Analysis Room by Ilias Kourkounakis
Round 1  

J.Applet

Round 2

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Round 3 J.Applet
Round 4 J.Applet
Round 5 J.Applet
Round 6 J.Applet
Round 7 J.Applet
Round 8 J.Applet
Round 9 J.Applet
Round 10 J.Applet
Round 11 J.Applet
Round 12 J.Applet
Round 13 J.Applet
Round 14 J.Applet
Round 15 J.Applet
Round 16 J.Applet

Last update:
30/10/2000 18:32

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kramnik,V (2770) - Kasparov,G (2849) [E55]
The Match - Braingames World Chess Cham London (12), 28.10.2000

[The closer we get to the end, it becomes at the same time easier and more difficult to make serious prediction about the openings or even the strategy both players will adopt. On the one hand, we have more information about the players' attititude in this specific match and thus thier behaviour is more predictable. On the side of uncertainty, however, the few games remaining acquire special significance because each player aims for a more specific result than before. Earlier in the match, searching the truth about some variation might be more important than prevening loss. Now Kasparov must necessarily avoid defeat, while Kramnik is also more interested in securing another half-point than inflicting his opponent a third defeat. For this reason, I would expect the Challenger to stay with 1.d4 in this game as well and switch over to 1.Nf3 in his last two White games if the score remains 2-0 after Game 13. Kasparov has a much wider choice, but an unfortunate one: all his Black openings have failed to impress. The Champion should probably choose once again the NimzoIndian Defence, since it almost always guarantees asymmetrical pawn structures, but refrain from any sub-variation that has him playing against an isolated d-pawn.]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3
[So far, so good!]

4...0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nbd7

[Kasparov is the first to vary from Game 10, a forseeable change of wind after his resounding defeat. Although the very same Karpov variation might be reached via move transposition, this can happen only if Kramnik now plays 9. Qe2 (followed by 9...cxd4 10.exd4 b6) and thus renounce the plan that brought him victory in the preceding encounter. The independent significance of 8... Nbd7 is that White has to commit himself on a move that might not prove useful in the Karpov variation, but of course Black also loses some flexibility.]

9.a3
[This is the critical move, forcing the B to choose at a time when both options have definite disadvantages. Long long time ago, in a game that decided the gold medal in the USSR Championship, Psakhis actually played 9.Qe2 against the very same Kasparov, which was answered by 9...a6 and White eventually won (the two opponents tied for 1st place). Other moves that have been tried at this point are 9.Qb3, 9.Bd3 and even 9.Ne2.]

9...cxd4
[The retreat 9...Ba5 is positionally inferior at this point, as White can answer simply with 10.Nb5 , creating the positional threat 11.Nd6 and the tactical 11.dxc5. Then 10...cxd4 is practically forced, allowing 11.b4 Bb6 12.exd4 with a favora ble version of the isolated d-pawn: the Black black-squared B finds itself badly misplaces, while its partner has great trouble developing.; It is worth noting that after 9...Qa5 White has a promising exchange sacrifice with 10.axb4 Qxa1 11.bxc5, which however most players would shun because there is a simpler and stronger alternative: 10.Bd2 forces 10...Bxc3 11.Bxc3 winning both time and space without any concessions.;

The immediate capture 9...Bxc3 is not without interest, as long as after 10.bxc3 continues 10...b6 rather than 10...cxd4, which can now be answered by 11.cxd4 avoiding the hanging Ps and keeping a central pawn majority. A typical continuation then is 11.Re1 Bb7 12.Bd3 12...Be4 (12... Ne4 looks more appropriate) 13.Bf1 with the plan Nf3-d2 and gradual mobilaization of the P centre in Korchnoi-Hubner, Manila 1990 (eventually drawn).]

