Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2008 arrow December arrow Anand Heats Up in Bonn
Anand Heats Up in Bonn Print E-mail
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 17, 2008
Anand and Kramnik on the stage in round three. Photo Cathy Rogers
After a slow start, the ongoing World Championship match in Bonn between Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand has become an engrossing contest, with the Indian leading 2-1 after three games.

Anand and Kramnik have between them won every title worth winning over the past decade but there was always a suspicion that mutual respect would cause the players to be overly cautious.

Although the first game served to heighten these fears, and the abrupt end to the second also generated criticism, the ultra-violence shown in the third game has already made it clear that the match is likely to be a classic.

So far Anand has had the upper hand, equalising easily in game one, controlling game two until time trouble intervened and then winning a spectacular game three.

The third game saw Anand show the type of opening, which took him to victory in the FIDE World Championship in Mexico City in 2007. Prior to that event, Anand was almost always happy to play for equality with Black in top tournaments but in Mexico Anand introduced some super-sharp variations to his repertoire and scored valuable points with Black. (Meanwhile at the same event Kramnik was making draw after draw with Black.)

Anand’s one regret may be that he secured his first victory on the day when his countryman Sachin Tendulkar finally broke the world record for most runs in cricket Test matches. Tendulkar and Anand are constant rivals for India’s sportsman of the year but today the front and back pages of India’s newspapers will be all Tendulkar, with Anand’s win relegated to an inside page.

At the press conference after the third game Kramnik, while appearing pensive, remained positive, believing that his sacrifices in game three to disrupt a better prepared opponent should have earned at least a draw.

Anand showed no signs of triumphalism, trotting out the classic “I’ll take it one game at a time” line, which served Boris Gelfand so well in Mexico City. He is of course right that the match is only in its infancy but both players know that a win tomorrow for Anand could put the contest almost out of reach of Kramnik.

The Bonn Exhibition Hall has been near its 400 capacity every day, despite ticket prices ranging between 35 and 280 Euros (for VIP tickets which include drinks and other privileges). The crowds looked visibly disgruntled as they left the playing theatre after game one but were generous in their applause for the players at the end of game three.

Kramnik has never trailed in the early stages of any of his three world title matches so how he reacts to this set-back will determine whether he will be seen as a good or a great Match World Champion.


Bonn 2008
Game 1
White: V.Kramnik
Black: V.Anand
Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Slav Exchange
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5
A silent groan having gone around the playing arena when Kramnik played the exchange variation, Anand felt the need to defend his rival’s choice at the post-game press conference; “The exchange variation looks innocent but very often there is venom in these systems.”
5.Bf4 Nc6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nf3 e6 8.Qb3!?

The first sign that Kramnik is going to set some problems for Anand. 8.Bd3 is the move that has led to countless prearranged draws and even a few real draws.
8…Bb4 9.Bb5 0-0 10.Bxc6 Bxc3+ 11.Qxc3 Rc8 12.Ne5 Ng4!

“I know that theory said that this was supposed to be equal but I realized that the position was not so easy,” said Kramnik.
“Luckily I had checked all these lines,” Anand countered.
13.Nxg4 Bxg4 14.Qb4
Kramnik explained that he had looked at grabbing the a pawn rather than the b pawn but Black always created counterplay.
14…Rxc6 15.Qxb7 Qc8 16.Qxc8 Rfxc8 17.0-0 a5!
“A very important move,” said Anand. “After 17...Bc2 18.Re1 Rc2, I didn’t see what I was doing. If his bishop comes to c5 from d6 then I am really worried. White has the idea of 20.a4, 21.b5 and if 21…axb5 then 22.a5.”
18.f3 Bf5 19.Rfe1
“I couldn’t see what to do if I didn’t [continue] in forcing style with the e4 advance,” Kramnik said. “But it seems that with accurate play Black can make a draw.
“Also very exact,” said Anand. “Now White has only a token edge.”
20.b3 f6 21.e4 dxe4 22.fxe4 Rd8 23.Rad1 Rc2 24.e5
“The trouble with 24.d5 is that after 24...e5 25.Rd2 Rdc8 26.d6!? Black plays 26...R7c6! and I actually lose my d pawn,” explained Kramnik. “After I saw this I got [rather less] enthusiastic about 24.d5.”
24...fxe5 25.Bxe5 Rxa2 26.Ra1 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rd5 28.Rc1 Rd7 29.Rc5 Ra7 30.Rc7 Rxc7 31.Bxc7 Bc2 32.Bxa5 Bxb3 Draw Agreed

“This was a typical first game,” Kramnik explained to the packed press conference. “I need to get used to the playing conditions. I was trying to press today and I got a certain slight advantage. However a draw is a normal result if players play without mistakes - it is not our fault. I am not so worried – in two of my three previous World Championship matches I won game 2.”
Anand just smiled and raised his eyebrows.


