31 October 2008

Back to the Mines

Tactics Training Plus

In June I set forth a training regimen designed to strengthen my tactical skill in the usual way by solving a specific set of tactical problems. This regimen also had a second purpose: developing my technique at carrying out an attack to completion. I quickly realized that this regimen could help every aspect of my games except developing my opening repertoire.

The plan was thus: spend ninety minutes per week playing set positions against the computer. These set positions are from Fred Reinfeld, 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations (1955). It is not difficult to find the tactic, especially as they are organized by motif. But the resulting position is not always a clear win. In many of the problems, the player on move wins the exchange, which in theory confers a winning advantage. But there are many busts--Reinfeld's solutions often overlook a key defense that changes the evaluation of the position. In other cases, the winning advantage is so slight that nursing it to victory requires expert play.

I have failed. For the first several weeks, indeed through most of the summer, I was diligent. Since then, other interests and responsibilities, my online blitz obsession, and other factors have interfered with my performance of a clear and specific plan for improving my chess skills. Weeks have passed during which I did not solve a single problem from Reinfeld's book. I solved one problem the first day of October, but did not attempt another this month until today.

Since beginning my efforts, I have played to completion seventy problems. Seventy problems over eighteen weeks is less than four per week. Given an average of fifteen minutes per problem, that puts me more than thirty minutes per week behind schedule.

It is time to "get back to the mines," that is, to renew the necessary labor that will yield the riches of chess expertise.


In sixteen of the seventy, Black moves first. In these, White won two, and there were five draws. One of the draws was my second effort on a problem attempted before I began this program. This draw was an improvement, but not yet the success I seek. One of the losses is a bust. My play was competent; Reinfeld's solution was suboptimal. White has a superior position despite the tactice. In the fifty-four problems I've played from the White side, Black has won twelve and drawn fifteen. Four of these are busts, one wins a pawn, and one is the familiar opening trap called Legall's Pseudo-Sacrifice, which Hiarcs, Fritz, or any other engine able to see five plies into the position will never fall into.

In time, I hope to complete all 1001 problems, winning all those that can be won, and identifying all the busts.

Resumption of Training

This morning I played from Reinfeld's WSSAC #0329, which is in chapter 4 "Discovered Attack." White moves first.

The tactic starts with a knight fork that drives the rook to a square where it is vulnerable to a discovered attack.


Reinfeld gives 1...Re7 2.Nxc8 and White wins the exchange.

1...Kg8 Hiarcs 10 considers and rejects Reinfeld's line.

2.Nxe8 I did not even consider 2.f3, which seems superior. My play over the next several move was not the best possible, but I succeeded in improving my pieces.

2...Qxe8 3.c5 Kh8 4.Qc4 Nc7 5.Rb6 Qe7 6.Rfb1 Ra7 7.Be4?! Ne8 8.Qc2 Nf6 9.Bg2 Qe6 10.Rd1 Qe8 11.d4 Be6 12.Bb2

White invites 12...Nd7 13.d5 cxd5 14.Bxd5 Bxd5 15.Rxd5 Nxb6 16.cxb6 Ra8 17.Qc7 when Black has won back the exchange, but the coordination and activity of White's pieces create a decisive advantage.

Hiarcs played 12...h5.

13.Ba1 exd4 14.Bxd4 Qf7 15.Be5 Nd7 16.Bxg7+ Kxg7 17.Qb2+ Qf6 18.Rxb7 Qxb2 19.Rxb2 Rc7 20.Rd6 Kf6 21.Rxc6 Rxc6 22.Bxc6 Nxc5 23.Rb8 h4 24.Ra8 Nb3 25.Kf1 Ke5

White remains up the exchange and has a supported passed pawn.


26.Ke1 is much better as will become apparent in a few moves.

26...Kd6 27.Bb5 Bd5 28.Ra6+ Ke5 29.Rg6 Bf7 30.Rxg5+ Kf6 and the rook is trapped. Had the king been on e1 instead of e2, the rook could gobble all that it craves.

31.Rxg4 Bh5 32.Kf3

32.h3 is better

32...Nc5 33.h3 Kf5 34.Kg2 Bxg4 35.hxg4+ Kxg4 36.f3+ Kf5 37.Kh3 Kg5

My play has been far from perfect, but it has been good enough to maintain an advantage that should be decisive. Alas, more inaccuracies follow.


38.Bc6 is better

38...Kf6 39.f4 Ne4 40.Kh3 Nc3 41.Bc6?

41.Kxh4 Nxb5 42.axb5+-

41...Ke6 42.Kxh4 Kd6

And we reach the last position from which I still could win.


I played another eighteen moves in time pressure. But from this point the position is a draw.

43.Bf3 wins.

After thirty minutes from the original position, I spent another fifteen finding my critical errors with the aid of engine analysis. Then, I started another exercise beginning from the last diagram. I played 43.Bf3, and Hiarcs resigned fifteen moves later.

Today's forty-five minutes was productive.

30 October 2008

Latent Patterns

Pattern recognition is the key to chess improvement for beginners as well as for advanced players. It also serves humans well in comparison to the software we have created. Software developers have created invaluable tools for chess analysis--Fritz, Hiarcs, Rybka, Chessmaster,--but these chess engines can be wrong.

Elementary Patterns

Beginning chess players improve most rapidly when they learn certain common patterns. Among the first are elementary checkmate patterns such as a back-rank mate, or rolling rooks (the first one I learned back in the 1960s). The infamous smother mate is a popular pattern, but rare in actual play. Even so, it might help beginners learn such notions as forcing moves, double check, and piece coordination.

