|The match is between the number 1 ranked player in the World, Veselin Topalov ( Bulgaria ), rated 2796 ( FIDE Jan. list ), 2006 World Championship Challenger ( who lost ), and American Gata Kamsky, # 17, rated 2725, former World Championship Challenger in the prior millenium ( who lost ).
It is an 8-game match. Round 1 starts on Tuesday, February 17, next week.
Who will win?
I have to go with Topalov. It is true that Kamsky is a solid player who makes few mistakes, and is doggedly determined, and is said to have " nerves of steel ". But Topalov, in my opinion, is a more creative and explosive player - his trademark has been amazing exchange sacrifices ( in one game an amazing double exchange sac, that he won ) and very thorough tournament preparation. Since Kamsky returned to high level play, after a number of years layoff, his openings seem to have been one of the weakest points of his game. Opening preparation seems to have advanced a lot since he was last a World Championship Challenger, and I don't think he has yet caught up. He cannot afford to have Topalov get superior early middle games, right out of the opening.
And I think it is almost unanimous among the chess website polls I've seen, that Topalov is the favourite by a substantial margin.
But Topalov is not taking any chances. He said recently about the match:
" I do not expect this to be an easy match. It will be a very hard fight, but I am convinced that I will win. However, since we are playing just eight games I must not make any mistakes. I have to be fully concentrated. The Elo advantage is not enough to win."
So I put my money on Topalov !
Who do you choose? Why do you think they'll win?