Kramnik – Kasparov (m/6) [D27]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4
Like in the fourth game, G. Kasparov chose the Queen’s
3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 c5 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O Nf6 7. a4
This time Kramnik preferred to follow the Rubinstein Variation
which leads to a complex strategic struggle in the middlegame,
whereas in the fourth game he played 7. dxc5 with a soon exchange
of the queens.
7… Nc6 8. Qe2 cxd4
Another continuation was 8... Qc7 which is almost as popular
as the move in the game and already occurred in the practice of
Vladimir Kramnik: after 9. Nc3 Bd6 10. Bd2 O-O 11. d5 exd5 12.
Nxd5 Nxd5 13. Bxd5 Rd8 14. h3 Bh2+ 15. Nxh2 Rxd5 16. Bc3 Be6 17.
Nf3 Rad8 Black got an equal play in the game Kramnik - Anand
(Monte Carlo (active), 1999). The move in the game brings to a
position with a single pawn by White, but instead Black opens the
diagonal c1-h6 for White’s dark-squared bishop.
9. Rd1 Be7 10. exd4 O-O 11. Nc3 Nd5 12. Bb3
For a long time it was considered that before Black plays
Nc6-b4 White should manage to transfer his light-squared bishop
to the diagonal b1-h7 with 12. Bd3 Ncb4 13. Bb1. This idea was
applied many times, also in a match for the title of the World
Champion in the game Botvinnik - Petrosian (Moscow (m/16), 1963).
Well, chess has changed considerably for the last thirty seven
years. Let’s mention also an idea which is similar to the one
used by White in this game: 12. h4 Ncb4 13. h5 h6 14. Ne5
occurred thirty years ago in the game G. Kuzmin - Suetin (Sochi,
Nobody played so in this position before. Usual continuations
are 13. Bd2 or 13. Ne5. In the first case Black completed the
development of his pieces without evident shortcomings with 13…
Bf6 14. Qe4 Ncb4 15. Ne5 b6 16. Qf3 Bb7 17. Ne4 Qe7 18. Rac1 Rac8
in the game Gelfand - Ivanchuk (Monaco (active), 2000), in the
second case the simplifications after 13… Nxc3 14. bxc3 Nxe5
15. dxe5 allowed Black to get an equal play with 15…Qc7 16. Rd3
Bd7 17. Rh3 g6 18. Bh6 Red8 (but no 18... b5 19. Qd2 f5, as after
a crafty 20. Bg7! Black White’s bad (K. Mueller, - Sadler
(Altensteig, 1992)) 19. Qe3 Qc5 20. Qf4 Bc6 21. Re1 b5 (Naumkin -
Sadler, Oostende, 1992).
It’s very dangerous to take the pawn, suggested by White.
After 13... Bxh4?! 14. Nxh4 Nxc3 (no 14... Qxh4? because of 15.
Bxd5, Black losing a piece) 15. bxc3 Qxh4 16. d5 White had a
strong initiative for the pawn.
14. h5 b6
Black did not want to play 14... h6 because after 15. Ne5 it
was very hard for him to drive out the white knight from the
centre without a damage to his own position, because if Black
attacks the knight with the f-pawn, it gets an excellent square
15. Ne5 Bb7 16. a5
This blow from the queenside should secure the square c5 for
The move 16... bxa5?! looked most suspicious because of 17.
Ba4 Rf8 18. Nd7 Re8 19. Nc5 Bc6 20. Bxc6 Nxc6, and then 21.
17. h6 g6
Now that there are many forces, defending the position of the
black knight, the weakness of the dark squares near its residence
is unnoticeable, but later this circumstance may become rather
18. Ne4 Nc7 19. Nc5 Bd5
An exchange of the light-squared bishop should secure the
stronghold on d5 for Black.
20. Ra3 Nc6 21. Bxd5 Qxd5
With this move White begins interesting complications. A quiet
development of the events could have brought White even to a
worse position because of the single pawn with the square before
it, securely controlled by Black’s pieces.