Other patterns include many basic king and pawn endgame positions. In this position, for example, White wins no matter who is on the move.

If the White king and pawn switch places, the position is drawn regardless of who has the move.

When players are learning opposition and pawn promotion, they master a few fundamental positions such as these. As skills improve, the number and complexity of the positions increases.

In the next diagram, White to move draws by seizing and maintaining the opposition.

1.Kh4 is the only move.

If the position occurs with Black to move, Black wins with 1...Kg5, seizing the opposition. 2.Kf4 Kh5, outflanking. The White pawn on e5 will fall, then the b-pawn falls and Black's b-pawn will promote.

It all comes down to patterns. Often elementary patterns are concealed in complex positions.

Dead Draw

If we add a pair of pawns to the position, it no longer matters who has the move.

The board is completely locked up by the pawns, and neither king can penetrate to a square where it can attack an enemy pawn. This relatively simple dead draw is latent in a more complex position from Plater -- Bobotsov, Miedzyzdroje 1952.

White just played 59.Kf3 and a draw was agreed.

Black has a passed pawn, but the moment it advances to c4, neither the king nor the bishop can protect it from White's king. Neither player can make progress.

Silicon Versus Carbon

Our elementary position was latent in Game 7 of the World Chess Championship recently concluded in Bonn, Germany. The critical aspects of the pawn structure remain the same.

While watching the game, I wrote:
Hiarcs 12 gives +1.52 +- for the line 33.Kd3 Nc5+ 34.Bxc5 Rxc5 35.Rxc3 Rxc3+ 36.Kxc3 Kf7. However, the engine is too optimistic. Both kings are almost completely locked out of the other side, and the Black king is better positioned for the only available point of penetration along the h- and g-files. After some exchanges there, the kings keep each other at bay. There is no other way through. The engine cannot assess the pawn structure well enough, it seems.
Our silicon friends that watch chess games with us and offer grandmaster level commentary can be horribly wrong. Humans commenting on the game at this point recognized the position as a dead draw, but many of us were reporting that our engines thought otherwise.

I rather suspect, however, that if Rybka were running its Monte Carlo Analysis, it would have recognized the position as clearly drawn.

The position looks complicated with rooks on the board, a bishop versus a knight, and a few almost mobile pawns. Among beginners, it is even possible for either player to lose this game: an h3-h4 push at the right moment could give either player a decisive advantage, depending upon the relative placement of the kings. If White lets Black's knight dance, certain pawns could fall, including Black's anchor at b6.

Of course, neither Vladimir Kramnik nor Viswanathan Anand would let this position deteriorate when it can be held so easily. Nor should a B-class player.

As in the case of the Shirov Test or Sergei Rublevsky's tremendous combination from Chess Informant 94, human intuition informed by pattern recognition renders carbon life forms (humans) capable of seeing in the position a decisive element that is beyond the search horizon of the computer.

4:40pm PDT Postscript:

In answer to Chesstiger's observation in the comments, I might add that it may be helpful to think of patterns as both static and dynamic. Pawn structure is an example of the static aspect; the movement of a king to seize the opposition is dynamic. In smother mate, the final position is static, but the customary method of bringing it about with a double-check followed by a decoy sacrifice is a dynamic pattern.

Adriaan de Groot's seminal study suggested that master and expert chess players recalled the functional relationships between pieces more clearly than their precise locations. That is, a bishop pinning a knight is more critical to the pattern than whether the bishop stands on g5 or h4.

Even an elementary setting with locked pawns, the possibilities of movement appear critical to the pattern. In the diagram below, none of the pawns can move to the red squares. But the point of the position is that White's king is restrained from moving to those squares because a black pawn could move to each of those squares if occupied. The dynamic potential is inherent in even static positions.

Pattern recognition is rooted in the dynamic relationship of the pieces, not merely their placement on certain squares. If not for the knowledge of how the position is maintained, the position of the pawns would lack salience.

29 October 2008

Anand-Kramnik: Game 11

Will Anand win today? He deserves the title, but not if he cannot find the resources to draw with White. However, as they say, attepting to draw with White is a good way to lose a game. Anand must play actively to get what he needs and finally exorcise those demons that place footnotes next to his World Chess Championship title indicating that he did no earn it through a match. He might today. We''ll know soon.

World Chess Championship, Bonn 2008


Anand returns to his own style, and what is going on?

1...c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

Kramnik started his career with the Sicilian Defense, and he's playing it again. Anand plays both sides of the Sicilian in tournament after tournament, year after year.

6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7

7:07am PDT; 3:07pm in Bonn

8.bxf6 gxf6 9.f5

Fifty-eight games dating back to 1960. I choose to highlight one by a couple of less known players because I have faced the White player in OTB play:

Pitre,H - Hoeffler,D [B96]
Seattle op Seattle (3), 1994
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.f5 Nc6 10.Bc4 Qb6 11.Nde2 Ne5 12.Bb3 Bh6 13.Qd4 Qxd4 14.Nxd4 Ke7 15.Na4 Nc6 16.c3 Nxd4 17.cxd4 b5 18.Nb6 Rb8 19.Nxc8+ Rbxc8 20.Kf2 Rc7 21.Rhd1 Rhc8 22.Rab1 Rc1 23.Ke2 Rxb1 24.Rxb1 Rc1 25.Rxc1 Bxc1 26.a4 bxa4 27.Bxa4 Bxb2 28.d5 exd5 29.exd5 Kf8 30.Kd3 Kg7 31.Kc4 Kh6 32.Kb4 Kg5 33.Bd7 Kf4 34.Ka5 Ke5 35.Be6 Kf4 36.Kxa6 Ke3 37.Bxf7 Kf2 38.g4 Kf3 39.Bh5 Ke4 40.Bf7 h5 41.Bxh5 Kxd5 42.h4 Ke4 43.Kb6 d5 44.Kb5 Bd4 45.Bf7 Bf2 46.g5 fxg5 ½–½


They are slowing down. Now we're down to nineteen games in the ChessBase online database. Across these games, White and Black have an even score, and there is a low drawing percentage. The data is thin, but my intuition tells me that both players are playing to win today.

