He's baaaaack! Veselin Topalov closed out the Grand Prix tournament in Zug, Switzerland in emphatic fashion, Actually, that may overstate things a bit. He won today (in what was the only decisive game of the round) almost in self-defense against Sergey Karjakin. Topalov needed only a draw to clinch clear first (a loss combined with a win by Hikaru Nakamura would leave them tied for first), but Karjakin got ambitious after coming out of the opening with an edge. He was justified in that ambition, but on this occasion his reach exceeded his grasp, and he was soon punished. Thus Topalov finished with a very impressive +5 score (and a 2929 TPR), gained 22 rating points and jumped up to #4 on the brand new rating list, not too far below the 2800 barrier he had traversed in the mid '00s.
Even more good news for Topalov is that he leads in the overall Grand Prix standings. He has played in two of the three Grand Prix events held so far, and in addition to his clear first in Zug he tied for first (with Boris Gelfand and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the other, in London last year). There will be three more such tournaments in the current series, with each player participating in four of them. The overall winner and runner-up will receive automatic berths into the next Candidates' event, so while plenty of time remains his chances are looking extremely good at the moment. Of course, if he keeps playing like this, he may manage to qualify by rating even if somehow two players manage to squeak past him by the end of the series.
1. Topalov 8 (out of 11)
2. Nakamura 6.5
3-4. Ponomariov, Caruana 6
5-6. Kamsky, Morozevich 5.5
7-9. Giri, Leko, Karjakin 5
10-12. Radjabov, Mamedyarov, Kasimdzhanov 4.5