Ian Rogers

Sofia: Viswanathan Anand's renowned defensive skills failed to hold out against Veselin Topalov in the eighth game of the World chess championship match in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Anand defended tenaciously after falling into passivity and despite valiant defence the World Champion could not rescue the resulting endgame.

By winning, Topalov levelled the match score at 4-4 and after pressing Anand hard in the previous two games the Bulgarian has the momentum going into the final four games.

“The match is very difficult,” admitted Anand.

Anand, playing black on Tuesday, began the eighth game with the solid Slav Defence which had served him well in two earlier games and it was the Indian who varied first with a rare 13th move.

Topalov replied quickly and confidently and his 18th move caused Anand to lapse into deep thought.

Twenty-one minutes later, Anand found a defensive plan but it was clear by then that the World champion was fighting for a draw at best.

“I considered that when my knight (invaded) I had a winning position,” said Topalov, “but I am not sure; (perhaps) later he could have survived.”

After 32 moves Anand was forced to give up a pawn, though the reduced material on the board offered some hopes for salvation.

Anand's task was always going to be difficult but a serious error on the 54th move made Topalov's task easy and Topalov moved in to secure his first win since day one of the match.

“The endgame was very close,” explained Anand, “but I didn't ever see a clear way to draw.”

“I wasn't 100 per cent sure,” Topalov added, “But it looked to me that it should be winning and I couldn't see a way for Black to defend.”

After 56 moves and almost five hours of play, Anand extended his hand in resignation to Topalov.

“I have missed some opportunities,” said Topalov. “I am happy that today I was able to convert my advantage into a win.”

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