- Kasparov,G (2770) [D85]
The Match - Braingames World Chess Cham London (2), 10.10.2000
[In many ways, the first game in which Kramnik is White is more likely to define the match. Kasparovís has offered us several instances of match strategy at this level, while the challenger still hasnít made his mark.
Before the match, most experts suggested that Kramnik is likely to press more with White. I may add that this is not enough. I can easily picture Kramnik winning two games, but I do not believe such a small number is sufficient for an overall win (can one seriously expect Kasparov to score a full point only once?). This means that Kramnik should strive for at least 3 wins, a number that even Karpov found difficult to achieve in his better days after 16 games (not counting the aborted 1984-5 encounter, of course).
Kasparov will not just lose 3 games, they have to be won from him. We ought to keep in mind that Short and Anand could only force his resignation once in their matches, while it should be noted that in both cases the World Champion underestimated the danger. Having studied extensively the history of the World Title matches, I am inclined to say that the only way Kramnik may become the 14th in line is by creating something new in chess. What this is I do not know (otherwise I would be the first to introduce it or sell the concept to better athletes), but I feel he should do it with White.]
[After his recent experiment against Leko, people started wondering... Is Kramnik capable of pulling a fast one on Kasparov and switch to 1.e4 in a way similar to Fischer switching away from it against Spassky? Maybe the challengerís summer choice was just a bluff? Or does he need to repeat it in his first White game in order to make it a double bluff?
Personally, I thought it unlikely that Kramnik could resort to half measures. Either he should stick to his usual guns with slight variations or he should adopt a completely new face until the match is practically decided. Sixteen games, eight White and eight Black, is a rather short distance for trying one-out experiments at an early stage. Anand used the Scandinavian to good effect (it makes no difference that he lost) only when he thought there was no reasonable chance to fight back by normal means. Likewise, Kramnik cannot afford not to use his basic weapons at this stage. Maybe he can keep a big surprise or two for the middle of the match, but he and Kasparov must decide on which openings they will fight the main battles right now. After six games, both teams should know what they should concentrate on.]
[Kasparov has also essayed a more traditional approach with 1...d5 , when equality without risks was his primary aim. Here, however, he is probably interested to know Kramnik's main weapons right from the start of the match and prefers an asymmetrical approach. Without a doubt, he believes that his opening armoury is both better and wider, so that he will be able to adapt quickly to any surprises by his opponent. Besides, after his luckluster effort in the 1st game, he must show that he is ready for a full fight.]
2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5
[The Grunfeld Defence has been a favorite battleground in games between the same opponents. Therefore, a theoretical battle should be expected. Kasparov developed it as a primary weapon for his World Championship matches against Karpov in London/Leningrad 1986 and Seville 1987. This choice initially surprised most people, especially compared to his previous favourite King's Indian, but it gradually became clear that the Grunfeld fits in very well with Kasparov's style: asymmetrical and combative, it offers great scope for developing an initiative with Black, mainly because of the liquidity of the pawn structure.]
[The Exchange Variation has always been Kramnik's basic choice against the Grunfeld. The challenger seemed satisfied to defuse the Champion's attacking intentions with Black, but he certainly is ready to fight with White.]
4...Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5
[The basic idea behind most asymmetrical openings is to allow White full occupation of the centre and attack it subsequently. If the central pawns do not have adequate piece support, they may prove vulnerable and then White will have to make some concessions. These in turn may be taken advantage of by Black, in order to acquire some kind of superiority and challenge for the whole point.
White, on the other hand, retains full mobility of his central pawns, as there is a choice between e4-e5 or d4-d5, according to circumstances.]
