|[Although Game 9 went according to plan for Kramnik, his previous White was the only encounter in which he was in some real danger. On the one hand, this justifies his general match strategy to avoid main line variations; on the other, it shows he still hasn't made that necessary leap from Challenger to Champion in playing skills.
To put it in different terms, Kasparov has not been able to show his usual dynamic self, a fact attributable mostly to his opponent's successful efforts to limit him. At the same time, Kramnik has not yet displayed that extra something that every new World Champion reveals to his people about chess. The closer he has come to "it" was Game 6 in which he conceived an amazing idea, bringing his opponent to a highly unsual kind of zugzwang with 3 Black pieces very close to the centre. Unfortunately for him, he did not bring to a successful conclusion his magnificent effort, partly because he could not cope with his time trouble and partly because of Kasparov's equally magnificent defence. A great struggle, but not one that should be allowed to be remembered as the highlight of a World Championship match.
What then ought to be the Challenger's approach to Game 10? (or the rest of his White games for that matter) The principled approach is to stay with 1.d4, facing the NimzoIndian with another main line or with an improvement somewhere along the way of Game 8. Another option is 1.Nf3, which I have already predicted will appear on the board at some point in the match. Using it now, however, might show some timidity on Kramnik's part, a potential weakness Kasparov should be able to appreciate at its true level.
In either case, the pressure is on!]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4
[What Kasparov does best is believing in himself. Here he challenges the Challenger to find an improvement on Game 8.]
[But Kramnik ducks! This is a very wise policy after his success in Game 9. In my comments to earlier games I noted that it has often been a successful policy in World Championship matches to avoid a theoretical confrontation immediately after a staisfactory result. The opponent is eager for some kind of revenge and a theoretical battle is just the kind of contest he might be looking for. Denying him that, he may feel frustrated and lose his balance.] 4...0-0 [Kasparov chooses the most flexible move, leaving his d-, c- and b-pawns at their initial positions for the moment.]
[5.Nf3; and 5.Nge2 are much more common at this point. Kramnik's choice represents a tricky move order, with which certain sub-variations may be avoided.]
[A typical case in point would be 5...c5 , which White can answer with 6.Ne2 and thus stay away from the Hubner Variation ( 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 Bxc3 8.bxc3 d6 ).]
[Yet both opponents head back to main lines. By this I mean main lines of the modern NimzoIndian Defence, in which Black does not hesitate to transform the position to a Queen's Gambit with the black-squared B developed on b4 rather than e7.]
7.0-0 cxd4 8.exd4 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6
[There are too many choices for Black in the preceding moves to be analysed here, as well as some for White. Suffice it to say that Kasparov chooses the Karpov variation, which may arise from either a NimzoIndian move order or from a Caro-Kann: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nc6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6. Naturally, the same may occur from a Queen's Gambit, English Defence, the Scandinavian, etc.
The Karpov variation is a very interesting and fighting choice, because it creates several asymmetries. The most obvious can be seen in the pawn structure, but another vary important one is hidden in the piece arrangement. Black will almost always execute the exchange ...Bb4xNc3 at some appropriate point, giving his opponent at the same time "hanging" Ps and the B pair. The idea behind this exchange is that Black often acquires meaningful pressure on the c-file and sometimes even manages the breakthrough ...e6-e5.
Nevertheless, I do not think such positions suit the World Champion's style. Too much has been revealed too early and a lot of tension has been released, so that most of the play will revolve around piece manouvres again.]
[Kasparov's previous outing with this variation was his 5th match game against Beljavsky (Moscow 1983). His opponent preferred 10.Qe2 and after 10...Bb7 11.Rd1 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Qc7 decided to sacrifice two pawns for dangerous compensation: 13.Bd3 Qxc3 14.Bb2 Qc7 15.d5 Bxd5 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qe3 Kg7 18.Rac1 Nc6 19.Be4 Qd6 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Rc4 . Kasparov eventually lost, but his play could be improved upon on several occasions, giving an early indication that the young talent had trouble defending.]
[At this point, White has to choose the placement of his major pieces. Most often the Q goes to e2, with the Rs on two of the c-, d- and e-files.]