10.axb4
[The only consistent continuation, since 10.exd4 Bxc3 11.bxc3 b6 leads back to the Karpov variation with White having played the (at least) useless a2-a3. Now White gains his usual NimzoIndian pair of Bs, but in return he gets a pawn structure that lacks mobility. The battlelines will be drawn around the remaining black-squared B's activity.;

Also possible is 10.Nb5 Be7 11.Nbxd4 (11.Qxd4 can be neutralized by 11...Nb6) 11...e5 12.Nf5 Nb6 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 with Black "sacrificing" the B pair for speedy development rather than fewer P islands. The game Semkov-Kosten, Metz 1992, continued 14.Be2 Rd8 15.Bd2 Bg4 16.Rc1 h6 17.Qe1 Nbd5 18.Rc4 Qe6 19.Qc1 Ne7 20.Bb4 e4 21.Bxe7 Qxe7 22.Rc7 exf3 23.Rxe7 fxe2 24.Re1 Rd1 25.f3 (of course, not 25.Qc3 Nd5) 25...Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Bd7 27.Kf2 Bb5 (27...Bc6 also makes sense) 28.Rxb7 and now, instead of 28...a6 that led to an equal endgame and an eventual loss, the English grandmaster should have played 28...Ba6 , e.g. 29.Rb4 Rd8 30.Rd4 Rxd4 31.exd4 Nd5 with good winning chances (the ideas ...Nd5-f4xg2 and ...Nd5-e3-c2 prevent the white R from wondering far into enemy territory).]

10...dxc3 11.bxc3
[Black has a glaring weakness on d6, but it is not very easy for White to use it effectively. The critical square e4 is firmly under control by the Nf6, while extra power will be added by the inevitable development of the Bc8 on b7. In addition, it is not easy to advance c3-c4 without allowing ...a7-a5 and later domination of the square c5 by the other Black N. In that case, White's weakness on d3 might prove even more dangerous. All this means that there will be a lot of piece manouvering, with time playing a crucial role, especially in controlling the only open file]

11...Qc7
[The immediate 11...b6 should also be considered, but probably rejected. The correct reply is 12.Nd4 (12.Qd6 proves a shot in thin air, because of 12...Bb7 with the double threat 13...Ne4 and 13...Bxf3 14.gxf3 Qc8) 12...Bb7 13.Bb2 , planning f2-f3 and e3-e4 in order to limit Black's most important pieces. After (13.Qb3 is not as effective as it looks at first sight, since Black has just enough time for 13...Qc7 14.Nb5 Qc6 15.f3 Rfc8 16.Be2 a6 etc.; , while 13.Bxe6 fxe6 14.Nxe6 Qe7 does not appear too dangerous either) 13...Qc7 the best response is 14.Be2 and not 14.Qb3 Rfc8 15.Be2 Ne5 with ...Ne5-c4 to follow, if necessary preceded by ...a7-a6.]

12.Be2


[Now Kasparov went into a really long think, about 45 minutes. The obvious question for many was whether he would capture the c-pawn, but this is not the only option.] [An unexpected retreat, as White has available much more active alternatives. 12.Qe2 Nb6 (12...a6 would lead by transposition to Polugayevsky-Petrosian, USSR Championship 1961, which continued 13.Bb2 e5 14.e4 Nb6 15.Bd3 Bg4 and Black eventually won, not least because he has already managed to assume control of the critical square c4 and thus prevent the advance of thec-pawn) 13.Bd3 e5 14.e4 Be6 apperas perfectly satisfactory for Black, e.g. 15.Be3 (15.Ra5 Nfd7 16.Ng5 Bc4 17.f4 proved too ambitious in Tsemekhman-Anapolsky, Duisburg 1992, which ended with 17...a6 18.fxe5 Bxd3 19.Qxd3 Nc4 20.e6 fxe6 21.Rxf8+ Rxf8 22.e5 g6 23.Qh3 Qb6+ 24.Rc5 h5 25.Ne4 Nxc5 26.bxc5 Qb1 27.Qxe6+ Kh8 28.h3 Qxc1+ 29.Kh2 Qf4+ 30.Ng3 h4 and 0-1) 15...Nfd7 16.Rfc1 Rfc8 17.Nd2 Qd6 18.Bb5 a6 19.Bxd7 Nxd7 20.f3 b5 21.Ra3 Rc6 22.Nb3 Bxb3 23.Rxb3 Qc7 24.Ra3 h6 25.Qa2 Nf8 26.c4 with an equal endgame in Villeneuve-Kosten, Torcy 1991.;
However, 12.Qb3 looks much better, e.g. 12...Nb6 13.Be2 e5 14.c4 and the black-squared B begins to tell.]