7:21am PDT

Anand has used twenty minutes and is using more.

10.Qd3 Nc6

11.Nb3 is usual. Anand is thinking about it almost certainly. 11.O-O-O has been played, as has 11.Nxc6.

11.Nb3 Qe5

It looks as though the game is within Kramnik's preparation.

7:38am PDT


Three games in database, including one from the 1991 Russian Correspondence championship.

Zelinskis,J - Kopylov,I [B96]
URS-ch19 corr Russia, 1991
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.f5 Qc5 10.Qd3 Nc6 11.Nb3 Qe5 12.0–0–0 Bd7 13.Kb1 Be7 14.Na4 Nb4 15.Qd2 Bxa4 16.Qxb4 Bc6 17.fxe6 fxe6 18.Nd4 d5 19.Qb3 Bc5 20.exd5 Bxd5 21.Bc4 Bxd4 22.Bxd5 Qxd5 23.Qxd5 exd5 24.Rxd4 0–0–0 25.Rf1 Rhe8 26.Rd2 Kc7 27.Rdf2 Rd6 28.Kc1 Ree6 29.Kd2 Kd7 30.Rf5 Ke8 31.Rh5 Rd7 32.Re1 1–0

Is Kramnik forced to think here, or is he bluffing?

12...exf5 has not been played prior to this game, so far as I have found. Will Kramnik's fourth novelty in eleven games give him his much needed second victory?


8:15am PDT

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go. I'm off to train some youth chess players without the aid of silicon and software, and most of all, my internet connection. When I'm able to check in again, this game almost certainly will be history.

If Kramnik pulls off a win, I'll be here for the blow by blow tomorrow. If not, I'll be forced to become content with blogging about things with less immediacy. Thank you to all that have joined me in this enterprise the past two weeks. Let's not be strangers.

Kramnik is ahead on the clock and has an interesting pawn formation.

11:37am PDT Update

Lunch is served at the Classic Cafe in Deer Park, Washington where the coffee is great and the service excellent. Moreover, they have a wireless connection available. The game in Bonn is over, and appears to have been an interesting but relatively short draw.

13...Bg7 14.Rd5 Qe7 15.Qg3 Rg8 16.Qf4 fxe4 17.Nxe4 f5 18.Nxd6+ Kf8

19.Nxc8 Rxc8

As pieces come off the board, Kramnik's chances vanish. Or, do they improve?

20.Kb1 Qe1+ 21.Nc1 Ne7 22.Qd2 Qxd2 23.Rxd2 Bh6 24.Rf2 Be3 ½–½

There's a bit more that White might play for in this position than for Black, as White has fewer weaknesses. Both players have their pieces in the game, and their coordination might improve, but when White is seeking a draw, there's precious little hope for Black to subvert his plan.

Excellent match for World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand! Vladimir Kramnik showed signs of making a comeback in the past few days, but it was too little, too late. It appears that Anand's excellent preparation prior to the match gave him an early and decisive edge.

It was a WCC match that was good for the players, organizers, fans, and, in short, good for chess.

Kramnik’s Golden Games

The game in each issue of Chess Informant judged best through voting by a team of strong players is dubbed the golden game. Chess Informant’s book The Best of the Best 1000 (2008) tallies that forty-two players have won this honor through the first one hundred volumes. When this book was published Viswanathan Anand and Vassily Ivanchuk were tied for third behind Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Anand moved ahead when the jury selected the best of Informant 101, Anand’s win with Black over Levon Aronian at the World Chess Championship tournament in Mexico City, 2007.

Vladimir Kramnik is in fifth place with five golden games, one more than Mikhail Tal. Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky each have three.

Kramnik’s golden games:

Informant 66: Kasparov – Kramnik, Dos Hermanas, 1996
Informant 79: Kramnik – Hübner, Dortmund, 2000
Informant 80: Kramnik – Kasparov, London, 2000
Informant 82: Kramnik – Anand, Dortmund, 2001
Informant 97: Kramnik – Bruzón Batista, Turin, 2006

Kasparov – Kramnik

Black won thirty of the first one hundred golden games. Kramnik’s first “best game” in Chess Informant puts him in that rare company with a win against the then reigning World Chess Champion. My database shows a mere eight Garry Kasparov losses in 2006—two to Deep Blue, two to Anand, one each to Veselin Topalov and Alexey Dreev, and two to Kramnik. Both Kramnik wins were with Black. The other was a rapid game.

This game started as a Semi-Slav Meran that became a wild open game with both kings in apparent danger. After 19.exf7+, Kramnik’s king looks exposed.

But, after 19…Qxf7 20.f3 Qh5 21.g3 O-O 22.fxe4 Qh3 Kasparov’s monarch appears unsteady. Kramnik was down a knight, so he gave up more material to start his king hunt. On move 29, Kramnik missed a checkmate in four due to time pressure, but the White king still found no escape without losing most of his troops.

