[NOTE: After the unexpectedly quick draw in Game 7, I thought it possible to revise my earlier notes for Game 6. Since it was a very complicated game and I produced the text less than 3 hours after the game finished, I decided to recheck my analysis and incorporate ideas from other commentators. I kept the basic skeleton intact, but added quite a bit and amended even more. In those cases where I used original ideas or variations by others, I tried to give credit to whom it was due. Those of you who are patient enough, read on! The players gave us a lot to think about for a very long time.
P.S.: This second version was completed around 1:00a.m. (Greek time), Friday, October 20.
Despite Kramnik's failure to win Game 4, Kasparov could not impress with White in the very next encounter and allowed his opponent a precious moment of relaxation. The Challenger has clearly dominated the first part of the match, but at some point the beast in Kasparov is bound to awaken.
Meanwhile, the opening of Game 6 should tell us a lot about the players' psychological state.]
[By now it should be clear that the experiment with 1.e4 was just a bluff. Kramnik will probably continue with 1.d4 throughout the match, possibly throwing in;
1.Nf3 once, if he ever gets a 2-point lead.]
1...d5 2.c4 dxc4
[Most interesting! Kasparov equally declares that he prepared the Queen's Gambit Accepted as a major opening weapon for the entire match, not as a temporary substitute while the Grunfeld Defence is in the repair shop. He also argues that the opening battle ended satisfactorily for Black in Game 4, despite his later troubles.
On the other hand, he seems to admit that he is not yet ready to continue the Grunfeld debate...]
3.Nf3 e6 4.e3 c5 5.Bxc4 a6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.a4
[In Game 4 Kramnik chose 7.dxc5, a safe continuation that allowed him to follow his general match strategy of exchanging Qs and depriving Kasparov of any meaningful pawn breaks. Now he goes for a much sharper approach, showing that he is willing to press for the full point in other ways as well.]
[The double advance of the a-pawn has some distinct advantages and disadvantages: it severely restricts Black's queenside counterplay with ...b7-b5, but cedes the important square b4 to the enemy minor pieces. The latter fact is quite important, because a N can use it to transfer itself to the critical square d5 and also to prevent a "battery" of B and Q on the b1-h7 diagonal. Nevertheless, quite a few top players are willing to play this with White, which means they value its positive aspects more highly.]
7...Nc6 8.Qe2 cxd4 9.Rd1
[A typical tactical trick in this kind of position. After 9.exd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Qxd4 White does not get enough compensation for the central P. If the moves a2-a4 and ...a7-a6 had not been inserted there would be access to the important square b5, but now...
The downside of the R move is that White commits himself to a certain placement of his major pieces for some time to come. Quite often, the side with the isolated d-pawn prefers to post the other R on d1 and use this one on either of the e- or f- files.]
[All standard theory so far, with a typical isolated d-pawn. It is strange to see Kasparov defending this kind of position, but at least here the Qs are much less likely to be exchanged. Also, Kramnik must now use his central superiority to prepare an attack against the King, not his favourite role.]
10...0-0 11.Nc3 Nd5
[The only other way of preventing the breakthrough d4-d5 is 11...Nb4 , but this relinguishes control of e5 too early.]
[Although the variation 7.a4 became popular after Botvinnik used it in the 1963 World Championship match against Petrosian, one of the most famous clashes in this type of position is Petrosian(!)-Spassky, Moscow (Alekhine Memorial) 1971: 12.Qe4 Ncb4 13.Ne5 Ra7 14.Bb3 Nf6 15.Qh4 b6 16.Qg3 Bb7 17.Bh6 Ne8 18.Rac1 Kh8 19.d5 exd5 20.Be3 Ra8 21.Nc4 Nd6 22.Bxb6 Qb8 23.Na5 Nf5 24.Qxb8 Raxb8 25.Nxb7 Rxb7 26.a5 Bg5 27.Rb1 d4 28.Nd5 Nc6 29.Ba4 Rc8 30.f4 Nce7 31.Rbc1 Rcb8 32.fxg5 Nxd5 33.Bc6 Rxb6 34.axb6 Nde3 35.b7 Nxd1 36.Rxd1 g6 37.g4 Ng7 38.Rxd4 Ne6 39.Rd7 and 1-0.
Kramnik's move is not so easy to explain without going to some depth in the specifics of the position. One of Black's biggest problems when playing against the isolani concerns the development of the white-squared B and consequently the Ra8. Moving the B on d7 keeps e6 sufficiently defended, but interferes with control of d5. Spassky (as did many after him) tried using the long diagonal, but ...b7-b6 weakens the square c6. In that case it is often useful for White to exchange on d5, because Black is forced to recapture with the pawn and the c-file opens up new possibilities exactly because c6 is undefended (an excellent example of this strategy is the famous Botvinnik-Alekhine game from the historic A.V.R.O. 1938 event). It is evident that such a course of events would be even more favorable for White if he could exchange N for N rather than B for N (as Botvinnik had done) and in addition at the crucial moment he did not have to lose time by retreating the B. Therefore it makes perfect sense to make this "prophylactic" move now, when Black cannot do something eminently constructive.]
[12...b6 allows White to assume the initiative with 13.Nxd5 exd5 14.Ne5 etc.]
[A typical ...Kasparov sacrifice from Kramnik. The World Champion has used such pawn offers ever since his younger days to launch dangerous attacks. I remember being present in one of his less successful attempts against the Hungarian GM Groszpeter (the game ended in a draw) in one of his most successful tournaments (under-26 Olympiad, Graz 1981, where he scored +8=2).
But it should be noted that Kramnik himself used a similar approach in his earlier encounter against Hubner in this year's Dortmund tournament. This is definitely a game that introduces a new phase of the match.
A secondary advantage of the pawn advance is that White no longer has to worry about back-rank ideas.
