Apr 30, 2001

Kasparov – Kramnik (m/9) [C67]

1. e4

Kasparov returned to the move of the king’s pawn which he used in the starting games of the match.

1… e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 h6

Kramnik changed the structure to a certain degree in comparison with the first and third games of the match where he defended the continuation 9... Bd7.

10. Rd1+ Ke8 11. h3 a5 12. Bf4

12. g4 was too early, as after 12… Ne7 13. Kg2 Ng6 Black got a counterplay, connected with h6-h5.

12... Be6

Black develops his pieces with the concern to keep e7 free for his knight.

13. g4 Ne7 14. Nd4 Nd5

In case of 14... Ng6 after 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Bg3 White gained an advantage with Nc3-e4.

15. Nce2

An immediate 15. Nxe6 fxe6 to be followed with 16. Ne2 allowed Black to get a counterplay with 16… g5 17. Bg3 Bg7 18. c4 Nb6 19. b3 Nd7, attacking the white c5-pawn like in the game Kindermann - Lalic (Portoroz, 1998).

15... Bc5

After 15... h5 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. c4 Nb6 18. b3 hxg4 19. hxg4 a4 20. Kg2 Be7 21. Nc3 Bb4 22. Ne4 White got a slight but steady advantage in the game Galkin - Yarovik (Novgorod, 1999). In case of 15... Nxf4 16. Nxf4 Bc8 (if 16... Bd7, then there was 17. e6 Bc8 18. Re1 Bd6 19. Re4) 17. Nh5! (in case of 17. e6 White had to reckon with 17… Bd6) the position of Black’s pieces on their starting squares was quite funny.

16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. c4 Nb6

After an incautious 17... Nxf4 18. Nxf4 Rf8 (there was neither 18... Ke7? because of 19. Ng6+, nor 18... Kf7 because of 19. Rd7+) 19. Nxe6 Bxf2+ 20. Kg2 Black could have encountered problems.

18. b3

The position on the diagram was seen already. With transposed moves it was obtained in the game Vuckovic - Sakaev (Herceg Novi, 2000) at the Yugoslavia Team Championship, where after 18. Bg3 a4 19. Rac1 Kf7 20. h4 h5 21. gxh5 Rxh5 22. Kg2 Rah8 Black got chances to take the initiative.

18... a4 19. Bd2 Kf7

The move 19... Rf8 was not dangerous for White owing to 20. Nf4.

20. Bc3

White’s pawns b3 and c4 restrict the black knight on d6, so an advantage b3-b4 is now unfavourable for White.

20... Rhd8 21. Rxd8

Quite correctly. Black was threatening to take control over the a-file, for instance after 21. Kg2 with 21… Rxd1 22. Rxd1 axb3 23. axb3 Ra3. This is why White let him have the central d-file as in this case he need not drive his pieces to the side of the board to struggle against the black rook.

21... Rxd8 22. Kg2 Rd3

From this point the black rook restricts White’s forces considerably. An immediate 22... g5 was also possible, but in this case Black had to reckon with 23. f4.

23. Rc1

Probably the only move in the game which can be questioned. 23. h4!? was more promising: after 23… g6 (if 23... Ba3 or 23… g5, then 24. Rh1) 24. Rc1 White had a slightest plus in comparison with the development of the game.

23... g5!

Depriving the white knight from the square f4 and isolating the e5-pawn.

24. Rc2

White wants to exchange Black’s active rook after Rc2-d2. The move 24. f4 allowed Black to organise a counterplay against White’s pawn on e5 with 24… Re3 25. Rc2 Nd7.

24... axb3

In case of 24... Rd1 there was 25. f4, and after an immediate 24... Nd7 White had an unpleasant 25. bxa4.

25. axb3 Nd7

It turns out that White cannot propose an exchange on d2 as he loses the e5-pawn then.

26. Ra2 Be7!

A fine move. The black bishop ceded the square c5 to the knight.

27. Ra7

White gained nothing from 27. b4 because of 27… c5! 28. b5 Nb6 29. Ra7 Nxc4 30. Rxb7 Bd8 with a subsequent approaching of the black king to the queenside.

27... Nc5 28. f3

28. b4 was inefficient again, this time because of 28… Ne4 29. Be1 (if 29. Ba1, then after 29… Bxb4 30. Rxb7 Ba5 Black also was OK) 29... Rd1, and White’s bishop had no convenient retreat.

28... Nxb3 29. Rxb7 Nc1

A tactical trick, leading to a full equalisation. After 29... Re3 30. Kf2 Bc5 Black encountered an unpleasant 31. Bb4!.

30. Nxc1 Rxc3 1/2-1/2

Draw. After 31. Ne2 Rxc4 32. Rxc7 Black’s chances were no worse than White’s.

"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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