Mar 19, 2001

Kasparov - Kramnik (m/1) [C67]

1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6

The move 2... Nf6, leading to the Petroff Defence which Vladimir Kramnik plays often, would have been a more expected continuation.

3. Bb5

For the last decade Kasparov terrorised a great deal of the grandmaster beau-monde with his convincing victories in the Scotch Defence (to begin after 3. d4). Well, maybe the thirteenth World Champion did not want to reveal main secrets of his preparation in the starting game and just reserved his basic weapon for the future.

3… Nf6

Along with the traditional 3… a6 the system, beginning with 3… Nf6, has been popular among the players of the highest level for the whole century.

4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6

This continuation which became widespread in chess practice owing to the efforts of O. Romanishin at the end of the seventies has been revived recently. Another line of this system is connected with the move 5... Be7. Vladimir Kramnik paid attention to this variation too, and, though the result of his game against A. Shirov, played in Linares in 1998, was negative after 6. dxe5 O-O 7. Re1 d5 8. exd6 Bxd6 9. Nbd2 Bf5 10. Nc4 Bb4 11. c3 Qxd1 12. Rxd1 Bc5 13. Be3 Ne7 14. Re1 Bxe3 15. Nxe3, the reason of this defeat was chiefly the careless exchange on the fourteenth move. The move 14... Ng6! promised an absolute equality to Black.

6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8

The position reminds slightly the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, but with one significant difference: the white pawn is on e5 instead of e4, and this detail often allows Black to perform a successful blockade of White’s pawn advantage on the kingside on light squares – that is on the squares of the same colour with the bishop which has no opponent.

9. Nc3 Bd7

A relatively new continuation which has grown popular for the last months. The moves 9… h6 or 9... Ke8 occur more frequently. The latter also was seen by the world’s second chess player. After 9... Ke8 10. h3 Ne7 11. Re1 Vladimir ventured on an opening experiment of 12… Nd5 which allowed White to develop an unpleasant pressure upon Black’s position with 12. Ne4 Nb4 13. Re2! Bf5 14. Nd4 Bxe4 15. Rxe4 c5 16. a3 cxd4 17. axb4 Bxb4 18. Rxd4 Be7 19. Be3 a6 20. Rad1 h5 21. c3 in the game Topalov - Kramnik (Wijk aan Zee, 1999). By the way, at the tournament which was held at the same time with the main event the trainer of the Bulgarian grandmaster S. Danailov chose 21. Rd7!? in one of his games, and after 21… Bd6 22. e6 fxe6 23. Rxg7 White managed to win.

10. b3

In different years White played also 10. Bg5+ and 10. Bf4. This year, apart from the move in the game, the continuations 10. h3 and 10. Ne4 were seen. In the game Shirov - Almasi in the second round of the Rubinstein Memorial in Polanica Zdroj this year after 10. h3 h6 11. Bf4 b6 12. a4 a5 13. Rad1 Kc8 14. b3 Bb4 15. Ne4 Be6 16. c4 c5 Black not only equalised the game but even took the initiative. The line 10. Ne4 h6 11. Bd2 c5 12. Rad1 Kc8 13. Rfe1 b6 occurred in September 2000 in the game Dutreeuw - Jonkman (Mondariz, 2000).

10... h6 11. Bb2 Kc8

12. h3

Not satisfied with the result of the opening duel in the second round in Polanica Zdroj, in the fourth round A. Shirov chose 12. Rad1 against M. Krasenkow, and after 12…. a5 13. h3 b6 14. a4 Bb4 15. Ne2 Re8 16. Nf4 g6 17. g4 Ng7 18. Rd3 Ne6 19. Nxe6 Bxe6 20. Nd4 he won a convincing victory. Still, Garry Kasparov rejected the track, trodden by the grandmaster from Spain, and played in his own way.

12... b6 13. Rad1 Ne7 14. Ne2

Black was ready to encounter a doubling of the rooks on the d-file with the help of 14. Rd2 with 14… c5 15. Rfd1 Be6.

14... Ng6

Unlike Krasenkow, Kramnik is not going to allow the white knight to get to f4.

15. Ne1 h5

Another timely prophylactic move. White is planning an advance of the f-pawn, and Black prepares a blocking position on f5 for his pieces in good time. The moment was chosen very appropriately, as none of the white pieces can get to the temporarily weakened square g5.

16. Nd3 c5 17. c4 a5 18. a4 h4 19. Nc3 Be6 20. Nd5 Kb7 21. Ne3 Rh5

There’s nothing bad in an excessive control over the square f5.

22. Bc3

If 22. f4, then 22… Ne7 with a safe blocking position.

22... Re8 23. Rd2 Kc8 24. f4 Ne7 25. Nf2 Nf5. 1/2-1/2

Black’s position is very solid, so White agreed to the offered draw, on the threshold of a possible time trouble.

"And his six pawns were scattered like the ships of the Armada that should have conquered England; the Lord blew, and they were all isolated."

-Hans Kmoch, Groningen 1946 tournament book

"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it."

Anand Vishwanathan

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