Kramnik – Hübner

Robert Hübner’s last place finish in the Dortmund SuperGM tournament might obscure that he once competed in World Chess Championship Candidates matches, but the winners of this event are battling in the championship itself. Kramnik beat Anand, but both finished with 6 of 9. Deep Junior also played in this event, finishing with an even score that included a draw with Anand. Only Kramnik and Jeroen Piket managed wins against the beast.

Kramnik’s 11.h4 had first been played in an email championship earlier in the year, and only nine times since. It’s the sort of move that appeals to me

The decisive point in the game, however, came when Kramnik found the tactics to set up a skewer and pin along the a2-g8 diagonal, followed by a discovery on the e-file that facilitated piling on the pinned rook.

25.Nf5! exf5 26.Bc4 Nf6 27.Bc7 1-0

Kramnik – Kasparov

Kramnik beat Kasparov’s Grünfeld Defense in game two of their World Chess Championship battle in London in October 2000, also known as the Brain Games WCC per an agreement with the corporate sponsor. Raymond Keene called it Kasparov’s “first serious competitive” loss in nearly two years (The Brain Games World Chess Championship, 52).

Those believing that opposite colored bishop endgames are drawn, even when there are rooks on the board, would do well to study the continuation of this game after 27.e6

Kramnik – Anand

Thie Queen’s Gambit accepted gave Kramnik an isolated queen pawn that he sacrificed to give Anand a one pawn advantage with his own IQP. The game started getting interesting after 19.g4!

Eight moves later, Kramnik has an extra pawn and an attack.

Kramnik – Bruzón Batista

Lazaro Bruzón adopted the Cambridge Springs Defense of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. This event, the 37th Chess Olympiad, marked Kramnik’s return to competitive chess after a break for treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. He won the individual medal for Best Rating Performance.

After Kramnik castled, we see a position where it appears that his pieces are confined to one-third of the board, but they are far better prepared for action than Bruzón’s pieces.

Indeed, White’s pieces quickly sprang to life while Black tried to create threats with his passed a-pawn. On move 26, Kramnik sacrificed a bishop to expose his opponent’s king. Three moves later he had a rook for two knights, but most of Black’s pieces had become immobile.

28 October 2008

Familiar Positions

The October 2008 Chess Life arrived yesterday. As I started leafing through to find the articles that I want to read, I found this diagram with Black to move.

This position appears in Alexey Root's article "A Wise Man Once Said...," which is a review of The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess (2008) by Andrew Soltis. Root states, "For four of the first 12 problems, the reader chooses a move for one side, then that side loses" (10). The reader of Soltis' book is looking for 1...Nxb2!

That move leads to a position posted here at Chess Skills less than forty-eight hours ago: it was the position that I chose to highlight from Anand – Ftáčnik, Bled 1993 in "Anand's Golden Games, Part I."

Root gives the line from The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess: after 2.fxe6!, Black could try 2...Nxd1 3.exf7+ Kxf7 4.Rxd1 Ne4 5.Bxe4 dxe4 6.Qc4+. Viswanathan Anand's annotations in Chess Informant give the line Soltis offers among several other possibilities, but they end at 4.Rd1 with the symbols for a decisive advantage and attack (The Best of the Best 1000, 279). However, Anand calls brilliant what Soltis reduces to good: 21.fe6!! in Chess Informant becomes 2.fxe6! in The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess.

Pattern Recognition

Even before Alfred Binet published his study on pattern recognition, Psychologie des Grands Calculateurs et Joueurś d’Échecs (1894), many chess players understood that even among the seemingly infinite possibilities in a game of chess, certain motifs recur with frequency.

Root's review presents the clue offered by Soltis: a statement by Nigel Short that orients the reader towards possibilities of checkmate instead of worrying about pawn structure. Indeed, White's monarch looks a bit vulnerable if he grabs the knight. On the other hand, after Anand's 21.fxe6 the White and Black pawns (e6 and f7) remained in contact through an extended tactical struggle until the game ended with 36.exf7 Rf8 37.g6.

One suspects that Anand understood the critical importance of the pawn structure in the distant future when he responded to Ftáčnik's 20...Nxb2! with 21.fxe6!!

There are two sets of patterns stemming from the position in the diagram. Soltis want his readers to find the dance of the black knights around the enemy king. Anand found the decisive pawn on the seventh rank.

I immediately recognized the position not only because I wrote about it two days ago, but also because White's knights and Black's uncastled king reminds me of a key position in another game with an entirely different character: Pillsbury – Lasker, Nuremburg 1896.

After 22.Nf4

In that game, Pillsbury's beautiful move emphasized by Emanuel Lasker in Lasker's Manual of Chess, 2nd edition (1932) was a sacrifice of the f-pawn to free the f4 square for a knight. Aside from the position of the white knights, there's nothing that connects Pillsbury's 1896 win over Lasker to Anand's golden game almost a century later.

Two knights appear on those squares in substantially more than seven thousand games in my database of historic games, and twice in my OTB games. This past summer, in an upset I scored against one of Spokane's top junior players, the knights are almost insignificant.

My two pigs were the decisive element in that game. Such rooks are one of the key patterns all chess players need to learn.

Binet's study of chess and memory facilitated Adriaan de Groot, Het denken van den schaker (1946), translated as Thought and Choice in Chess (1965), and the critically important study by William Chase and Herbert Simon in Cognitive Psychology, "Perception in Chess" (1973). Chase and Simon found that strong and weak players remember random chess positions equally well, but strong players do better at recalling positions with tactical or strategic significance.

Anand's game brought to memory Pillsbury's knights because they were salient to his victory, but did not remind me of my own more recent victory where their presence is less significant.

27 October 2008

Kramnik Scores!

