May 1, 2001

Kramnik – Kasparov (m/4) [D27]

1. d4 d5

A little surprise. After the failure in the second game Kasparov decided to change the opening.

2. c4 dxc4

Now this is already a big surprise. The thirteenth World Champion chose the Queen’s Gambit Accepted which had never occurred in his practice for Black.

3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 c5 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O Nf6 7. dxc5

A modest continuation, often used by Vladimir Kramnik when playing so called non-serious chess (active and blindfold). In tournaments with the classic time control he usually prefers the popular continuation 7. Bb3.

7... Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5 9. Nbd2 Nbd7 10. Be2 b6

11. Nb3

Vladimir Kramnik deviates from the line which he played previously, connected with 11. Nc4 Bb7 12. b3. After 11… O-O (it’s dangerous for Black to leave the king in the centre and play 12... Ke7 as it was proven in the game Kramnik - Karpov (Frankfurt (active), 1999) where after 13. Bb2 Rhd8 14. Ne1 b5 15. Na5 Be4 16. Bf3 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Rdc8 18. Nd3 Rab8 19. Nxc5 Rxc5 20. Rac1 Ke8 21. Bd4 Rxc1 22. Rxc1 White gained a considerable advantage) 13. Bb2 in the game Kramnik - Lautier (Monte Carlo (active), 1997) Black played 13... Bd5, and in the game Kramnik - Anand (Monte Carlo (blindfold), 1997) Black preferred 13... b5, in both cases an equality was maintained. We can mention also a curious game, played by one of Kramnik’s present mates, where White managed to carry out a plan, similar to the one which was fulfilled in the present game Kramnik-Kasparov. After 13… Rfd8 14. Rac1 Kf8 15. Kf1 Bd5 16. Nce5 Nxe5 17. Nxe5 Bb7 White gained a considerable advantage with 18. g4 Nd5 19. e4 Nf6 20. f3 h6 21. h4 Rac8 22. g5 in the game Bareev - Svidler (Elista (active), 1997).

11... Be7 12. Nfd4 Bb7 13. f3 O-O 14. e4 Rfc8 15. Be3 Kf8 16. Nd2

A new move. In the game Bareev - Rublevsky (Elista, 1996) White played 16. Kf2, and after 16… Ne5 17. Nd2 Rc7 18. N4b3 Rc6 19. Rac1 Rac8 20. Rxc6 Rxc6 21. h3 Ke8 22. Bd4 Nfd7 23. Rc1 Rxc1 24. Nxc1 f6 Black practically equalised the play.

16... Ne5

Black tries to prevent the white knight from getting to c4. Together with the bishop on e3 it could have put a serious pressure upon Black’s queenside.

17. N4b3 Rc6 18. Rac1 Rac8 19. Rxc6 Rxc6

20. g4!

White begins an advance on the kingside with the idea to press Black’s knights.

20… h6 21. h4 Bc8

It’s not so simple for Black to find a good continuation. An active 21... Rc2 after 22. Bxb6 Nfd7 (no 22... Rxb2? because of 23. Bd4) 23. Bd4 Bxh4 encountered 24. Bc3!, capturing inevitably the black rook with 25. Na1. In case of 21... Ng6 there was an unpleasant line 22. Nc4 Nxh4 23. Nd4, and in case of 21... Nfd7 strong was 22. f4 Ng6 23. h5.

22. g5 hxg5 23. hxg5 Nfd7 24. f4 Ng6 25. Nf3

As a matter of fact, the last move was an introduction to the beginning complications. Let’s note that White gained little from 25. Nd4 Rc7 26. f5 because of 26… e5.

25... Rc2

26. Bxa6!

Only such decisive actions can help White to keep his initiative. In case of 26. Rd2 Rxd2 27. Bxd2 the position was gradually equalised.

26... Bxa6 27. Rxd7 Rxb2 28. Ra7 Bb5 29. f5 exf5 30. exf5

Black has serious problems in choosing a retreat square for his knight.

30…Re2 31. Nfd4!

White tries to restrict the freedom of the black knight. After 31. Bxb6 Ne5 32. Nfd4 Re1+ 33. Kh2 (in case of 33. Kf2 Black had 33… Nd3+ 34. Kg2 Be8) 33... Bd7 (if 33... Be8, then 34. Bc5) Black with his two active bishops and the active position of the knight still had some drawing chances despite White’s extra pawn.

31... Re1+ 32. Kf2 Rf1+ 33. Kg2 Nh4+ 34. Kh3 Rh1+ 35. Kg4 Be8 36. Bf2 Ng2 37. Ra8?!

It looks as if Kramnik released his opponent a little with his last move. There was a promising 37. Nf3!? Bd6 (no 37... b5, because after 38. Kg3! Black lost his knight) 38. Bxb6 Bc6 39. Na5 Be4 (it’s not simple to rearrange the black bishops, in case of 39... Bd5 there is 40. Rd7) 40. Nc4, and Black experienced most serious difficulties.

37... Rf1 38. Kf3

38… Nh4+??

Kasparov’s second blunder before the time control for this match. The move in the game costs a piece to Black. No doubt that 38... Nf4! was stronger. After 39. Nb5 (there was also 39. Nd2!? Rd1 40. Nc4 Nd5 41. Nc6 Bxg5 42. Nxb6!, whereafter White also kept winning chances) 39... Nd5 40. Nd2 Rd1 (40... Rc1 was weak because of 41. Ne4 with a most unpleasant threat of the intrusion of the white knight on d6) 41. Nc4 Bxg5 42. Nbd6 Nc7 (in case of 42... Nf6 43. Bxb6 the white bishop got to the diagonal a3-f8, because for 43… Rd5 White had 44. Ba5) 43. Rc8 Be7 44. Nxe8 Nxe8 45. Bxb6 White had certain winning chances owing to the passed a-pawn and very passive position of Black’s pieces, even though there was a material balance on the board. Well, but all this cannot be compared with what occurred in the game.

