07 February 2017

Studying with Kramnik

Over the course of three sessions, I blitzed through all of the games in Chess Informant 130 that contain an ECO Code beginning with E.* As I did so, I made light notes that would guide me back to games that I wanted to examine further. This morning I played through part of Kramnik -- Vocaturo, Baku 2016, Informant 130/189 at the dining room table. Once I reached the position of the first diagram, I set Informant aside and opened my notebook. I remembered Kramnik's 17.Be7! From the position before that move, I tried to work out Black's principal responses and how Kramnik might have pursued his attack after each one. After recording my ideas in my notebook, I checked them against the annotations by Goran Arsovic.

After 16...h5
My first line is omitted from the annotations, perhaps because it is relatively simple. White wins a pawn and maintains an active position.

Black to move
After 17.Be7!
a) 17...Rd7 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Nxe4 Bg7

In my second line, Black accepts White's bishop sacrifice.

b) 17...Rxe7 18.Nxc6

Black to move
Analysis diagram after 18.Nxc6
I rejected 18...Rxd2 as a critical line for Black, but it is presented in the Informant annotations. Again, White wins a pawn after 19.Nxe7+ Kf8 20.Nxc8. The line ends here, but it is obvious that a7 is en prise and Black has other difficulties. Trading rooks seems obligatory, which leads to a clearly winning ending for White.

My notebook has 18...Red7, which is inferior to 18...Rdd7 given in the annotations. My assessment of Black's defensive resources needs improvement here.

The critical line that I found was the line played in the game, but I mixed up the move order a few moves into the sequence.

17...Rxd4 18.Rxd4 Rxe7 19.Rd8+

I was not certain of this move after 19...Ne8 20.Rxc8 Bxc3 21.Rdd8 Kf8, thinking that Black might be better. White's attack has stalled and Black has two minor pieces for a rook.

Hence, I tried 19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.Rd8+ Kh7 21.Bxe4 Rxe4 22.Rxc8 and assessed the position as unclear.

Kramnik's play appears more precise.

19...Ne8 20.Nxe4 Be6 21.Ra8 and Kramnik went on to win.

I have a long way to go before I can calculate the consequences of a move like 17.Be7!

*ECO is a registered trademark of Chess Informant.

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