In Game 10 of the World Chess Championship in Bonn, Vladimir Kramnik won his first game. He now trails Viswanathan Anand by two games with two games to play. A draw in either game will secure the championship for Anand. Two more Kramnik wins will force rapid game tiebreaks.

Play through today's game:

My post just before this one was written during the game.

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.

26 October 2008

Anand's Golden Games, Part I

Each issue of Chess Informant highlights the best game from the previous volume. Through the first 101 issues (volume 102 was released earlier in October), Viswanathan Anand has seven golden games, including the best of Informant 101. His latest golden game puts him third on the all time list with half the number of second place Anatoly Karpov. Garry Kasparov has fifteen.

Anand’s golden games:

Informant 58: Anand – Ftáčnik, Biel 1993
Informant 68: Anand – Karpov, Las Palmas 1996
Informant 70: Anand – Lautier, Biel 1997
Informant 88: Anand – Bologan, Dortmund 2003
Informant 94: Anand – Adams, San Luis 2005
Informant 99: Anand – Carlsen, Morelia/Linares 2007
Informant 101: Aronian – Anand, Mexico City 2007

Anand – Ftáčnik

Ľubomír Ftáčnik played an early b-pawn push in a Sicilian Scheveningen. Anand struck back on the kingside and both players castled on the queenside. After 20…Nxb2, the position is a jungle of pieces.

Here Anand played 21.fxe6. After the bloodbath, this pawn was on f7 where another pawn on g6 supported it. The knight remained on f4, now with a decisive endgame role.

Anand – Karpov

Anand’s 1.Nf3 led to a Queen’s Gambit Accepted and 10.Be2, which Anand’s Informant annotations identify as a novelty despite having been played in Lutz – Schlosser, 1989. The move next appeared in an Opening Survey in ChessBase Magazine 57, and has been played at least fifteen times since. This bishop moved back to e2 on move seventeen, then to its ordinary d3 on move twenty. When it sacrificed itself on h7 on the next move, Karpov was already in great difficulty.

In the ensuing melee, Anand had three connected passed pawns for a knight and Karpov’s king was without shelter.

Anand – Lautier

Anand’s 15.f3 appears to be a novelty in this position from the Scandinavian Opening.

After 15…Bb4 16.Kf2!, Black’s light-squared bishop was trapped. It was a fast loss for Joel Lautier, ending a mere ten moves later.

Anand – Bologan

Seven of the nine judges picked this game as the best of Informant 88. Bologan played the Devil’s Opening (AKA Caro-Kann).

In a correspondence game, Frank Gerhardt was the first to play 14.Re1 to reach this position.

Fourteen other games have reached this position, and almost everyone playing Black has answered with 14…g4 and gone on to lose. The only other game to feature Victor Bologan’s 14…Bf8! was a low level player that won an email game that way—the only Black win. Bologan lost this game, but finished ahead of Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, and Peter Leko to win the tournament.

…to be continued…

Anand-Kramnik: Game 9

In Europe, the clocks changed back to Standard Time on the normal date this weekend, while the United States switched to a later change a few years ago. Because I forgot, this difference robbed me of a needed hour of sleep, and may have frustrated some of my readers, who, like me, were wondering why the game had not yet begun.

7:00am PDT; 3:00pm in Bonn

The game should start now.

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

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6

It has begun.

7:03am PDT

I am following the game on the Playchess server on my Gateway notebook computer--an old and slow P-III, while performing the seemingly endless labor of restoring files after a system restore on my HP Pavilion desktop. It is made much easier due to first backing up everything possible on an external hard drive, but still the process is maddening, and will cost me in productivity for a week or more.

3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.Qc2 Nbd7 11.Rd1

7:16am PDT; 3:16pm in Bonn


Nine games in ChessBase online database. The highest level game of these nine is:

Van Wely,L (2643) - Dao Thien Hai (2555) [D43]
Istanbul ol (Men) Istanbul (3), 28.10.2000
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb4 10.Qc2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Nbd7 12.Ne5 Rg8 13.0–0 Qe7 14.a4 a6 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.d5 Nf6 17.d6 Qd7 18.f4 Bxc3 19.bxc3 c5 20.fxg5 Bxe4 21.Qd2 Nd5 22.Bh5 Bg6 23.Bf3 Bd3 24.Bxd5 exd5 25.Rde1+ Kd8 26.Re7 1–0


Now 7:25am PDT


Kramnik delivers the novelty!

13.O-O Nxe5 14.Bxe5 O-O 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.f4 Qg7

8:29am PDT


They tell me chess players are patient, but that's because they haven't been in the room with me when my computer is set up with the defaults instead of the way I want them. Add Kramnik's abysmal performance in this match to my computer problems and I'm "fit to be tied," as they say.

Kramnik appears to be twenty minutes ahead on the clock.

8:50am PDT; 4:50pm in Bonn

As a consequence of computer problems on my main box, I'm not running Hiarcs 12 today. The problems that led to my desktop problems began with one of those notorious Microsoft script errors, and were compounded by human errors--mine.

Kramnik has been thinking awhile. Fritz 9 (running on a 1.2 GhZ P-III) likes Black's position, but many of those commenting on Playchess are far less optimistic.

9:00am PDT

17...c5 just played

18.Nxb5 cxd4 19.Qxc4 a5

Good News!

Hiarcs 12 now running on my box! That's good news, but even more so is that it likes Kramnik's position, giving -0.62.


Anand played this move while I was away from the board. The clocks on Playchess show Anand under thirty minutes for the next twenty moves, and Kramnik just over fifty remaining. Kramnik uncorked the novelty, is quite a bit ahead on time, and has a better position. Is this a dream? Has my perspective become distorted beyond all relationship to reality due to computer woes? Certainly my struggles with software should not skew my perspective towards a rosy view of life, but that's how I'm seeing this game at the moment.

