Lessons from Topalov's Success.
I would like to offer my analysis of Topalov's success in San Luis.
Many players discussing the success of a World Champion love to get caught up in the usual debates as to talent and form and mentality. However success in events have deeper roots in things which are not often discussed on a profound level.
Firstly I would like to look at Topalov's team.He has a manger Danailov. A very professional arrangement. This means Topalov sleeps well knowing his manager takes care of details like plane tickets, visa issues and hotel bookings.Jamaica could do with one.
Secondly, the quality of his seconds Bologan and Cheparinov. Here he had two devoted countrymen who are quite creative and talented.This means that in the novelty department they are very strong. Unfortunately in Jamaica this point is not grasped fully. To make it in professional chess, a novelty tips the balance. Kasparov's huge success in this area of chess has assisted him so many times.
Thirdly, some facts about Topalov. He is like Kasparov, a fearless warrior type Aries.
He is not afraid of losing. This allows him to play boldly and to recover from mistakes and setbacks quickly.In Jamaica the aim of many NMs is to make sure you do not recover from your setbacks and to stay stagnant. Topalov is an optimist like Elliott and he believes that better will come. A very good trait for any sportsman.
In all games one could see the hunger of Topalov. He was ready to make imbalances and push his opponents to the limit.
Fouthly the format of the championships. This was tournament, not a series of mini matches. Therefore there were no ridiculous time ontrols and the quality of play was high. Topalov knew his opponents very well.
Fifthly, his physical shape. Svidler commented on this during the tournament.
There are so many Jamaicans who miss the connection between better health
and fitness and success in chess. Shane is a good example of a physically and mentally fit athlete.
Sixth, Topalov is renowned for his concentration and determination.
People think chess is just the memory of opening moves. It also is about maintaining the same level of concentration over longer periods of time. Elliott and Rowe are good local examples of this. They do not move too often from the board.
Finally, the belief. No great sportsman in any endeavor can go far without this.
One of the deep reasons why the Jamaican Olympic teams do not do well is a deep lack of confidence and belief. When coming out of Jamaica they have to come out of a comfort zone.
The inability to do this hampers preparations and the pre game outlook.
I hope aspiring Jamaican players can look deeply at Toplaov's success with these factors in mind.
Future Jamaican IMs should also note the following microscopic details which are very interesting:
1) Topalov varied his white and black openings against opponents who he has played for years.Relevance to Jamaica: Change your whites and blacks often.
2) Topalov was willing to sacrice a pawn in the tradition of Kasparov.
This is one way to break into the highest stratosphere.
It means that one must be willing to burn bridges.
Confidence is a must.
3) Topalov was quite willing to grind out victories in the endgame.
Any champion of the chess world has to have this determination and technique.
4) A little point that many people missed is that Topalov beat Kasparov in his last official game of chess . I dont think anyone realises that Topalov gave Kasparov problems as early as 1994.
5) The lack of blunders in his play. People in Jamaica need to realise that brilliance may win one game but a low blunder quotient means a stainless score.
6) Topalov took care of the players who were out of form: Polgar, Svidler and Kasimdshanov.
This is crucial in any tournament.
Written and copyrighted 2005
by John Tobisch.