12...Qxc3
["A lunch under dangerous conditons!" -Nimzowitsch This being one of the few games I had the chance to observe live for the first 3 hours (usually I have work obligations and for a change I went to the theater in the evening), I have to admit Kasparov surprised me. His extra P will be part of a feeble queenside majority and is likely to eventually get traded in multipleexchanges that include the enemy black-square B. The real question that challenges theoretically Kramnik's novelty is, to my mind, about the N sally 12...Ne4 , which seems to eventually equalize.
The problem for the World Champion is that after 13.c4 Nc3 14.Qc2 Nxe2+ 15.Qxe2 a draw becomes very probable once again, bringing his opponent one step closer to the desired point total of 8 1/2. I sense that Kasparov's daring capture was decided upon under the influence of the specific sporting circumstances. In a normal tournament situation, I believe he would prefer something much calmer, as defending in exchange for a dubious P is defeinitely not his cup of tea.;
The move 12...e5 , taking away the square d4 from White's N and Q, was tried in Garcia Gonzales-Balashov, Leningrad 1977. The continuation was quite typical for this line: 13.c4 b6 14.Bb2 Bb7 15.Qb3 Rfe8 16.Rfd1 a5 17.c5 and here a draw was agreed, as all queenside Ps will soon disappear from the board, leaving almost no play for either side.;
Finally, it is worth noting that after 12...b6 13.Bb2 Bb7 14.Qd4 the game might end up following a path very similar to Mecking-Larsen, Palma de Majorca 1970 (izt), except that the Brasilian GM had then lost some crucial time. Since a lot of ideas are very typical for the specific pawn structure, it is worth noting the game in full, including the different move order: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3 cxd4 9.axb4 dxc3 10.bxc3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Qc7 12.Be2 b6 13.Bb2 Bb7 14.Qb3 a5 15.Qc4 Qb8 16.Qh4 Ne5 17.Nxe5 Qxe5 18.bxa5 bxa5 19.Rfb1 Be4 20.Rd1 Rfb8 21.Rd2 Bd5 22.Qd4 Qg5 23.Bf1 Ne4 24.Rc2 Nd6 25.c4 Nf5 26.Qd3 Bc6 27.Be5 Rd8 28.Qc3 a4 29.c5 h5 30.Rd2 Rxd2 31.Qxd2 Nh4 32.Bg3 Qf6 33.Qd1 Nf3+ 34.Kh1 h4 35.Bf4 Rd8 36.Bd6 h3 37.Rxa4 Bxa4 38.Qxa4 Nd2 39.Kg1 Qg6 40.Qd1 Nxf1 41.Qxf1 Rd7 42.f3 Rb7 43.e4 Rb1 and 0-1.]


13.Ba3
[Kramnik played this quickly, indicating that he had prepared it before the game. In any case, it is clearly the best move: White's compensation can be found in the weakness of the black squares around the central area, therefore the B belongs more to the a3-f8 diagonal than to a1-h8.] 13...Nd5 [Evidently decided during Kasparov's long think, this centralizing move frees f6 for the safe return of the Q and temporarily blocks the d-file. In addition, after the Q's retreat the positional threat ...Nd5-c3 might become quite annoying. Nevertheless, moving an already developed piece cannot fail to have some defect. Now it was Kramnik's turn to think, for about 15 minutes, which probably means his team had studied only more normal moves. The real battle begins!]