Two important alternatives that have been used at a high level are 13.Ne5 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qc7 16.Rd3 Bd7 17.Rh3 g6 18.Bh6 Red8 19.Qe3 Qc5 20.Qf4 Bc6 21.Re1 b5 with Black eventually winning in Naumkin-Sadler, Oostende 1992, and;
13.Bd2 Bf6 14.Qe4 Ncb4 15.Ne5 b6 16.Qf3 Bb7 17.Ne4 Qe7 18.Rac1 Rac8 with a balanced position in Gelfand-Ivanchuk, Monaco 2000.;
Finally, two other options worth mentioning are 13.Ne4 ;
and 13.Qe4 .]
[It is easy to calculate that the pawn cannot be taken immediately with 13...Bxh4 14.Nxh4 Qxh4 (14...Nxc3 reverts to the main line) because of 15.Bxd5 , but the intermediate capture;
13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Bxh4 15.Nxh4 Qxh4 also runs into serious difficulties after 16.Rd3 . White's pieces are very easy to coordinate, while the Black King lacks sufficient protection. It is highly unlikely that either player went to any depth in the resulting position.]
[14...h6 would be a definite strategic mistake at this point, because it would weaken the g6 square and the b1-h7 diagonal, besides creating without sufficient reason a juicy target of the h-pawn itself.;
Another typical option is 14...Bd7 15.Ne5 Bc6 , avoiding some queenside weaknesses but temporarily closing the c-file for counterplay.]
[White cannot do without this move at some point or other. Sometimes sacrifices on f7 are threatened, while partial control of c6 and d7 should not be underestimated. Exchanging this N is hardly ever desirable for Black, as it may be replaced by a pawn that controls both d6 and f6, crucial squares that are often used by defending pieces.]
[The battlelines have been clearly drawn, with White dominating the centre and Black finding good squares for all his pieces. Kramnik's black-squared B has trouble locating an active spot, but Kasparov has been reduced once more to pure piece manouvring without pawn breaks.]
[A noteworthy advance at the edge of the board, with obvious intentions regarding the centre. Kramnik wishes to secure c5 for the Nc3, in order to increase his space advantage and repress counterplay via the c-file. On the other hand, the pawn itself may become weak and require some protection.
GM Shipov, in his notes for the KasparovChess Internet site, also mentions 16.Qg4 and the attractive continuation 16...Rc8 17.Bd2 Nf6 18.Bxe6 , however he points out himself that it leads only to a draw after 18...Nxg4 19.Nxf7 Qxd4 20.Ng5+ Kh8 (of course, not 20...Kf8 21.Nxh7#) 21.Nf7+ etc. White is not yet ready for an all-out kingside attack, so Kramnik prefers to build up small advantages along the entire front.]
[The capture 16...bxa5 is both very anti-positional and tactically deficient: 17.Ba4 Rf8 18.h6 (an important intermediate move, since after 18.Nd7 Re8 19.Nc5 Bc6 the typical shot 20.Nxe6 fails to conclude the battle because of 20...Qd7 and now either 21.Nf4 Nxc3 22.bxc3 Bxa4 or 21.Bxc6 Qxc6 allow Black to defend against all immediate threats) 18...g6 19.Nd7 Re8 20.Qe5 Nf6 21.Nc5 Bc6 22.Nxe6 wins material for White.;
However, Kramnik's second Lautier mentions that the move of the game came as surprise to the Challenger, who expected something like 16...Rc8 , leaving the b-pawn in its place and accelerating Black's queenside counterplay.]
[One more important decision with long-term consequences that are not at all easy to evaluate. Kramnik fixes the pawn structure on the kingside, which means he can no longer dream of ever using the g-file and may also have a vulnerable weakness in most endgames (on h5 the pawn would be much less accessible to enemy pieces). On the other hand, he creates significant weaknesses on g7 and f6, which allow him to conjure up a variety of threats.
In any case, this style of play, combining operations on very distant parts of the board reminds one of Alekhine and one of his admirers during his formative period, namely ...Gary Kasparov!]
[Now it is Kasparov's turn to decide on a plan that will cover several moves in the near future. Any rearrangement of his pieces is likely to change the course of the game permanently.]
[An unexpected retreat by the World Champion, of the best placed black piece, and one that received strong criticism by Lautier. The truth is that the N performs admirable defensive functions from c7: it defends e6 and a6, while it frees the white-square B. Now that White has commited several pawns on black squares, an exchange of white-square Bs is especially welcome to Black. The only serious defect of the N move is that it temporarily blocks the Q's access to a5, thus freeing the Ra1 to join the attack, possibly via the 3rd rank.
In any case, one would expect more a move like 18...Rc8 searching for counterplay on the only completely open file.;
Another interesting "backward" move is 18...Nc6 , but the threat to the a-pawn is nothing to write home about. After 19.Qf3 (of course, not 19.Nc5 Nxd4) 19...Rf8 (the capture 19...Nxe5 emphasizes too many weaknesses on black squares after 20.dxe5) 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Nc5 Bf6 23.Bf4 Re8 24.Qg3 White enjoys better control of the black squares.;
Just for the record, the routine 18...Nf6 , again planning to exchange minor pieces, would constitute a typical mistake, because of the equally routine 19.Nxf7 Kxf7 20.Ng5+ etc.]
[Shipov offers the variation 19.Qf3 Rf8 20.Nf6+ Bxf6 21.Qxb7 Ncd5 (in order to prevent the Q's escape) 22.Bd2 Rb8 23.Qd7 Bxe5 24.Qxd8 Bh2+ (avoiding the capture of the B by the P) 25.Kxh2 Rfxd8 as leading to a balanced position, but it seems to me the Ns are at least equal to the Bs in such a fight with almost no open diagonals and absolutely no pawn breaks. Furthermore, any exchange of minor pieces would expose several weakenesses in White's camp, so one of the most important advantages of the B pair would be non-existent.;
Lautier, having consulted with his boss for the event, prefers 19.Bd2 , e.g. 19...Bd5 (he also claims 19...Qxd4 20.Ng5 is too dangerous to contemplate) 20.Bxd5 Ncxd5 21.Rac1 f6 (but he does not even bother analysing 21...Qxa5 , presumably because of 22.Nc6 Qb6 23.Nxe7+ Rxe7 24.Bxb4 Nxb4 25.Nf6+ etc.) 22.Bxb4 Nxb4 23.Nc6 Nxc6 24.Rxc6 Bf8 (of course, not 24...Qd5 25.Rd6) 25.d5 with a powerful initiative.]
