Kramnik Scores but Still Probably Over
By GM Ian Rogers   
October 27, 2008
Kramnik after his tenth round victory. Photo Cathy Rogers

Vladimir Kramnik has left his run late – maybe too late – in his World Championship match in Bonn against Viswanathan Anand but at least he has shown that he will not give up his world match title without a fight.

Over the past few days, with the world title almost within reach, Anand has looked shakier and shakier while his opponent has gained in confidence, culminating on Kramnik’s first victory on Monday in Game 10.

The public have been crowding the Exhibition Hall, waiting to see the coronation of the 15th World Champion. In recent days extra rows have been added to the playing hall, standing room used at the back and still fans can be seen holding signs offering to buy tickets. (Though the 35 Euro ($50) price tag for a ticket has generated complaints, there is no doubt that many are prepared to pay that or more – the VIP tickets are about $400 – to watch Anand and Kramnik battle it out for the world crown.)

The warning bells should have rung in game 9, when Anand, leading 5.5-2.5 took on Kramnik in one of the sharpest openings in modern chess. Kramnik not only handled the complications well but also, most importantly, stayed level on the clock with Anand and only a panic attack on move 35 gave the Indian a chance to squirm out with a draw.

Kramnik is famous for his World Championship come-backs but trailing 3-6 with three games to play looked too much even for him.
Yet in Game 10 Kramnik simply destroyed Anand; a quiet position turning bad with astonishing speed. “I didn’t do anything special,” admitted Kramnik, “but the position became winning. It was a surprise.”

Anand arrived late for the post-game press conference and looked downcast as his awful performance was dissected. He had planned to be celebrating the Hindu Festival of Diwali over the next four days as World Champion – instead he had to go back to preparing opening lines and trying to recover his lost form.
Anand and Kramnik at the 10th round press conference. Photo Cathy Rogers

The organizers’ plans were also thrown into disarray. There was no trophy handover after the game, no extended press conference and the Mainz Hilton were told to put their celebration banquet on ice. Some of the Indian journalists following Anand also looked gloomy – their plans for a post-match holiday in Prague had to go on hold.

Anand still needs only one more draw from the final two games to take the title and Kramnik accepted that he remained the underdog. “I am just happy that I play one more game,” the Russian said when asked about his chances in the match. “I will try to play well – it is better not to think about what are my chances. Still I know they are less than 50%!”

Game 9
Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6
Using the very opening with which Anand playing Black had caused so much trouble for Kramnik. Courageously, Anand heads straight for the main line, giving Kramnik the sharp position for which he was playing.
5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Nbd7 10.Qc2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Bb4 1.49

Position after 11...Bb4

"I just decided to play any move to avoid his preparation because I am a bit tired of having one and a half hours less,” said Kramnik, “and it turned out pretty well."
12.Ne5 1.49 Qe7 1.43 13.0-0 1.40
"13.Nxd7 was more accurate," said Kramnik.
13...Nxe5 1.35 14.Bxe5 0-0 15.Bxf6 1.23 Qxf6 16.f4 Qg7! 1.25
"Around here I understood I'd messed it up," admitted Anand.
17.e5 1.06 c5 0.59 18.Nxb5 cxd4 19.Qxc4 0.50 a5! 0.51 20.Kh1!? 0.27

Position after 20.Kh1

"The only move to keep the game going," said Kramnik, and Anand agreed. White is hoping for 20...gxf4 21.Bf3 Bxf3 22.gxf3! with counterplay along the g file.
20...Rac8 0.33 21.Qxd4 0.26 gxf4?! 0.29

"I didn't see a defence to 21...Bc5! but after the game [Vlad] told me that he had seen a defence - 22.Qa4," said Anand. "I don't know if I would have found it."
22.Bf3 Ba6 0.28 23.a4 0.25 Rc5 0.26 24.Qxf4 0.24 Rxe5 0.24 25.b3?! 0.22
"I didn't understand this decision," said Kramnik. "To give the b pawn was not necessary.
25...Bxb5 0.22 26.axb5 Rxb5 27.Be4 0.21 Bc3 0.21 28.Bc2 0.18 Be5 29.Qf2 Bb8! 0.18 30.Qf3 0.16 Rc5 0.17 31.Bd3 0.13 Rc3 32.g3 Kh8 0.14
33.Qb7 0.11 f5!? 0.11
"Not precise," said Anand, "but it is not clear exactly how [Black] makes progress."
34.Qb6 0,10 Qe5?! 08.33 35.Qb7? 09.44
Position after 35.Qb7