14.Qb1

[Another good move, moving the Q to a spot from which it observes both sides of the board from the 1st rank -Karpov would enjoy playing this! The Rf1 may now come to c1 and from there invade the enemy camp, while the other R can be considered developed on its initial square: White will eventually play b4-b5 and possibly Ba3-d6, or return with Ba3-b2, in both cases exerting annoying pressure against the a-pawn.
It is important to observe that at some point White will probably have to evict the domineering N with e3-e4, but this cannot be done easily. Since it can then go to f4, White's white-squared B will be attacked, a problem that must be provided for well in advance. On his part, Black must care for the development of his B, another thankless task. Advancing ...b7-b6 will weaken the critical square c6, which can be easily occupied by the enemy N under the protection of the b-pawn.
Moving the Nd7 to free a modest square means that more black squares are weakened, especially e5, thus augmenting White's compensation. Overall, it seems that Kramnik has obtained a little more than enough for the P.]
14...Qf6
[This has to be played sooner or later, but it means Kasparov keeps moving his developed pieces. This allows Kramnik to redeploy some of his own, without worrying much about losing precious tempi.]

15.Bd3
[Practically necessary, in order to take the sting out of ...Nd5-c3, but also very useful. Kramnik forces a concession from his opponent, in order to get some useful information about the correct arrangement of his pieces.]

15...h6
[An important decision with long-term consequences, such as the near impossibility of later challenging for some black squares with ...f7-f6, as then the weakness of g6 could prove disastrous. However, 15...Qh6 might create even bigger problems, because the Q distances herself too much from the main theater of war.]

16.b5
[The time has come to open more lines. As there are no useful breaks, a pawn advance will have to do.]

16...Rd8
[This is an almost certain indication that the B will not be developed on the h1-a8 diagonal, since then the enemy N would arrive on c6 with gain of tempo. The alternative 16...Re8 also made se nse, planning ...e6-e5, ...Nd7-b6 and ...Bc8-g4. The problem with that idea is that then the R may be attacked by the enemy N from d6, so 17.Nd2 suggests itself as a reply.]

17.Bb2 Qe7

18.Ra4
[An excellent manouvre, strongly reminiscent of 20.Ra3 of Game 6 and even 19...Rg6 of Game 3. It looks like the Challenger has studied an alternative way of developing his Rs especially for this match! In any case, Kramnik believes he is better and begins playing for a win quite vigorously. The R prepares to swing over to the kingside, while the idea Qb1-a1 should not be underestimated either. In the eventuality of Kasparov surrendering his extra P without exchanging the black-squared B, his losing chances will become very real.
A more modest approach would be first 18.Ba3 , checking whether the World Champion is happy with a draw or is willing to risk the self-pin 18...Nc5 instead. Then 19.Ne5 seems quite strong, since it prevents ...b7-b6 and the twin threats 20.Rc1 and 20.Bh7+ followed by 21.Bg6 practically force 19...Bd7 , but after 20.Bh7+ Kh8 21.Bg6 Be8 (of course, not 21...Rf8 22.Bxf7) 22.Bxf7 Bxf7 23.Bxc5 White is probably winning already. Essentially this means that 18. Ba3 would be answered by 18...Qf6 and Kramnik would have the option of repeating the position with 19.Bb2 Qe7.

At this point he could play 18.Ra4, making it clear to his opponent and the World that he is playing for a win, since the draw was his for the taking. This psychological power play must be weighed against giving Kasparov an extra 2 moves for minimal thinking time, a consideration not to be underestimated, as the Champion had consumed much more time than the Challenger by now. Since Kasparov knew very well that he wold have to repeat the position anyway, Kramnik chose pure chess over psychology. Besides, if he had made it so clear that he wishes to avoid a quick draw, he might come to regret the decision in case things go wrong later on.]

18...Nc5
[Unfortunately for the World Champion, Kramnik's next move cannot be prevented by 18...Nf8 , as 19.Qa1 f6 20.Nd4 reestablishes material equality under terms very favorable to White (once again, (not immediately 20.Rxa7 Rxa7 21.Qxa7 , because then 21...Nxe3 is quite good) 20...b6 is unplayable because of 21.Nc6 ). However, the removal of the N from the kingside cannot be a good omen.]

19.Bh7+
[Now 19.Ba3 can be answered by 19...b6 and White doesn't have anything special.]