[A flexible approach, but not the only one. Yusupov tried 11.Ne5 in his 6th match game against Ivanchuk (Brussels 1991). Since the continuation demonstrates why both sides need to complete their mobilization before engaging in active operations, it is worth mentioning in full: 11...Nbd7 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.d5 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Bxd5 16.Qg4+ Kh8 17.Qd4 Rac8 18.Qxf6+ Kg8 19.Bd3 Qd8 20.Qh6 f5 21.c4 Bxg2 22.Qxe6+ Kg7 23.Qe5+ Rf6 24.Rfd1 Rc5 25.Qc3 Bc6 26.Be4 Qc7 27.Bxc6 Qxc6 28.Rac1 b5 29.cxb5 Rxc3 30.bxc6 Rfxc6 31.Rxc3 Rxc3 32.Rd7+ Kg6 33.Rxa7 h5 34.Ra4 h4 35.Rxh4 Ra3 36.Kg2 Rxa2 37.Kg3 Ra1 38.f3 Kg5 39.Rb4 f4+ 40.Kh3 Ra2 41.Rb5+ Kg6 and 1/2-1/2.
reportedly, after this move Kramnik had spent 7 minutes, while Kasparov only 14. Obviously, they are both still following their preparations.]
[Now that the Nf6 is well protected, Black may be threatening 12...Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7, when White cannot really try 14.Qe2 Bxf3. It would be more sensible to play 14.Bd3 and sacrifice the c-pawn, but it is doubtful whether enough compensation can be guaranteed.
However, any meaningful move by White will prevent this threat.]
[A more standard move is 12.Bd3 . Kramnik follows his match strategy of avoiding the main line. Here this is an especially good policy, since Kasparov should not feel so comfortable against the isolated d-pawn and must therefore improvise under relatively adverse circumstances.]
[A rather unusual sub-variation, but not without poison. Kramnik follows a policy of full centralization, as opposed to the usual practice of preparing a kingside attack.]
[Kasparov thought for quite some time on this unexpected retreat, revealing that he was on his own by now. There are several other options that have been used in practice, some of them worse, but one of them much better, I think.
Keeping the tension with 13...Ba5 may prove dangerous after 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qd4 16.Bxe6 (16.exf6 Qg4 gives Black satisfactory play) 16...Ng4 (White achieved a winning advantage after 16...Ne4 17.Rxe4 Bxe4 18.Bxc8 Rxc8 19.e6 in Knaak-Groszpeter, Cienfuegos 1980)) 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.fxe3 (better than 18.Bxc8 Ng4 19.Bxb7 Qxf2+ 20.Kh1 Qh4 21.h3 b5 22.Ne4 Bxe1 , which was played in Knnak-Espig, in the East German championship 1981) ;
Protecting the B with 13...Qe7 led to didaster in Browne-Ljubojevic, Tilburg 1978: 14.Bd5 (the correct way to use the square d5, as 14.d5 Qc5 15.Na4 Qa5 16.dxe6 Bxe1 17.exd7 Nxd7 is quite unsuccessful and; 14.Ne5 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Qd6 keeps the position unclear) 14...Ba6 (the sequence 14...Bxc3 15.Bxb7 Bxe1 16.Bxc8 Ba5 17.Bxd7 Qxd7 18.Bxf6 gxf6 leads to a clear White advantage) 15.Qa4 Bxc3 (the retreat 15...Ba5 allows White to gain for free the square a2 for his B after 16.a3 , so that 16...Bxc3 17.bxc3 Nb8 18.Ba2 Qd7 19.Qc2 creates even more serious problems) 16.bxc3 Nb8 17.Bb3 b5 (or 17...Qd7 18.Qa3 with undisputable advantage for White) 18.Qa5 Qb7 (a decisive mistake, while 18...Qc7 could still provide strong resistance) 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.d5 exd5 21.Qb4 Qd7 22.Qh4 Kg7 23.Nd4 and 1-0, as there is no defence to either 24.Bc2 or 24.Re3 etc.;
The most prinicipled approach for the Karpov variation is 13...Bxc3 14.Rxc3 h6 (a typical way of forcing the enemy black-squared B to make a decision) 15.Bh4 Bd5 16.Bxd5 (16.Ne5 could be tried as well) 16...Rxc3 17.bxc3 exd5 18.Ne5 Re8 with chances for both sides, as in Podgaets-Ubilava, USSR 1979.
