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    2009 WC Challengers' Match - Who Will Win?
Bob Armstrong
 2009-02-12 08:28
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?


   RE: 2009 WC Challengers' Match - Who Will Win?
Frank Dixon
 2009-02-17 16:32
I'm hoping for Kamsky to win, but I'm afraid Topalov may simply be too strong. Topalov got into my bad books in the match against Kramnik, and that sort of behaviour is just what we don't need in top-flight chess today.

Hopefully Kamsky's originality in the opening will cause Topalov some problems. Kamsky has a way of coming up with slightly offbeat lines which haven't been played before (or played very little before), which fit his style, leaving theory behind in the late opening or early middlegame. He can do this especially well with White. Topalov is more the 'play theory and play it deeply' style of player, with very impressive theoretical opening knowledge.

For Kamsky to win, he has to cause Topalov problems at an early stage of the game, and win a game or two that way. Kamsky's defence with Black will be vital, as Topalov plays very sharply. Kamsky will have had to prepare probably the deepest he has ever done in his life to have a chance.
   RE: 2009 WC Challengers' Match - Who Will Win?
Alex Ferreira
 2009-02-16 19:23
Can't wait until tomorrow.

It's also important to note that it'll be a clash of styles.
Kamsky plays good calm, solid chess, Topalov is all about fireworks and amazing home prep.

No doubt in my mind that Topalov will win, and that he'll lose at least one game.
8 games is not enough. They're cheapening chess by making it commercial, practical and faster. Given that it's a qualifier to play Anand, fine, what can we do.

I wonder... do we learn more from a clash of styles where players try to impose on each other, or do we learn more from similar styles where specifics get completely exhausted?
In any case, hopefully they'll develop novelties in some mainstream openings / lines, or even better, revive something that has been dormant.

Alex F.