21 October 2008

Anand-Kramnik: Game 6

World Championship matches are grueling affairs. The players and their seconds are in a contest that tests endurance as much as chess skill. Dedicated fans can also find the battle exhausting. I'm getting a late start this morning because I set my alarm for 6:00am--the time the game was scheduled to begin. Of course, it is late afternoon in Bonn because they are nine hours ahead of the west coast of the United States.

By the time I had my computer up and running, and my coffee poured, observers on Playchess were already discussing the novelty in game six: Anand's 9.h3.

Anand, V-Kramnik, V
World Chess Championship, Bonn 2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.cxd5 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Qf5 7.Qb3 Nc6 8.Bd2 O-O 9.h3

I found seven other games that reached the position after 8...O-O. All of them continued 9.e3. Two seem worthy of mention: a blindfold game in which Anand had Black, and the most recent high level game.

Ivanchuk,V (2735) - Anand,V (2725) [E34]
Amber-blind 5th Monte Carlo (3), 04.1996
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.cxd5 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Qf5 7.Qb3 Nc6 8.Bd2 0–0 9.e3 Rd8 10.Be2 e5 11.Nxe5 Be6 12.g4 Qxe5 13.dxe5 Bxb3 14.exf6 Be6 15.f4 gxf6 16.0–0–0 Kg7 17.Rhg1 Na5 18.b3 Nxb3+ 19.axb3 Bxb3 20.Nb5 Bxd1 21.Rxd1 Bxd2+ 22.Rxd2 Rxd2 23.Kxd2 c6 24.Nd4 a5 25.Kc3 a4 26.Kb2 c5 27.Nf5+ Kf8 28.Ka3 b6 29.Bc4 Ra5 30.Nd6 Ra8 31.h4 h6 32.h5 Ra5 33.e4 Ra8 34.Bd5 Ra7 35.Nf5 b5 36.Nxh6 c4 37.Nf5 b4+ 38.Kxb4 a3 39.Bxc4 a2 40.Bxa2 Rxa2 41.g5 Rf2 42.h6 Kg8 43.Ne7+ Kh7 44.Nd5 fxg5 45.fxg5 Kg6 46.Kc5 Kxg5 47.h7 Rh2 48.Kd6 Rxh7 49.e5 Kf5 50.Ne7+ Ke4 51.Ng8 Rg7 52.Nf6+ Kf5 53.Nd7 Rh7 54.Nf8 Rg7 55.Nd7 Rg1 56.Ke7 Kg6 57.Nf8+ Kg7 58.Nd7 Re1 59.Kd6 Kg6 60.Nf8+ Kf5 61.Ke7 Ra1 62.Kxf7 Ra7+ 63.Ke8 Kxe5 64.Nd7+ Kd6 65.Nf8 Rg7 66.Kd8 Re7 67.Ng6 Re1 68.Nf8 Re2 69.Ng6 Re6 70.Nf8 Re2 71.Ng6 Re1 72.Nf8 Re3 73.Ng6 Ke6 74.Nf8+ Kf7 75.Nd7 Rc3 76.Nb6 ½–½

Kobalia,M (2644) - Sadvakasov,D (2605) [E34]
RUS-chT Sochi (2), 19.04.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.cxd5 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Qf5 7.Qb3 Nc6 8.Bd2 0–0 9.e3 a6 10.Be2 Bd6 11.Nh4 Qg5 12.g3 Ne8 13.f4 Qd8 14.Nf3 Be7 15.0–0–0 b5 16.Ne4 Bb7 17.Qc2 f5 18.Nc3 Qc8 19.Rhg1 Nf6 20.Kb1 Nb4 21.Qc1 Ne4 22.Ne5 c5 23.Ka1 cxd4 24.exd4 Rd8 25.Be1 Qc7 26.g4 Rac8 27.Nd3 Rxd4 28.Nxb4 Rxb4 29.gxf5 exf5 30.a3 Ra4 31.Qc2 Kh8 32.Qb3 Qc5 33.Rxg7 Rxa3+ 34.Qxa3 Kxg7 35.Qxc5 Nxc5 36.b4 Ne6 37.Bd3 Bxb4 38.Nxb5 Bxe1 39.Rxe1 Nxf4 40.Bxf5 axb5 41.Re7+ Kf6 42.Bxc8 Kxe7 43.Bxb7 Ne6 44.Kb2 b4 45.Kc2 Kf6 46.Bc8 Nc5 47.h4 Ke5 48.Bg4 Kf4 49.Bd1 Ke3 50.h5 h6 51.Bg4 Ke4 52.Bd1 Kd5 53.Bf3+ Kc4 54.Be2+ Kd4 55.Bb5 Ne6 56.Kb3 Kc5 57.Be8 Nd4+ 58.Kb2 Kd6 59.Bg6 Ke7 60.Ka2 Kd6 61.Kb2 Kc5 62.Be8 Nf5 63.Kb3 Nd6 64.Bd7 Nc4 65.Be8 Nd2+ 66.Kc2 Ne4 67.Kb3 Nd6 68.Bd7 ½–½

6:47am PDT update

If the sort of game that comes out of this position is a long hard-fought draw, it bodes well for Kramnik. He needs wins even with Black if he can manage it. But Kramnik's specialty is extracting wins from positions that seem to offer nothing. Throw some minor pieces down and scatter some pawns on the board and sit down against Kramnik, it's his game.

9...b6 10.g4 Qa5 11.Rc1

On the other hand, Anand's 9.h3 and 10.g4 might portend another tactical melee, and so far he's been crushing Kramnik in such games.


7:12am PDT update

I took a few moments to discuss engines, databases, and "the cynical age of chess" in the forums at ChessWorld. When I came back to the game, several moves had been played.

