(2851) - Kramnik,V (2758) [C42]
SuperGM Linares (3), 01.03.2000
(annotations by IM Ilias Kourkounakis)
[Every game between the real World Champion and Kramnik has some extra interest. It may be that in the last few years Anand has established himself as a better potential candidate for the title, but the young Russian has much superior results against "God" (a nickname established by the Ukrainian GM Ivanchuk). If in some later date Kasparov creativity comes to a halt, it is possible that Kramnik will be his successor. It is worth noting that Gary himself had noticed "Volodya" potential when the latter was still only 16 years old and insisted that he played in the Olympiad wth the National Team, while later he used him as an official assistant in his title defence against ...Anand.
In any case, Kasparov recently declared that he will remain Champion at least until 2004.]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.Nc3 b6
[An interesting novelty, clearly prepared especially for this particular tournament. The idea is to develop the white-squared B on the long diagonal, so that it would influence as much as possible events in the center. At the same time, Black avoids the pressure that usually arises on the b-file after the exchange ...Ne4xNc3.
Naturally there is an accompanying defect of partial weakening of several white squares on the queenside, but it is not so clear how White may profit from this.]
[Kasparov decides to force developments. Another critical alternative is 11.Ne5 , because it adds pressure on the sensitive square c6 and frees f3 for the Be2.]
12.bxc3 Nc6 13.cxd5
[I find it difficult to comprehend why Kasparov releases the tension in the center so early. After 13.Re1 Bb7 14.Bd3 Black cannot play as in the game, because of the "contact" between the Re1 and the Be7. As a result, a continuation like 14...dxc4 15.Bxc4 Na5 16.Bd3 Re8 leads to a better position for White (see also Kramnik's 15th move).]
14.Re1 Bb7 15.Bd3
[Also here I find 15.c4 practically preferable, in order to force Black to decide about his Q before developing the Ra8. The less information available when taking such a critical decision, the more chances to make a mistake.]
[The correct R, so that the Q may choose the appropriate retreat square depending on how White will continue, without fearing the blockage of the Ra8. Besides, it is definitely useful to keep extra cover for the f-pawn.]
[Especially critical at this point is the alternative 16.c4 Qh5 17.d5 , when the sacrifice 17...Bd6 looks insufficient: 18.dxc6 Rxe1+ 19.Qxe1 Bxc6 20.Be2 (worse seems 20.Be3 Bxf3 21.gxf3 Re8) 20...Bxf3 21.Bxf3 Qxh2+ 22.Kf1 Qh1+ 23.Ke2 Qh4 24.g4 h5 25.Be3 hxg4 26.Bd5 and in this wide open position the B is worth definitely more than the 3 Ps. The attempt;
16.Bf4 proves less convincing, as long as after 16...Bd6 17.c4 Qh5 18.Bxd6 cxd6 19.d5 Black plays 19...Na5 and not 19...Ne5 20.Nxe5 Qxd1 21.Raxd1 Rxe5 22.Rxe5 dxe5 23.a4 with an annoying White initiative lasting well into the endgame.]
[Perhaps here it is preferable to transfer the Q to the kingside with 16...Qh5 . If White then replied in the typical fashion 17.Rb1 , in ordre to harass the Q with Rb1-b5, there is the tactical possibility of 17...Nxd4 18.cxd4 (worse is 18.Nxd4 Bd6) 18...Bxf3 19.gxf3 Bd6 20.Rxe8 Qxh2+ 21.Kf1 Rxe8 22.Be3 Bf4 with excellent compensation for the piece.]
17.Bh7+ Kh8 18.Be4 Qd8
[A risky choice, since now the N has rather insufficient support. 18...Qd7 was preferable,; or even 18...Qh5 19.Ne5 Bd6 (19...Nxe5 20.Bxb7 Ng4 21.Bf4 Bd6 22.Bxd6 cxd6 23.h3 Nf6 24.Qa4) 20.Bf3 Qh4 (20...Nxd4 21.cxd4 Bxf3 22.gxf3 f6 23.Ng6+) 21.Nxf7+ Kg8 22.Nxh6+ Kh8 when White is obliged to keep on checking.]
[ After the game, Kramnik mentioned that he had planned the reply 19...Qa8 , but then there is the combinational possibility 20.d5 Na5 21.Bxh6 gxh6 (a swift loss results from 21...Bxd5 22.Bxd5 Qxd5 23.Bxg7+ Kxg7 24.Qg4+ Kh7 25.Re5 etc.) 22.Qd4+ Kg8 (or here 22...f6 23.Qe3) 23.Bc2 f5 (obviously not 23...Bxd5 24.Qg4+ and 25.Qf5.) 24.Bxf5 , e.g. (24...Bxd5 25.Qg4+ Kh8 26.Qg6 Rxf5 27.Qxh6+ Kg8 28.Qg6+ Kh8 29.Qxf5 with the powerful threats 30.Re5 και 30.Re3 etc.)
25.Qg4+ Rg5 26.Nxg5 hxg5 (also losing is 26...Bxg5 27.h4) 27.Re6 Bxd5 28.Rg6+ Kf8 29.Qh5 and Black has no longer any defence.; B) 19...a6 20.Bxc6 b5 . Later, however, he said that after 21.Bxb5 axb5 22.Qxb5 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Bd6 24.Rxe8 Rxe8 25.Be3 Re6 26.Qh5 White keeps a clear advantage and therfoer he should have chosen this.
(Kasparov thought for a long time at this point and as a result had to face time trouble. He probably had better to choose 19.Qa4 , but it seems that he was concerned with the active defence A)]
19...Bf6 20.c4 Na5 21.Bxb7 Nxb7
[At this point, the two adversaries decided to split the point. After 21...Nxb7 22.Re4 White keeps better control of the center, but Kasparov probably thought that his relative lack of time (12΄ until the 40th move) did not allow him to risk in such a complex situation.] ½-½