[In the last Grunfeld encounter between the same opponents, in
Wijk aan Zee 2000, Kramnik tried 8.h3 and Kasparov had to fight very
hard for the half point: 8...0-0 9.Be2 b5 10.Be3 Bb7 11.Qd3 cxd4
12.cxd4 Nd7 13.0-0 Nb6 14.Qb1 Na4 15.Qxb5 Nc3 16.Qxb7 Nxe2+ 17.Kh1
Nxd4 18.Rad1 e5 19.Nxe5 Bxe5 20.f4 Bg7 21.e5 Qb6 22.Qxb6 axb6 23.Bxd4
Rxa2 24.Bxb6 Re8 25.Bd8 Ra6 26.Bc7 Rae6 27.g4 g5 28.f5 Rc6 29.Rd7 Bxe5
30.Re1 f6 31.Bxe5 Rxe5 32.Rxe5 fxe5 33.Re7 h5 34.Kg2 hxg4 35.hxg4 Rc4
36.Kf3 Rf4+ 37.Kg3 e4 . At this point, the players finally agreed to a
10...Qa5 9.Qd2 Bg4
[An important alternative is 9...0-0 .]
[This move was apparently played for the first time by Ivancuk against Timman in 1992. The capture 10...Bxf3 is extremely risky: 11.gxf3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Nc6 (after 13...b6 14.Bb5+ or 14.Rc1 Black will have great trouble activating the Rs) 14.d5 0-0-0 15.Ba6 bxa6 (no better is 15...Na5 16.Rhc1+ Kb8 17.Rc5 and Black is deep trouble) 16.Rhc1 Rd6 17.Ke2 Kc7 18.Bc5 Kd7 19.Rb7+ (of course, not 19.Bxd6 Nd4+ and 20...Kxd6 which keeps Black in the game) 19...Kc8 (now, however, after 19...Kd8 20.Bxd6 Nd4+ 21.Kd2 exd6 22.Rcc7 the chances of survival are negligible) 20.Bxd6 Kxb7 21.dxc6+ Kb6 22.Bxe7 Rc8 23.Bc5+ Kb5 (immediately losing is 23...Kxc6 24.Bf8+) 24.Bxa7 Rxc6 (in effect resigning the game, but the position was technically won in any case) 25.a4+ and 1-0 in Rivas-Kir.Georgiev Plovdiv 1984.;
It is imperative for Black to prevent 11.Rb5 and 12.Rxc5, when all of the pressure on the White centre is relieved (aside from winning a pawn), since the imaginative variation 10...Nc6 11.Rb5 cxd4 12.Rxa5 dxe3 13.Qxe3 Nxa5 does not work. Black's delay of castling becomes very serious after 14.Bb5+ , otherwise the positional Q offer would be quite satisfactory.]
[This seems to be a novelty. The Timman-Ivanchuk encounter in Linares 1992 saw 11.Rb3 with an eventual draw after an interesting battle. The pawn capture is risky because it exposes the R, but it also adds pressure on e7 and may thus provoke the delay of Black's castling.]
[A typical reaction, counterattacking the White centre. I suspect Kramnik chose deliberately another variation in which Kasparov's apparent best choice is to exchange Qs.]
12.gxf3 Nc6 13.Bc4
[The challenger played this move quickly, which indicates that he had prepared everything beforehand. The a2-g8 diagonal is a favourite destination of the white-squared B in this variation, especially when pressure on f7 can be combined with other pieces. On the other hand, the B often becomes the target of enemy pieces on c4, either a R on the c-file or the N by ...Nc6-a5 or ...Nc6-e5 at an appropriate moment.]
13...0-0 14.0-0 cxd4
[Hereabouts, Kasparov was spending a lot of time. He was probably searching for a way to keep active counterplay without entering the endgame.]
[This move aims to take advantage of the exposed position of the enemy R, by attacking it at the right moment with the N.
The "easy" choice is 15...Qxd2 16.Bxd2 (it is important that the square a5 remains under White's control) 16...Nxd4 17.Kg2 e6 , leading to a rather typical Grunfeld ending. Although material is equal in the formal sense, things are far from easy. White's pawn weaknesses are negligible, while the pair of Bs may prove valuable with so many open lines. White already has one active R, while the strong Nd4 blocks the activity of Black's B.