19...Kh8
[Running towards the centre with 19...Kf8 allows the pin Bb2-a3 to become even stronger, either immediately or after the intermediate attack 20.Rg4 .]

20.Rh4

[Another direct threat forces another concession. It is clear Kramnik wants to take full advantage of 15...h6.]

20...f6
[This advance weakens irrepairably g6, but after 20...Nf6 there would follow 21.Bxf6 (even better than 21.Ne5 , which should also be decisive because of the always powerful threat 22.Bg6, for example 21...Nxh7 22.Rxh6 gxh6 23.Ng6+ is unplayable) 21...Qxf6 22.Rf4 Qe7 23.Ne5 Rf8 24.Rxf7 winning imme diately.
Here Kramnik went into another relatively long think, clearly indicating that his choice on the 18th move was based more on the evaluation of the position than concrete calculations. As a result, both players were left with just over half an hour until the first time control.

This must have been the kind of murky situation Kasparov was hoping for when he captured on c3, but at a considerable risk. However, he betrayed once again the superstitious aspect of his character (adding to his notorious belief in "his" magic number 13), when after the game he quipped: "I didn't think I could lose, it was my son's birthday!". (Does he really believe those things or does he say them in order to create an aura of fateful invincibility, both for himself and his opponents? In any case, Kramnik seems to have remained unaffected during the whole match...)]

21.Rc4
[Kramnik decides he has achieved enough on the kingside with the R and returns his attention to the other side of the board. Amassing more pieces on the "eastern" front with 21.Qg6 just fails to 21...Bd7 and 22...Be8, when the white-square B proves very unfortunately placed.;
Another way to free the square h4 for the N is 21.Rh5 , but again 21...Bd7 manages to defend in time: 22.Nh4 Be8 23.Ng6+ (23.Bg6 does not really threaten anything, since the King can now return to g8 with impunity) 23...Bxg6 24.Bxg6 when White must feel sorry there are no more Ns to take advantage of g6.; Finally, the "bayonet" attack 21.g4 burns enough bridges to secure a loss if the attack fails, which is exactly what might happen after 21...e5 blocking the R from returning "west". The salient point here is that after 22.g5 hxg5 there is neither a productive discovered check nor a satisfactory way to bring reinforcements to the critical sector, e.g. 23.Qg6 gxh4 24.Qh5 can be answered successfully by both 24...Bg4 and 24...g6.]

21...Bd7
[Once again, Kasparov rushes to protect g6 against the idea 22.Nh4. At the same time, he comes very near the completion of his development.]

22.Ba3
[Another "take-back" move, but a contnuous change of direction is almost never a good sign. Has Kramnik missed something along the way or was hiscompensation largely illusory all along the way? The latter seems unlikely, but I cannot find any real specific reinforcements anywhere.]

22...b6
[Kasparov wisely refrains from 22...Rac8 for the time being, because he plans to use that R to support the advance of his queenside Ps and control any lines that might open in that sectro. If necessary, the N can be supported by the other R, which does nothing in particular any more on the d-file.]

23.Be4
[Yet another retreat, a course of events that might have made Kramnik feel quite uncomfortable.]

23...a6
[The times, they are changing! Still, White should not be in any serious danger, as the extra enemy P is very difficult to advance.]

24.bxa6 Rxa6

[Now it is clear that the Challenger's plan has been a failure and emergency measures must be taken. Mutual time trouble is approaching and the realization that something has gone wrong may ruin even Kramnik's drawing chances. Nevertheless, in pure chess terms White still has almost enough compensation for the P in his much more active and better coordinated pieces.]

25.Bxc5
[A very specific approach to the problems in this particular case. By giving up the pride of his position, the black-squared B, Kramnik must have calculated almost all the following developments.]