Kasparov's choice is probably intended to force the development of events, according to his general style. However, the Karpov variation was a favourite of the ex-World Champion because nothing much seemed to happen for many moves, until the hidden meaning behind piece manouvres was revealed!]
[I have to admit this surprised me a bit, since exchanges are supposed to favour the side against the isolated d-pawn. Kramnik probably concluded that this was the best way to deal with the positional threat 14...Bxf3.
Another idea that has been used in this position is 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nd7 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Nb5 , but now, instead of 17...Rc5 18.f4 with a strong initiative in Shulman-Smagin, St.Petersburg 1994, 17...Qg5 should be played, when 18.Qg3 Qxg3 19.hxg3 Ba6 leads to multiple exchanges and a probable draw, according to Shipov.]
[Another unexpected move, indicating that Kasparov does not feel the danger. It was imperative to play 14...Bxf6 , although 15.Nb5 Ra8 16.Ne5 might become annoying (nothing serious is gained by 15.Ne4 Bxe4 16.Rxe4 and now either 16...Rc7 or the more active 16...e5; , while after 15.Ne5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Bg5 and the battle continues with reasonable chances for Black) . Shipov, however, points out that Black can choose instead 15...Bxf3 16.Qxf3 a6 17.Nd6 (or 17.Na7 Rc7 18.Nc6 Qc8 19.d5 exd5 20.Bxd5 Ne5 with complete equality) 17...Rc7 , e.g. 18.Qe4 (18.Nxf7 Rxf7 19.Bxe6 Nf8 20.Rxc7 Qxc7 leads to a more or less balanced game; , while 18.Bxa6 is unenjoyable because of 18...Rxc1 19.Rxc1 Nb8 20.Nb7 Qxd4) 18...g6 with just an optical space superiority for White, but nothing concrete.;
I was a little suprised to learn from Shipov's notes that even 14...gxf6 has been tried, despite its obvious disadvantage of ruining Black's pawn structure. The game Nielsen- Hellsten, Gistrup 1996, continued 15.d5 Kh8 (not much better is 15...Nc5 16.Qd1) 16.dxe6 Nc5 17.Qd1 Qxd1 18.Rcxd1 Bxf3 19.gxf3 fxe6 20.Bxe6 with much the better ending for White, who enjoys both an extra P and by far superior centralization of his forces.]
[Naturally. After this pseudo-sacrifice, the most Kasparov can ever hope for is a draw, while his losing chances are considerable. This is why I do not understand at all his recapture with the N. Could it be that he simply overlooked Kramnik's move? If yes, something is seriously wrong with Kasparov. If not, he must have misevaluated the resulting position so greatly, that the same conclusion applies.]
[Although one usually takes the acceptance of such a sacrifice for granted, this is not necessarily so. here Black keeps his positional threat ...Bb7xNf3 intact, so it makes sense to consider 15...Rc7 16.Ng5 Qxd4 17.Nxf7 (17.Bxf7+ Kh8 18.Ne6 is simply unplayable because of 18...Qg4) 17...Bc5 and the discovered check doesn't promise much. It is true Whte has won a P, but in circumstances much worse than in the game, as Black"s pieces are very active and may cooperate successfully against the enemy King.]
[It is unlikely the World Champion did not "see" that after 16...Rf7 17.Ng5 Bd5 both captures 18.Nxd5 and 18.Nxf7 are possible, e.g. 18...Bxe6 19.Nxd8 and one of the Bs will be sorely missed in the immediate future.]
17.Qxe7 Bxf3 18.gxf3
[As a slight consolation for the P, Kasparov damages his opponent's kingside Ps. This, however, should not alarm Kramnik, as he keeps both better control of the centre and the initiative. Exchanging Qs 18.Qxd8 Rfxd8 and only then playing 19.gxf3 proves much worse after 19...Rxd4 etc. Then White would have to work even harder to create serious winning chances.
