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Laznicka - Topalov annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 12
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 09 October 2013
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary, FIDE 2632

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We are in the 6th and last game of this friendly match. The score is 3-2 to Topalov. Laznicka has the White pieces and tries to level the match.

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Laznicka,Viktor (2677) - Topalov,Veselin (2769) [D31]

Topalov-Laznicka m 2013 Novy Bor CZE (6), 25.09.2013

[Balogh Csaba]

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Be7 Topalov plays the Queen's Gambit, one of the most solid openings against 1.d4 nowadays. His intentions are clearly to build a safe position for a draw and if White pushes too hard, he might use his chances.
4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Bf5

7.g4 This ambitious move is White's dangerous extra option when they spare the 4.Nf3 Nf6 pair of moves. White takes ground on the kingside.
7...Be6 8.Bd3
[8.h3 and; 8.h4 are the two main theoretical lines. This one is considered to be the most critical one. Nakamura had just won a nice game against Bacrot with it a few days ago.]
8...Nd7 9.Bf5
This is the novelty. According to the speed at which Laznicka played it, it was a prepared one, but after this game I doubt that anyone is interested in repeating it. [9.h3 was played in the previous games, with the idea to be able to finish the development with Nge2 or Nf3e5, but Black launches a quick counterplay with 9...g5 10.Bg3 h5 and Black is fine according to the theory.]
9...Bxf5 10.gxf5

Black has various playable options here.
Topalov decided to develop the g8 knight to e7, directly attacking the doubled pawn. [Trading the bishops was also logical: 10...Bg5 With the same idea of putting the knight to e7. 11.Bg3 Ne7; 10...Nb6 is a common idea in this kind of positions. Black wants to play Bd6 here. The most natural reaction is 11.Nf3 with the idea to play Ne5 after Bd6, but here for instance Black could try 11...Nc4 12.Qc2 Bd6 and after 13.Ne5 Qc7! forces White to leave the nice e5 square with his knight. Black is going to develop his knight to e7 here as well.]
11.Nge2 Ne7 12.Qc2

12...Nb6 A multifunctional move. Black frees the d7 square for the queen in order to further attack the f5 pawn. He also prepares the trade of the dark squared bishops with Bd6, which is a favorable exchange for him in this structure and sometimes Black might transfer his knight to its ideal square on d6 through c4. [12...g6 was good immediately as well.] 13.f3 With the idea to play e4, supporting the f5 pawn. [13.Rg1 g6 14.Be5 Rg8 is also fine for Black. He is intending to castle queenside anyway.]
13...g6 [13...Bd6 was also good.]

[14.f6? looks nice, but it drops the pawn after 14...Ng8 White is not in time to protect it with e4e5.]
I like this move a lot. After this it is much easier for Black to finish the development. The main idea is to free the e7 square for the queen followed by castling queenside. [14...hxg6 It was more principled to take towards to the center, open the h-file for the rook and to have only two pawn islands, but Black might have some problems in creating safety for the king. 15.000 The last preparation before pushing e4. 15...Qd7 16.e4 The game is very unclear as Black cannot play 16...000? because of 17.Nb5!]
[After 15.Bg3 the easiest is 15...Qg5! with the point that after 16.e4 000 White cannot castle queenside.]
Developing with tempo as Black is now threatening to take on f4 and then on e3.
White protects the e3 pawn with the idea to save his bishop with Bg3. [16.e4 leads to a clear advantage for Black after 16...Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Nxf4 18.Nxf4 000 Black is well prepared for the central break. He is also threatening with the unpleasant pin of Qg5.]
[16...Nxf4 17.Nxf4 000
was also better for Black.]
This is a serious weakening in front of the king. White was annoyed by the c4 knight. [17.Kb1 was better, but Black is fine anyway after 17...000
17...Na3 18.Qb2 Nxf4
Black chooses the right moment to get rid of the bishop, as it was threatening to run away.

One more very useful move before castling. Black occupies the open file first.
20.Qf2 000 21.Kb2

Obviously not a necessary, but a good prophylactic move against any kind of checks. Black has a big advantage. All his pieces are excellently placed and his pawn formation is also perfect. He is well prepared against the only active idea of White, to push e4, which would only destroy his own position. White is forced to maneuver inside his camp, but Black has a more free game.
22.Nb1 Rde8!
Further improving the pieces.
23.Nxa3 Bxa3+ 24.Kb1 Bd6!
Topalov plays great! The bishop is much more useful on d6, as Black cannot create an attack, which could have been well supported by the a3 bishop.

Small and strong moves! Black improves his queen by driving it to f5!
26.Nc3 Qf5 27.Rhd1

27...Rg6! Topalov doubles his rooks on the g-file in order to penetrate on the second rank. Black might also threaten to play Rh6 or Rf6, provoking another weakening in White's camp.
28.R1d2 Qh3 29.f4
A sad move, but what to do, there was nothing better. This destroys the flexibility of the central pawns. [29.Kb2 simple loses to 29...Reg8+ and Rg2 next.; 29.e4 would have strongly be met by 29...Bf4! 30.Re2 dxe4 White cannot take back with the f-pawn and after 31.Nxe4 Reg8+ wins.]
29...Qf5! The queen has done its job by provoking f4. Now it leaves from the pin and the e4e5 threat.
White tries to lock the g-file to avoid the penetration of the rooks, but Topalov simply sends the g3 knight away with his h-pawn.
30...h5! 31.Ng3 Qg4
h4 is coming next. The knight is really poor and there is no outpost it could occupy in the position. 32.Qe2 h4 33.Qxg4 Rxg4 34.Nf5 White at least tries to make an active move, but it leads to the trap of the knight. [34.Nf1 Bb4 35.Rf2 Reg8+ Rg2 is coming next, White's position is hopeless.]
34...Bb4 35.h3
[35.Rf2 is met in the same way as in the game: 35...Rh8!+ Protecting the h-pawn and threating Rh5, winning the knight, which White cannot prevent.]
35...Rg6 36.Re2

[After 36.Nxh4 the easiest win is 36...Rg1+ (36...Rh6 37.Nf5 Rf6 38.Ng7 Rh8+ also wins.) 37.Rd1 Rxd1+ 38.Rxd1 Rxe3 39.Rh1 Re4+ Grabbing all the pawns.]
Rh5 is coming next. There is no way back for the knight.
37.e4 Rf6
Black takes on e4 next. [37...Rh5 would have led to the same result after 38.Ne3 dxe4 39.Rd1 Rg3+]
38.Ng7 Rg8
[White resigned in view of 38...Rg8 39.Nh5 Rh6 The knight and the game are lost. A great positional achievement by Topalov, who deservedly won the match 42 with this neat finish.]  


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution newsletter.  25 pages total. Subscribe!

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