zondag, oktober 17, 2004

Desultory tragicomic

WCC Game 13: A Drawn See-Saw Battle

Game 13 may have ended in a draw, but it was a real dog fight all the way down to move 52. After that, the players, under heavy pressure from the rest of the chess playing public, played out the moves necessary to demonstrate the draw.

This game saw an attacking Kramnik for the first time in the match. He definitely came to play for the full point. Leko, sticking to his plan to thwart Kramnik's preparation against Leko's normal 1.e4 opening habit, played 1.d4 and we were off to another Indian Defence System. After move 3...c5 by Kramnik, the game appeared to be turning into a Blumenfeld Counter Gambit line, which lasted until move 5...exd5, when it developed into a Modern Benoni. At move 10, the game broke away from the book with 10...Ne8 and limited Kramnik's options for an eventual Re8.

At 12.a4 Leko was clearly playing to make it difficult for black to play ...b5. Kramnik's answer 12...f5, challenged white on the king side and showed that Kramnik had prepared this line before the match. He proved that when he followed up with 13...Rxf5, a surprise move which left his king position exposed, but threatened ...Rxd5. When white answered with 14.Bg4 Kramnik took his rook back to f8. Many of the analysts covering the game thought Kramnik should have played 14...Rf7 instead, leaving his options open for a future doubling of rooks on the f file and saving a tempo. Analyst were temporarily stymied again when Leko played 15.Bxc8 instead of 15.Bf3. They felt that black now would have an easier time since the issue of where he could develop his black squared bishop was resolved. They quickly changed their minds though when when Kramnik began spending a lot of time coming up with how to answer the move. Clearly 15.Bxc8 was a meant to be a pschological ploy by Leko, and it worked.

Leko increased his slight edge after 18.axb5 weakening black's white squares on the queen side. After 21 moves both players had run their cloks down to the extent that only approximately 2 minutes per move was left for them to play the next 19 moves and reach the first time control. After 26.Bxd4, the game appeared to be very complicated and spectators began to think the players were headed toward another draw. At 28...Rxf5, we can see that the game has become a double rook end game which is extremely difficult to calculate. After 30...Rdxd5 black's play appeared to be very dangerous for white. Leko appeared now to be in danger of losing the game. At 33.g4 Leko appeared to have lost his way when a better move was 33.Rh7. After that, Leko's defensive play was magnificent. At move 48. Rb8, the game appeared to be back to drawing chances. It didn't help Kramnik's case when he gave up a tempo after 48...Rb3. At 49...Ke4 he let Leko enter a possible drawn position. After 52.Kf3 the draw looked to be extremely likely unless either player blundered. At 56.b7 Leko picked up another tempo, assuring the draw. They both played on however, to demonstrate just why the position was a draw.

The score in the match now is 7:6 in the challanger's favor. Kramnik is faced with a must win situation entering the final game on Monday. He will have the white pieces, but anything other than a draw and the world will see a 15th World Chess Champion crowned. One can only wonder that if that happens will Leko allow Kramnik a re-match? That's more than we can say for Kramnik and his refusal to offer a re-match to Kasparov. The game moves were as follows:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.Nd2 Bg7 8.e4 0-0 9.Be2 Na6 10.0-0 Ne8 11.Nc4 Nac7 12.a4 f5 13.exf5 Rxf5 14.Bg4 Rf8 15.Bxc8 Rxc8 16.Qb3 b6 17.Nb5 Nxb5 18.axb5 Rc7 19.Bd2 Rcf7 20.Bc3 Qd7 21.f3 g5 22.Ne3 Rf4 23.Rfe1 h5 24.Qc2 Qf7 25.h3 Bd4 26.Bxd4 Rxd4 27.Nf5 Qxf5 28.Qxf5 Rxf5 29.Rxe8+ Kf7 30.Rb8 Rdxd5 31.Rxa7+ Ke6 32.Re8+ Kf6 33.g4 hxg4 34.hxg4 Rd1+ 35.Kf2 Re5 36.Rh8 Rd2+ 37.Kg3 Ree2 38.Rf8+ Kg6 39.Rg8+ Kf6 40.Rf8+ Ke6 41.Re8+ Kd5 42.Rxe2 Rxe2 43.Rg7 Re5 44.Rb7 c4 45.Rxb6 Re2 46.f4 Re3+ 47.Kf2 gxf4 48.Rb8 Rb3 49.b6 Ke4 50.Re8+ Kd3 51.Re2 d5 52.Kf3 d4 53.g5 c3 54.bxc3 dxc3 55.Rg2 Rb2 56.b7 Rxb7 57.Kxf4 Rb2 58.Rg1 c2 59.Rc1 Rb1 60.Rxc2 Kxc2 61.g6 Kd3 62.Kf5 Rb5+ 63.Kf6 Rb6+ 64.Kf7 Rxg6 65.Kxg6 draw (1/2 - 1/2)

Shelby Long (17.10.04)

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