According to reports, Kramnik had used only 30 minutes up to now, while Kasparov one hour and 10 minutes.]
[If Black does not play this, then two extra Ps should eventually suffice for the win. Now, however, Kasparov appears to have reasonable compensation for the pawn, not least because of the immediate tactical threat 19...Ng4 (20.fxg4 allows perpetual check).]
[My best guess is that Kasparov missed this move in his original calculations. However, if he had reached this far, he should be in good enough form to look a little further. 19.Qxa7 would needlessly distance the Q from the kingside and allow serious counterplay after 19...Ng4 (19...Rc5 is also quite attractive) 20.Ne4 Ne5 .
Kramnik's idea is to utilize his superior centralization in order to attack the enemy King. Later the Spanish GM Illescas Cordoba (one of the Challenger's seconds) made the interesting remark that all these moves had been played before, in the game Hazai-Danielsen, Valby 1994, but also that he believed neither player was aware of it!]
[Not so much a materialistic approach, as a result of the wish to keep in touch with g7. Still, it removes the Q far away from the main battlefield.
In case of 19...Qh4 , the Nf6 will often find itself pinned against its own Q in comparison to the game continuation,;
while Illescas pointed out that 19...Qd7 20.Qxd7 Nxd7 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Nxa7 etc.;
Far more attractive seems 19...Qd5 , since the Q remains in the centre and in particular controls the dangerous a2-g8 diagonal. White should probably continue 20.Rxc8 (or 20.Nd6 Ra8 21.Rc7 Nh5) 20...Rxc8 21.Nd6 keeping the initiative (Shipov then gives the characteristic, but not necessarily forced, variation 21...Rb8 22.Re5 Qxf3 23.Rg5 g6 24.Nf7+ Kg8 25.Nh6+ Kh8 26.Rf5 , winning for White).;
It is interesting to know that in the above-mentioned encounter Hazai-Danielsen the much stronger move 19...Qf4 was chosen. The continuation was 20.Rxc8 Rxc8 21.Nd6 Qxf3 22.Nxc8 Qg4+ 23.Kf1 Qh3+ 24.Ke2 Qxc8 25.Kd2 and White eventually won, but with the simple retreat 21...Ra8 Black could have continued the fight. Then the difference between the Q on f4 and on b2, as in the Kramnik-Kasparov game would be evident.
In any case, the World Champion did not think for long about his decision. Did he once again underestimate the danger and thus missed a critical moment?]
[Probably best. After 20.Rc7 Black may defend with 20...Ng8 , while;
20.Nd6 straight away could be answered by either 20...Ra8 or 20...Qxc1 21.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 22.Kg2 Kg8 23.Qe6+ Kh8 24.Nf7+ Rxf7 25.Qxf7 h6 26.Qxa7 Rb1 with excellent drawing chances in the ending by using a "fortress" type of defence.]
20...Rxc8 21.Nd6 Rb8
[I do not understand this move either, at least in the theoretical sense. There is no apparent reason to avoid 21...Ra8 , other than to tempt Kramnik into taking it, while in addition it avoids later ideas of the enemy N comimg to c6 with gain of an important tempo (see especially the analysis to Black's 23rd move).
If White continues as in the game, that is 22.Nf7+ Kg8 23.Qe6 , then Illescas claims the best defence is 23...h6 24.Nxh6+ Kh7 . According to the Spanish GM, White's ideal set up is with Ng5 and Qg6, but it is difficult to establish immediately, as 25.Nf7 (also 25.Nf5 Qd2; and 25.Ng4 Rf8 fail to reach the desired goal) is met by 25...Re8 . In this case white would have to proceed slowly and try to exploit the weak shield of his opponent’s king.]
[Illescas points out that 22.Qxa7 Rf8 23.Qe7 Ra8 24.Nf7+ Kg8 25.Qe6 (25.Ng5 Qxa2 26.Ne6 Nh5 also proves ineffective) is met by 25...Qxa2 .;
Furthermore, 22.Ne8 proves to be an interesting alternative, although Black would reply 22...Ng8 and not 22...Rxe8 23.Qxe8+. Shipov then suggests the simple reply 23.Qd7 when Kasparov's pieces are mere spectators and White can slowly cut off the Qb2 from g7 by f3-f4 and Re1-e5. This plan might have proven equally effective against 21...Ra8.]