[Changing the blockader was a favourite Nimzowitsch strategy. Here it aims at removing from the board one of the most dangerous enemy pieces. The end result is a distinct superiority of both armies on squares of the color that is opposite to their name. Such a distribution in control of space is very typical after a transitional phase of many games.]
[This possibility demonstrates clearly why White's black-squared B does not really have to be developed (it is worth noting the conceptual similarity with Kramnik's 15...h5 in Game 1, as well as 17...Rg8 and 19...Rg6 in Game 3). The overall coordination of the pieces is a much more important consideration that the position of any single piece.
In this particular situation, the deciding factor will be whether Kasparov manages to keep enough tension in the centre, in order to prevent a full-scale kingside attack.]
[Kasparov is clearly aiming for the exchange of several pieces, in order to relieve the pressure. His tactical threat ...Nxd4 is incidental, but forces Kramnik to make a decision.
Another possibility was 20...Qd6 , but after 21.Bxd5 Black must be careful not to reply 21...Nbxd5 (best seems 21...exd5 ) 22.Rf3 Bf6 (or 22...Rf8 23.Ncd7) 23.Ne4 Qe7 24.Bg5 Bxg5 25.Rxf7 Qd8 26.Rg7+ Kf8 27.Nd7+ etc. Also interesting was;
20...Bf6 , but it leaves c5 completely in enemy hands.
Around this point, both players had close to half an hour of thinking time available until the 40th move.]
[The sally 21.Nb7 proves inadequate after 21...Qc8 22.Bxd5 (or 22.Nxc6 Bxc6) 22...Nxd5 23.Rf3 Nxe5 (worse is 23...Qxb7 24.Rxf7 Nxe5 25.Qxe5 Bf6 26.Rxb7 Bxe5 27.dxe5 etc.) 24.Qxe5 f6 25.Qe4 Qxb7 26.Qxe6+ Kh8 (26...Kf8 seems also sufficient) 27.Qf7 Rg8 and the remaining White pieces lack coordination to create any real threats.;
Another move that could be considered, however, is Shipov's suggestion 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Bc2 to open the 3rd rank for the R, e.g. 22...Bf6 23.Bf4 Nd5 24.Be5 , but Black can insert 22...Nd5 with satisfactory play.]
[Probably better than the immediate 22.Nxc6 Qxc6 , while after; 22.Ned7 Rad8 White is not prepared to answer both 23...Rxd7 and 23...Nxd4.]
[The blunder 22...Bxa3 permits a very photogenic "family" check ( 23.Nf6+ ), while;
22...Nxd4 leads to immediate disaster after 23.Qg4 . Finally, the attempt to win a piece by;
22...f6 proves extremely dangerous after Kramnik's planned 23.Rad3 (Shipov offes only 23.Nxg6 hxg6 24.Nb6 Qd6 -not 24...Qd8 25.Qe4- 25.Qg4 Kh7 26.Bf4 with a very strong attack in return for a small material investment by White.) , e.g. 23...fxe5 24.dxe5 Qc4 (or 24...Qa2 25.Rc3) 25.Nb6 and White will soon win material. The main variation is mentioned in Lautier's notes.]
[Here 23.Rc3 may run into trouble, if after 23...Rxd7 White avoids the pointless continuation 24.Nxc6 Bd6 and goes for the more tempting 24.Nxd7 (of course, not 24.Rxc6 f6) 24...Qxd7 25.Qc2 : a N vs. R dance follows with 25...Nd5 (or 25...Nb4 26.Rxc7 Qd8 27.Qc3 Nd5 , a remarkable echo in a real game, if only through simple move transposition) 26.Rxc6 Nb4 27.Rc7 Qd8 (not 27...Qd6 28.Qc5) 28.Qc3 Nd5 and Black wins material.;
It should also be mentioned that 23.Nb6 loses immediately to 23...Nxd4 etc.
Reports have it that at this point Kramnik had only 9 minutes left against 22 for Kasparov.]
[Of course, not 23...Qxc6 24.Qe5 etc., a typical variation that justifies the earlier advance 17.h6, at a moment when time was not pressing.]
[The alternative 24.Ne5 is proven much inferior by 24...Bxa3 25.Nxd7 Qxd7 26.bxa3 Nd5 , as Black will soon get full control of the c-file and cover all his black-square weaknesses with a timely ...f7-f6.]
[This is the only correct capture, as the possibility ...e6-e5 mentioned a little later requires two major pieces on the d-file.]
[After massive exchanges, a completely new situation has arisen on the board. Black has managed to remove many threatening enemy minor pieces and left on the board only the "bad" black-squared B, but the h-pawn could become extremely dangerous and the c-file should not be sneered at. Kasparov will probably play ...f7-f6 and ...Kg8-f7 at some point, but there are other considerations as well.
Perhaps the two most salient features of the battle to come are the fight for control of the white squares and the importance of the c-file.]
[The desirable 25.Bf4 , intending to post the B on e5, fails against 25...e5 26.Bg5 Re6 etc. obviously Kasparov had calculated this important detail a long time ago.]
[I have to admit I did not expect this to come so quickly. Since however Black does not have anything more constructive, why not?
A typical misguided attempt is 25...Qa2 when removing the Q from the main battlefront to hunt for a measly pawn is punished immediately with 26.Qe5 Ne8 27.Rc8 and the mate threat can only be answered by 27...f6 , which pawn is simply taken.]
[The first move by the B offers the guidelines for the next stage of the game. White no longer needs major pieces to guard the isolani and will double on the c-file, but he may suffer on the white squares.]
26...Kf7 27.Rdc1 Qb7
[Unfortunately for the World Champion, it is too early for 27...Qe4 , as 28.Rc6 ties up the rest of his pieces in defensive functions.
