May 3, 2001

Kramnik –

Kramnik – Kasparov [E54]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3

Vladimir Kramnik rejected the classical system with 4. Qc2 which he used from time to time for the last decade, and chose another, no less popular development system which is often connected with A. Rubinstein’s name. By the way, this system was not seen in Kramnik’s practice for White but it is well known to his present aids E. Bareev and J. Lautier.

4... O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 7. O-O cxd4

A curious moment. When playing Black, Kramnik prefers the variation with 7... Nc6 8. a3 Bxc3 9. bxc3 Qc7. Kasparov also used it last year at the tournament in Wijk aan Zee against I. Sokolov, with a bad end.

8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. Bg5

On his way to the chess Olympus in the fourth game of the Challengers’ match against A. Beliavsky the future World Champion suffered a defeat after 10. Qe2 Bb7 11. Rd1 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Qc7.

10... Bb7 11. Re1 Nbd7

Another line of this variation is connected with the move 11... Nc6. The position after 12. a3 Be7 13. Qd3 can arise from different openings and is universal, in a sense.

12. Rc1 Rc8 13. Qb3

It was ater this move that the thirteenth World Champion reflected seriously for the first time in this game. The continuation 13.Qb3 is not at all new, but the main theoretical line is connected with 13. Bd3.

13... Be7?!

Black made an unlucky choice. He had many opportunities, but it seems that only one of them was really admissible. So, 13… Qc7? should be rejected at once, as after 14. Nb5 Black might resign with clear conscience. In case of 13... Bxf3 14. Qxb4 Ba8 he got a stable worse position. The move 13... Qe7 deserved a bad reputation as well as the move in the game because of an unexpected 14. Bd5!. After 14... Ba6 (bad was 14... Bxd5 because of 15. Nxd5, 14... Rb8 because of 15. Bxb7 Bxc3 16. Qxc3 Rxb7 17. d5 or 14... Bxc3 because of 15. Bxb7 Bxe1 16. Bxc8 Bxf2+ 17. Kf1! ) 15. Qa4 Bxc3 (Black suffered a strong attack in case of 15... Nb8 to be followed with 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Be4 Qd6 18. Bb1 with the idea Qa4-c2-d2) 16. bxc3 Nb8 17. Bb3 Black’s position got lost very soon in the game Browne - Ljubojevic (Tilburg, 1978). He also suffered great difficulties after 13... Ba5 14. Ne5 Qc7 (after 14... Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qd4 16. Bxe6 Ng4 17. Be3 Nxe3 18. Bxc8 Ng4 19. Bxb7 Qxf2+ 20. Kh1 Qh4 21. h3 White won with an extra rook in the game Knaak - Espig (Fuerstenwalde, 1981)) 15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. Qxe6+ Kh8 17. Nf7+ Rxf7 18. Qxf7 Rf8 19. Qe7 in the game Knaak - L. Spassov (Sochi, 1980). The only continuation which allowed Black to avoid an immediate danger was 13... Bxc3!. After 14. Rxc3 h6 (a delay for only one move after 14... Qe8 15. Nd2 h6 allowed White to develop a strongest attack with 16. Bxh6! gxh6 17. Rh3 in the game Brodsky - Kruppa (Alushta, 1994)) 15. Bh4 Bd5 (after 15... Qe8 16. Bb5 Rxc3 17. bxc3 a6 18. Bf1 Qa8 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. Rxe5 Black still had some problems in the game Aagaard - Kumaran (London, 1997)) 16. Bxd5 Rxc3 (Black also failed to equalise in the game Atanu - Nguyen Anh Dung (Budapest, 2000) after 16... exd5 17. Ne5 Rxc3 18. Qxc3 Qc8 19. Nc6 ) 17. Qxc3 Nxd5 18. Bxd8 Nxc3 19. Bxb6 Nxa2 20. Bxa7 Ra8 21. Bc5 Nxc5 22. dxc5 Rc8 23. Re5 Nb4 Black got a draw in the game Lukacs - Macieja (Budapest, 1996).

14. Bxf6!

White freed the square g5 for his knight. After 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Nd7 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 Black got off lightly in the game Shulman - Smagin (St Petersburg, 1994).

14... Nxf6?!

