Kasparov, Gary (2847) - Ponomariov, Ruslan (2734)
Ciudad de Linares (Linares, Spain), 02/27/2003

Round 5 [Khalifman,A]

Although both players seem to be in rather poor shape by now, this is, of course, the game of this round. Considering the future match Kasparov-Ponomariov, this mini-match is very important for both grandmasters. To make it even more tense, for both it might be the critical moment of the entire tournament. In my opinion, Kasparov is now in "MUST-WIN" situation and will try to destroy his opponent with 1.e4! right from the beginning. Ponomariov, by the way, needs to save this game if he still hopes to recover after the dreadul start. We wouldn't foresee his choice of the opening - most probably he will not "Berlin sufferings" from his Round 1 game.
1. Nf3 Surprise, surprise! However, it's a result of serious preparation.
1. ... Nf6  2. d4 e6  3. g3 b6 So Queen's Indian. It was included into Ruslan's opening repertoire not so long ago and I don't have a feeling that he treats this complex opening perfectly.
4. Bg2 Bb7  5. c4 Be7  6. Nc3 Ne4  7. Bd2 Bf6  8. O-O O-O  9. Rc1 d5 Not the most common choice. Black agrees to close his bishop and to play somewhat worse pawn structure. Benoni-like 9...c5 10.d5 is more popular alternative.
10. cxd5 exd5  11. Bf4 Nxc3  12. bxc3 Played only once by GM Kochiev. 12.Rxc3 has some positional values as well but pawn capture can't be wrong either.
12. ... Na6?! Now it's completely unexplored. 12...c5 was tried before. White is definitely slightly better due to his domination in the center but Black's position is a tough nut to crack. 13.Ne5 looks like the most natural choice now.
13. e4!? Very entertaining and maybe the best. White is trying to use some discoordination by Black pieces.
[13. e4 dxe4  14. Nd2 Re8
(14. ... Bg5  15. Bxg5 Qxg5  16. Nxe4 doesn't look like a real alternative.)
15. Re1 g5 is one critical line but most probably too provocative...
16. Be3!]
13. ... dxe4  14. Nd2 Right now it looks like Big Bad Garry is back! 13.e4! was a great move and now Ruslan will meet hard times...
[14. Nd2 Re8  15. Re1 Bg5  16. Bxg5 Qxg5  17. Nxe4]
14. ... g5?! Wow! Too good to be true...
[14. ... g5  15. Nxe4
(15. Be3!? might be more Kasparovian
15. ... Re8  16. Re1)
15. ... Bxe4  16. Bxe4 gxf4  17. Qh5 Re8  18. Qxh7+ Kf8  19. Bb7 c5  20. Bxa6 cxd4  21. Rfd1 is rather forced and also hard to survive for Black]
15. Be3 Exactly what I said! Maybe not objectively the best but he wants blood!!! No dull technical ending. What to say - bravo!
[15. Be3 Re8  16. f3!? This straightforward move might be good and also looks like Garry's choice
16. ... exf3  17. Bxf3 Bd5  18. Bxd5 Qxd5  19. Rxf6 Rxe3  20. Qg4]
15. ... Re8  16. f4!? Still the same. Now it's hard to find something wiser than 16...exf3 what is not so promising for Black - see above.
16. ... exf3  17. Bxf3
[17. Bxf3 Bd5 the only move
18. Bxd5 Qxd5  19. Rxf6 Rxe3  20. Qg4 Rae8  21. Rf5 Qe6  22. Qxg5+ Qg6  23. Nc4 with big advantage for White
23. ... Re1+  24. Rxe1 Rxe1+  25. Kf2 Re6  26. Qd8+ Kg7  27. g4 Qh6  28. h4! This must be a killer - I wouldn't recommend to play position like this against any silicon monster...
(28. Ne5 Oh, damned FRITZ! Would garry be able to find it?)]
17. ... Bd5  18. Bxd5 Qxd5  19. Rxf6 Rxe3  20. Qg4 By now everything as predicted...
20. ... Re6 This is no t what was exactly expected. But not by Garry - he reacted in a moment.
21. Rf5 21.c4 was just another line to examine
[21. Rf5 Qc6 is more human - White is better but not winning yet or...
(21. ... Qxa2  22. Qxg5+ (22. Ne4!? might be promising either) 22. ... Rg6  23. Qf4 - poor Ruslan - no human (or probably even JUNIOR?!) can stand Kasparov in position like this))]
21. ... Qc6
[21. ... Qc6  22. Rcf1! is a typical Kasparov and Black might be gone]
22. Qxg5+ Still 22.Rcf1! could be even better - however, Kasparov's position is just too good.
22. ... Rg6  23. Qh5 Rf8  24. Nf3 What is the guy doing on a6? Does Garry have enough time? Even more interesting question.
[24. Nf3 f6!? ]
24. ... f6!?  25. Nh4 Rg7
[25. ... Rg7  26. Rf3! multi-purposed move - White must be decisively better]
26. Qh6 White has many ways to prepare the decisive attack - his positional advantage is just too big. Only miracle can save Ruslan now...
26. ... Nb8 Poor knight - Black's novelty on move 12 can't be recommended anymore. By the way, Garry seems to be very-very short of time...
[26. ... Nb8  27. Rf3!]
27. Rh5 f5 desperatel y trying to exchange some material - but the ending seems to be just dead lost.
28. Qf4 Well, Garry didn't like it - he's still going for k.o. win!
28. ... Qe4  29. Rf1 So Ruslan finally succeeded... just to exchange queens!
29. ... Qxf4  30. Rxf4 Rg4  31. Rfxf5 Well, I can't imagine this ending can be saved - even in Garry's time-trouble.
31. ... Nd7  32. Rxf8+ Nxf8  33. Kf2 Nd7  34. Nf5 Kh8  35. Kf3 Rg8  36. Rh6 Rf8  37. g4 Nf6  38. c4 Kg8  39. Kf4 Rf7  40. g5 Ne8 The time-trouble phase is over - and after 41.Ke5 Black can just resign.
[40. ... Ne8  41. Ke5]
41. Ke5 Everybody knows thanPonomariov usually resists till the very end - but this is the very end!
41. ... Rd7 What about 42.Ke6 now?
42. Ke6 Rf7  43. Rf6! Game over! So Garry is back in business - even when he's still at 50%; Ruslan is most probably out - his aim s now to avoid being the last.
43. ... Nxf6
[43. ... Nxf6  44. gxf6]