12.a3 Bxc3 13.Bxc3 Qd5 14.Qxd5 Nxd5 15.Bd2

Anand has the bishop pair, but we may be in for an endgame. I have not lost faith in Kramnik. The odds are against him, but he can come back.


16.Rg1 Rac8 17.Bg2 Ne7

They have been playing a little more than an hour and a half.

7:58am PDT; 4:58pm in Bonn

On the Playchess server, Nigel Short offered a pithy comment:
It is all very clever. You leave your king in the centre, in preparation for the endgame, and connect your rooks via the third rank. 21st century chess!
18.Bb4 c5 19.dxc5

After two hours of play, each player has used approximately an hour.

Missing FoidosChess

I bought a ticket to watch game three through Foidos, but not the whole match. Had I bought one for today, however, I might have caught an interesting interview with one of the true gentlemen of the game, and one of the best players that ever pushed pawns--Anatoly Karpov. Dennis Monokrousses has a summary of some of the highlights of this interview at his The Chess Mind blog.

It appears that Kramnik has been studying this position for twenty minutes or so.

8:17am PDT update

A flurry of moves

19...Rfd8 20.Ne5 Bxg2 21.Rxg2

So much for Anand's pair of holy men. The clerics that play on white squares are gone. Now, it is bishop against knight with rooks still on the board. Two principles of endgame play seem significant.

1. Bishops work better with rooks, and are generally slightly better than knights when there are pawns on both wings.
2. Kramnik is the best endgame player alive.

8:35am PDT

21...bxc5 22.Rxc5

8:45am PDT; 5:45pm in Bonn (time for some to think about dinner, while I fix my breakfast)

22...Ne4 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Nd3 Nd5

Rolling Pawns has a nice chess blog and is following the game both here and at Crestbook, where Sergei Shipov is offering commentary.


It appears that Kramnik lacks compensation for the pawn, but that doesn't mean he will lose this game. Earlier today, a discussion at Playchess reminded those of us that have forgotten that colors switch at the midpoint: Kramnik has Black today, and again in the next game. At least he hasn't lost with the Black pieces . . . yet.

25...Rc2 26.Bc1

That bishop on c1 anchors a nice pawn chain.

After Three Hours of Play

Kramnik's clock shows that he has about one-third of the time the players have left to get to move forty.

9:15am PDT

A lot of action while I was frying some eggs. I should have eaten hours ago, but I have this chess addiction.

26...f5 27.Kd1 Rc8 28.f3 Nd6 29.Ke1 a5 30.e3 e5

31.gxf5 e4 32.fxe4 Nxe4

9:28am PDT

The Playchess game clocks show Anand with twenty minutes and Kramnik with sixteen after

33.Bd2 a4 34.Nf2 Nd6

9:33am PDT

35.Rg4 Nc4 36.e4 Nf6 37.Rg3 Nxb2

9:45am PDT; 6:45pm in Bonn

38.e5 Nd5 39.f6

Kramnik is in trouble

39...Kf7 looked to me like the best of some bad choices

40.Ne4 Nc4

Now that they've made the time control, a resignation is probably in order for Kramnik.

They've been playing almost four hours.

Kicking the Dead

As if it matters, Hiarcs 12 favors the obvious 41.Rxg7+ and White is more than +5.00

Anand, however, just played


Hiarcs 12 now says +2.32 with 41...Rg8.


If my chess engine can be believed, both players have made inaccurate moves. On the other hand, humans tire; computers less so.

10:10am PDT; 7:10pm in Bonn

Rumors on Playchess circulate that Kramnik has resigned.

The rumors prove false, as more moves were blitzed off moments ago.

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

And now Kramnik gives up.

It is 10:22am PDT; 7:22pm in Bonn

Thank you Vishy for another terrific novelty. Vlad, my heart is with you and I remain hopeful even though reasons for optimism seem to be vanishing.

A Playchess robot claims a new server record for number of viewers.


  1. How the computer estimate it after 17. Bg2 ?

  2. 0.16 after about a minute of analysis. Initially the engine preferred Ne4, but it quickly switched to Ne7, which Kramnik actually played.

  3. Thank you, so it's about equal for now.

  4. After twelve minutes of analysis, my Hiarcs 12 still favors the move Kramnik played and gives it 0.23, so White retains the advantage of first move and nothing more.

    I think that Kramnik has chances any time they reach an endgame.

  5. GM Shipov (on crestbook) says this is the time to do something for black, that's why Kramnik is thinking so long.

  6. I meant after 21. Rxg2, so he finally played 21. ...bxc5

  7. After 41.fxg7 Shipov says Anand is too confident now to recalculate anything.

  8. Dennis Monokrosses says that Anand has several ways to win, and this move tortures Kramnik a bit longer.

    Bad day for Kramnik and his fans (myself included), but Anand's play so far is this match is cause for excitement for the world of chess!

  9. Yeah, Anand plays very well. I also support Kramnik, but even in soccer getting back after 0:3 is rare, and this is not soccer. I actually remembered Korchnoi getting 5:5 after 2:5 with Karpov, but ...

  10. There have been comebacks from -3 in World Chess Championship contests, but not in any of such a short duration as this one. Twelve games are too few for this level of match, and too few for Kramnik's chances.

  11. Yeah, you need a long distance to do that. Kasparov "came back" from -5 in unlimited match with Karpov.
    I think 12 games format definitely affected today's game.
    Thanks for adding me to blogroll, I added you too.

  12. Half way thru and Anand leads with 3 points. This means that Anand only needs two more points (four draws) to take the match while Kramnik will have to take risk now to save the match.