[Event "Sofia"] [Site "?"] [Date "2005.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Ponomariov, Ruslan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [Annotator "McDonald, Neil "] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2005.??.??"] [SourceTitle "CS: Giants of Power Play"] [Source "Everyman Chess"] [SourceDate "2012.04.23"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "2012.04.23"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Rc1 c6 {This allows White to seize space in the centre.} ({Instead, no-nonsense development of the queenside with} 8... Bb7 9. Bg2 d5 10. Ne5 Na6 {had proved safe enough for Black in a Topalov-Kramnik encounter.}) 9. e4 d5 10. e5 $1 Ne4 11. Bd3 Nxc3 $2 ({Hindsight is a wonderful thing: I can drink my tea and calmly point out that Black should eliminate the more dangerous white piece with} 11... Nxd2 $1 {.}) 12. Rxc3 $1 c5 {Ponomariov plays the standard freeing move. And why not? The white pieces are ill deployed to support their own pawn centre, let alone cause grief to the advancing black pawns. Indeed, there appears to be a distinct clutter in the white camp. The queen has lost influence over the d4-square, as two bishops block her view. A clumsy-looking rook is sitting on c3 which Black can gain time by attacking with ...c5xd4. And finally, the white bishop has 'stupidly' gone to d3 rather than to g2, where it could put pressure on the long diagonal by attacking d5. Hence we see that the three main enemies of the black pawn centre are either misplaced (the bishop on d3), blocked in (the queen), or off the board (the knight has vanished from c3). It's no wonder that Ponomariov was optimistic under these circumstances. His plan is clear: a quick ...Nc6 will be coupled with the exchange of pawns on the c-file and d-file, when he will have completed his development with the chance to attack the loose pawn on e5. It seems that he is going to emerge with an easy and safe game. The above assessment of the position is completely logical; in most games of this type Black equalizes – or more – when he has avoided trouble down the c-file or the h1-a8 diagonal. But before we jump to conclusions let's see what actually happened in the game:} 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. h4 $3 {Exactly. What Ponomariov has missed is that the white pieces, so ineffectually bunched for a centre struggle, are splendidly placed for an attack on the black king.} ({Yes, all the white pieces can be directly or indirectly involved in the onslaught. That includes the rook on h1. Thus if} 14. h4 Nc6 {, Black gets hit by the famous Greek Gift Sacrifice:} 15. Bxh7+ $1 Kxh7 16. Ng5+ Kg8 (16... Bxg5 17. hxg5+ Kg8 18. Qh5 {comes to the same thing}) 17. Qh5 Bxg5 18. hxg5 f5 19. g6 {and there is no good way to stop mate on h8. Such is the dynamism in the white set-up that Black never finds a spare moment for the developing ...Nc6 – a quite remarkable fact. Another turnabout in the position is that the black bishop on a6, which looked like it was doing a pretty good job putting pressure on c4, is suddenly shut out of the main battle. The Ukrainian Grandmaster's logic was impeccable, but he was, as it were, fighting the wrong war. Positional factors often compete for attention in a game of chess, and the ones which govern a specific situation can often only be deduced by a sceptical attitude towards 'natural moves'.}) 14... h6 {Meeting the threat of the Greek Gift, but creating a kingside weakness that Topalov immediately pounces on.} 15. Bb1 $1 {Played according to the golden rule described at move 31 in Topalov-Kamsky above. The Bulgarian Grandmaster loses no time in maximizing the pressure on the black kingside. The threat of 16 Qc2 and then mate on h7 means that Ponomariov has to compromise the structural integrity of his kingside further, as 16...g6 allows 17 Bxh6.} f5 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. Qc2 $1 {Topalov mustn't back off even for a moment, as moving the rook from c3 would allow the vital developing move 17...Nc6.} d4 ({Keeping the bishop on f6 for defence, as} 17... Bxc3 18. Bxc3 {intending 19 Qh7+ is crushing. One possible finish is} Rxf3 19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Qxg7+ Ke8 21. Bg6+ {and mate next move.}) {Ponomariov hopes his pawn move will either eliminate the rook on c3 and so stop it joining in the attack, or better still persuade his opponent to spend a precious tempo saving it from capture.} 18. Ng5 $1 {Power play involves outwitting an opponent in a sharp battle, which requires tactical prowess and courage.} ({Here White could lose his nerve and save the rook, by} 18. Qh7+ Kf7 19. Rc1 {, for example, whereupon} Bb7 $1 {pins the white knight and generates counterplay. Topalov realizes he has to strike at once, not giving his opponent any time to bring his queenside pieces into action. With the game move he cuts off the black king's flight to f7 and threatens mate in one on h7, thereby compelling his opponent to take the knight.}) 18... hxg5 ({The rook on c3 shows it isn't just bait for the black pawn after} 18... Bxg5 19. Qh7+ Kf7 20. Bxg5 hxg5 21. Rf3+ {, when White picks up the rook on f8 and wins on material, e.g.} Ke8 22. Bg6+ Kd7 23. Qxg7+ Qe7 24. Qxf8 {.}) 19. hxg5 dxc3 {As indicated by the variation above, this isn't the wanton capture of irrelevant material while his king's residence is on fire: Black eliminates the rook before it can join the attack, and hopes the threat to d2 will slow down White's initiative.} 20. Bf4 $1 {Calm and collected.} ({The flashy} 20. Rh8+ {would lead to an attack in the style of the game after} Kf7 ({not} 20... Kxh8 $2 21. Qh7#) 21. Qg6+ {, but as we soon see, it's better to keep the rook check hanging over Black's head.}) 20... Kf7 ({There is no time for Black to save the bishop on f6, as if} 20... Bd4 21. Qg6 $1 {denies the king the f7-square, when 22 Rh8+ is a winning threat.}) 21. Qg6+ Ke7 22. gxf6+ {The black king loses the only minor piece that has tried to protect it. Now the attack from the white queen, two bishops and rook is clearly lethal.} Rxf6 23. Qxg7+ Rf7 24. Bg5+ Kd6 25. Qxf7 Qxg5 {Ponomariov fights to the bitter end. He is a piece up and has a couple of interesting checks looming, so White has to be forceful.} 26. Rh7 $1 {Threatening mate on c7.} Qe5+ ({The black king has no escape, whereas his counterpart slips away into a safe haven after} 26... Qc1+ 27. Ke2 Qd2+ 28. Kf3 Qd1+ 29. Kg2 {.}) 27. Kf1 Kc6 28. Qe8+ Kb6 29. Qd8+ Kc6 30. Be4+ $1 ({It is mate upon} 30. Be4+ Qxe4 31. Qc7# {. Black was defeated without moving either his queenside rook or knight! Due to their absence from the struggle, Topalov was able to conduct a Morphy-like attack.}) 1-0