GM Rogers Asks: Is it Over?
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 20, 2008
Anand in the process of playing the winning move, 34...Ne3!, Photo Cathy Rogers

A shocking miscalculation by Vladimir Kramnik in the fifth game of his World Championship match in Bonn against Viswanathan Anand has put the Indian in the box seat to do what Garry Kasparov could not – defeat Kramnik in a world title match.

Despite being a weekday, the Bonn Exhibition Hall was almost full as was the commentary room where GMs Yusupov and Pfleger explain the moves to the public. (GM Bischoff does the same commentary job for the VIPs in a private room.)

The crowd was expecting Kramnik to begin his fight-back today but instead Kramnik lost his second game in succession with White.

Anand’s decision to play for complications with Black has paid off in spades, the Indian completely disrupting Kramnik’s normal “win with White, draw with Black” strategy.

After a very quiet draw in the fourth game, Kramnik challenged the system, which had given Anand success in game 3. However Anand varied first and Kramnik soon found himself an hour behind on the clock and unable to demonstrate any clear advantage.

Then came the moment which will be preserved in every basic combination book for years to come.

“Can White take the d-pawn?” will be the caption under the diagram – a sure signal to solvers that there is a problem. Kramnik – with no one tapping him on the shoulder to warn him about a possible trap - grabbed the pawn on d4; a move so awful that some feared there had been a transmission error.

It was true – Kramnik had missed a simple trick five moves later, which won on the spot. See the full annotated game below for the gory details. Anand paused only briefly before playing the winning combination.

Anand now leads the 12 game contest 3.5-1.5 and few are giving Kramnik any chance to come back, even though he has survived one point deficits in his last two world title matches. However Anand’s play has been so sure-footed, his opening preparation so well-targeted that at the moment it is hard to see Kramnik winning a game unless Anand gets careless.

Kramnik, naturally, does not see things that way.

“It could have been better,” was Kramnik’s response when asked if the situation was critical. “But it is not totally hopeless and I am going to fight.”

Game 4

Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.a3 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.dxc5 Nxc5 11.Be5

Anand is hoping to press Kramnik without the slightest of risks. However for Kramnik such positions hold no fears.
11...Bf5 12.Be2 Bf6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Nd4
14.Qxd5 Qxb2 works out perfectly well for Black.
"I have some small pressure but with only one minor piece each it is difficult to get anything," Anand explained.
15.Nxf5 Qxf5 16.0-0 Rfd8 17.Bg4 Qe5 18.Qb3 Nc5
Anand viewed 18...d4 as an even more efficient method of reaching equality.
19.Qb5 b6 20.Rfd1 Rd6 21.Rd4
Slightly less accurate than 21.Rac1, the players agreed after the game but Kramnik thought Black could still hold the game comfortably.
21...a6 22.Qb4 h5
"My position is not one to start an attack but I need e6 for my knight," explained Kramnik.
23.Bh3 Rad8 24.g3 g5!
25.Rad1 g4 26.Bg2 Ne6 27.R4d3 d4 28.exd4 Rxd4
"After 28...Nxd4 29.Kh1! it's very difficult for Black to make progress, so the position is probably just equal," said Anand.
29.Rxd4 Rxd4 Draw Agreed

Game 5

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 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5

Kramnik is repeating the opening that ultimately brought him disaster in game 3. "I understand that Vishy prepared it," explained Kramnik, "but it is very sharp and I was a point behind so it made sense to try it."
11...axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2 Bb7 15.Bxb5
So far the players have repeated game 3 but now Anand varies with another new idea.
"Compared to game 3, this gives White the option to play Bf4-g3, so I did!" Kramnik said.
16.Bf4 Bd6 17.Bg3 f5 18.Rfc1
Kramnik was not impressed by Anand's "tricky" plan and was very pleased with the "delicate" response he found, albeit with his clock already showing less than an hour remaining: "I couldn't find a clear way, though it looks very dubious for Black."
After 18.Rfd1 Kramnik feared that 18...f4 19.Bh4 Qc5!?, intending 20...Qh5, might win material for Black. However it is unlikely that Anand had this in mind since the simple 20.Rxd4! appears to leave White with an edge.
18...f4 19.Bh4 Be7!
"I think this is a good plan," explained Anand. "Of course it is very risky to put the Black king on e7 but I didn't see how White could attack without his dark squared bishop."
20.a4! 0.52 (time left) Bxh4 1.26 21.Nxh4 Ke7 22.Ra3!? 0.32
Kramnik rejected 22.b4 because of 22...Rxg2+! 23.Nxg2 Rg8 24.f3 d3+ 25.Qf2 Bxf3! 26.Qxb6 Rxg2+ 27.Kf1 Nxb6 when only Black can be better.
22...Rac8 1.11 23.Rxc8 0.26
"23.Rd1 was very interesting but I was running short of time and decided to simplify," explained Kramnik. "With more time I would probably play 23.Rd1."
23...Rxc8 24.Ra1
The two players both believed they should have no problems here; Kramnik trusted his connected passed pawns on the queenside, while Anand felt that his centre pawns could start rolling if the position became simplified.
24...Qc5 25.Qg4 Qe5 26.Nf3 Qf6!
Kramnik traced his downfall to this move, on which he took six minutes without seeing the trick, which later cost him the game. Kramnik explained that he rejected 27.Nxd4?? because of 27...Ne5(??) and decided that he could win the d pawn under better circumstances with the game continuation.
27.Bxd7 Kxd7 28.b4 was safe and sensible for White.
27...Rc5 0.50
"I had seen the [35...Ne3] resource coming - it is one of the ideas behind 27...Rc5," Anand revealed.
28.b4 0.18 Rc3
Kramnik thought that this was unplayable, expecting 28...Ne5 29.Nxe5 Rxe5 30.Rxe5 Qxe5 31.Qh4+ Kf8 32.Qd8+ Kg7 33.Bf1 "when I can at least try for something with my pawns on the queenside."
"If I don't play this, Black is already fine," said Kramnik, explaining why he played his intended, yet disastrous, move without much thought. Kramnik gave as an example the line [29.Bxd7 Bxf3 30.gxf3 Kxd7 "and I don't think Black should be worse."
29...Qxd4 30.Rd1 Nf6! 31.Rxd4 Nxg4 32.Rd7+ Kf6 33.Rxb7 Rc1+ 34.Bf1 Ne3!!
35.fxe3 fxe3 0-1

 Anand and Kramnik face off in game six tomorrow at 9 AM EST. Check the official website for news and live games. Also read Ian's previous CLO blogs, "Anand Heats Up in Bonn" and "The Fan's Guide to Kramnik-Anand."