GM Rogers on Anand-Kramnik: "Yes, It's Over"
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 21, 2008
Anand and Kramnik in game six. Photo Cathy Rogers

Vladimir Kramnik effectively agreed that the world match title would be heading to India after a humiliating loss in Game 6 of his World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand in Bonn, Kramnik's third loss in four games. 
Anand now leads the best-of-12 contest 4.5-1.5 (6-3 as of 10/26, with  Anand needing just a draw to clinch the title), a deficit Kramnik conceded would probably be too great to overcome. When asked about his chances, Kramnik deflected the question, saying "I just have to try to show good chess, to try to play better, to win a game. If I do this maybe I could get some chances at the end of the match..." Kramnik's voice trailed off at the end of the sentence, not even adding his traditional "I will fight." 

Even having a fellow Russian, living legend Anatoly Karpov, make the ceremonial first move was not enough to inspire Kramnik, who played his worst game of the World Championship on Tuesday. Kramnik made a half-hearted pawn sacrifice, Anand took it, and the rest seemed to be just a matter of technique for the Indian. 

After the game, at separate press conferences due to the players' varying ability to produce a sample for the drug testers, Kramnik could not even identify where his position had gone downhill - he thought his position was fine but his judgment, once the rock upon which his games were founded, proved fallible. 

Karpov was admiring of the accuracy of Anand's play but opined that the match was being lost by Kramnik, rather than won by Anand. Karpov even made the controversial statement that Anand was not as strong as he had been a decade earlier because his creativity had been stifled by working with a computer so much. "Sometimes he plays more like Fritz than like Vishy," was Karpov's comment, intended as a criticism. 

Former World Champ Anatoly Karpov with match director, Josef Resc. Photo Cathy Rogers

Karpov also declared that computers had ended the day when a single player - like himself or Kasparov - could dominate the tournament scene. Now there would only be a first among equals - although Karpov conceded that Carlsen might be an exception to his new rule. 

Anand, meanwhile, looked more relieved than elated. The 38-year-old Indian had previously blown a two point lead in a Candidates Match against Gata Kamsky but three points up is a different matter. The rest of the match should be a coronation, unless Kramnik pulls off the greatest revival since Lazarus.  

Lazarus' record is safe - it's over.  

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2

Varying from 4.f3 played in game 2. Anand refuses to allow himself to become a target by using the same system twice with White.

4...d5 5.cxd5 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Qf5 7.Qb3 Nc6 8.Bd2 0-0 9.h3!?

Another new idea from Anand's box of tricks. Having been caught out thinking too long in other games, Kramnik decides to make a practical move quickly but he fails to completely solve his opening problems. 9.e3 was the standard move.

9...b6!? 1.47

"A strange move" intoned Anatoly Karpov. " 9...Rd8 looks logical."

"It's a strange opening," Kramnik countered.

10.g4 1.45 Qa5 1.45 11.Rc1 1.28

"I spent time looking for something direct but in the end could not find anything better than the queen exchange [which follows]," said Anand. "The endgame is a little awkward for Black as the c-pawn is a bit weak."

11...Bb7 1.41 12.a3 1.15 Bxc3 13.Bxc3 Qd5 14.Qxd5 Nxd5 1.38

On 14...exd5 Karpov's suggestion of 15.Bd2! and 16.Bf4 looks strong.

15.Bd2 1.14 Nf6 1.33

A very calm move that accepts White's small but persistent advantage. 15...f5!? was less healthy but also more testing for White.

16.Rg1 1.12 Rac8 1.23 17.Bg2 1.04 Ne7? 1.21


Both players were critical of this move, Kramnik proposing the strange 17...Ba8 and Anand preferring another retreat 17...Nb8.

18.Bb4! 0.59

"The endgame had looked pretty equal to me, but suddenly I started to experience some problems," Kramnik admitted.

18...c5?! 1.09

Kramnik rejected 18...Rfe8 because of 19.Bxe7 Rxe7 20.Ne5 Bxg2 21.Rxg2 "when I am slightly worse but without counterplay and I will have to suffer for the rest of the game."

Anand agreed - "After 21.Rxg2 I can try to put my knight on c6 when I can press without risk."

19.dxc5 Rfd8 0.54 20.Ne5 Bxg2 21.Rxg2 bxc5?! 0.35

An admission of failure; now White will be a pawn ahead for negligible compensation. On 21...Nc6 White has no need to enter complications with 22.cxb6!? but can keep it simple with 22.Nd3!.

22.Rxc5 0.49 Ne4 0.33 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Nd3! Nd5 25.Bd2 0.42 Rc2 26.Bc1 0.42

"Black is very close to having compensation," Anand confessed, "but I think I controlled [the game] very well."

26...f5 0.19

A second bid for counterplay. 26...Nc5 27.Kd1 Nxd3 28.exd3! (Not 28.Kxc2?? Ne1+) 28...Rc8 gives Black a great knight on d5 but after 29.f3! and 30.Rc2, the position must be a slow but sure win for White.

27.Kd1 Rc8 28.f3 Nd6 29.Ke1!? 0.30 a5 0.16 30.e3 0.29 e5!? 31.gxf5 e4! 32.fxe4 Nxe4 33.Bd2 0.22 a4 0.14

Kramnik targeted this move as his decisive error, "although of course the position is not pleasant."

This is something of an understatement - perhaps only  33...Re8 sets up some tricks, hoping for 34.Bxa5? Nxe3! when Black is back in the game.

34.Nf2! Nd6 0.12 35.Rg4 Nc4 0.10 36.e4! Nf6 07.40 37.Rg3 Nxb2 38.e5

38.Bc3 Nh5 is not so clear.

38...Nd5 06.16 39.f6 08.59 Kf7 1.29
Desperation. "I saw 39...g6 40.Ne4! when it's time to resign," said Anand, his tactical point being 40...Re8 41.f7+!.
40.Ne4! Nc4 41.fxg7

"Probably 41.Rxg7+ wins easily as well, but I couldn't be bothered working it out," Anand confessed, "since I saw that what I played was winning."

41...Kg8 42.Rd3! 0.53 Ndb6 43.Bh6 Nxe5 44.Nf6+ Kf7 45.Rc3! Rxc3 46.g8Q+ Kxf6 47.Bg7+ 1-0

 Anand and Kramnik face off in game seven on Thursday, October 23 at 9 AM EST. Check the official website for news and live games. Also read Ian's previous CLO blogs, "GM Rogers asks, 'Is it Over'", "Anand Heats Up in Bonn" and "The Fan's Guide to Kramnik-Anand."