The time machine of Chessdom brings you to the past edition of Mtel Masters. It followed the tradition of the first Mtel. It was sponsored by the Bulgarian mobile operator Mtel and played at Grand Hotel Sofia.
Mtel Masters 2006 had very exciting players in the lineup. The French young hope Ettiene Bacrot came with high optimism for the event. The solid Peter Svidler was a big threat for every participant. However, it was Gata Kamsky who brought the big interest and the nice surprise. In the third round he defeated Vishy Anand and took pole position. In the fourth round his advantage grew even more when he dismantled Svidler in only 24 moves. Gata Kamsky already had 3,5 points, half a point more than Anand and 2 more than Topalov, with a performance of more than 3000!
Round 5 was the one where back and forths for the players started and Mtel 2006 turned into pure excitement. Veselin Topalov managed to defeat Kamsky after a 42 moves thriller. Chess fans started talking about another spectacular comeback of Topalov, but just a round after opinions changed after Peter Svidler beated Topalov with black and Kamsky won against Ponomariov. Kamsky’s performance was close to 3000 again and the USA and the whole world were applauding his fantastic games. However, it was getting more and more interesting every round. In R7 Topalov won against Anand with black in an unbalanced rook against knight and bishop game. Now everybody was confused. Right after the midpoint of the tournament the first three players were just 1,5 away and anything could happen to the end. After round 8 the difference came to only 1 point (Kamsky 5,5, Anand 4,5, Topalov 4,5).
The beginning of the end
In round 9 Gata Kamsky had whites against Veselin Topalov. A win was giving Kamsky the first place, a draw meant big chances for first, and a loss was favoring Topalov as the future title holder. In a dinamic Najdorf, Topalov played a strong novelty 14. … e5 and soon launched a strong attack on whites. After several precise moves black lost the game.
Veselin Topalov wins
In Round 10 Topalov did not make a mistake and secured first by defeating Bacrot. Fantastic second win in a row by Topalov. Yet, Kamsky scored a 2800+ performance and showed his ambition to come back in the top 10 of the world.