After the text move, all of Black's five pieces are gathered on the 7th rank, a rather unusual occurence.]
[Further infiltration into the enemy camp with 28.Rc6 is useless, since by 28...Nd5 and ...Rd7-c7 the intruder will be either exchanged or expelled.]
[Once again, the blockader has been changed. The only problem is that Black has only one excellent square for many pieces, so that the one occupying d5 hinders the mobility of the rest.]
[As the immediate entry 29.Rc8 achieves nothing after 29...Re8 30.Rxe8 Kxe8 , Kramnik prefers to create positional threats like 30.Bf4 and 30.Bg5. The drawback to the Q move is that the enemy N is not pinned at all.]
[Kasparov would probably like to try here 29...Rc7 , in an attempt to exchange Rs under circumstances more favourable than in the game, but after 30.Bg5 the weakness of f6 may become too important.]
[The retreat 30...Nd5 would constitute an indirect draw offer, which Kramnik might have well taken at this point (although Lautier claims his player had not made up his mind yet). Obviously Kasparov has higher aspirations now.;
At first I suspected he could have chosen the more energetic 30...Qe4 , now that the N already controls c6 and 31.Rc8 (any attempt to evict the Q from her dominating position with 31.f3 has two clear-cut disadvantages: it weakens the King and White's major pieces can no longer use the square f3, a fact whose significance will soon become apparent) should not really be feared as claimed in my earlier comments: 31...Re8 32.Rxe8 (or 32.R1c7 Ke7) 32...Kxe8 33.Rc8+ Ke7 34.Rh8 Kd6 and the King will assist his R in challenging the c-file.
This note was written before I had a chance to look at Lautier's comments, who mentions a tactical shot I had previously missed: in the midst of my main variation, White can play 34.d5 creating the lethal threat 35.Bc5+, so Black has to settle for 33...Rd8 instead and accept a draw by repetition after 34.Rc7 Rd7 35.Rc8+ etc.
The inevitable conclusion is that Kasparov was never better in this phase of the game, despite any false appearance due to his superior minor piece.]
[Practically forcing the following exchange, thus changing radically the character of the game once again.]
[It might seem wiser to avoid the R exchange with 31...Rcd7 , but then White has the tactical shot 32.Be5 , e.g. 32...Nd5 (of course, not 32...fxe5 33.Qxe5 with a winning attack) 33.Qf3 when Black is tied hand and foot, and alsofacing ideas like 34.Rc8.]
[The alternative capture 32.Rxc5 leads to different kinds of problems: 32...Nd5 (not 32...Qd7 33.Qd2 Nd5 34.Bg3 Re8 35.Qc1 and Black remains tied up) 33.Bg3 (33.Bd6 simply wastes a tempo after 33...Rd7 34.Bg3 Ne7) 33...Rd7 and 34...Ne7 followed by ...Ne7-f5. Now, at least, Kramnik has a passed P that restricts the mobility of the enemy pieces. In addition, he can work on the d-file, a much more promising prospect than its neighbour.]
[This is absolutely necessary, otherwise White will play Bf4-d6 and establish a bind deep inside enemy lines. The problem with this advance is that the N loses its support for the excellent square d5, while also weakening the a2-g8 diagonal.]
[The only way to avoid ceding full control of the white squares. After the game, Kasparov admitted he had overlooked this move when he shunned 30...Nd5. Once again, the World Champion proves vulnerable by underestimating his opponent's attacking possibilities.]
[Kasparov would like to play 33...Nd5 and continue with 34...Qc6, but 34.c6 comes right in time.;
Naturally, the exchange 33...exf4 34.Qxb4 would be most unattractive in view of the threats 35.Qxf4 and 35.c6, for example 34...Qc7 35.c6 Re6 36.Qc5 (or 36.Qd4) followed by 37.Qb6.;
Lautier claims this was the correct moment to play 33...Qe4 , as after 34.Be3 Nc6 35.f3 Qf5 life goes on without any immediate problems. Kramnik's assistant believes the World Champion panicked because he had not forseen his opponent's previous move. If that is the case, once more the reaction to a mistake proves once again to have more serious consequences that the original mistake itself.]
[This diagonal could become quite troublesome for Kasparov. As soon as he begins challenging control of some black squares, he loses his dominance on the white ones.]
[Another option (suggested by Lautier) is 34...Re6 , but after 35.Be3 Qc7 36.Rd1 White dominates the open file completely. Then the capture of the a-pawn is extremely risky, but worthy of further investigation.]
[Unfortunately for Kasparov, 35...Rd7 fails against 36.Qe6 , with Kramnik once again expanding his domain to include significant squares of the lighter complexion.]
[The exchange 36.Qxd7 Rxd7 would lead to an endgame vastly superior for Black, despite the passed P: superior minor piece, more active King, exposed enemy Ps, etc. Similarly,;
36.Qd6 Kf7 makes it hard for White to improve his position, since now 37.Rd1 allows the exchange of the Qs and instant equalization ( 37...Qxd6 38.Rxd6 Re6 39.Rd7+ Re7 40.Rd6 Re6 etc.).]
[Perhaps only at this point in the game Kasparov misses his one and only chance to get a slight overall advantage with 36...Qe6 (suggested by Lautier) 37.Rd1 e4 38.Qf4 g5 39.Qd6 (worse seems 39.Qg3 Rd7) 39...Kf7 when his position appears quite solid.]
[Kasparov is good at challenging the squares with color opposite to his opponent's B, but Kramnik is excellent at occupying open files.]
[Forced, otherwise the enemy R invades d6 with a vengeance, possibly followed by 39.Qd5(+). The only other option 37...Nd4 cannot lead to a happy conclusion after 38.Bxd4 exd4 39.Qa8 etc.]
[Another option is 38.Rxd7 exf3 39.Rd6 , but now it was Kramnik who wished to avoid the draw after 39...Re6 40.Rd7+ Re7 and further repetition of moves.]
