27 October 2008

Kramnik-Anand: Game 10

This could be the end. I have nothing against Viswanathan Anand. Indeed I've long enjoyed his chess. But I am a partisan in favor of Vladimir Kramnik. He must win today to keep the World Chess Championship match going. I'm looking forward to an exciting game.

I recall buying Kramnik: My Life and Games (2000) before he became the World Chess Champion, but the publication date renders that improbable. Chances are that my memory is playing tricks on me and that I became a fan of Kramnik because of his performance against a former idol, Garry Kasparov. In any case, when I bought that book, the Sveshnikov and Kalashnikov variations of the Sicialian Defense were a central component of my repertoire. There are many exciting examples of so-called high risk Sicilians in Kramnik's early career.

Then, following his lead I added the Russian Defense (AKA Petroff) and Berlin Defense in the Spanish to my efforts. As I was struggling to break away from the C-class plateau, Kramnik's play offered a model for extracting wins from seemingly even positions, as well as stubbornly defending slightly inferior positions.

6:56am PDT; 2:56pm in Bonn

The game clock on Playchess is counting down to two hours.

World Chess Championship, Bonn 2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 O-O 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Qb3 Qa5 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.O-O Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6 14.Rfd1 Qc5 15.e4 Bc4 16.Qa4 Nb6 17.Qb4 Qh5

At least thirteen games have reached this position, including:

Kasparov,G (2851) - Anand,V (2769) [E20]
Corus Wijk aan Zee (7), 15.01.2000
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.g3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 0–0 7.Bg2 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Qb3 Nc6 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.0–0 Qa5 12.Bd2 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6 14.Rfd1 Qc5 15.e4 Bc4 16.Qa4 Nb6 17.Qb4 Qh5 18.Be3 Be2 19.Rd2 Rab8 20.Bxb6 axb6 21.Qd6 Bf3 22.Qxc6 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 Qe5 24.Qc4 Rfc8 25.Qd4 Qa5 26.Rb1 h6 27.Rb4 Qc5 28.Rd3 Qc7 29.a4 Rd8 30.Qe3 Rxd3 31.Qxd3 Rc8 32.Qb1 Qxc3 33.Rxb6 Rc4 34.Rb8+ Kh7 35.Rb7 f6 36.Re7 Rb4 37.Qa2 Qc4 38.Qxc4 Rxc4 39.a5 Ra4 40.Rxe6 Rxa5 41.Rd6 Ra4 42.Kf3 Ra3+ 43.Ke2 h5 44.Rd3 Ra2+ 45.Ke3 Kg6 46.h3 Ra4 47.f4 Rb4 48.Ra3 Rc4 49.g4 hxg4 50.hxg4 Rb4 51.Ra6 Kf7 52.Ra7+ Kg6 53.f5+ Kh6 54.g5+ fxg5 55.e5 g4 56.e6 Kg5 ½–½


Kramnik finds his third novelty of the match. Anand goes into a think.

7:32am PDT

18...c5 19.Qa5 Rfc8 20.Be3 Be2

Anand has used approximately forty minutes.

7:57am PDT; 3:57pm in Bonn


Kramnik has used approximately twenty-three minutes.


Kramnik is thirty minutes ahead on the clock.

8:21am PDT

Opening Nomenclature

This game is a Nimzo-Indian Defense, but which variation? 4.g3 is given as the Steiner Variation (for Lajos Steiner, Hungarian champion in the 1930s) in David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess (1992) and at Chess Archaeology. In the comments section of this blog, the Romanishin Variation has been mentioned. Barry Spiro has written Romanishin Variation ( 4 g3 ) of the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1981), which might have some bearing on this game with a slightly different move order.


Kramnik spent over ten minutes on that move. He does not appear to have an appreciable advantage, but there are imbalances in the position: bishop pair vs. bishop and knight, and one of the players might lose his isolated pawn. 22.Bxe5 might have led to 22...Nc4 23.Qa6 Qxe5 24.Rxe2 Qxc3 when Hiarcs 12 starts to like Kramnik's position, but my eye says that c-pawn could become a problem.

Susan Polgar is optimistic, at least from the point of view of Kramnik's partisans:

I just glanced at the evaluation of Fritz. It gives the position as equal. I disagree. I think White is slightly better and Anand has an uncomfortable position with White's Bishop pair pointing at his Rooks and his pieces are not very coordinated. In addition, it is not so simple for Black to come up with a sound strategic plan here.
22...Bg4 23.Qa6

Dennis Monokrousses called the move, as did Susan Polgar. It stands to reason that Anand was not surprised.

23...f6 24.a4

Hope Springs Forth

9:18am PDT; 5:18pm in Bonn

Hiarcs 12 now gives an evaluation of +0.60!


The intent of 23...f6. Anand's queen need to be in the fight. Nc4 is again a possibility.

25.Bf1 and Hiarcs 12's evaluation goes up.


My engine preferred 25...Kh8. Now it likes 26.Reb1 +1.10.


