May 30, 2001
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Kasparov – Kramnik (m/3) [C67]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4

Vladimir Kramnik chose the Berlin System of the Ruy Lopez again, like in the first game.

5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7 10. b3 h6 11. Bb2 Kc8 12. Rad1

Kasparov refused to repeat the development of the first game where after 12. h3 b6 13. Rad1 Ne7 14. Ne2 Ng6 Black rearranged his pieces successfully.

12... b6

A reinforcement. In our annotation of the first round we mentioned the game Shirov - Krasenkow (Polanica Zdroj, 2000) where White gained an advantage 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.

13. Ne2 c5 14. c4 Bc6 15. Nf4 Kb7

An important moment. Black did not venture on the position to appear after 15... Bxf3 16. gxf3 Be7. Black’s strong knight on f5 and the possibility of subsequent simplifications on the d-file gave him chances for an equalisation. Probably V. Kramnik did not want to encounter 17. e6!?, as then both after 17… Bg5 and after 17… Bd6 White had an intermediate 18. Rd5, leading to complications.

16. Nd5 Ne7 17. Rfe1 Rg8!

Black fortifies the g7-pawn and removes his rook beyond the reach of the Knight-rays of White’s bishop. Black’s natural wish to get rid of White’s strong knight on d5 with 17... Rd8 could have been followed with a tactical blow 18. e6! fxe6 (if 18... f6, then 19. b4, with the use of the circumstance that the white knight is safe on d5) 19. Ne5! Be8 (otherwise 20. Nf7) 20. Nf4, and white pieces became pretty active in the centre of the board.

18. Nf4!

The manoeuvres of the white knight have certain outcome. Black has to oppose something to the threat of e5-e6.

18… g5

Now there’s no 18... Bxf3 19. gxf3, as then Black would have to defend against two threats at once: 20. Rd7 or 20. e6.

19. Nh5 Rg6

Black’s rook is dreaming about a convenient stand on e6.

20. Nf6 Bg7

The exchange 20... Bxf3 21. gxf3 is again unacceptable for Black because of the threats of 22. Rd7 and 22. e6.

21. Rd3

21… Bxf3!?

One of crucial moments of the game. Vladimir Kramnik decided to part wit his two bishops to simplify the position. In case of 21... Ng8 Black had to reckon with 22. Nd5 with the idea to play b3-b4, and in case of 21... Bxf6 22. exf6 he had to agree to the plain 22… Ng8, and, though the aggressive gave nothing to White because of 23… Rxf6 24. Nxc6 Rxc6 25. Rd7 f6, any neutral move, e. g. 23. Kf1, accentuated the shortcomings of Black’s position as he had no 23... Nxf6? because of 24. Ne5. So, with the move in the game Vladimir Kramnik wanted to arrange a better stand on c6 for his knight.

22. Rxf3 Bxf6

A necessary exchange. After 22... Nc6 23. Nh5 Black’s problems grew.

23. exf6 Nc6 24. Rd3 Rf8 25. Re4 Kc8 26. f4!

White wants to open up files for his active major pieces. If the position gets simplified with the same pawn structure, then the far advanced white pawn on f6 will become an evident weak point.

26… gxf4

A questionable decision. Many players would have preferred 26... Nd4 27. fxg5 hxg5 28. Bxd4 cxd4 29. Rdxd4 Rxf6, and, though in this rook endgame White still has some winning chances, connected first of all with the creating of a remote passed pawn on the h-file with g2-g3 and h2-h4, a draw is quite possible after an exchange of two rooks.

27. Rxf4 Re8 28. Bc3 Re2 29. Rf2 Re4 30. Rh3 a5!

Black looks for counterchances on the queenside. Well, that’s very appropriately.

31. Rh5

White has to let the Black’s a-pawn advance. In case of a standard 31. a4 to be followed with 31… Nd4 32. Bd2 Kd7 the weakness of the b3-pawn did not allow White to annihilate the black h6-pawn.

31... a4 32. bxa4 Rxc4 33. Bd2 Rxa4 34. Rxh6 Rg8?!

Well, this move cannot be approved. Black refused to trade his passive rook for his opponent’s active rook and, besides, just wasted time. After 34... Rxh6 35. Bxh6 Kd7 the position was rather strained, but the general balance was still maintained.

35. Rh7 Rxa2

The move 35... Nd8 looked too passive, and the passed h-pawn could have become very strong.

36. Rxf7 Ne5 37. Rg7 Rf8

38. h3?!

A mistake. It’s hard to say how much better White’s chances would have been after 38. h4, but there’s no doubt that this move was stronger than the move in the game.

38... c4 39. Re7 Nd3!

Beginning a series of forced simplifications.

40. f7 Nxf2 41. Re8+ Kd7 42. Rxf8 Ke7 43. Rc8

If 43. Rd8 Kxf7 44. Kxf2, then Black has 44… c3.

43... Kxf7 44. Rxc7+ Ke6 45. Be3 Nd1 46. Bxb6 c3 47. h4

After 47. Kh2!? c2 48. h4 Rb2 the only retreat for the bishop – if White was going to win – was to g1 (otherwise Black had play with distracting and blocking manoeuvres which allowed him to face his future bravely), but after 49. Bg1 Kf5 the activity of Black’s pieces was enough to keep the balance.

47... Ra6!

Now a draw is unavoidable.

48. Bd4

In case of 48. Bf2 there was 48… Ra1.

48… Ra4 49. Bxc3 Nxc3 50. Rxc3 Rxh4

Despite the extra pawn, the rook endgame is a sure draw. The rest moves were a mere formality.

51. Rf3 Rh5 52. Kf2 Rg5 53. Rf8 Ke5 1/2-1/2 Draw.



























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