Kramnik Fights Back to Win Game 3, Leads 2.5-0.5

To be a Grandmaster you must know how to fight every type of battle. To be a world champion you must learn how to make your opponent fight on your battlefield. Vladimir Kramnik came out of an inferior position to outplay Fritz in a tough five-hour duel and take a commanding lead in the match.

Team Fritz had reason for optimism after the opening, but perhaps it was misplaced. Although the position Fritz reached out of the venerable Scotch Opening was a good one, it was just the type of strategic maneuvering position that computers don't understand well and that world champions understand very well indeed. Kramnik slowly outplayed Fritz in a brilliant display of chess that drew constant praise from our Grandmaster commentators.

"How much longer can Kramnik continue playing at this level?" wondered four-time UK champion Julian Hodgson. "18...Nb4 was brilliant and unexpected," GM Danny King said of the move that took Kramnik over 30 minutes to play. It was well worth the time because after the simplifications Fritz was left in a passive position that suited Kramnik from his head down 1.95m to his toes.

Kramnik even took a quick smoke break while pondering his 18th move. When asked about this in the post-game press conference Kramnik replied that he didn't think smoking helped his game but that he'd tried to quit 40 times, clearly without success. He also said that he knew he was winning as early as 19.a3, when Fritz weakened its pawns on the kingside. It took 30 more precise moves to pocket the point.

It was almost a shame to see the nice position Fritz had created out of the opening spoil like date pudding in the Bahraini sun. The super-program knew it was in trouble but didn't see any way out as Kramnik began to squeeze. The middle of the board fell under the control of his rooks and he smoothly transformed that into a winning pawn endgame. This pattern is very reminiscent of the last game and highlights a well-known computer weakness in long-range endgame planning.

The Fritz team has the consolation of having outplayed Kramnik in the opening stages with the Scotch Opening that is favored by former world champion Garry Kasparov. Kramnik must have prepared extensively for the Scotch before his 2000 title match with Kasparov, but Fritz reached a very comfortable position. But like the eunuch who walked into the harem Fritz had no idea what to do when he got there.

So Fritz won the opening skirmish but Kramnik had chosen the battlefield: a queenless middlegame with a rigid pawn structure he could pick apart at his leisure. It took excellent technique to keep Fritz under control during the rest of the game and the world champion was up to the task.


Game 3 - Kramnik wins

[Event "Brains in Bahrain"]
[Site "Manana, Bahrain"]
[Date "2002.10.08"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Deep Fritz"]
[Black "Kramnik(GM)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C45"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Nxc6 Qf6 6. Qd2 dxc6 7. Nc3 Ne7 8. Qf4 Be6 9. Qxf6 gxf6 10. Na4 Bb4+ 11. c3 Bd6 12. Be3 b6 13. f4 O-O-O 14. Kf2 c5 15. c4 Nc6 16. Nc3 f5 17. e5 Bf8 18. b3 Nb4 19. a3 Nc2 20. Rc1 Nxe3 21. Kxe3 Bg7 22. Nd5 c6 23. Nf6 Bxf6 24. exf6 Rhe8 25. Kf3 Rd2 26. h3 Bd7 27. g3 Re6 28. Rb1 Rxf6 29. Be2 Re6 30. Rhe1 Kc7 31. Bf1 b5 32. Rec1 Kb6 33. b4 cxb4 34. axb4 Re4 35. Rd1 Rxd1 36. Rxd1 Be6 37. Bd3 Rd4 38. Be2 Rxd1 39. c5+ Kb7 40. Bxd1 a5 41. bxa5 Ka6 42. Ke3 Kxa5 43. Kd4 b4 44. g4 fxg4 45. hxg4 b3 46. Kc3 Ka4 47. Kb2 f6 48. Bf3 Kb5 49. g5 f5 50. Kc3 Kxc5 51. Be2 0-1