Stunned by his defeat in the first game, World champion Viswanathan Anand struck back brilliantly with a clinical victory against challenger Veselin Topalov and levelled the score 1-1 in their World Championship 2010 clash in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday.
Though he had played badly in the first game, the 40-year-old Indian recovered superbly to wrest back the psychological advantage as he goes into Monday’s first rest day in the 12-game match with the score level 1-1, leaving Topalov one full day to ponder over his defeat.
Anand opted for the Catalan Opening — a system in which the player with white pieces sacrifices a pawn and attacks the rival bishop. This was a surprise choice as the Catalan is the preferred choice of Vladimir Kramnik in recent times and he had used it to trouble Topalov in their unification match at Elista, Russia, in 2006.
This was like a red rag for Topalov and the Bulgarian committed some mistakes as he tried to solve the problems scripted by Anand and resigned on the 43rd turn. Anand duly gave away a pawn and developed his pieces superbly. His pieces on Sunday were well coordinated and he slowly squeezed out lot of positional advantage.
Though Topalov’s position looked better early, Anand created a small advantage and slowly built on it to create a closed position with lot of compensation to play. Topalov is not comfortable in such positions, as he likes to create initiative by going on the attack or post tactical posers for his opponents, hoping that they will make mistakes trying to solve the problems.
Anand paid back to him in his own medicine as he created a position in which Topalov had to do something to take initiative. And the Bulgarian, impatient as he had earlier refused to take draw offers, obliged by committing a mistake by attacking Anand’s bishop instead of retreating his knight, which was under threat.
Topalov tried to create counter-play by trying to exchange a rook but failed to make much headway as Anand’s pieces were in better position. The Indian won a couple of pawns to add to his advantage. Facing imminent defeat, Topalov resigned on the 43rd move.