9:49am PDT; 5:49pm in Bonn

Hiarcs 12 now showing -1.04; Fritz 9 has -0.70

20...Rac8 21.Qxd4 gxf4 22.Bf3 Ba6 23.a4

It appears that Anand has improved his position. The position seems unclear with each move changing the evaluation of engines towards even, then back towards an advantage for Black. Anand's moves seem to be coming fast. The Playchess game clocks have both players under twenty-seven minutes.

23...Rc5 24.Qxf4 Rxe5 25.b3

10:17am PDT; 6:17pm in Bonn

25...Bxb5 26.axb5 Rxb5 27.Be4 Bc3 28.Bc2 Be5 29.Qf2 Bb8 30.Qf3 Rc5 31.Bd3

10:30am PDT; 6:30pm in Bonn


Hiarcs 12 has -0.97

32.g3 Kh8

Hiarcs 12 has -1.20

10:35am PDT

Hiarcs 12 has -0.96

10:36am PDT

33.Qb7 f5

Hiarcs 12 has -0.65

10:40am PDT



Did Anand miss something?

35...Qc7 36.Qxc7 Bxc7 37.Bc4

Did Kramnik miss something?

10:50am PDT

37...Re8 38.Rd7 a4
White can probably hold with 39.Ra1 but he has to find it.
Susan Polgar
39.Rxc7 axb3 40.Rf2 Rb8

Both players gain an hour on their clocks, having made the time control.

11:01am PDT; 7:01pm in Bonn

Playchess pundits are declaring the game a dead draw, but Susan Polgar thinks Black has winning chances.

But, in her update to include Anand's move 41, she states that White holds the position.


11:34am PDT

42.Kg2 h4 43.Rc6 hxg3

Hiarcs 12 has =0.00

44.hxg3 Rg8 45.Rxe6 Rxc4 ½–½

Viswanathan Anand leads 6-3. One more draw secures the World Chess Championship title to the current champion. The man reputed to be the best tournament player, but less strong in matches, has so far dominated this match against Vladimir Kramnik.

In Bonn, it is 8:00pm; in the American west, it is high noon.

25 October 2008

World Chess Championship Comebacks

In the World Chess Championship taking place in Bonn, Germany right now, Viswanathan Anand is one win or two draws from match victory. If Kramnik manages four consecutive wins in all the remaining scheduled standard time games, on the other hand, he will regain the champion’s title. If Kramnik wins three and draws one, the players will play rapid games as tiebreaks. Kramnik’s chances look bleak. It even appears unlikely at this point that there will be a twelfth game.

In the past, there have been several astounding comebacks in World Chess Championship matches.

Steinitz – Zukertort 1886

In the first “official” WCC match, Wilhelm Steinitz won the first game. Then Johannes Zukertort won four in a row. After five games, Steinitz was down by three. Steinitz won the next two games, followed by a draw. In game nine, Steinitz tied the match. By game twelve of the match the first official World Chess Champion had a two game lead. Steinitz won 12½ - 7½.

Through several subsequent matches, Steinitz was not down by more than one game until his 1896 match with Emanuel Lasker. Lasker won the first four games, and was ahead 9-2 (four draws) before Steinitz won game twelve. Lasker won the match 12½ - 4½.

Euwe – Alekhine 1935

Alexander Alekhine failed to defend his world title against Max Euwe. But in this thirty game match, Euwe came back from a brief three game deficit to tie the match. Then Euwe pulled ahead. Alekhine won the first game; Euwe won game two. Then Alekhine won two, followed by two draws, and another Alekhine win. After seven games, Euwe was down 5-2. However, as the players had agreed to play a long match, Euwe had plenty of time to recover. The next three games were decisive—Euwe won, then Alekhine, then Euwe.

After twenty-four games, the score was 12-12 with ten draws and seven wins each. Euwe won games twenty-five and twenty-six, and then Alekhine won one. The event finished with three draws, although Euwe had a superior position in the final game. Euwe won 15½ - 14½ .

White just played Rf1-g1 and the players agreed to a draw.

In the rematch two years later, Euwe had a one game lead after five games and a three game deficit after ten. Alekhine regained his title 15½ - 9½ . He then held the title until his death in 1946. There were no WCC matches during the Second World War.

Fischer – Spassky 1972

In Reykjavik, Bobby Fischer lost the first game, and then forfeited game two due to his unresolved complaints about noise and lighting. From this two loss deficit, Fischer stormed back, winning games three, five, six, eight, and ten. Spassky could not recover from his three game deficit. Fischer won 12½ - 8½.

Among the demands Fischer put forth as conditions for World Chess Championships was his insistence that a match should continue until one player had won six games. FIDE could not accede to this demand, which is a nightmare for organizers.

Kasparov – Karpov 1984

After winning the title by default, Anatoli Karpov won more tournaments than any previous world champion. He also twice successfully defended his title against Victor Korchnoi, 1978 and 1981. In 1984 a match was arranged with the young new challenger, Garry Kasparov, and with the conditions Fischer had sought. Draws would not count in the result. To gain or retain the WCC title, a player had to win six games.

The first decisive game was the third of the match. Karpov won that game, then won six, seven, and nine. The next seventeen games were drawn, but then Karpov achieved his fifth win. Kasparov began a comeback with a win in game thirty-two. A string of fourteen more draws was capped by two successive Kasparov wins. With Karpov leading 5-3 and forty draws, the match was suspended. It had been running from September 1984 to February 1985.