Missing the trick 35.Bxf5!! when Black has nothing better than 35...exf5 when he loses all his pawns after 36.Qxh6+ Kg8 37.Qg5+! Qg7 38.Rxf5.
35...Qc7? 05.57

Sheer panic. "I had a feeling I was winning in this position but I was a bit short of time and I was afraid to make a blunder in time trouble. I spent a minute looking at 35...f4?? before I saw 36.Qh7#," admitted Kramnik. "After that I thought 'Better I exchange queens - at least I will not get mated!' But maybe 35...Rg8 was winning by force."
36.Qxc7 Bxc7 37.Bc4! Re8 03.49 38.Rd7 0.06 a4!? 0.02 39.Rxc7 axb3 40.Rf2 Rb8 41.Rb2 h5

Position after 41...h5

Played after half an hour’s thought. 41.Rc2 would lead to an immediate draw after 42.Rxc2 bxc2 43.Bxe6!
42.Kg2 h4

"A nice try," said Anand. "I wanted to put my king on f2 now but then he has 43...Ra8."
"Now it's just a draw," said Anand.
43...hxg3 44.hxg3 Rg8 45.Rxe6 Rxc4 Draw Agreed

Game 10

Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defence


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3

Position after 5.g3

Once considered innocuous, this is nowadays one of the trendy methods of combatting the Nimzo-Indian defence.
5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 0-0 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Qb3 Qa5 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.0-0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6 14.Rfd1 Qc5 15.e4 Bc4 16.Qa4 Nb6 17.Qb4 Qh5
Position after 17...Qh5

Anand is very familiar with this position; not only did he successfully defend it against Garry Kasparov in 2000 but his 'secret' assistant' Magnus Carlsen is also experienced in the line.
"This is a novelty,” said Kramnik. “Not a crushing one but it offers Black a choice. Normally White commits his bishop immediately to e3 or f4.”
18...c5 19.Qa5 Rfc8 20.Be3 Be2 1.20 21.Bf4 1.39 e5 1.06

Very committal. Commentator Artur Yusupov suggested 21...Bf3 as an improvement for Black.
22.Be3 1.28
22.Bxe5!? Nc4 23.Qa6 Qxe5 24.Rxe2 Qxc3 25.Ree1 is also slightly better for White but less unpleasant than the game.
22...Bg4?! 0.50
The first of two mistakes which turn Black's position from cramped to lost with remarkable speed.
Kramnik believed that 22...f6 was the most accurate choice.
23.Qa6 1.08 f6? 0.43
Position after 23...f6

"The decisive mistake," said Kramnik, who was most worried about 23...Be6 24.Bf1 Qf3 "bothering my e-pawn." However even here White keeps an edge with 25.a4.
24.a4! 1.04 Qf7 0.41 25.Bf1! 1.01 Be6 0.26 26.Rab1!! 1.00 c4
Desperation. "Black is not in time to blockade on c4," said Kramnik who gave the pretty variation 26...Kh8 27.a5 Nc4 28.Rb7 Qg8 29.Bh6!! gxh6 30.Bxc4 and Black's position collapses.
27.a5 Na4 28.Rb7 0.56 Qe8 0.17 29.Qd6! 0.54

Position after 29.Qd6!

After 29...Bf7 (On 29...Nxc3 30.Re7 wins the bishop.) 30.Qb4, Black can hardly move without losing material and White threatens Rd1-d7. 1-0

 Anand and Kramnik face off in game 11 on Wednesday, October 29 at 10 AM EST (Start time has changed due to European time change). Check the official website for news and live games. Also read Ian's previous CLO blogs,"GM Rogers on Kramnik-Anand: Yes, It is Over "GM Rogers Asks, 'Is it Over'", "Anand Heats Up in Bonn" and "The Fan's Guide to Kramnik-Anand."