In case of 22... f6 Vladimir Kramnik probably had an
unexpected 23. Nxg6! (the evident 23. Nb6 led White to a sad
position after 23… Nxd4 24. Qe3 Qxe5 25. Nxa8 Bxa3 26. Rxd4 Nd5
27. Qxe5 fxe5) 23... hxg6 (there was neither 23... Bxa3 because
of 24. Nxf6+, nor 23... Qxd7 because of 24. Qg4 Kf7 25. Ne5+!
fxe5 26. Qg7#) 24. Nb6 Nxd4 (after 24... Qd6 25. Nxa8 Rxa8 26.
Qg4 Kh7 27. Bf4 e5 28. Rg3 the black king suffered a violent
attack from White’s pieces) 25. Qe3 Qe5 26. Nxa8 Bxa3 27. Rxd4
Nd5 28. Qxe5 fxe5 29. Rg4 with an endgame which was obviously
better for White.
23. Nxc6 Rxd7
A forced move, as after 23... Qxc6? 24. Qe5 Black suffered
The amount of defenders of the dark squares around the black
king thinned out.
24… Rexe7 25. Rc3 f6 26. Be3 Kf7 27. Rdc1 Qb7
Black wants to put his knight on d5. An attempt to take the
white pawn on a5 with 27... Qa2 could have cost dearly to Black
because of the fantastic 28. Bg5!!. After 28... Ne8 (there was no
28... Qxa5 because of 29. Bxf6! Kxf6 30. Qe5+ Kf7 31. Qg7+ Ke8
32. Qg8# or 28... fxg5 because of 29. Qe5 Ne8 30. Rf3+ Kg8 31.
Qh8+! Kxh8 32. Rf8#, in case of the natural 28... Nd5 a blow on
the opposite side of the board 29. Ra3! solved, suddenly trapping
the black queen) 29. Bxf6! Nxf6 (no 29... Kxf6 because of 30.
Rf3+ Kg5 31. Qe5+ Kxh6 32. Rh3#) 30. Rf3, and then in case of
30… Qd5 (after 30... Rd5 31. Ra3! the black queen was trapped
forever) the solution was in a sudden transition to the endgame
with 31. Qe5!.
28. Rc5 Nd5 29. Qf3
Now let’s sum up the outcome of the struggle. Black has a
better pawn structure (two pawn islets against three by White)
and a very strong square d5 for his knight. As for his
shortcomings, his king is sheltered not very well (a drought
through dark squares can threaten), and his rooks are placed
extremely passively on the seventh horizontal, whereas
Kramnik’s rooks, though they have no objects for an attack, are
resting conveniently on the only open c-file. This makes clear
Kasparov’s wish to get rid of the lazy rooks which spoil the
general good impression from Black’s position.
An immediate 29... Rc7 could have been followed not only with
30. Bf4 Rxc5 (in case of 30... Nxf4 31. Qxf4 Rcd7 White is ready
for an outflanking manoeuvre 32. Rc8 – to the black king
through the eighth horizontal) 31. dxc5 Qc6 (no 31... e5? because
of 32. c6) 32. Bd6 with a slightly better position by White, but
also with 30. Bg5!.
Of course White does not want to exchange the queens, because
after 30. Qxb7 Rxb7 31. Rc8 g5! White’s pawns a5, d4 and h6
turn into targets instead of strong outposts.
Kasparov wants to play for a win and rejects a peaceful 30...
Nd5. Well, probably Black overestimated his opportunities at this
31. Bf4 Rxc5
Now there is already no way back. In case of 31… Rcd7 Black
had problems after 32. Be5!, because the white bishop overpassed
all mine fields on the way to the black king, and in case of
32…fxe5? 33. Qxe5 the black king was as good as dead.
Black paid already a high price for the exchange of one pair
of the rooks: White got rid of the weak d4-pawn and got a strong
and healthy passed pawn c5 instead.
Black attempts to fence a pen around White’s bishop and does
not want to reckon with the possible line 32... Qc6 33. Bd6, but,
again, he will pay. This time the square d5 will get under
White’s firm control, depriving the black knight of a
33. Qd2 Nc6 34. Qd5+
Three moves ago it was impossible just to imagine that the
white queen would soon commit excesses on d5.