Bonn  2008
Game 2
White: V.Anand
Black: V.Kramnik
Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defence
“This was not a surprise,” said Kramnik straight after the game – a clear indication that seeing Anand play something other than 1.e4 was at least something of a surprise. “In my match against Leko, I prepared only for [his usual] 1.e4 and when he played 1.d4 I sat there in shock,” Kramnik added. “I learned my lesson. Against Anand I was preparing for 1.d4 and 1.c4 and 1.b4 and every other first move.”
1…Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.dxc5 f5
A line rarely seen since the 1960s but Anand came well prepared. 8...Qa5 is standard nowadays.
9.Qc2 Nd7 10.e4 fxe4 11.fxe4 N5f6 12.c6 bxc6 13.Nf3 Qa5
The first new move. Anand now thought for some time before deciding that, with Black threatening 14...Ba6, it was more important to keep his bishop pair than to play aggressively.
14.Bd2 Ba6 15.c4 Qc5 16.Bd3 Ng4
“The position is very sharp but if Black tries 16...Ne5! I am not sure that White [has any advantage].” Anand opined.
17.Bb4 Qe3+
The main move considered by both players, but 17...Qb6!? was not bad either.
18.Qe2 0-0-0 19.Qxe3 Nxe3 20.Kf2 Ng4+!

20…Nxc4?! 21.Bxc4 Bxc4 22.Rhc1 would be very depressing for Black.
 21.Kg3 Ndf6!?
“I was getting overoptimistic here,” Kramnik conceded. “21...Nge5 is safer but even then White keeps some chances.” Later analysis confirmed Kramnik’s fears; after 22.Be2! the natural 22…Bxc4 leaves White on top after 23.Bxc4 Nxc4 24.Rhc1 Nde5 25.Nxe5 Nxe5 26.Rc5!.
22.Bb1! h5 23.h3 h4+!

“I spent a long time on 23...Ne3, calculating a lot of unnecessary variations since none of the lines are working for me,” said Kramnik. “After 23...h4+ I lose a pawn but his pieces take some time to untangle.”
24.Nxh4 Ne5 25.Nf3 Nh5+ 26.Kf2
“Now I started to like my position,” said Anand, though he may have over-estimated his chances. White has yet to untangle his queenside and the c pawn remains weak.
26...Nxf3 27.Kxf3 e5! 28.Rc1 Nf4 29.Ra2 Nd3 30.Rc3 Nf4 31.Bc2? Ne6!

“But [around now] I started to come back to earth,” admitted Anand. “I have a stupid bishop and my king is floating around.”
32.Kg3 Rd4
Here Kramnik, with 9 minutes to 5, offered a draw and Anand thought until he had only two minutes left before accepting.
“Black will play 33...c5 and I don’t see what I can do,” Anand rationalised, failing to mention that after 33.c5! White can kill this plan and keep some winning chances.
“I believe that White is objectively still better,” Kramnik countered, “and for me after such a tough game a draw is quite alright.”
Draw Agreed

Bonn 2008
Game 3
White: V.Kramnik
Black: V.Anand
Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6

The first small surprise – Anand had previously tried 8...Bb7 against Kramnik last year.
9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2 Bb7