[38...Qc8 cannot be better, as now at least the square d5 is partially controlled. In any case, with best play by both sides, the very same position ought to be reached. A typical wrong path for Black then is 39.Rd6 Ne5 40.Qd1 Nd3 41.Qb3+ etc.]
39.Rd6 Re6 40.Rd7+
[A typical trick in time trouble, gaining moves to reach the 40th move control without making any commital decisions.]
40...Re7 41.Rd6 Re6
[Now Kramnik has enough thinking time to contemplate the merits of his position and choose whether to continue the battle or not. In particular, he must determine whether Kasparov has enough chess time available to transfer his N to d3.]
[The challenger goes for it! This must have been a particularly unpleasant moment for Kasparov, who surely knows he has made some mistake in his oppopnent's time trouble. Now he has to defend against both a possible endgame and threats to his King.]
[An inspired idea, despite its obvious risks. The problem with it is that it was played extremely quickly and that there is a much better alternative. 42...Nb4 loses much faster with 43.Rd7+ (or 43.Qb3 Nd3 44.Rxa6) 43...Re7 44.Qb3+ (even better than 44.Rxe7+ Kxe7 45.Qd6+ Ke8 46.c6 Nd3 47.c7 Qd7 48.Qxf6 Qxc7 49.Qh8+ Kd7 50.Qxh7+ Kc8 51.Qxc7+ Kxc7 52.h7) ;
, while typical of the problems faced by Kasparov is the variation 42...Nxa5 43.Rd7+ Re7 44.Rxe7+ Kxe7 45.Qd6+ Ke8 (or 45...Kf7 46.Qc7+ and 47.Qxa5) 46.Qxa6 etc.;
Finally, after 42...Ne5 43.Qd5 Ke7 (N moves like 43...Nd3 run into 44.Rd7+ Kf8 45.Qb7) White can play 44.Bd4 and invasion to the enemy camp is imminent.;
The absolutely best defence is 42...Rxd6 43.Qxd6 (the capture 43.cxd6 can create problems only for White after 43...Ke6 , e.g. 44.d7 Ke7 etc.) 43...Qe6 (also possible seems 43...Qc8 44.Bd4 Qe6 45.Qc7+ Ne7) 44.Qc7+ Ne7 when it is very difficult for White to make significant progress. For example, after 45.Bf4 Qd5 (or 45...Qg4 ) there is no sense in playing 46.Bd6 as it allows immediate perpetual check with 46...Qd1+ 47.Kh2 Qh5+ 48.Kg3 Qg5+ and so on.]
[Kramnik wishes to repeat moves in order to gain thinking time, but in doing so overlooks an important defensive resource. He ought to have preferred 43.Rd7+ right away.]
[Practically forced, as after 43...Kf8 44.g4 (44.Qd1 proves ineffective against 44...Ke8) 44...Qe5 White has the unusual combinative resource 45.Bf4 gxf4 46.Qxe5 Rxe5 47.Rxf6+ Ke8 48.Rxc6 with a won R ending.]
[Initially I thought this was forced, because of the threat 45.Rd7+, but at least I was in good company. Kasparov again responded very quickly and missed 44...Ke8 45.Rd7 Re7 46.Rxe7+ Nxe7 47.Qd6 Qd7 , when once again the perpetual check mechanism comes to his rescue.
It is very strange for a player of this calibre not to appreciate the seriousness of the danger and refrain from investigating every possible defensive resource.]
[Now Kramnik avoids repetition with 45.Qh5+ quite wisely. However, if he wants to play on, he must sacrifice the h-pawn and hipe that his evaluation of the resulting position is correct. In such situations it is practically impossible to calculate everything in advance.]
[The King will be exposed to new dangers here, but there was no alternative. 45...Ne7 leads to a quick loss because of the continuation 46.c6 Rxc6 47.Qh5+ Qg6 (or 47...Ke6 48.Qe8) 48.Qxg6+ hxg6 49.h7 Rc8 50.Bc5 , while;
45...Re7 proves also unsuccessful after 46.Qb3+ Kg6 (not 46...Qe6 47.Qxe6+ Kxe6 48.Rd6+; , while 46...Kf8 fails to 47.Rd6 Rc7 48.Bd4 Nxd4 49.Rd8+ Ke7 50.Qg8 and there is no adequate defence, for example 50...Ne2+ 51.Kf1 Ng3+ 52.Ke1 etc.) 47.Qg8+ Kh5 (or now 47...Kxh6 48.Qf8+) 48.Rxe7 Nxe7 49.Qf7+ Ng6 50.Qxh7 , e.g. 50...Qg4 51.Qg7 Nh4 52.Qf7+ Kxh6 53.Qxf6+ Kh5 (53...Kh7 54.g3 allows White to parry the counterattack without much difficulty, since the King escapes to freedom in the variation 54...Qd1+ 55.Kh2 Nf3+ 56.Kh3) 54.Qh8+ (but here 54.g3 even leads to mate with 54...Qd1+) 54...Kg6 55.Qe8+ Kh6 56.g3 Nf3+ (again 56...Qd1+ 57.Kh2 is useless for Black) 57.Kf1 (as is 57.Kg2 Nh4+ for White) 57...Qh3+ 58.Ke2 Ng1+ 59.Kd2 Nf3+ 60.Kc3 and, finally, the King finds refuge in the open queenside space.
The main line also stems from GM Shipov's analysis on the KasparovChess Internet site.]
[Although this looks like a very strong move, Shipov examines 46.Rc7 as well. The threat 47.Qd7 does not allow Black much room for choice, so that after 46...Qe5 (or 46...Ne5 47.Qd8 Kxh6 48.Qc8 cannot be easily provided against, e.g. 48...Kg6 49.Qg8+ Kh6 50.Rxh7+ Qxh7 51.Qxe6 etc.; , while 46...Kxh6 47.Qd7 Ne7 48.c6 should also lose, for example 48...Qd5 49.b4 to be followed by 50.Bc5) 47.Rg7+ Kxh6 48.Qd7 White just manages to avoid the obstruction of the 7th rank by the R. Then 48...Ne7 (as mentioned, 48...Re7 fails against 49.Rxe7 Nxe7 50.Bd4 Qd5 51.Qd6 etc, while; 48...Qf5 49.Rxh7+ Qxh7 50.Qxe6 is obviously no better) 49.Rf7 threatens both 50.c6 and 50.Bd4 with decisive consequences. The only line that offers some resistance is 49...Kg6 50.Qe8 Kf5 , but again after 51.Qh8 Ng6 52.Qxh7 Re7 (the only way to prevent 53.Rg7) 53.Rxe7 Qxe7 54.g4+ White ends up winning material.