Overall, I think Kramnik wishes to put psychological pressure on Kasparov, by demonstrating he can easily get better endgames than the World Champion with White. Even if Kasparov manages to draw such a position, he must suffer much more than Kramnik in the first game.
It is worth noting that in this kind of ending once again Kasparov would lack any meaningful pawn breaks, while tactical complications are unlikely to dominate the proceedings. Could this be part of a deep match strategy by Kramnik? And can Kasparov successfully avoid it?];
Another way to keep tension is 15...Qh5 , combining central pressure with kingside threats (in particular, the idea of a perpetual check from g4 and f3 is not uncommon in this type of position).
After 16.Kg2 the variation 16...Nxd4 (worse is 16...Rfd8 17.d5 Ne5 18.Be2; , while after 16...Bxd4 17.Bxd4 Rad8 18.Bd5 Nxd4 19.Qxd4 e6 the same position occurs with transposition of moves) 17.Bxd4 Rad8 18.Bd5 Bxd4 19.Qxd4 e6 leads to some complications, but White avoids them easily and obtains a superior position with A) the initially attractive 20.Qf6 exd5 21.e5 (a typical variation with the perpetual check mentioned earlier is 21.Rxf7 Rxf7 22.Qxd8+ Kg7 23.Qxd5 Qxf3+ 24.Kg1 Qg4+; , while White should avoid traps like 21.Rd1 dxe4 22.Rxd8 Qxf3+ 23.Qxf3 exf3+ 24.Kxf3 Rxd8 etc.) with the threat 22.e6 is easily repulsed by 21...Rde8 ; B) 20.Rd1 20...exd5 21.exd5 . This is definitely not the kind of position Kasparov desires, only to avoid an inferior endgame...]
[Obviously not 16.Qxa5 Nxa5 when an equal ending likely occurs, but it makes sense to attack the piece that protects two fellow ones. Since Kramnik decides to enter the complicatons, an interesting question is whether he is still following home analysis. Any extra thinking time that was invested in this choice may contain a subtle psychological bluff, luring Kasparov to believe that he has managed to get out of his opponent's plans. Kramnik can afford to do that, because he already has a considerable advantage on the clock.]
[By far the best retreat, as the Q keeps control of her enemy counterpart's flight square a3 and at the same time prepares to attack the kingside via the c1-h6 diagonal. In particular, she may move to f4 in order to add pressure on f7, a theme quite likely to persist well into the endgame now.
Reportedly Kramnik thought for about 40 minutes on this choice, indicating that he is on his own by now. Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that he missed 15...Bxd4 in his preparations, as it is a move most computer programs are likely to examine and Kasparov's team would surely discover it if they had even scratched the surface of the variation.]
[An important alternative at this point is 17...Rac8 , establishing an indirect connection between the R and the White Q. A likely continuation then would be 18.Bb6 A) 18...Nd4 is proved wrong after 19.Bxa5 Ne2+ 20.Kg2 Nxc1 21.Rxc1 (if White does not like the following variation, another promising choice is 21.Bxc3 Rxc3 22.Rxe7) 21...Bxa5 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Rxe7 Rc7 (or 23...Rf8 24.Ra7 etc,) 24.Re8+ (not 24.Bxf7+ , when Black should draw the opposite-color B ending 24...Kg7 25.Rxc7 Bxc7) 24...Kg7 25.Ra8 and the win of a second pawn offers White substantial chances; B) 18...Qb4 19.a3 Qb2 20.Qxb2 Bxb2 21.Bc5 (21.Rb1 Bxa3 22.Ra1 is unpromising) 21...Bf6 (not 21...Bd4 22.Bxd4 Nxd4 23.Rxe7 Nxf3+ 24.Kg2 with a considerable advantage, e.g. 24...Nd2 25.Rd1 Rc2 26.Ra7) 22.Bxc6 Rxc6 23.Bxe7 Bxe7 24.Rxe7 Rc3 25.Kg2 Rxa3 26.Rb1 and the plan of doubling Rs on the 7th rank in conjunction with the advance of the e-pawn may become quite annoying for Black.]
