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FIDE World Chess Championship: Topalov forces Anand to concede Game 8, scores level at 4-4

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The excitement from Game 7 of the FIDE World Chess Championship had many a pundit licking their lips with anticipation as the players prepared for Game 8 on Tuesday. With Topalov running out of time to draw level with the Champion, many thought he had to come out firing in this game, as he was playing white. He did not disappoint either, but Anand is a seasoned maestro, hardly a variation left to explore, too calm to be ruffled. The Bulgarian though squeezed Anand into a position of inconvenience in the end game, forcing a resignation

The Slav variation of Games 3 and 5, was employed again in this game, signalled that this championship battle is turning into a classic study of Catalan and Slav for the students of Chess. The Catalan was a move invented to order by the Franco-Polish player and chess writer Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956). He was asked by the organisers of the 1929 Barcelona tournament to create an opening to decorate the city's region. There are some interesting chapters on the Catalan in Boris Avurkh's Grandmaster Repertoire.

An early exchange of queens has been a recurring theme in this tussle. The tenth move once again saw them taken off the board, followed by an exchange of knights. The Game proceeded in identical fashion as the third and fifth, till Anand changed path on the 13th move and played rook to c8 unlike the earlier games when he moved the pawn to a6.

Topalov responded immediately, moving the bishop to b5 suggesting that the variation was picked off in preparations. Anand's response to this was the pawn to a6. At this point, white had the slight advantage, with better material development compared to black. Topalov was holding on to this slim wafer, by keeping Anand's pieces out of play, especially on the king side. He chose to exchange a bishop for the champion's remaining knight on the 15th move.

The game evolved into a battle between Anand's need for developing the pieces on the king side against Topalov's effort to stifle their movement. When Topalov signalled his intention to trade a pair of bishops, with Be3 on his 22nd move Anand resisted this move by playing f4 in response. Obviously Topalov wanted a white knight versus black bishop endgame which would have been advantageous to the white. Anand had to avoid this situation to advance his cause for a draw. He did that before eventually getting Topalov to exchange his remaining knight for a bishop on the 28th move.

A draw was always the most likely outcome from this position, but Topalov had the freedom to play on for a long time to try and find a means to win the game. In a clear indication of his desire to pursue a match levelling victory, Topalov moved his king to the front thus cramping Anand for space. The champion was up to the task moving the black king to f7 to stave off immediate danger.

Meanwhile Topalov had a pawn at d6, forcing Anand to leave his bishop at b5 to stave off any threat from the advanced pawn. Topalov started to make a move on the right flank pushing king to h6 and bringing the pawn forward in support to g4.

Unfortunately for Anand, his bishop was locked at c6 in order to prevent d7. This meant he could not take on f3. Anand then shocked onlookers by resigning on the 56th move, aware of black's limitations and the pressure on the clock. The contest has taken an interesting turn with four left to play, the score level at 4-4.

The momentum has now swung in favour of Topalov. It is just as well that Anand and his team have a day off to prepare a counter assault in Game 9 on Thursday, when the champion has the advantage of playing white

Moves: Access a visual representation of the entire match here.

Story so far: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5, Game 6 & Game 7.

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