Naturally, one cannot figure out all these complications with limited thinking time, so Kramnik's choice is much more practical.]
[Usually it is Kasparov who sacrifices material for the initiative. In particular, during his 1990 match against Karpov he sacrificed in 22 of the 24 games. Kramnik seems to have found a way to neutralize the World Champion's ambition, in a way nobody has ever done before.]
[Kramnik must have forseen and evaluated this position when he avoided the repetition of moves earlier, counting a lot on the passed P and his control of the most significant lines. Black's forces are completely tied up, but it is not at all easy to tell in advance how to make significant progress with White.]
[Immediately losing is 47...Ne5 48.Rxh7+ Qxh7 49.Qxe6 , when the double threat against f6 and a6 produces a swift decision.]
[The attempt 48.Qc7 Re6 proves insufficient, but worth mentioning is; 48.Qxf5 Rxf5 49.Rc7 , when the only defence is 49...Nxa5 50.b4 Nc4 51.Rd7 Re5 (but not 51...Nxe3 52.fxe3 Re5 53.Rd6 and Black is still in danger) 52.c6 Re6 when Black only appears to be out of the woods.
A likely continuation then is 53.c7 Rc6 54.Ba7 (threatening 55.Bb8 Nb6 56.Rd8 and 57.Ba7 again) 54...a5 55.bxa5 (of course, not 55.Bb8 axb4 56.Rd8 b3 57.c8Q Rxc8 58.Rxc8 b2 and suddenly it is Black who wins the race) 55...Nxa5 (55...b4 56.a6 -but not 56.Bb6 b3 57.Kf1 Na3- 56...Ne5 57.Re7 Ng6 58.Rf7 Ne5 59.Rxf6+ etc.) 56.Bb8 b4 (White should win after 56...Nc4 57.Rd8 Nb6 58.Ba7 Rxc7 59.Bxb6 , since the enemy Ps do not cooperate well, albeit with some difficulty) 57.Rd6 (once again, 57.Rd8 b3 58.c8Q Rxc8 59.Rxc8 b2 fails by just one tempo) 57...Rc1+ 58.Kh2 b3 (otherwise the R gets behind the passed P too quickly, e.g. 58...Kg6 59.Rb6 b3 60.Rb5 etc.) 59.Rxf6+ Kg7 (or 59...Kh5 ) 60.Rb6 Rc5 (the only way to prevent 61.Rb5, but...) 61.Rb5 (anyway!) 61...Rxb5 62.c8Q b2 63.Qd7+ (or 63.Qe8+, if the King stands on h5).
This is a variation impossible to analyse over the board to its very end, as is the game continuation.
Therefore, one should use judgement as well as calculation to choose among them. I am sure Kramnik preferred 48.Qf7 because he believed he could maintain more control over the proceedings, while after 48.Qxf5 both sides have to follow a very narrow, precise path. One tempo may decide the outcome either way, while in the game there are still some alternative winning methods.]
[This is the fourth black piece that lands on d5 (one N and one R never made it, will the King ever?). The apparently desirable retreat 48...Re7 loses to 49.Bxg5+ fxg5 50.Qxf5 , a motif that will dominate the following notes, while no better is;
48...Nd8 49.Rxh7+ Qxh7 50.Qxf6+ and 51.Qxe5, as well as;
48...Nxa5 49.Bd4 Re6 50.Rxh7+ etc.
Now Kasparov is very close to consolidation, since the arrival of the N to e5 will provide him with the dangerous counterthreat of a check on f3.]
[This excellent move was found by my student Haralambos Theoharis and registered in my computer before Kramnik played it (or, should I say, before we received it through the Net). The point is that after 49.Kh2 Black can play 49...Ne5 without fearing 50.Bxg5+ (of course, not 50.Qxd5 Ng4+ and 51...Qxd5) 50...fxg5 51.Qxf5 , as in this position there is the countercombination 51...Nf3+ 52.Qxf3 exf3 with reasonable chances of survival.;
Another interesting possibility is 49.Rxh7+ Qxh7 50.Qxd5 Qc7 (or 50...Nxa5 51.Qd8) 51.Qxe4 with a position very similar to the game. Black then cannot play 51...Nxa5 , since by 52.Qe6 (also good seems 52.f4 , another one of Shipov's suggestions) 52...Qc6 53.Qf7 White threatens both 54.Bd4 and the even stronger idea 54.f4 followed by 55.f5. Also losing is 51...Kg7 52.Qe6, but strong resistance can be offered with 51...Qd7, so Kramnik's choice is once again superior.;
Finally, it is worth mentioning that 49.Rg8 is not as successful after 49...Rd7 50.Bxg5+ (or 50.Rxg5 Rxf7 51.Rxf5+ Kg6 and Black keeps fighting) 50...Qxg5 51.Qxd7 Qxg8 52.Qxc6 Qg5 with the double threat of perpetual check by 53...Qc1+ and 53...e3.;
But the story does not end here. After I had my notes "hung" on the Net, Lautier produced another candidate move I completely missed, that is 49.b4 . His variations run 49...Nxb4 (compared to the game, the variation 49...Nd8 50.Rxh7+ Qxh7 51.Qxd5 does not allow 51...Kg6 with check and Black loses by force, while after; 49...Ne5 50.Bxg5+ fxg5 51.Qxf5 Nf3+ 52.gxf3 Rxf5 53.Ra7 is now winning, since the c-pawn stands protected) 50.Kh2 Nc6 (an important tempo has been won) 51.g4 . My only consolation is that Kramnik also missed this brilliant win.]