[The Q could "triangulate" with 18.Qd1 in order to take advantage of the exposed N, but then Black would continue 18...e6 (not 18...e5 19.Bh6) 19.Bxd4 (19.Bc4 Rfd8 would be quite pointless) A) worse is 19...Bxd4 20.Qxd4 Rad8 21.Rd1 (the attempt 21.Qf6 would lead to a sub-variation similar to one mentioned in the note after 15th move after 21...exd5 22.e5 Rde8 , also with satisfactory play for Black) 21...exd5 22.exd5 and the passed d-pawn offers a persistent pull; B) 19...exd5 20.Bxc3 (after 20.exd5 Qxd5 the Rb7 is hanging) 20...Qxc3 21.exd5 (obviously not 21.Qxd5 Qxf3; while nothing much is achieved by 21.Rb3 Qa5 either) 21...Rad8 22.Ra7 (also useless are 22.d6 Qc6; and 22.Rb3 Qa5) 22...Qc5 23.Rxa6 Rxd5 and White can only lose this position with major pieces and an exposed King.]
18...Bxd4 19.Rxe7 Ra7
[Practically forced, otherwise the pressure against f7 could soon become unbearable.]
[After massive exchanges, the game has entered a new stage, in which White has a distinct superiority. Whether intentionally or not, Kramnik has achieved the kind of endgame he probably wants at this stage of the match: no danger with good chances of pressing on for many moves.
As most annotators never tire to repeat in such positions, the distinguishing feature of the battle to come is the opposite-color Bs. Anything one attacks cannot be defended by the other, therefore the inferior side should take its chances in the endgame. By retaining at least a pair of major pieces, however, Kramnik may try to capitalize on his extra pawn.]
[A very useful idea. Before activating Q and R, White places some pawns on black squares, in order to hinder the activity of the enemy B. This strategic approach was first established by Capablanca, with the express aim to control space economically: the white B and Ps must perform complementary functions rather than repetitious ones.
Much worse would be 21.Qg5 , since after 21...Qb6 (worse is 21...Qd8 , when a typical transition to the endgame would be 22.Qxd8 Rxd8 23.Rc1 Rd7 24.Rc6 a5 25.Ra6 etc.; , or 21...Bb8 22.Rc1) the R becomes tied down to the defence of f2 and nothing comes out of 22.f4 Kg7 etc.]
[Not, of course, 22.Qc6 Qh4 , since the Q must quard the kingside. White's primary attacking piece shall be the R, an almost perfectly designed companion to the B for combining pressure on a single point.]
[I am not sure this is the best move. I understand why Kasparov would not like to choose 22...Qh4 , since after 23.Qg3 (White must be extra careful, because in the variation 23.Qf3 Rc8 the roles of attacker and defender may be easily reversed) 23...Qxg3+ 24.hxg3 Rb8 (after 24...Rc8 White gets the extra option 25.Rb1 Rc2 26.Rb7 Bxf2+ 27.Kg2 , but then Black obtains more chances for a draw after 27...Be1+ 28.Kh3 Rc3 29.Rxf7 Rxg3+ 30.Kh2 Kh8 31.e5 Re3 32.e6 Bb4 , therefore 27.Kh1 is indicated again) 25.Rc1 Rb2 26.Rc7 Bxf2+ 27.Kh1 (better than 27.Kf1 Bxg3 28.Rxf7 Kh8) 27...Bxg3 28.Rxf7 Kh8 29.e5 Re2 30.e6 Bh4 31.Bc4 he faces an uphill battle.;
However, it seems to me that with 22...Qb6 Black would be still fully in the game.]
[Now Kramnik's R is certain to be activated before his opponent's.]
23...Qh4 24.e5 g5
[Absolutely necessary. If Kasparov hesitates even slightly, the enemy R will reach b7 with alarming speed and all of White's pieces will be better than their counterparts.]
