Kasparov(GM) (2847) - Kramnik(GM) (2807)
Ciudad de Linares (Linares, Spain), 03/02/2003

Round 8 [Khalifman,A]

Definitely the game of this round. It might become the game of the tournament as well. Probably not - Garry has seriously improved his tournament position during 3 last rounds and Vladimir is very solid as Black. Let's see: it might be very interesting theoretical battle in Sicilian Sveshnikov but I guess that Garry will either try some sideline (like 3.Nc3) or probably choose another first move.
1. e4 e5 The leader's choice! Kramnik preferred exceptionally 1...c5 in 2003.
2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 a6 That's a bit surprising. After 1...e5 almost everybody was expecting "Berlin Wall".
4. Ba4 Nf6  5. O-O Be7  6. Re1 b5  7. Bb3 O-O Marshall Attack?
8. h3 No! Garry doesn't like it as usually
8. ... Bb7  9. d3 d6  10. a3 Nb8 This Breuer-like manoeuvre is probably the most reliable choice here.
11. Nbd2 Nbd7  12. Nf1 Re8 Normal move is 13.Ng3 now. Garry has some positive experience in Anti-Marshall (although not this particular position). Vladimir is lacking such experience and this might become an important factor.
13. Ba2 That's fairly new although might lead to well-known positions after 13...Nc5
[13. Ng3 Shirov - Adams 1998]
13. ... c6 doesn't look very nice (poor Bb7!) but Black intends to play d6-d5 at some moment killing Ba2 either.
14. Ng3 Returning to the typical plan. These knight might become very dangerous at a certain moment. d6-d5 break, as a matter of fact, is not so easy to play as pawn e5 is quite weak.
14. ... Bf8 Still aiming for d5 (pawn e5 is protected enough)
15. Nf5 Now it looks exactly like Shirov - Adams Wijk aan Zee, 1998 with the difference that White played Bb3-a2 instead of Nf3-h2. Whom does it favour? No idea - position is too complicated. 15...d5 is the natural logical reply.
15. ... d5  16. d4!? And this is the difference. Of course, with knight on h2 this break-through would make no sense. Now Kramnik has something to think about...
[16. d4 g6!? might be human enough and clever enough - Vladimir must find it...
(16. ... exd4  17. e5 is better for White)
(16. ... Nxe4  17. Rxe4!? Qf6!? the only and computer-like move
(17. ... dxe4  18. Ng5 is just bad for Black) 18. Ng3! dxe4  19. Ng5 and Black is still in trouble)
16. ... c5! At least it's not boring at all. This might be even better than 16...g6 (and, of course, much better than 16...exd4 or 16...Nxe4)
17. dxc5 Nxc5  18. exd5
[18. exd5 e4 seems to be OK for Black now]
18. ... e4  19. N3d4
[19. N3d4 Bxd5  20. Bxd5 Qxd5 is just equal now. So maybe this game will not take too long.
(20. ... Nxd5  21. b4!?)
21. Bg5!? Ncd7  22. Qd2 or maybe White still keeps some pressure....]
19. ... Bxd5  20. Bxd5 Qxd5  21. Bg5
[21. Bg5 Nfd7!? might be a good resource intending Nc5-e6]
21. ... Nfd7 So far - so good...If Black will manage to destroy aggressive configuration of White pieces he would have no problem at all.
[21. ... Nfd7  22. Qg4 h5!? might be a critical line now]
22. Qg4 Ne5 Not so adventurous but may be not so good either
23. Qg3 Ne6  24. Rad1
[24. Rad1 Nxg5 right time to get rid of this bishop
25. Qxg5 Qb7 and g7-g6 in case of certain danger]
24. ... Nxg5  25. Qxg5 Qb7  26. Ng3
[26. Ng3 Nc4!?  27. b3 Nxa3 A pawn is a pawn...]
26. ... Nc4  27. Ndf5 Re6 Solid defensive move.
[27. ... Nxb2  28. Rd4]
[27. ... Re6  28. Nxe4 Rxe4  29. Rxe4 Qxe4  30. Nh6+ Kh8  31. Nxf7+ is a nice drawish line.]
28. b3 Nxa3 Time-trouble is coming... Isn't it right time to accept the draw by taking one4
29. Rxe4 Rxe4  30. Nxe4 Qxe4  31. Nh6+ Kh8  32. Nxf7+ Kg8 Good fight. Garry played quite interesting in the opening (16.d4) but Vladimir found excellent defensive resources. Garry is still trailing by half-point but the fight for the title isn't over yet.
33. Nh6+ Kh8