[Kramnik's idea was that after 49...Rd1+ 50.Kh2 Rd5 (or any other meaningless "pass" by Kasparov) 51.g4 the pawn cannot be taken with check.;
Lautier also mentions the trap 49...b4 50.g4 (a mistake now) 50...Rd1+ 51.Kh2 Nd4 (but not 51...Ne5 52.Bxg5+ fxg5 53.Qxf5 Nf3+ 54.Qxf3 exf3 55.Ra7) 52.f4 (naturally White has to avoid yet one more kind of perpetual check which occurs after 52.gxf5 Nf3+ etc., while; 52.Bxd4 Qf4+ even gets him mated) 52...Nf3+ (obviously not 52...Qxg4 53.Rxh7#) 53.Kg3 Rg1+ 54.Kf2 Rxg4 55.Qf8 Rg2+ (or 55...Kh5 56.Qf7+ with White this time forcing a repetition, since 56...Kh4 57.Rxh7+ is unplayable) 56.Kxg2 Qg4+ 57.Kf1 (not 57.Kf2 Qg1+ 58.Ke2 Qe1#) 57...Qh3+ 58.Ke2 Qg2+ 59.Bf2 (or 59.Kd1 Qf1+ 60.Kc2 Qd3+) 59...Ng1+ 60.Ke1 (the B should not be taken with check, while 60.Ke3 Qf3+ 61.Kd4 ends in disaster with 61...Qd3#) 60...Nf3+ , which however he provides for by the simple retort 50.b3, when Black is called upon to find another useful move!]
[Now a position very similar to the note on the possibility 49.Rxh7+ is reached, except that the N has retreated to d8. Nevertheless, Shipov considers this move inferior and proposes instead 50.Qf8 (now that the R can no longer return to d8). Unusually so, there is an omission in his analysis: after 50...Kh5 (not 50...Rd1+ 51.Kh2 Ne6 52.Rxg5+ -of course, not 52.Bxg5+ Qxg5- 52...Nxf8 53.Rxf5+ Kg6 54.c6 -Lautier stops here, claiming the line is not sufficient for White- 54...Rd8 55.Rd5 Rc8 56.Rd6 Kf7 57.c7 Rxc7 58.Rxa6 with a winning endgame) 51.Qh8 he examines only 51...h6 52.Qe8+ Kh4 53.Rg6 h5 54.Rh6 Rd1+ (or 54...Qg4 55.g3+ Kh3 56.Rxh5+ Qxh5 57.Qxh5#) 55.Kh2 Qe5+ (check) 56.g3+ (and countercheck) 56...Kg4 57.Qxh5+ Kf5 when the very best is 58.Qh3+ g4 59.Qh5+ (a switchback) 59...Ke6 60.Qe8+ Kd5 (60...Kf5 61.Rh5#) 61.Qxd8+ and 62.Qxd1, but fails to mention the simple retreat 51...Kh6 to which White's only winning move is 52.g4.]
[The best practical chance. After 51...Qc7 52.Qd6 (also winning is 52.Qxe4 Qxa5 53.Qe7 Kg6 54.Bd4) 52...Qxd6 53.cxd6 there is no defence against 54.Bb6 and the advance of the passed pawn.]
52.Kg1 Qc7 53.Qg8+
[Now the black King is one file closer and 53.Qd6 fails to win after 53...Qxd6 54.cxd6 Kf7 etc. On the other hand,;
53.Qxe4+ should lead to a safe win without much trouble. Kramnik takes the pawn after inserting a couple of checks, in order to reach the second time control (move 60) with fewer changes in the position.]
[Not much real choice here, as after 53...Kh6 54.Qf8+ (or 54.Qh8+ ) 54...Kg6 Kramnik would play 55.Bd4 with a relatively easy win, e.g. 55...Nf7 56.Qg8+ Kf5 57.Qh7+ etc.]
54.Qd5+ Kg6 55.Qxe4+ Kg7
[Yet another stage in this adventurous game has been reached. White's extra pawn should suffice to win, but there are still quite a few technical difficulties. Most of them concern the enemy N, who can create a blockade on c6 while counterattacking either on the queen side or the centre.
The correct winning plan in similar situations is to combine threats on both wings, which here necessitates keeping the Qs on board. The second weakness that Kramnik must aim at is obviously the enemy f-pawn, practically blockaded on a square with the same color as his B. This indicates a schema with the white Q on d5, e6 or f5 and the B on the a1-h8 diagonal. Since White is better centralized, there is no reason why such a formation cannot be achieved.]
[Wrong direction. The general philosophy of such positons is that if decentralization wins, so does centralization. The opposite is not necessarily the case.
The concepts presented immediately after the diagram suggest a continuation like 56.Qd5 (also proposed by Lautier) 56...Nc6 57.Bd4 Kg6 (57...Nxd4 58.Qxd4 leads to a technically winning Q ending) 58.Bc3 with the unanswerable threat 59.Qe6 ( then 58...b4 is unplayable because of 59.Bxb4 Nxb4 60.Qe4+ ).;
It should be mentioned that 56.Qf5 is less effective, as then Black may struggle on with 56...Nc6 (but not 56...Qc6 57.Bd4 Nf7 58.b4 with complete zugzwang on a relatively open board).]
[In a practical game most grandmasters would adopt Kasparov's choice, but Shipov, obviously armed with a computer, also considers the materialistic 56...Qxa5 : 57.Qc8 (57.b4 Qa1+ 58.Kh2 Qd1; 57.g3 Qe1+ 58.Kg2 Qd1 59.Qxa6 Qd3 60.Qc8 Nf7) 57...Nf7 58.c6 Qa1+ 59.Kh2 Qb1 60.c7 Qh7+ 61.Qh3 (61.Kg3 leads to immediate perpetual after 61...Qh4+ 62.Kf3 Ne5+ 63.Ke2 Qc4+ 64.Kd2 -but not 64.Ke1 Qc2 when White even loses!- 64...Qd3+ 65.Kc1 Qf1+ 66.Kc2 Qd3+ etc.) 61...Nd6 and Black continues to offer stiff resistance.]