[Nothing much is achieved after 25.fxg5 Qxg5+ (superior to 25...Bxe5 26.Qg2 , planning Rf1-e1-e4 and possibly g5-g6) 26.Kh1 Qxe5 27.Rg1+ Kh8 28.Qg2 , when neither side can make any serious progress. Kramnik must fight for the initiative, even if it means exchanging the Qs: one should not forget that he has an extra P, even if it is doubled, as it may be traded in for a healthier one.]
[Kasparov decides to take his chances in the endgame, since 25...gxf4 looks quite dangerous after 26.e6 (much worse is 26.Kh1 Kh8; , while 26.Re4 Kh8 27.Rxf4 Qg5+ may be tenable for Black) 26...fxe6 27.Rxe6 Kh8 28.Rxa6 etc.]
26.Qxf4 gxf4 27.e6
[Of course, White must press on. In all other cases, Black will play 27...Re8 and achieve complete equality.]
27...fxe6 28.Rxe6 Kg7 29.Rxa6
[The game has entered a new stage, in which Kasparov is undoubtedly suffering. A pure B ending would be easily drawn, but the presence of the Rs allows the superior side to combine the advance of the free pawn with threats on the opposite side of the board. In particular, White will try to attack the h-pawn, which means the defending side should try to form a barrier with the R along a horizontal line. Because, however, its own f-pawn restricts considerably the mobility of the black B, Black should probably lose in the long run.]
29...Rf5 30.Be4 Re5 31.f3
[The B-P combination guarantees control of the centre, so the white King will soon be able to advance.]
[This retreat could be the beginning of a "zoning" defence on the 7th rank, but this plan is ultimately doomed to failure. White will advance the a-pawn together with the King and then either sacrifice the R for the B or attack something on the other side.
The next few moves indicate that Kasparov plays without a plan. Possibly he was under serious time pressure, but the position is hopeless anyway.]
32.a4 Ra7 33.Rb6 Be5 34.Rb4 Rd7
[If Black sits tight, Kramnik will advance the King unhindered.]
35.Kg2 Rd2+ 36.Kh3 h5 37.Rb5 Kf6 38.a5 Ra2 39.Rb6+ Ke7
[Incredible! Kasparov blunders a whole piece, admittedly in a cheerless position. Even time trouble cannot account for this. The only way to keep fighting was 39...Kg7 , although there should be no doubt about the outcome after 40.a6 . A sample line is 40...Bd4 41.Rg6+ Kh8 (or 41...Kf7 42.Rd6 Be5 43.Bd5+ winning the R) 42.Rd6 Be3 43.Kh4 Rxh2+ 44.Kg5 Ra2 45.Kf6 and mate is very close now. Such continuations are indicative of the power of coordination between pieces with complementary properties.]
[40.Bd5 Black can only set a silly trap with 40...Re2 (easily losing is 40...Rxa5 41.Re6+ Kd7 42.Rxe5 Kd6 43.Rxh5 Rxd5 44.Rxd5+ Kxd5 45.Kg4 Ke5 46.Kg5) 41.a6 Bd4 42.a7 Bg1 , but White will play simply 43.Kh4 (and not 43.a8Q Rxh2#) 43...Rxh2+ 44.Kg5 winning easily. Apparently, Kasparov still had one minute left when he gave up the struggle.
AFTER THE RESULT
Kramnik not only scored a most important point, but also dominates the match psychologically. In both games he controlled the flow of the battle, never really giving Kasparov a chance to impose his style. I expected the World Champion to have difficulties with such an approach, but never to crack so quickly under pressure.
This promises to be an exciting match!
NOTE: These notes were completed a little after 10:00p.m. (Greek time) and without the use of a computer program. Therefore, I ask to be excused for any big mistakes that may have crept in and welcome all corrections and additions to my comments.
Ilias Kourkounakis] 1-0