World champion Viswanathan Anand was in for a surprise by a resurgent Veselin Topalov who scored a remarkable victory with white pieces in the eighth match to square off the World Chess Championship 4-4 in Sofia, Bulgaria on Tuesday.
Anand had been aptly surprised in the seventh game which was perhaps a prelude to things to come in the next. A loss in game one, two victories thereon in game two and four and after three successive draws, the world champion finds himself at level scores in what is the most keenly contested world title in recent times.
While in the seventh game Topalov came up with some brilliant display to keep Anand on the backfoot despite an extra piece, this time the day belonged to the Bulgarian entirely for a very bold show even as the critics felt that the Indian should have drawn without much ado.
Playing the white side of a Slav defense yet again, Topalov appeared better prepared for the second day running.
For once, Anand's tactics of coming up with something new before his opponent did not materialize, and this is probably an indication for the World Champion to change gears.
The two had been combating one line for past few days and on Tuesday Anand came up with a new move on his 13th turn allowing Topalov to seize what appeared to be an insignificant advantage.
The Bulgarian was quite happy to walk in to an endgame wherein he had chances and was playing for only two results -- either a draw or, if Anand falters, a win. As it happened in the game, Anand in fact faltered when no one was sure what was happening.
Anand sacrificed a pawn to reach an opposite coloured Bishops endgame wherein Topalov played like a man in form. The opinions of the experts were divided about the outcome of the endgame when it was reached and almost everyone struggled to find out a winning path for white except the man who mattered - Topalov.
With awesome ease, the Bulgarian capitalised on some mistakes by Anand to regain the initiative and brought it down to a situation wherein a mistake will cost the Indian dearly.
The mistake, though was not clear, was done with and Anand found himself struggling.
It was certainly the most terrible thing that White could continue torturing his opponent for a long time. He could always switch from the plan while time was running against Anand who resigned a bit prematurely on the 56th move, according to experts.
After a much needed rest day, Anand will again play white in the ninth game. Topalov seems like taking charge but Anand has always shown some ace up his sleeves when it matters.
The ninth game will possibly show up the true colours of the match.