34… Kf8 35. Be3 Qd7 36. Qf3 Kf7 37. Rd1 e4!?
Black chose a convenient moment to kick away the white queen,
otherwise after 37... Qc8 38. Rd6 his position was poor.
Black would be glad to play an endgame after 38. Rxd7 exf3 39.
38... Qf5 39. Rd6 Re6 40. Rd7+ Re7 41. Rd6 Re6 42. Qd1 g5?
Having met the time control successfully, Black made a serious
mistake. His plans included an exchange of the major pieces, and
now a good opportunity to perform it has been missed. After 42...
Rxd6 43. cxd6 (running ahead: Black spent several pawns in the
game to get a position like the one which could have arisen after
43. Qxd6 Qe6) Black had 43…Ke6!, and a dangerous lone
terrorist, the d6-pawn, was neutralised, because in case of 44.
d7 there was 44… Ke7, and if White refrained from d6-d7, then
the black king occupied the convenient square before the white
43. Qh5+ Ke7 44. Qd1 Kf7
Kramnik is going to take use of the chance which he got from
his opponent and begins an attack of the black king.
A forced move, ad there was no 46… Ne7 because of 46. c6!,
and in case of 46… Rxc6 47. Qh5+ Ke6 (after 47… Qg6 White won
with 48. Qxg6+ hxg6 49. h7 Rc8 50. Bc5) the solution was 48.
Qe8!, whereas after 46… Re7 there was 47. Qb3+ Kf8 ( 47… Qe6
did not save because of 48. Qxe6+ Kxe6 49. Rd6+, Black losing a
piece) 47. Rd6 Rc7 48. Bd4! Nxd4, now winning with a showy 49.
Rd8+! Ke7 50. Qg8.
White’s rook comes up to escort the black king.
46… Kxh6 47. Qd7 Re5
In this crucial position Kasparov looked for a practical
saving chance in cold blood. 47... Ne5 was losing because of 48.
Rxh7+ Qxh7 49. Qxe6 Kg6 50. Qxa6 whereafter the remote passed
a-pawn brought a victory to White, because after 50… Qd7 (if
50... Ng4, then just 51. Qxb5) 51. Qd6 Qg4 52. a6 Nf3+ 53. Kf1
Nh2+ 54. Ke1 Qxg2 55. Kd1 White’s king got a safe stand on the
The ring around the black king becomes clenched. White’s
plan was to drove the king away from the g-file ( 49. Kh2) and
then deliver a fatal blow g2-g4!.
Kasparov found the only move.
The key point of the whole game. An opportunity to return a
pawn with 49. Rxh7+ Qxh7 50. Qxd5 and then get a nice position
after 50… Qc7 (if 50... Qb7, then 51. b4, there was also no
50... Nxa5 because of 51. Qd8 Nb3 52. Qxf6+ Qg6 53. Qxg6+ Kxg6
54. c6, and White’s pawn could not have been stopped) 51. Qxe4
Nxa5 52. Qf5 did not seduce Kramnik, as he was going to gain much
more after the move in the game owing to the threat g2-g4.
White’s idea was fine, but the performance was doubtful. The
point is that if we imagine that in the position after 49. Kh1
White can make one more move, that is 50. g4 (e. g. after
Black’s neutral move 49… b4), then he encounters a fantastic
50… Rd1+ 51. Kh2 Kd4!!, whereafter both 52. gxf5 Nf3+ 53. Kg3
Rg1+ 54. Kh3 Rh1+ and 52. f4 Nf3+ 53. Kg3 Rg1+! 54. Bxg1 Qxf4+
55. Kh3 Nxg1+ 56. Kg2 Qxg4+ led to a perpetual check. This is why
the move 49. Kh2! should be examined better. After a move,
similar to the move in the game, 49…Nd8 (49... Ne5 was losing
because of 50. Bxg5+! fxg5 51. Qxf5 as well as 49... Qe5+ because
of 50. g3 Qf5 51. g4) White had 50. Qf8 Kh5 (the sense of the
king’s move to h2 was that in case of 50... Qe5+ there was 51.
