Game 9: Veselin TOPALOV: «The match is not over»
For the first time in the history of split press conferences Topalov enjoyed more attention from the media than
Kramnik. Of course - the Bulgarian has clearly seized the match initiative, and everybody wanted to know his
secret. Vladimir came first, as usual. Looking at the Russian, one could hardly tell he just lost two games in a
row, and is losing the match with three games to go...
– It has been said that the course of a championship match follows the law of communicating
vessels: the better plays one, the worse plays the other one. The last games of this match seem to confirm it.
What’s going on?
– I have no idea. Let us hope it is just temporary. Actually, it would be nice to come out of the opening with
better positions. It is difficult to play well in positions such as the one I got today. Topalov’s novelty turned
very strong – at least for one game. I didn’t manage to find adequate response to it. Already 12…b5 was played
because I could not find anything satisfactory, especially bearing in mind that it was all opponent’s preparation.
After the opening, I continued resisting because it was inconvenient for me to resign that early, but the game was
basically decided by the move 17. One could play brilliantly afterwards, but it wouldn’t change anything. So far my
openings are disastrous. It is easy to play good in good positions, and vice versa. If I manage solving my opening
problems, everything should be different.
– Topalov managed to lure you on his territory in the recent games…
– Yes, he did. I have to draw some conclusions for my opening preparation in order to obtain at least acceptable
– Looking at recent tournaments, one can see that Topalov always starts slowly, and then increases his speed to
a maximum. Is there a chance to alter this in the remaining games?
– I realize that the situation has worsened for me, but it is too early for raising an alarm – there are three
games to play, and I’ll have White in two of them. I’ll keep playing and fighting, and let us discuss general
trends after the match. I’ll do my best to return the lead.
– So, you don’t feel any desperation?
– I don’t. Why it has to be desperate? After all, two games back Topalov was in the same situation. I had been in a
worse position against Leko two years ago, with only a game to play…
– Vladimir, how did you spend your day off?
– I visited the Khurul, but somehow it didn’t help…
– After the Game 4 you were in a hurry for the Champions League match. Today Russian national team is playing –
and you finished just on time to watch it. Are you happy?
– I didn’t know about this game, to be honest. But okay, in this situation I’ll probably watch the game.
Topalov followed his ritual and appeared in the press room only after Kramnik left it. There was a broad smile
on his face. His manager Silvio Danailov was shining, too.
– Veselin, how could you explain this sudden change of décor in the match?
– The main thing I did is calmed down. If one forgets the score, it is obvious that the initiative was mine during
the whole match. I did not deserve losing in the first and especially in the second game. It deprived me of
confidence to some extent, but I did not lose the desire to win. I saw that I played well, so it was important to
continue going in the same direction.
– You won the previous game in light jacket and light tie, but changed your suit today. Aren’t you
– I don’t remember what I wore for the Game 8. And yes, I am not superstitious – it is a bad habit.
– You got an overwhelming advantage with surprising ease …
– Black’s trouble started after he pushed the b-pawn; probably he should have played differently. I used a good
novelty, but one cannot say it gives White a decisive advantage. The move 10.f4 is invented by my second Vallejo –
he specializes on this variation and worked a lot in Elista. So, you see the fruits of our work!
– Veselin, do you think the match is over after your two wins?
– No, I don’t think so. Vladimir has two Whites in his possession. Let us not forget that he recovered from the
same situation against Leko. I have to continue playing as before – there is no room for complacency.
– But you are not Leko!
– Yes, I am not Leko. Nevertheless, having two Blacks against Kramnik is not easy.
– All the recent supertournaments followed the same scenario – you start poorly, then gain enormous speed and
win. It seems the match in Elista follows the same path, too. Is there any reasonable explanation to it?
– I don’t have any clear idea. Endurance? I also get tired… The most important is that I catch my rhythm in the
middle of the distance. I begin playing quickly, confidently and strongly. So, my strength multiplies at the
finish, and hope it will happen in Elista, too.
I want to repeat: I won two games, but this is not the end. The match will end only after the last game.
– You showed novelties in most of your games. How does it affect the course of the match?
– Constant opening advantage is a big asset. So far I had no reasons to complain about the pre-match preparation.
We made a high-quality job; albeit I’d prefer to discuss it only after the match.
– Kramnik said he is not satisfied with the work of his team. Could you tell about your helpers? Also, how did
Francisco Vallejo and Alexander Onischuk appear in your team?
– I am very happy with their work. Vallejo is a very original player, full of ideas, and today’s game reveals that
his understanding is also quite decent. It is interesting to work with him. In addition, Paco is experienced
trainer, he worked with Anand. Alexander Onischuk is a very good grandmaster who also helps me understanding local
mentality. As you know, he helped Karpov here in Elista in 1996 – this was another important factor. Some of his
advices were very useful and helpful.
– Have you considered inviting Ruslan Ponomariov?
– We discussed it. We worked together a lot, and this work helped us both. The same could be said about Kramnik,
who helped Kasparov, or Svidler, who assisted Kramnik. Intensive work with Ponomariov during the training for his
match against Kasparov, which unfortunately was cancelled, made me stronger. In particular, we ran out of opening
novelties prepared for Kasparov only a year ago…
But inviting him for this match? I don’t know whether Ponomariov would have agreed to cooperate again. I know
from experience that long and fruitful cooperation of two persons does not last for long.
– Veselin, there are three games left to play. Will you try playing calmer, or stick to your style?
– I don’t want to comment my plans. The only thing I can say is that this is my first long match, so I have no
experience in match strategy.