[For once in this game, Kasparov has a serious threat in 23...Re8. Of course, any reasonable attacking move also defends against it, so it remains just a phantom behind the actual play.]
[Any N move instead allows Black to create a most valuable loophole with 23...h6 and continue his resistance, even if he loses the a-pawn.]
[In a highly unusual occurence for a World Championship match, Kramnik threatens a typical smothered mate! If left undeterred, he will continue 24.Nh6+ Kh8 (or 24...Kf8 25.Qf7#) 25.Qg8+ Rxg8 26.Nf7#.]
[Apparently Kasparov played this after less than one minute, but it loses straight away. He was probably disappointed by now and wished a swift end.
The alternative King move 23...Kf8 also led to an immediate loss after 24.Ng5 Rb7 25.Nxh7+ Nxh7 26.Qe8# , but some resistance could be offered with;
23...h5 , creating an escape square for the King (this is why Kramnik ought to have taken the a-pawn before anything else). Now the Challenger would have to find
A) Leontxo Garcia proposes in the 25th October issue of "El Pais" the variation 24.Ng5+ Kh8 (of course, not 24...Kf8 25.Qf7#)
25.Qf5 (Shipov gives the equally unappealing 25.Qf7 Qb5 -but not 25...Qd2 26.Re5- 26.h4 Re8 and now either 27.Rc1 Qd7 28.Rc7 Qxf7 29.Nxf7+ Kh7 or 27.Rxe8+ Qxe8 28.Qxa7 b5 with excellent chances of salvation in both lines) , e.g. 25...Qxa2 26.Re6 Kg8 27.Kg2 Qd5 28.Qg6 (much stronger here than 28.Rxf6 Qxf5 29.Rxf5 a5) 28...Qd8 29.h4 Qf8 (or now 29...Rb7 30.Ne4) 30.Rxf6 Qxf6 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32.Qh8+ etc., but there are too many quiet moves by White in this sequence;
B) 24.Ne5+ (admittedly, not a very difficult move, since it focuses on the newly created weakness g6) 24...Kh7 (24...Kh8 should lead to a relatively easy win for White after 25.Ng6+ Kh7 26.Qf5 threatening 27.Nf4+ etc.) 25.Qf5+ Kg8 (again 25...Kh8 26.Ng6+ allows variations like the above) and at this point the move 26.Nc6 takes full advantage of Kasparov's error on move 21. Now the best defence is once again 26...Ra8 (of course, not 26...Qc3 ; or 26...Qd2 , as then 27.Qe6+ and 28.Nxb8 follows,; , while other R moves are even worse, e.g. 26...Rf8 27.Ne7+ Kh8 -since 27...Kf7 28.Qg6# is even more unwelcome- 28.Ng6+; or 26...Re8 27.Rxe8+ Nxe8 28.Ne7+ and 29.Qxh5#) ] [when the most incisive move is 27.Re7. After 27...Qc1+ 28.Kg2 Qh6 (or 28...Qxc6 29.Qg6 and 29...Ne8 is unplayable because of 30.Qxc6) 29.h4 brings Black to almost a zugzwang position, e.g. 29...Rf8 30.Rxa7 or 29...Qh7 30.Qe6+ Kh8 31.Ne5 etc.
Therefore, White should win even after 23...h5 and the decisive mistake must be searched for earlier (possibly 21...Ra8 but maybe even 14...Nxf6).]
[Of course, not 24.Nh6+ Kh8 25.Qg8+ , as now the smothered mate does not materialize after 25...Nxg8 .]
[After this miserable performance, it seems impossible that Kasparov will be able to win two out of the last six encounters. An unbelievably low-level game to bow out as World Champion, it necessarily brings to memory that fateful massacre in the last match game against Deep
[25.Qe7 The end is very near, e.g. 25...Kg8 (even worse are 25...Rg8 26.Nf7#; and 25...Re8 26.Qxe8+) 26.Ne6 Rf7 27.Qd8+ and mate in two more moves.]