How does a player know which rook to move? I've often selected the wrong one. Did Kramnik?

9:39am PDT; 5:39pm in Bonn

Playchess clocks showKramnik just under an hour, and Anand just over twenty minutes. Anand must move every ninety seconds to get to the endgame--Kramnik's strength. Although, as Yasser Seiriwan pointed out when I brought this point up on Friday, Anand has been outplaying Kramnik in the endgame so far in Bonn.

26...c4 Anand used something close to four minutes.

27.a5 Na4 was played while I was discussing it in a comment (where I incorrectly wrote 27.a4).

28.Rb7 Qe8 29.Qd6

Anand is in trouble!! Go Kramnik, Go!!

Almost Three Hours into the Game

9:53am PDT; 5:53pm in Bonn

Hiarcs 12 has +1.75.


Anand leads 6-4, and they will play on Wednesday. Unfortunately I will not be able to follow that game live.


  1. Shirov says Kasparov played Romanishin variation against Karpov in 1985, it made problems for Karpov. Kramnik, when was young, played it too.

  2. Hiya,

    Re1 is new I take it? The other 10 games I have play Be3.

  3. Hiya RP,
    Anand played it in 2000 (Kasparov vs Anand) 1/2, but against 18.Be3

  4. Thanks joco. I found the game and posted it as you were typing the comment. Great minds--yours and mine--think alike! ;-)

  5. Ya, but 'greater' minds are original :-(

    James: You were very quick getting that game posted.

    RP: I thought the Romanishin variation was 4.g3, not 5.g3 ?

  6. Anand's Be2 is a little wonky.

  7. Shipov says Be2 played to exchange the bishops, i.e. liquidate 2 bishops advantage and weaken the position of White king.

  8. I had move 19 wrong and the white queen on =a3= rather than =a5=. That is why 20....Be2 seemed wrong.
    Thanks for the Shipov bits.

  9. James: You were very quick getting that game posted.

    Thanks. There are still hundreds of tiny tweaks needed getting my desktop back to normal, but it's working well enough now for the sort of multi-tasking that keeps me happy.

    I have multiple tabs open in Firefox. Hiarcs 12 is open for creating the diagrams and analysis, while I'm logged into Playchess through Fritz 9. Until they reached the novelty, I had ChessBase 8 open for one click access to the online database, and easy copying of reference games.

    All in a day's work (except it's play, not work). Pity those that must go to an office this morning.

  10. Multi-tasking?
    You call that multi-tasking?

    I bet you don't have 4 screens going :-)
    One one line PC, two on my desk top and one for Rybka on my laptop multi.
    (And I am doing the laundry, stewing my apples and supervising my husband digging the garden, by shouting from the window).

  11. I am on the office :). I have just 3 tabs - yours, chessdom and Shipov on crestbook, that's all.

  12. RP,
    Anand needs that e5 for the Shipov plan, but isn't it a little early?
    Maybe he's afraid Kramnik gets there first. What does Shirov say?
    Note-to-self: Must learn Russian.

  13. Shipov doesn't see, that Anad equalizes in the end. Yes, you should learn Russian, I even speak it half-time at work - so many of us are here and everywhere :).

  14. My engines say White can take e5, but my head says it's a trap.

  15. joco,

    Trust your head. The engines have been wrong with some frequency in this match.

  16. RP,

    I'm honored to be in such company. Thanks.

  17. Actually James, I played through it a ways, quite a few forced moves, and it would make a lovely game. White coming out ok it seems.
    I'll put a .jpg up with the analysis later today.

  18. Can't help thinking that Anand is trying to give Kramnik a prezzie time and again, but Kramnik won't accept it.
    Three times in a row Anand has made a less than accurate move, not obviously explainable by a grand plan, and three times Kramnik has refused.

    Was it Fischer said: If I get offered something, I take it.

  19. joco,

    If Kramnik moved the wrong rook, was it to lure the knight to a4 where it may get surrounded? Certainly Kramnik is not falling into that old beginner's trick--hoping for gross blunders. But, then, maybe 27.a4 Na4 is okay for Anand. 27...Nd7 doesn't look so good, and Kramnik's c-pawn is vulnerable.

    I don't trust my engine.

  20. Call me suspicious, but I reckon Anand's (misplaced) generosity was a little too transparent.

  21. You think that Anand threw the game?

  22. Absolutely!

    I began noticing it halfway through the game: moves unlike his style. Not quite accurate, nor with his usual flair. Just clumsy. The only explanation I can come up with is that he did not want to go down in history having such an easy ride.

    I am sure Kramnik noticed it too and didn't want any part of it.

    Look at the time Anand frittered away. Compare that to his other games over the years. He was trying to lose elegantly, but made it look clumsy. It leaves a bitter taste.

    To me it never matters who wins: It may take two to tango, but it is the tango that counts.

    And today the tango was artificial. I hated it. Sorry to be so passionate about it.

  23. I don't think Anand will do something like that, it's not in his character. You always can play better than you usually do or worse, today was worse.