A new match began in September 1985. In this resumption, the old system of best of twenty-four games was in place. Kasparov won the first game, lost games four and five, and then won game eleven. He won this match 13 – 11.

Perhaps this pair of matches should be regarded as the greatest comeback in World Chess Championship history. After seventy-two games, each player had eight wins and fifty-six draws.

In 1986, Kasparov was never behind in the match against Karpov. However, in 1987, each player won four games, Karpov winning first in game two. Kasparov retained the title due to the 12-12 tie. In 1990 Kasparov won the fifth WCC match between these two men 12½ - 11½.

Kasparov surrendered his WCC title to Vladimir Kramnik in a match scheduled for sixteen games in 2000. Kramnik won games two and ten; the rest were draws. After fifteen games, he achieved the 8½ needed for victory. Kramnik won 8½ to 6½.

Leko – Kramnik 2004

In Kramnik’s first title defense, the players agreed to play best of fourteen games with the reigning champion getting draw odds. Kramnik won the first game, but Peter Leko won games five and eight. Going into game fourteen, Kramnik needed a win with Black to tie the match and retain the title. He succeeded.

Topalov – Kramnik 2006

In Kramnik’s next title defense, he was considered the challenger by FIDE. This match was to unify the title that had split in 1993 when Kasparov organized a WCC title defense outside the auspices of FIDE. Kramnik won the first two games, then the psychological war began. Restrictions on use of the loo led to Kramnik forfeiting game five. Topalov won games eight and nine. Depending on one’s interpretation of Kramnik’s appeal, he was either one game down or even with Topalov when game ten began. Kramnik won this game. After two more draws, the twelve game match concluded without result. Lack of clarity regarding the identity of challenger and champion precluded any possibility of the champion having draw odds, so the players began a four game rapid match. Kramnik won two and lost one. Depending on how the split is viewed, Kramnik either retained the title or became the World Chess Champion by a score of 8½ - 7 ½. The open dispute regarding game five was rendered moot.

Three times, new World Chess Champions have been crowned after having been down three games in a match—Steinitz, Euwe, and Kasparov. In none of these has the future champion been down three games with four remaining.

24 October 2008

Kramnik-Anand: Game 8

FoidosChess Friday

As last Friday, I bought a ticket to watch today's game via FoidosChess. The game should begin in fifteen minutes, so I'm watching Tea Lancheva interview Stephan Andreae, one of the tournament organizers. He is director of the venue, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn. He describes himself as "a very bad chess player," but he sees the art in chess and is proud to host the event in an art museum.

World Chess Championship, Bonn 2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6

My clock says they started a minute early!

3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qa5 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxf6 Bxb5!

Yasser Seiriwan calls this move "off the beaten track." It appears to be the novelty. I found twenty-eight games with 10.Bxf6 in the ChessBase database, but none with Anand's move.

11.Ndxb5 gxf6

6:19am PDT in Spokane; 3:19pm in Bonn

12.O-O Nc6

FoidosChess allows the viewer to look at either player full screen, or the board, or many of several other camera angles.


6:35am PDT


Thirt-four minutes consumed by Kramnik; five by Vishy.


Anand is thinking

6:46am PDT

Another FoidosChess viewer has provoked Grandmaster Seiriwan to consider 14...O-O in his analysis.

6:49am PDT

14...Rg8 again!

But, here Anand has no light-squared bishop helping the rook bear down on Kramnik's monarch.


We are one hour into the game.

7:11am PDT

I just took a moment to check the US Chess Federation's Member Services page to see whether the Spokane Chess Club's Fall Championship had been rated yet, as it concluded last night. It has. I was the third seed and finished in a six-way tie for third. However, I drew the second seed. My rating went up to a new personal high--over 1750 for the first time.

15...Rd1 16.Qe1

Kramnik played his move instantly.

7:13am PDT; 4:13pm in Bonn

Both clocks show 1:13 remaining. Viswanathan Anand is thinking.

16...Qb6 17.Rf2

Kramnik is three minutes ahead on the clocks.


Had to take a short drive. What did I miss?

18.Qe2 Qd4 19.Re1 a6

Hiracs 12 believes that White is slowly improving his position, which is good news for Kramnik fans.

On October 1, this blog had fifty hits. Since this game began today, I've had fifty hits per hour. It's still small time, but tremendous growth!


Grandmaster Yasser Seiriwan presents excellent commentary, and engages in conversation with his listeners, who type their comments. When he started discussing the endgame that might result in this game, I sent him a comment that he read on the air:
An ending against Kramnik is almost never equal. The man is a god of the endgame.
Yasser pointed out that Anand outplayed Kramnik in the endgame yesterday. He also added that he thinks Anatoli Karpov is a one of the greatest endgame players in all types of endgames. In rook endgames, Seiriwan likes Vasily Smyslov and Victor Korchnoi.

8:22am PDT; 5:22pm in Bonn


Hiarcs 12 likes 21.Na2 with the idea of Na2-c1 trapping the rook. It then gives 21...Qb6 22.f5

21.Ref1 Rg6 22.g3

8:44am PDT

Game clocks show
Kramnik 00:31 Anand 00:38

22...Kg7 23.Rd1!? Rxd1 24.Nxd1


The game has been going for three hours.

25.Nc3 Rg8 26.Kg2 Rd8 27.Qh5

Kramnik 00:23 Anand 00:25

27...Kg7 28.Qg4+ Kh8 29.Qh5 Kg7

A repetition to get closer to the time control?

