactical attacking players; they get impatient and lose control sometimes. With this win, psychologically, he will be more in control. So this win is a great boost, both practically and psychologically, for Topalov.That being said, with his oath to follow Sofia Rule, he cannot play for draws, at least theoretically. That might play favor for Anand. This is, of course, remained to be seen.

As for Anand, I hope this is an effect of traveling hustle and fatigue, not the form. This is an important match, and I hope he will recover, both physically and psychologically, quickly. This is a world champion match, which has been awaited for a long time, so let's hope to see the best from both players.

VladimirOo's picture

I more and more tend to think that with their intensive-precise and correct preparations and their aim at foreseeing the game to its conclusion, they are trapping themselves, barring them from the possibility of either improve on their play or improvise by ordering complications.

(please forgive my impolitness, my handle was incomplete in my last post)

Alexander's picture

Why did that bodybuilder appeared on stage?????? This is the most random thing that happened in chess ever since Tal caught himself thinking about a hippopotamus while playing against Vasiukov. With the difference, however, that the bodybuilder was real, and the hippopotamus a figment of Tal's overheated imagination.

acirce's picture

"But why (sic!) Fischer captured the poisened pawn by 29 … Bxh2? remains a mystery to this day!"

He had miscalculated and thought it was going to escape after 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3. Missed 33. Kg4 Bg1 34. Kxh3 Bxf2 35.Bd2 keeping it trapped. So he told Fine and it seems very plausible.

Arvin's picture

Shocking loss for Anand. However, there is still time for him to make up. It's just the first game of the match, and I hope he recovers after this loss since Anand is a known fighter. Today he run into Topalov's preparation. It's interesting to know what Anand will do and will have to avoid in the next game.

Remco Gerlich's picture

Instead of comparing with Fischer, this reminds me of game 2 of Kasparov-Kramnik: Kramnik outprepared Kasparov and crushed his Grunfeld, which Kasparov avoided in the rest of the match.

unknown's picture

They should play Fischer Random Chess to avoid preparations and just play chess...

Suneet's picture

no more gruenfeld please...

Suneet's picture

Military Club seems jinxed... change the venue :(

Suneet's picture

no more grunfeld games in WCs now... Its alright Topalov, Anand will bounce back.


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