39. Ke2 Rh1 40. Nb5 Bxg5 41. Nc7 Ke7 42. Nxe8 Nxf5 43. Bxb6 Kd7

Looking for his last drawing chances, Kasparov pulls his king to his opponent’s passed pawn.

44. a4 Rh3 45. Nc5+ Kc6 46. a5 Re3+ 47. Kd1 Re7 48. Rc8+ Kb5

49. Ne4?!

A good tactical idea, but White could have performed it better. After 49. Nc7+! Kc4 (no other way, as in case of 49... Kb4 the solution was 50. Nd5+) 50. Ne4 (a hasty 50. a6?? was bad because of 50… Ne3+, and any retreat of the white king put it under a hidden check) 50... Rxe4 (if 50... Ne3+, then 51. Ke2 Rxe4 52. Ne6+ was enough) 51. Ne6+ Kb5 (playing against the white king with 51... Kd3 52. Nxg5 Rf4 gave nothing to Black because of 53. Rd8+) 52. Nxg5 Rf4 53. Nxf7 there were no evident obstacles, preventing White from winning this game.

49... Rxe4 50. Rc5+ Ka6 51. Nc7+ Kb7 52. Rxf5 Be3!

Annihilating the white bishop, Black impairs White’s position on the queenside.

53. Bxe3 Rxe3

54. Rxf7?

White plays in a perfunctory manner, taking pawns instead of an attempt to co-ordinate his pieces. White could have won the game with 54. Nd5!. After 54… Rb3 (in case of 54... Re4 55. Kc2 Ka6 56. Kc3 f6 57. Nb4+ White’s pieces were perfectly co-ordinated, and after 54... Ra3 55. Nb4 Ra4 the solution was 56. Rxf7+ Kc8 and 57. a6!, as in case of 57…. Rxb4 58. Rf8+ the white a-pawn queened) 55. Kc2 Rb5 56. a6+! Kb8 (no 56... Kxa6 because of 57. Nc7+) 57. Re5 Rc5+ (Black cannot bring the king closer with 57... Ka7 because of 58. Re7+ Kxa6 59. Nc7+) 58. Kd3 Ka7 59. Kd4 Ra5 (White also won easily after 59... Rc1 60. Nb4 Kb6 61. Re7) 60. Nb4 Ra4 61. Re7+ Kb6 62. Rb7+ White’s victory was evident.

54... Re5 55. a6+?!

Advancing a draw, but even after the strongest 55. Nd5+ Ka6 56. Nb4+ Kb5 57. Rf4 g5 58. Rg4  there were some complications for White to break Black’s opposition, but finally he should have won.

55... Kb6 56. Rxg7 Ra5

Black does not understand how lucky he is. There was a forced draw after 56... Rh5 57. Rg8 (if 57. Kd2, then after 57… Rh8 the black rook got to c8, thus securing a draw) 57... Ra5 58. Rc8 Kc6 59. Ne6+ (both 59. Na8+ to be followed with 59… Kb5 and 59. Ne8+ to be followed with 59… Kb6 were quite harmless) 59... Kd7 (no 59... Kb6? because of 60. Nc5) 60. Ra8 Kc6 (of course 60... Kxe6?? was losing because of 61. a7) 61. Kd2 Kb6, White losing his only pawn.

57. Kd2 Ra1?!

Kasparov still does not see the saving idea of 57... Rh5 58. Rg8 Ra5 59. Rc8 Kc6.

58. Kc2 Rh1?

Black had no time to return to the above mentioned idea with 58... Ra5 because of 59. Kb3 Rh5 60. Rg8 Ra5 (the checks 60... Rh3+ 61. Kc2 Rh2+ 62. Kd3 Rh3+ 63. Ke2 just postponed an inevitable final, as after the rook came back with 63…. Ra3 there was a decisive 64. Nd5+) 61. Rc8 Kc6 62. Kb4, and the white king joined the knight. In the above line, Black could keep the rook at a-file (59...Ra1!) with the draw.

59. Kb2?

Kramnik missed his lucky opportunity. After a simple 59. Rg8 Ra1 (we know already that the checks 59... Rh2+ 60. Kd3 Rh3+ 61. Ke2 Ra3 did not save Black because of 62. Nd5+ Kc5 63. Rg5) 60. Nd5+ Kc5 (if 60... Kc6, then 61. Nb4+) 61. Rg5 Kc4 62. Nc7 Black lost inevitably.

59... Rh8!

At last the thirteenth World Champion noticed the transition of the rook to c8 which got him a theoretically drawing position.

60. Kb3 Rc8 61. a7 Kxa7

It’s impossible to achieve the advantage of a knight without pawns and with two rooks on the board if the weaker part observes minimal prevention rules. However, in Kasparov’s practice there was a case when he managed to win such a game at the tournament in Dos Hermanas in 1996, playing against J. Polgar. Well, this time there was no miracle, and Black kept the balance easily.

62. Kb4 Kb6 63. Nd5+ Ka6 64. Rg6+ Kb7 65. Kb5 Rc1 66. Rg2 Kc8 67. Rg7 Kd8 68. Nf6 Rc7 69. Rg5 Rf7 70. Nd5 Kd7 71. Rg6 Rf1 72. Kc5 Rc1+ 73. Kd4 Rd1+ 74. Ke5 1/2-1/2 Draw.

"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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