Tromso Chess Olympiad Round 5: Kramnik vs Topalov

Thus far, the  41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway has lived up to all the hype surrounding the event. Almost all of the top chess players in the world are competing for personal glory and, more importantly, national pride. Even with hundreds of exciting games played in each round, all eyes were focused squarely onto the Russia-Bulgaria match which featured a game between the rivals, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov.

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly eight years since Topalov’s manager threatened to abort a World Championship Match because of complaints about Vladimir Kramnik’s bathroom habits. The publicity surrounding the complaint grew exponentially and soon there was more newspapers reporting about “Toilet Gate” than about the actual games from the match. The jokes about Kramnik’s bathroom habits took a toll on the Russian and Topalov nearly used his ill gained initiative to take the title. However, Vladimir Kramnik managed to bounce back just in time to tie the match and win in the rapid play tie-breaks. Even becoming the undisputed World Chess Champion could not take all the sting out of the cheating claims that Team Topalov attacked Kramnik with.

Fast Forward eight years and the two enemies were again separated by a mere eight chess ranks. Below is my take on Vladimir Kramnik’s beautiful win over Veselin Topalov at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway.


[Event “41’st Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “Tromso, Norway”]
[Date “2014.6.8”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Vladimir Kramnik”]
[Black “Veselin Topalov”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Eco “D37”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]

{[ QUEEN’S gam. var. WITH 5.BF4,D37]}

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.g3 O-O 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.Qd3  Nb6 (7…c6 8.O-Ob6 9.Rd1 a5 10.b3 Ba6 11.a4 Rc8 12.Bf4 Nh5 13.Bd2 Nhf6 14.Rac1
Qc7 15.Bf4 Qa7 16.e4 Rfd8 17.e5 Ne8 18.Bf1 Nc7 19.Bg5 Bxg5 20.Nxg5
Nf8 21.Qf3 Rd7 22.cxd5 exd5 23.Bh3 Nce6 24.Nxe6 fxe6 25.Ne2 Bxe2
26.Qxe2 c5 27.f4 {…1/2-1/2, Grischuk Alexander (RUS) 2733 – Leko Peter (HUN) 2756 , Moscow 11/18/2009 It “World Blitz”})

Position after 7...Nb6

Position after 7…Nb6

8.c5 Nbd7 9.O-O c6 10.b4 b6 11.Bf4 a5 12.a3 Ba6 13.Qc2 Nh5
14.Bd2 Nhf6 15.Bf4 ( 15.Rfe1 Bc4 16.h3 Qc8 17.Bf4 Qa6 18.Rab1
Ra7 19.g4 axb4 20.axb4 Rfa8 21.Nd2 bxc5 22.bxc5 e5 23.dxe5 Ne8
24.Ra1 Qxa1 25.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 26.Kh2 Nxc5 27.Nxc4 dxc4 28.Bxc6 Rc8
29.Nd5 Bf8 30.Bb5 Ne6 31.Be3 N8c7 32.Qxc4 Nxd5 33.Qxd5 Ra5 34.Bb6
Ra3 {…1/2-1/2, Horvath Jozsef M (HUN) 2104 – Atalik Suat (BIH) 2608 , Budapest 1991 It “CANSYS”})

( 15.Rfb1 Qc8 16.e4 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Qxe4 axb4 19.Bg5 Nf6
20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.cxb6 Bb7 22.Qe3 c5 23.dxc5 Bxa1 24.Rxa1 Ra5 25.Rc1
Rxa3 26.Qe2 Qa8 27.Nh4 Bxg2 28.Nxg2 Ra1 29.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 30.Ne1
b3 31.Kg2 b2 {0-1, Larsen Peter (DEN) 2206 – Halkias Stelios (GRE) 2570 , Helsingor 7/29/2012 It “Politiken Cup” (open)})

Position after 15. Bf4

Position after 15. Bf4


Nh5 16.Bd2 Nhf6 17.Rfe1 ( 17.Rfb1 Qc8 18.e4 Nxe4 19.Nxe4 dxe4
20.Qxe4 axb4 21.Bg5 Nf6 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.cxb6 Bb7 24.Qe3 c5 25.dxc5
Bxa1 26.Rxa1 Ra5 27.Rc1 Rxa3 28.Qe2 Qa8 29.Nh4 Bxg2 30.Nxg2 Ra1
31.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 32.Ne1 b3 33.Kg2 b2 {0-1, Larsen Peter (DEN) 2206 – Halkias Stelios (GRE) 2570 , Helsingor 7/29/2012 It “Politiken Cup” (open)})