25...bxc5 26.Rfc1 Ra5

[26...Rc8 is much trickier, for example 27.Qb7 (27.Nd4 looks better, e.g. 27...Rb6 28.Qa1 preparing both 29.Qa5 and 29.Qa3 followed bt Nd4-b3) 27...Rb6 28.Qa7 Rbc6 sets up an at least temporarily successful defence of the extra P and proves that both sides can play the back rank combination/pinning/ unpinning game: 29.Nd4 R6c7 30.Qa3 fails against 30...cxd4 31.Qxe7 Rxc4 etc.]

27.Qb2
[27.Qb7 appears much better to me, as after 27...Bc6 (not 27...Bb5 , which is answered by 28.Qxe7 Nxe7 29.Rxc7 rather than 28.Bxd5 Qxb7 29.Bxb7 Bxc4 and Black wins; , while 27...Rb5 28.Qa7 seems equally pointless, e.g. 28...Rc8 29.Nd4 Rb2 30.Rxc5) 28.Qxe7 Nxe7 29.Bxc6 Nxc6 30.h4 the c-pawn is defenceless ( 30...Rd5 31.e4 ). By thi s time, both players had about 10 minutes to complete their 40 first moves.]

27...Rb5
[Kasparov must have been (rightly) worried about 28.Bb1 and 29.Qc2, forcing yet another important concession.]

28.Qa3 Nb6
[A good zeitnot trap, while 28...Rc8 leads to nothing after 29.Nd4 Rb4 30.Nb3 etc.]

29.R4c3
[Kramnik correctly avoids the rush 29.Rxc5 , as then would follow 29...Bc6 etc. Now, however, it is extremely difficult to defend the c-pawn in the long run.]

29...Rb4
[Another idea was 29...Rc8 planning 30.Nd4 cxd4 31.Qxe7 dxc3 , but this is not an easy decision to make in time trouble, because Black's pawn formation remains quite loose. Reportedly, Kramnik had now about 5 minutes left and Kasparov only a couple more, so keeping maximum tension seems indicated.]

30.Nd2
[Both defen ding the B and redeploynig the N towards b3. However unfair life might seem to Kramnik at this point, he faces mortal danger.]


30...f5
[The tempting 30...Na4 leads to an immediate draw after 31.Rxc5 , but; 30...Rc8 seems much better, e.g. 31.Nb3 (the Rc8 is defended twice, thus rendering 31.Qxb4 impossible) 31...Ra4 (again not 31...Na4 32.Nxc5; or 31...Nd5 32.Bxd5 exd5 33.Nxc5) 32.Qb2 c4 and Kasparov keeps every chance of winning alive. In most cases the Q will be activated on d6, sometimes even on c5, while White's pieces become more and more passive.]

31.Bf3
[I get the im pression both players must very tired and pressed for time by now. Practically better seems 31.Rxc5 Rxe4 (31...Ra4 proves useless after 32.Qb2) 32.Nxe4 fxe4 33.Qb4 when the front e-pawn is doomed and the endgame is an easy draw, for example after 33...Na4 34.R5c4 Qxb4 35.Rxb4 Bc6 36.h3 etc.]

31...Na4
[Despite the intermediate move that weakened e5, 31...Rc8 was still ind icated. Now the inevitable end of the game must have come as a relief to the Challenger.]

32.Rxc5 Rb2
[It is never too late to lose: 32...Nxc5 33.Qxb4 Rc8 34.Nb3 Nxb3 35.Rxc8+ is another typical time trouble trap, but extremely easy for World Championship level (or worse).]

33.Nc4 Qxc5 -
[This was a highly tense encounter, very characteristic of games towards the end of an exhausting match. Although Kramnik seems to maintain control of things, he most certainly did not use his White with the effectiveness of previous games. Kasparov might still be in with a chance if he wins Game 13, presumably his lucky number, but otherwise the chess world should be preparing for the crowning of a new Champion. Note: these comments were completed a little before 11:00a.m. (Greek time) on Sunday, October 29, together with the introduction to Game 13.]

[The last chance for a mishap belonged to Kasparov: 33...Rxf2 34.Rc8 . Now, however, after; 33...Qxc5 34.Qxc5 Nxc5 35.Nxb2 Rc8 there is no play whatsoever left in the position.]

 

Taken from: CanalWeb

 

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