Apr 29, 2001

Kasparov – Kramnik (m/11) [C78]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6

Vladimir Kramnik rejected the Berlin System which allowed him to hold Black in games three and nine.

4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5

For the resent years this system, kindred to the Arkhangelsk Variation, experienced a real upsurge. It was employed frequently by such leading grandmasters of the world as A. Shirov, V. Anand, V. Ivanchuk, M. Adams, V. Topalov.

7. a4 Bb7

Now the play was really converted to a line of the Arkhangelsk Variation. Also 7… Rb8 can be seen often at present.

8. d3 O-O 9. Nc3 Na5

Black ventured on a pawn sacrifice. After 9... b4 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. Bxd5 d6 12. a5 he was condemned to a long defence.

10. axb5

All this stuff until the last move already occurred in Kramnik’s practice – but for White. After 10. Nxe5 Nxb3 11. cxb3 d5 12. Bg5 dxe4 13. dxe4 b4 14. Nd5 Nxe4 15. Bxd8 Raxd8 16. Qc2 Bxd5 17. Rae1 White achieved his great material advantage in the game Kramnik - Shirov (Frankfurt (active), 1996). Later it was found out that after 11... b4 12. Ne2 d5 13. d4 Bd6 14. exd5 Nxd5 Black had a good compensation for the pawn, as the game J. Polgar - Adams (Linares, 1997) showed.

10... Nxb3 11. cxb3 axb5 12. Rxa8 Bxa8 13. Nxe5 d5 14. Bg5

After 14. Ng4 dxe4 15. Nxf6+ Qxf6 16. dxe4 Rd8 Black was sufficiently compensated for the pawn.

14... dxe4

The move 14... Be7 was applied much more often. After 15. Nxb5 dxe4 (15... Nxe4 was bad because of 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Nf3 Nf6 18. Qc1 with a hard position by Black (Mokry - F. Braga, Reggio Emilia, 1991)) 16. dxe4 Bxe4 17. Re1! (after 17. Nc3 Bb7 18. Re1 h6 19. Bf4 Bb4 20. Ng4 Nxg4 21. Qxg4 Re8 22. Rxe8+ White had to be content with a draw in the game Kasparov - Shirov (Linares, 1998)) 17... Qxd1 (17... Bb7 was losing because of 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd7 ) 18. Rxd1 Rb8 (White also had some chances to achieve his extra pawn after 18... Rd8 19. Rxd8+ Bxd8 20. Nc3 Bb7 21. b4) 19. Nc3 Bc2 in the game Anand - Shirov (Linares, 1998) White missed an opportunity to force 20. Rd2! Bxb3 21. Nc6 Ra8 22. Nxe7+ Kf8 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. Nf5 Ra1+ 25. Nd1 Rxd1+ 26. Rxd1 Bxd1 27. Kf1, thus making Black defend an unpleasant endgame with minor pieces.

15. dxe4 Qxd1 16. Rxd1 b4

17. Bxf6!

A reinforcement in comparison with the game Topalov - Shirov (Monte Carlo (blindfold), 1997) where after 17. Nd5 Bxf2+ 18. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 19. Kg1 Nxg5 20. Nd7 Rd8 21. Nxc7 Kh8 22. Nxa8 Rxa8 23. Rd4 Ra1+ 24. Kf2 Rb1 the opponents agreed to a draw soon.

17... bxc3 18. bxc3

An immediate 18. Nd7? was bad because of 18… c2 19. Rc1 gxf6, whereafter there was no 20. Nxc5? as Black had 20… Rd8, and the weakness of the first horizontal was decisive.

18... gxf6 19. Nd7 Bd6

The bind 19... Rd8? was of no use here because of 20. Nxf6+.

20. Nxf8 Kxf8

It’s hard to estimate this endgame definitely. Still, there’s no doubt that White has some winning chances, connected with creating a passed pawn on the queenside and an attack of the opponent’s kingside (and the h-pawn first of all).

21. f3 h5 22. h4 Ke7

With the idea 23... Bg3.

23. Kf2 Bb7

24. c4

An important decision. White performed a pawn advance on the queenside. He had also a natural opportunity that was just suggesting itself: an attempt to improve the position of the rook with 24. Ra1, thus having transferred it to the fifth horizontal to attack of the black h5-pawn and prevent the advance f6-f5. Probably in this case Kasparov disliked 24… Be5. After 25. Ra5 (in case of 25. Ke3 White had to reckon with 25… f5!? 26. exf5 Bg3, and in case of 25. Ra7 there was 25… Bc8 to be followed with f6-f5) 25... Bxc3 26. Rxh5 c5 White had only one passed pawn on the h-file which could have been not enough for a win. 24. b4!? was possible, preventing a blockade of the queenside pawns and at the same time preparing to play Rd1-a1-a5 at an opportune moment. In this case 24... Bc8 (with the idea f6-f5) was bad because of 25. Rd5 Be5 26. Rc5 Kd6, and in case of 24… Ke6 (with the idea f6-f5) there was 25. Ra1 f5 (if 25... Be5, then 26. Ra7 Bc6 27. Ra6 Kd7 28. c4 ) 26. exf5+ Kxf5 27. Ra5+ White still maintained an unpleasant pressure upon Black’s position and an opportunity to create passed pawns on the b- and h-files.

24... Be5

Black had an opportunity to block up the white pawns on the queenside with 24... c5, and for 25. Ra1 he had 25… Kd7 26. Ra7 Kc6, preventing White’s rook from getting to the h5-pawn through the eighth horizontal. A sharp 27. g4?! was also insufficient because of 27… hxg4 28. fxg4 Kb6.

25. Rd2?!

White wants to get to the a-file with the rook without fail and allows a blockade of his queenside pawns. Probably Black encountered greater problems after 25. b4!?.

25... Bc8 26. Rd5 Be6 27. Ra5 c5!

Now White’s pawns on the queenside are blocked.

28. Ke3 Bd4+ 29. Kd3

29… f5!

Black enlarges the range of his bishops. The game proceeds to certain tactical complications.

30. b4

Well, White broke through on the queenside, but, as we shall see soon, he will pay for this achievement.

30… fxe4+ 31. Kxe4

After 31. fxe4 Bf2 32. b5 Kd6 33. Ra6+ Kd7 34. Rc6 Bd4 it was also absolutely unclear how White could have reinforced his position.

31... Bf2 32. bxc5 Bxh4 33. c6 Kd6 34. Rxh5 Bf2 35. g4 Kxc6

The position changed considerably for the last several moves, and obviously in Black’s favour. He got rid of his weak pawns and reduced the pawn potential of his opponent.

36. Rh2 Bc5 37. Rc2 f6 38. Rh2

Most depressing, but in case of 38. Kd3 Bd6 39. Ra2 Bc7 40. Ra6+ Bb6 41. Ra8 Bc5 Black’s defence was also unassailable. Now the game should end quickly.

38... Bxc4 39. Rh6 Bd5 40. Kf5

If 40. Kf4, then 40… Be7, and in case of 41. g5 there was 41… Bd6+.

40... Bxf3 41. g5 Kd5 1/2-1/2

Draw. Black always can give up one of his bishops for the pawn.

"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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