“A novelty – at least to me,” Kramnik admitted.
15.Bxb5 Bd6 16.Rd1

Kramnik spent half an hour on this move.
16.Nxd4!? was also playable when  16...Qxd4?! 17.Rd1 Qc5 18.Be3 looks too risky but 16...Rg8! gives Black good play after both  17.Nf3 Ke7 18.Bxd7 Ba6 and 17.g3 Qxd4 18.Rd1 Qc5 19.Be3 Qe5! 20.f4 Qe4.
16...Rg8 17.g3 Rg4!!
Another half an hour disappeared on this inspired move, leaving Kramnik an hour behind on the clock.
All the online kibitzers were crying out for 18.Nd2, their computer masters missing at first that Black can reply 18…Ke7!! 19.Bxd7 (19.Qxg4 Qxb5 gives Black excellent light-squared play for the exchange.) 19...Rag8! and a sacrifice on g3 is coming, e.g. 20.Bb5 d3! 21.Qxd3 (21.Bxd3 Bxg3!) 21...Rxg3+ 22.hxg3 Rxg3+ 23.Kf1 Rxd3 24.Bxd3 Qd4 and Black’s queen runs rings around Black’s uncoordinated pieces.
“I couldn’t find any refutation of [Anand’s novelty] and the way I played looked entertaining,” Kramnik said. “I liked my position.”

“I spent a long time on 18...Rxf4 19.gxf4 Ke7 but after 20.Nh4 I think I am better,” Kramnik explained.
Planning another sacrifice.  19.Rxd4 Kf8! 20.Bxd7 Rd8 would leave Black with the initiative.
Now it was Anand’s turn to think, using up 40 minutes on this move; “I considered practically every legal move - …Rg5, …Rg6, …Rg8, but it seemed useful to have the pawn on …h5.”
 20.Nxe6! fxe6 21.Rxd7 Kf8!

The tricky 21...Ba6?! fails to  22.Rd6+! Qxb5 23.Qxe6+ Kf8 24.Rd7 winning the queen.
22.Qd3! Rg7
This again cost Anand considerable time, after which both players had around 40 minutes to reach move 40. Kramnik considered 22...Rg7 to be almost forced but 22...Bxg3!? 23.hxg3 h4 was a dangerous alternative.

“23.Rad1!? was also very interesting but I couldn’t figure out what was going on,” said Kramnik.
23...Kxg7 24.gxf4 Rd8! 25.Qe2

Played instantly, although 25.Qb3 was a viable alternative.
“My intuition tells me that White is OK with two extra pawns but of course my king is not so [safe],” Kramnik said.
25...Kh6! 26.Kf1 Rg8 27.a4

“I was intending 27.f5 but I had missed 27…Bg2+ 28.Ke1 Bh3 when I couldn’t make it work for White,” Kramnik explained.
27…Bg2+ 28.Ke1 Bh3! 29.Ra3?!


“Maybe the decisive mistake,” bemoaned Kramnik. “I was looking at 29.Rd1 and didn’t see anything clearly wrong with it.”
29…Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Qd4+ 31.Kc2 Bg4

“After 29.Ra3 I couldn’t see a forced win – and I certainly looked hard enough! - after 31….Bf5+ 32.Kb3 Rc1 33.a5 Rc2 34.Qxc2 Bxc2+ 35.Kxc2 Qc5+ 36.Kb1 Qxc5 37.a6, so I decided to go 31…Bg4 first,” Anand explained.

“After 32,Rd3! Bf5 33.Kb3 I keep good drawing chances the exchange down,” Kramnik opined.
32… Bf5+ 33.Bd3?

On 33.Kb3, Kramnik feared 33…Rc1 34.a5 e5!? but Anand believed that after 35.Ra4! White was still well in the game. “35…Qc5+ is very difficult for White but I am not sure it is a forced win for me. 33…Rc1 34.a5 Qd5+ also flashed through my head,” Anand said, “but it was all getting out of control.”
Anand admitted that he would probably have played 34…Rc2 in this line “when I can win the queen and [if necessary] take an immediate perpetual.”

Crushing, though 33…Bxd3+ 34.Rxd3 Qc4+ 35.Kd2 Qc1 mate! was simpler.
34.a5 Rg2 35.a6 Rxe2+ 36.Bxe2 Bf5+ 37.Kb3 Qe3+ 38.Ka2 Qxe2 39.a7 Qc4+ 40.Ka1 Qf1+ 41.Ka2 Bb1+ 0-1

A great game.


Peter Leko – formerly a second for Anand but unveiled just before the match began as part of Team Kramnik in Bonn - put it best;  “It’s great to see these two players – the greatest players since Kasparov retired – finally get to play a world title match. I’m also glad that that the match is played in the heart of Europe under such great conditions.”

 Anand and Kramnik face off tomorrow at 9 AM EST.
Check the official website for news and live games. For more ideas on where to get the inside scoop on Bonn, read Ian's previous CLO blog, "The Fan's Guide to Kramnik-Anand."