Position after 17. Rfe1

Position after 17. Rfe1

Bc4 18.Bf4 Nh5 19.Be3 Nhf6 20.Bf4 Nh5 21.Be3 Nhf6
22.h3 h6 23.Nd2 Ba6 24.f4 bxc5 25.bxc5 Nxc5 26.dxc5 d4 27.Bf2
dxc3 28.Qxc3 Nd5 29.Qc2 Bf6 30.e4 {Vladimir Kramnik is dreaming of a position in which he is down the exchange but has a couple of passed pawns.}

Position after 30. e4

Position after 30. e4

Bxa1 31.exd5 Qf6 {?} ( 31…Bf6 32.dxe6 fxe6 33.Rxe6 Bd4 34.Rd6
Bxf2+ 35.Kxf2 Qe7 {Is a much better possibility for black.} )

32.d6 {Vladimir Kramnik achieves his first passed pawn. The chess machines prefer the line below but I think Kramnik’s choice is much more instructive.}
( 32.dxe6 Bd4 33.exf7+ Kh8 34.Nf3 Bxf2+ 35.Qxf2 Rxf7 36.Ne5 Rc7)

Position after 32. d6

Position after 32. d6


Qc3 33.Qd1 ( 33.Qxc3 Bxc3 34.Rd1 Be2 {is what Vesilin Topalov would have loved to see.})

Bb2 34.Bxc6 {Now that Kramnik has achieved his dream of two connected passed pawns, white is clearly in the driver’s seat.}

Position after 34. Bxc6

Position after 34. Bxc6

Rad8 {?} {Topalov panics about the passed pawns and misses a critical alternative. As we are about to witness, rooks have a very hard time stopping passed pawns from the front side.}( 34…Rab8 35.Nb1 Qf6 ( 35…Qc4 36.d7 Rfd8 37.Qd6 ) 36.Qd2 Rb3 {!} {This line seems necessary for Topalov to survive but deserves more study from chess enthusiats the world over.})

35.Nb1 {!} {Kramnik punishes Topalov!}

Qf6 36.Qd2 Rb8 {Topalov transfers his rook to the open file which is where it should have landed in the first place.}

37.Be4 {It’s been a while since we have seen Vladimir Kramnik play with this much purpose.}

e5 38.Nc3 {Perfect timing on reactivating the knight. Can you guess where Kramnik intends to place it?}

Position after 38. Nc3

Position after 38. Nc3

Qe6 {Topalov threatens the pawn on “h3.”}

39.Nd5 {Kramnik is not worried about “h3.” He has bigger fish to fry!}

Qxh3 {Topalov’s queen says, “Zdravei!”}

40.Bg2 {Kramnik’s bishop says, “Do sveedaniya!”}

Qh5 41.d7 {!}

Position after 41. d7

Position after 41. d7

exf4 42.Qxf4 Bxa3 {Topalov creates his own passed pawn.}

Position after 42... Bxa3

Position after 42… Bxa3

43.Qxb8 {!} {Vladimir Kramnik is not impressed by Topalov’s pawn grab and delivers a near fatal blow to the Bulgarian.}

Rxb8 44.Re8+ Kh7 45.Rxb8 Qd1+ {Topalov tries in vain to manufacture tactics.}
46.Kh2 Qh5+ 47.Bh3 Qf3 48.d8=Q Qxf2+ 49.Bg2 1-0

Position after 49. Bg2

Position after 49. Bg2

{Veselin Topalov resigns as he has no more reasonable chances at avoiding a loss to his rival. Besides, Vladimir Kramnik had Mate in 8: 49…Bxc5 50.Nf4 Qxf4 51.gxf4 Kg6 52.Be4+ Kh5 53.Qd1+ Be2 54.Qxe2+ Kh4 55.Bf5 h5 56.Qe1+ Bf2 57.Qxf2#}


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One Response to “Tromso Chess Olympiad Round 5: Kramnik vs Topalov”

  1. Tromso 2014: Hikaru Nakamura Raises a Stink About Toilettes | Chess Musings Says:

    […] if on cue, Hikaru Nakamura waited until after the Kramnik – Topalov match to publicly blast the organizers of the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway on the restroom […]

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