The most natural move, but now Black’s position begins to fall apart. Other continuations were seen too. So, after 14... gxf6 15. d5 Kh8 (if 15... Nc5, then 16. Qd1) 16. dxe6 Nc5 17. Qd1 Qxd1 18. Rcxd1 Bxf3 19. gxf3 fxe6 20. Bxe6 Rcd8 21. Bf5 Rxd1 22. Rxd1 Rd8 23. Rxd8+ Bxd8 24. Nd5 White got an endgame with an extra pawn in the game P. Nielsen - Hellsten (Gistrup, 1996). Well, in comparison with the tenth game of the present match this endgame should be regarded as Black’s achievement. The move 14... Bxf6 looks illogical, as it leaves unclear prospects for the knight d7. A draw was concluded after 15. Nb5 in the game Atanu - Kunte (Mumbai, 2000), though playing such a position is a hard task for Black, as after 15... Ra8 16. Nd6 he loses light squares in his camp.

15. Bxe6!

White’s bishop cuts of one of the basic pawns from Black’s pawn chain like a chisel.

15… fxe6

In case of 15... Rc7 White has 16. Ng5!, increasing the number of blows which he can deliver at the square f7, because Black cannot agree to 16… fxe6 17. Nxe6.

16. Qxe6+ Kh8

There was no 16... Rf7 because of 17. Ng5. This is why White exchanged his dark-squared bishop for Black’s knight on the fourteenth move.

17. Qxe7 Bxf3 18. gxf3

White is going to arrange a mate. Apparently V. Kramnik considered the endgame after 18. Qxd8 Rcxd8 19. gxf3 Rxd4 20. Rcd1 (if 20. Re7, then 20… Rd2 21. b3 Rc8) 20... Rfd8 21. Rxd4 Rxd4 22. Rd1 Rxd1+ 23. Nxd1 to be not enough.

18… Qxd4

19. Nb5!

By this roundabout route the knight is hurrying to the black king with most suspicious intentions. The most curious thing is that the whole line of this game, including White’s last move, was already seen in the practice!

19… Qxb2

Only now the game of two strongest chess players of the world violated from the game L. Hazai - H. Danielsen (Valby, 1994) where after 19... Qf4 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Nd6 Qxf3 22. Nxc8 Qg4+ 23. Kf1 Qh3+ 24. Ke2 Qxc8 25. Kd2 White won easily with his extra exchange. Kasparov’s move is much stronger. Could this have been a home analysis?

20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Nd6 Rb8 22. Nf7+

The pawn a7 hinders White. After 22. Qxa7 Rf8 23. Qe7 Ra8 (after 23... Kg8? 24. Qe6+ Kh8 25. Nf7+ Kg8 26. Nd8+ Kh8 27. Qe7! White won, and we shall see this position in the game) 24. Nf7+ Kg8 25. Nd8 h6 26. Qf7+ (if 26. Ne6, then 26… Nh5) 26... Kh8 27. Ne6 Ng8 Black came off clear.

22… Kg8 23. Qe6

After 23. Nd8 h6 24. Ne6 Nh5 (if 24… Ne8, then after 26. Qf4 Black’s rook had no good square to retreat) 25. Qxa7 Rc8 Black was able to defend his position.

23... Rf8?

The unfortunate development of this game told on Kasparov’s play – he failed to find the only chance which allowed him to continue the struggle: 23... h5!. Notwithstanding the terror, suffered by Black in this game, he still could have tried to defend his redoubts in this case. After 24. Ng5+ Kh8 25. Qf7 there were interesting opportunities, connected with 25… Qb5 and 25... Qa3 (in case of 25... Qd2 there was a strong 26. Re5!). So, after 25… Qb5 26. Qg6 Qd7 (in case of 26... Re8 the solution was 27. Rd1! Qe2 28. Rd6, threatening to sacrifice on f6) 27. Re5 Re8 28. Rf5 White was threatening to win with a rook sacrifice, while in case of 28… Rf8 or 28… Re7 he had 29. Qxh5+! with good winning chances. Then, after 25... Qa3 26. Re5 Qf8 (in case of 26… Rf8 27. Qg6 Kg8 28. Re6! the threat of a sacrifice on f6 again broke Black’s defence) 26. Qg6 Black had 26… Rb7!, whereas 26… Re8 was losing because of 27. Nh7!!. Probably White’s best choice in this case was 26. Qxa7!? Ra8 27. Qxb6 Rxa2 28. Qe6 with a most problematic defence for Black despite the poor material on the board.

24. Nd8+ Kh8 25. Qe7 1-0

Black resigned. In case of 25… Kg8 the solution was 26. Ne6 Rf7 27. Qd8+.

"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it;and thence it is never played for money."

Benjamin Franklin, "Chess made easy", 1802

"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has toplay the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."

John Watson, "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", 1998

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