Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kamsky Topalov Game Two - Gata DOES Know They Use Clocks, Right?

Kamsky would play 22.c4?! instead of winning a piece and taking his chances with 22.Nxc8
Image captured from coverage

I ponied up the money and re-joined ICC to observe Game Two of the World Chess Challenge Sofia 2009 between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov. Usually Topa's play is as a shark searching for blood, and with a willingness to spill his own blood to create havoc. Kamsky usually plays with the patience of a Zen master waiting for his opponent to make a mistake, any mistake, and then use it to strangle the opposition as a constrictor crushes a meal.

Not today. Today Kamsky was the shark, and it was Kamsky shedding his blood in the attack.

Kamsky came out early on with a Spanish e4 and eschewed the sterile shake and bake endgame that the Berlin Topa offered usually induces. Spending 21 minutes on 5.Nxe5 Kamsky stated at the outset that he was the one looking for blood. He also refused to recoup his gambitted pawn and continued seeking the attack. The time time spent on move 5 also presaged the time troubles that would doom Kamsky's dangerous attack... Troubles that had him flagging on move 32. Those time troubles had cost him the game well before then, however. By move 10 Kamsky had used well over an hour of his two hours to reach 40 moves when he played Qh5. And then he kept on using time at an alarming rate to reach 15.f4 and finally 17.Bf5. He now had less than ten minutes to make 23 moves. That 17.Bf5 was seen by Kamsky to be a better move than most observers could see is beside the point - How could he make use of his strength with such little time? He couldn't. By move 22 Kamsky was out of time and his 22.c4 just allowed Topalov to run him off the board. has a replay of the game here.

Losing with White in Game Two greatly diminishes the American's chances in this eight game match. Using so much time so early indicates that Kamsky doesn't trust his preparation or his instincts, and that may spell the end of his chances to contend for the title.

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