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Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov

  • Born:
    Mar 15, 1975 (Age 43) Rousse, Bulgaria
  • FIDE Title:
  • FIDE ID:
  • Federation:
  • Peak Rating:
    2816 (September 2015)
  • Rating:
    2747 (May 2018)
  • Rank:
    20 (May 2018)

Topalov is an even more spectacular example than Viswanathan Anand of a player whose career took off after Garry Kasparov retired from chess. Up until that point the Bulgarian was a fixture among the elite – one whose attacking style of play made him popular with chess fans – but seldom a serious contender for the top prizes. That all changed when he turned 30 in 2005. First he beat Garry Kasparov in the final round of the Linares supertournament in a game that was immediately followed by his opponent retiring from professional chess. Then he confirmed he was ready to pick up where Kasparov had left off with a stunning victory in the FIDE World Chess Championship in San Luis, Argentina. Topalov started that double round-robin with an almost unheard of 6.5/7, before cruising home with seven draws in the second half to win by 1.5 points.

The new FIDE World Champion also topped the rating list of active players, but he faced one final challenge – Vladimir Kramnik, who didn’t participate in the tournament and was still acknowledged as the World Champion by most chess fans. A “reunification” match was organised in Russia in 2006, and became one of the most acrimonious in chess history. After Kramnik took a two-game lead Topalov’s manager, Silvio Danailov, made thinly-veiled accusations that Kramnik had cheated during toilet visits (perhaps echoing accusations made about Topalov in the San Luis event). Kramnik forfeited game five after refusing to play when the organisers seemed to accept his opponent’s claims had some validity, but ultimately chose to fight on and emerged triumphant in tiebreaks.

The legacy of that match was that Topalov, and especially his manager, became among the least popular figures in world chess. Nevertheless, he remained near the top, and managed to engineer a new path to a World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand in Bulgaria in 2010. In the aftermath of a final-game defeat Topalov married and almost withdrew from competitive chess, but a couple of years later he began to stage a comeback. 

Victory in the 2012/3 Grand Prix series saw Veselin qualify for the 2014 Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk. His deep and sharp opening preparation recalled his glory days, but his technique was unable to keep up, suggesting he was rusty due to a lack of tournaments. Only first place interested him, which paradoxically helps explain why he ended up in sole last place. 

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Comments 11

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  • Aug 16, 2017 | 4:45 PM

    please reply to my email (  darpinofd@gmail.com   i have something very important to share with you.

  • Nov 10, 2016 | 3:52 PM

    Great player!!!

    I knew his father!

  • Sep 19, 2016 | 8:28 AM

    @Limit you should probably excuse my fellow countrymen but patriotisum sometimes plays a big part in ones statements  

  • Sep 19, 2016 | 5:11 AM

    moro, Kramnik was cheating and Topalov caught him! Kramnik used to go to exactly the same toilet and make several breaks when it wsa his turn. You can check it up.

    Yeah sure but where are u from? Bulgaria -_-

  • Mar 28, 2016 | 9:35 PM

    I im still not sure what to think of the match and what was the actual truth i was very young and wasent following chess back then and apart from that even now there are no video archives of the event of the internet how to decide whether one was right or the other was accusing withought evidence withought looking at the video :D 

  • Mar 27, 2016 | 3:07 PM

    But in the second game Kramnik was completely lost and only survived by miracle. He made mistakes after the opening that no

    computer would suggest. So what do you think that he used it

    only when he had a worse position? I know that the Chessbase-Reports were very one-sided because Kramnik used to work for chessbase, but i am sure that the Topalov-Team did not think at all

    of cheating by Kramnik. It was only to put psychological pressure on him.

  • Mar 27, 2016 | 11:59 AM

    how do you know for sure that it was for "topalov's desperation", you are making a false accusation. Kramnik won these "2 games" because of computer engine help, he used to go to exactly the same toilet every time when he had to make a move so it became suspicious, I think there is even evidence for it.

  • Mar 27, 2016 | 10:09 AM

    Alekseinder, that is only half true. Of course, Kramnik often went to the toilet, but he never cheated, that´s nonsense. The truth is, that

    it was only desperation by the Topalov-Team, because they lost the first two games and tried to confuse Kramnik.

  • Mar 14, 2016 | 6:19 PM

    moro, Kramnik was cheating and Topalov caught him! Kramnik used to go to exactly the same toilet and make several breaks when it wsa his turn. You can check it up.

  • Nov 4, 2015 | 1:02 PM

    He is a great player but one should not forget what he did with

    Kramnik in 2006.


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