f4!!, and after 51... exf3+ 52. Kh3 Qf5+ 53. g4 the checks
expires, as the pawn on f3 deprived the black queen of an
important square) 51. Qe8+ Kg4 (if 51... Kh6, then 52. Qh8 Ne6
53. Rf7 with a victory) 52. Re7 White had a most likely winning
After 49... Nd4 White could have transferred the play to a
winning queen endgame with 50. Bxd4! Rxd4 51. Rxh7+ Qxh7 52.
Qxf6+ Kh5 53. Qxd4. The move 49... Rd1+ gave nothing because of
50. Kh2, and in case of 50… Rd5 there was 51. g4, while in case
of 50… Ne5 White played 51. Bxg5. At last, in case of a neutral
49... b4 White could have come to his senses and play 50. Kh2!
(we mentioned already an opportunity of 50. g4 Rd1+ 51. Kh2
This looks like Kramnik’s mistake. After 50. Qf8 Rd1+ (if
50... Kh5, then White developed a dreadful attack with 51. Qe8+
Kg4 52. Re7) 51. Kh2 Ne6 52. Rxg5+ Nxf8 53. Rxf5+ Kg6 White had a
mysterious 54. c6!, and Black got a hard endgame, as White’s
rook was just invulnerable.
50... Qxh7 51. Qxd5 Kg6+ 52. Kg1 Qc7
Otherwise, for instance after 52... Qe7, the white pawn made
an important step forward: 53. c6.
White will have time to play Qxe4+ later.
53... Kh6 was worse because of 54. Bd4 Qe7 (54... f5? was
losing immediate because of 55. Bf6) 55. Qd5 Kg6 56. c6, and
White was close to a success.
54. Qd5+ Kg6 55. Qxe4+ Kg7
A race for a mirage. White sent his queen into the corner
though it made nothing wrong. Probably Kramnik underestimated the
answer of his opponent – otherwise he would have chosen a
consolidating line 56. Bd4 Nc6 57. Bc3 Qd7 (no 57... Nxa5?
because of 58. Qd4) 58. f3 with the hope to achieve the extra
pawn, though maybe not soon.
Now Kasparov made use of his chance. Black’s pieces are well
In case of 57. Qxa6?! Black’s position after 57… Qd1+ 58.
Kh2 Qh5+ 59. Kg3 f5 60. Bd4+ Kg8 was no worse than White’s. If
57. g3, then 57… Qd3, and after 58. Qxa6 Black had a perpetual
check: 58… Qb1+ 59. Kg2 Qe4+ 60. Kh2 Qh7+. Probably White
should have played 57. f3!?, because after 57… Qd3 58. Kf2 Qc2+
59. Kg3 Qc4 60. Qe4 he still had some winning chances.
The black queen occupied the important diagonal b1-h7.
In case of 58. Qxa6 Black had a draw after 58… Qh7+ 59. Kg3
Qh4+ 60. Kf3 f5 61. Ke2 Qc4+ 62. Ke1 f4.
The black knight is engaged into the attack.
59. Qb7 Kg6 60. Qxa6
An ad of the passed c-pawn does not help. After 60. c6 Ne5 61.
c7 Ng4+ 62. Kg2 (in case of 62. Kg1 there was also a draw with a
perpetual check after 62… Nxe3 63. c8Q Qf1+ 64. Kh2 Qxf2+)
62... Nxe3+ 63. fxe3 Qe2+ a perpetual check was inevitable.
60... Ne5 61. Qa8 Ng4+ 62. Kh3 Qf5!
As a matter of fact, this move defines the drawn result of
this most interesting game.
In case of 63. Kg2 Nxe3+ 64. fxe3 Qc2+ Black has a perpetual
63... Kh6 64. Qh8+ Kg6 65. Qe8+ Kh6 66. Qh8+ 1/2-1/2