[It seems Kramnik had counted a lot on this precaution. In my original notes I considered the immediate capture 57.Qxa6 also possible: 57...Qd1+ 58.Kh2 Qh5+ 59.Kg3 Qh4+ 60.Kf3 and the King eventually escapes the checks. However, Lautier revealed the resource 59...f5, after which the white Kind finds itself in lots of trouble.;
In any case 57.g3 should be avoided, as after 57...Qd1+ 58.Kg2 Qd3 the a-pawn is immune because of the perpetual again.]
[It is probable that the Challenger missed this counterattacking retort. Quite consistently, Kasparov pins his hopes on thw white squares and plans to use even h7.]
[Against 58.Qxa6 Shipov analyses 58...Qh7+ 59.Kg3 (59.Kg1 Qb1+) 59...Qh4+ 60.Kf3 Qh5+ (it should be noted that Lautier proposes the much simpler 60...f5 61.g3 Qe4+ 62.Ke2 f4 suggesting they use different computer programs or, at least one of them, none at all!) 61.Ke4 Qg6+ 62.Kd4 (not 62.Kd5 Qd3+ 63.Bd4 Qf5+ 64.Kd6 Qe6+ 65.Kc7 Qxa6) 62...Qc2 (a move very difficult to spot in advance, with the unexpected threat 63...Qc4#) 63.b3 (of course, not 63.Qxb5 Ne6+ 64.Kd5 Nc7+) 63...Qxb3 64.Ke4 f5+ (64...Qc4+ is unnecessarily more complicated) 65.Kxf5 Qd5+ 66.Kg4 Qxg2+ 67.Kf5 (or here 67.Kh5 Qh3+ 68.Kxg5 Ne6+) 67...Qd5+ and a different means of perpetual check has been established. Luring the N away from e6 with;
58.Qa7+ Nf7 and only now 59.Qxa6 achieves the same result after 59...Qh7+ 60.Kg3 Qh4+ 61.Kf3 Ne5+ 62.Ke2 Qc4+ 63.Kd2 Qd3+ 64.Kc1 Qf1+ as above.
The move played creates escape squares for the King, but also some weaknesses. The Champion appeared quite relieved when it appeared on the board.]
[Black's queenside is crumbling, so Kasparov must stake everything on a counterattack using the white squares.]
[It is too late now. After 59.Qxa6 Black forces immediate perpetual with 59...Qh7+ etc.] 59...Kg6 [Unpins the N, but now the square h7 is no longer available to the Q, so...]
[...but still Black gets enough counterplay.] 60...Ne5 [Time pressure is over and the Q has wondered too far away from her King.]
[The Q returns to the crucial diagonal, a pawn up and two tempi down. Meanwhile Kasparov has taken over the centre and will not give Kramnik another chance.]
[Black in turn cannot afford to lose any time. For example, should Kasparov decide to get fancy by creating a mating net with 61...g4 , Kramnik would win easily: 62.Qg8+ Kf5 (or 62...Kh5 63.Qe8+ etc.) 63.Qh7+ Ng6 64.Qh5+ Ke6 65.Qxg4+ and the battle is over. Equally unsuccessful is;
61...Qe2 62.Qe4+ Kg7 63.Kg2 Nd3 64.g4 and the white King has enough space to avoid the perpetual (a variation given by Shipov).]
[This is exactly what Kasparov hoped for and Kramnik allowed. Q+N now combine admirably against the white King, which means the Challenger must make some significant concession.]
[In my original analysis, I noted that I did not quite understand why Kramnik avoided 63.Kg2 Nxe3+ 64.fxe3 Qc2+ 65.Kh3 Qf5+ 66.g4 Qxc5 67.Qe4+ , adding the comment that, although the result is not clear-cut yet, there are still good winning chances for White. Since at this point an extra half hour had been added to his clock, there should be no problem calculating such a line.
Well, well... Now I have to admit I was completely wrong, since in the middle of that line it is Black who wins: by playing 65...g4+ Kasparov would deliver mate! This is the kind of error you may commit over the board when you are as bad a player as I am, or annotating a game in a hurry when not using a chessplaying computer program. Sorry!
(Tim Krabbe has an excellent chapter on similar disasters in practical Q endings, in his most entertaining book "Chess Curiosities". I wonder how many more examples he would have to include if he used wrong annotations as well.)
The inevitable conclusion is that Kramnik's last winning chance was before the second time control and now he was wise to take the draw. One should know when to cut one's losses short...]
[To keep trying for the win with 64.Kg2 cannot bear any positive result after 64...Qd5+ 65.f3 Ne5 . Kramnik decides he has missed another golden opportunity to double his wins and settles for a perpetual of his own.]
64...Kg6 65.Qe8+ Kh6 66.Qh8+
[A multi-stage struggle that proved nerve-wrecking, even for experienced Kasparov followers, with two exciting time-trouble phases and highly interesting mistakes. Perhaps the Champion's most ardent fan, mother Klara, could not handle the tension and left the playing hall when everyone was convinced Kramnik had another point in the bag.
After this second failure to win a won position, Kramnik must show exceptional psychological qualities in order to play at full strength in Game 7. This time he has a resting day available, but maybe the realization of what he has dome will come to haunt him worse for that reason. Sometimes playing another game takes your mind away from the past in a most effective way. On the other hand, he seemed to keep both his composure and sense of humor intact during the press conference right after the game. When the players were asked whether they would prefer the match to be 16 or 24 games long, Kramnik replied: "As for me, I would prefer 6"!
Kasparov once again demonstrated immense practical defensive skills and was brimming with energy at the press conference immediately after the game, but still he cannot be happy with his performance. He badly needs to take the initiative for once and this means something like a Ruy Lopez or NimzoIndian in the next game. He must not necessarily win Game 7 (although that would be nice, too), but he should definitely change the tone of the match.]