Topalov vs. Anand
 the new great rivalry

1/2/2006 - Sports are known for their great rivalries. In baseball, in the 1940ís and 1950ís it was the Yankees vs. the Dodgers. Boxing has also had its great rivalries; in the 70ís it was Ali vs. Frazier, in the 50ís it was Robinson vs. LaMotta, and in the 1990ís it was Bowe vs. Holyfield. During the 60ís and 70ís, no football rivalry was hotter than the Chiefs vs. Oakland or Dallas vs. Washington.

    Just like any other sport, chess has  its numerous rivalries. In the 70ís, it was Spassky vs. Fischer, and Kortchnoi vs. Karpov. In the 1980ís, it was Karpov vs. Kasparov. I think the hottest rivalry in chess today is Anand vs. Topalov. Rivalries can force each player or team to new heights. It brings out the best and sometimes the worst in an opponent. Rivalry match ups can be hard fought, bitter battles. Often times each team or player is pretty beat up after a contest.

    According to my records, Anand leads Topalov in the head to head battles, by a score of 16 wins, 10 losses, and 28 draws. Chess is not known for its decisiveness, but games between these two top players are almost 50% decisive. Out of 54 games played, 26 have been decisive.  If you look at the last two years,  2004 and 2005, you can seen a major rivalry brewing. These players have met 13 times in the last two years; 8 games have been decisive and 5 have ended in draws. During this period, Anand still holds the lead with 5 wins and 3 losses.

    In the last two years, only two games between these players ended in a friendly draw.  Anand might hold the head to head lead, but it was Topalov who  trumped Anand by winning the  San Luis world championship, and bypassing him in the rating charts. At Mtel, a square away from queening a pawn, Anand resigned after being engulfed in Topalovís mating web. This scenario would play itself out again, in their epoch, 97-move battle in the 2nd round of San Luis. Topalov had the upper hand in a queen and pawn end game, but Anand again was poised to queen a pawn. The game was drawn when Topalov missed a win, allowing Anand to forced a perpetual check draw.  You have got to be a cool customer to play 15+ moves against Anand, while he is one square away from queening a pawn.  It requires a cool head and hand, but cool-hand Tope was up to the task. He tried to milk every resource to win this game.  Topalov played with the same fearlessness through out the rest of the tournament.

    Recently Topalov said heís not afraid to lose, well this attitude certainly evident when Topalov plays Anand. It also helped Topalov win San Luis.  This rivalry could help lift both players over the 2800 barrier. Topalov is already above it now and only 9 rating points separate Anand from Topalov. I look for Anand to close this gap at Corus, a tournament that Anand has excelled at over the years.


Karpov vs. Kortchnoi -

Kasparov vs. Karpov -

Spassky vs. Fischer -

Topalov vs. Anand round 2 San Luis -

Topalov vs. Anand Mtel -

Chess Reporter -

 Sacred Barriers
 Veselin Topalov
 Vishy Anand
Chess and Sports
Chess rivalries continue at Mainz

Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta -

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier -

Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield

Football Rivalries -

Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs -

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins -