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By Arvind Aaron
Rating wise, Svidler knocking out Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria by 1.5-0.5 is the only upset of the quarterfinals. However, Svidler has had a smooth result and it includes being undefeated and without being in major trouble in any of his games.
The big-made Svidler drew the white game by repetition of moves on the 24th turn and turned the tables with the black pieces in 46 moves for a semi-final entry. Topalov played the Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian defence with the black pieces and improved over his own game against Anand from the Amber Tournament of 2001 to perpetually attack the white queen with his bishop and make a draw by repetition of moves.
In the reverse game, Topalov held an advantage with the white pieces in a Ruy Lopez. Position was ripe for an attack but Topalov blotted out that possibility himself allowing exchange of queens.
"A younger Topalov would not have allowed that queen exchange to happen" said Anand analysing the game with Bacrot. With the worst behind his back, Svidler seized the opportunity in the ending with a stellar pawn sacrifice on the 36th turn which made a difference between a small advantage and a winning one. Topalov's position crumbled quicker than his clock and he resigned when mate or loss of a knight was imminent.
Speaking to The Hindu, Svidler said there was no one single mistake from the Bulgarian. "He could have played Nf5 instead of Ne5 and held the advantage." It confirmed the passing comment Anand had made about the position on the 17th turn where white could retain queens as attack was in the offing.
Grischuk required tie-breaks to get past the 20-year old Frenchman after both rapid games ended in draws. In the first game, Bacrot missed a simple chance to win the opposite colour bishop ending. Grischuk escaped with a 68-move draw. When the game was expected to be heading towards a draw, Grischuk overlooked a swift mating attack by his opponent and was forced into an inferior ending.
The influence and scar of the first game reflected on Grischuk who took a draw in the second rapid game rather quickly despite playing white. He was ready for the blitz play-off and the gamble paid off. Although Grischuk looked more nervous, it was Bacrot who crumbled and lost both blitz games to exit from the tournament. Since becoming the youngest grandmaster in chess history in 1997, Bacrot has hit the chess headline after his wonderful show here.
The results (quarterfinals): Alexander Grischuk (Rus) bt. Etienne Bacrot (Fra) 1-1, 2-0, Veselin Topalov (Bul) lost to Peter Svidler (Rus) 0.5-1.5.
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