30.Qg4+ Kh8 31.Qh4 Kg7 32.e5 f5

33.Qf6+ Kg8 34.Qg5+ Kh8 35.Qf6+ Kg8

Kramnik came up with a brilliant combination to add an hour to his clock.

36.Re2 Qc4 37.Qg5+ Rh8 38.Qf6+ Kg8 39.Qg5+ Kh8 ½–½

Yasser Seiriwan is still looking at variations. The players are sitting at the board talking about the game.

9:38am PDT; 6:38pm in Bonn

9:41am PDT

The players just signed their scoresheets and left the board. Yasser is getting requests to ask in the press conference.

Anand leads 5½-2½

10:03am PDT

The press conference is over. Kramnik was happy to have the advantage for a change, but Anand found the position defensible.

23 October 2008

Anand-Kramnik: Game 7

Kramnik has a huge deficit to overcome in very few games.

Twenty-five minutes into the game and the players appear to be following one game from four years ago.

Banusz,T (2389) - Erdos,V (2454) [D19]
Budapest FS10 GM Budapest (6), 02.10.2004
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 0–0 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Re8 15.Ne1 Bg6 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Nd3 Be7 18.Bd2 Rc8 19.Rfc1 Nb8 20.Rxc8 Qxc8 21.Rc1 Qd7 22.b3 b6 23.Bb4 Bxb4 24.Nxb4 a5 25.Na2 Rc8 26.Rc3 Nc6 ½–½

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

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.O-O Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 O-O 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Re8 15.Ne1 Bg6 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Nd3 Qxb6

Kramnik played the novelty!

18.Nxb4 Qxb4 19.b3

I apologize to readers that visited my blog looking for something that was not yet there. I got a late start this morning because I failed to reset the alarm for 5:30am. Even so I was logged into Playchess and following the game by 6:10am, but there were things to do getting ready to begin this "live blogging" enterprise.

I'm tired after my binge last night. I spent three hours playing 3 0 blitz, and losing far more than I ought. I think I dropped my internet blitz rating by 150.


Time to take stock in this game.

Anand has a bishop against Kramnik's knight. Both players have weaknesses in their pawn structure. Kramnik has the doubled g-pawns, while Anand has two backwards pawns. For the moment Kramnik controls the open file, but Anand appears able to contest it.

These sort of endgames that appear to offer so little are Kramnik's stock in trade, but Anand is no slouch. It may be too early to predict a draw, but there's not a lot for Kramnik to play for here in the opinion of this patzer (remember that I'm a USCF B class player--better than 85% of the world's chess players, and weaker than most that are following this match closely).

Anand needs four draws to win the match. He has little reason to turn down opportunities to try for a win in positions that warrant such efforts, but also little reason to try to complicate a routine position (is any position in chess ever routine?).

6:54am PDT; 3:54pm in Bonn update

20.Ba3 was just played

My Hiarcs 12 sees the position as very nearly even.

7:02am PDT

20...Qc3 21.Rac1 Qxe3

Someone asks, "What is Vishy thinking about? Isn't 22.fxe3 forced?"

Well, there is Rxc8, but it probably drops a pawn. 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.fxe3 Rc3 forking the backwards b- and e-pawns.

7:09am PDT

Susan Polgar's blog has 22.fxe3 already played while I'm awaiting moves from the Playchess robot, who might have taken a nap.

7:14am PDT

22.fxe3 f6 23.Bd6

Perhaps we're in for a game today!

7:19am PDT

I restored my Firefox session after a crash that appears to have been caused by new advertising enhanced features at Photobucket, my image hosting service. Sometimes it seems that free stuff costs more than it's worth.

23...g5 24.h3 Kf7 25.Kf2

7:41am PDT; 4:41pm in Bonn

Kramnik appears to be in a deep think. Will he try for a win in a position that offers minimal prospects of advantage?

7:44am PDT

25...Kg6 26.Ke2

Hiracs 12 wants to move the king back to f7.

8:11am PDT update

26...fxe5 27.dxe6 b6 28.b4 Rc4

Kramnik will be able to double his rooks.

8:17am PDT

... or not

29.Rxc4 dxc4

Kramnik has a supported passed pawn.

Actually, it's not supported yet, but it can be. It also will be blockaded by the White king.

8:19am PDT

Hiracs 12 thinks that White is slowly improving his position. Kramnik, get out while you can.

30.Rc1 Rc8 31.g4

White has a more active king.

On the queenside, Kramnik is a pawn ahead, but a piece down.

8:33am PDT


8:38am PDT

Anand played 32.b5, and Kramnik instantly replied with 32...c3

I imagine that Kramnik has found the draw in a game that was starting to turn against him.

When Engines are Wrong

Hiarcs 12 gives +1.52 +- for the line 33.Kd3 Nc5+ 34.Bxc5 Rxc5 35.Rxc3 Rxc3+ 36.Kxc3 Kf7. However, the engine is too optimistic. Both kings are almost completely locked out of the other side, and the Black king is better positioned for the only available point of penetration along the h- and g-files. After some exchanges there, the kings keep each other at bay. There is no other way through. The engine cannot assess the pawn structure well enough, it seems.

8:54am PDT; 5:54pm in Bonn

33.Rc2 Kf7 34.Kd3

Something Awry with the Robot

The Playchess server give the conclusion of the game as 34...Nc5+ 35.Bxc5 Rxc5 36.Rxc3 Rxc3 37.Ke4 ½–½

9:02am PDT

Playchess has corrected the game score: draw after Black's move 36.

34...Nc5+ 35.Bxc5 Rxc5 36.Rxc3 Rxc3 ½–½

Anand leads 5-2.