maandag, oktober 11, 2004

Desultory Turgescence

WCC Game 10: B of Opps Draw

With pressure building, Kramnik agrees to another draw. Only 4 games left now, for Kramnik to win one, draw even in the match, and keep his crown. Leko says he wants to make more of the White pieces, which he will have two more times in this match, next game included. At least, this game got out of the theory phase, ending in what is commonly known to be a drawing situation, Bishops of opposite colors (B of Opps). Kramnik, being the champion, is starting to "get heat" for agreeing to a draws in the match before the game is out of the theory phase.

This game started as another Spanish Opening (Ruy Lopez) game with Kramnik on the white side of the play. Leko varied his normal play and surprised Kramnik with 5...Bc5 leading to the Moeller - Archangel variation. Kramnik got off a novelty move at 9.a4 and we were of to the races.

After a lot of time expired from Leko's clock, he got off a good counter, 9...b4. After 12...Be7, Kramnik has a comfortable game and a nice position even though black is a pawn up. After Kramnik's 15.cxd4 we find ourselves at that familiar position in just about all of Kramnik's games, where the queens are off the board.

At this point in the match Kramnik has used just 15 minutes to make 15 moves. Leko, on the other hand, has used almost 1 hour of his allotted time after his 15th move. He is trying to solve the problem of castling (king side) and protecting his bishop at e7. One nice consequence of the Queen's being off the board is that he probably doesn't need to castle, however, he must find some way to activate his king's rook.

Kramnik gets a surprise from Leko when black plays 16...h6, and he has to take a few minutes to sort it all out. A few moves later, after 20...Rd7 Leko finally gets his queen's rook to d7 attacking white's weak d pawn and protecting his king bishop on e7. (At this point I think he realizes that his isolated f pawns are bad, but he can see how ton achieve a B of Opps draw) Kreamnik's position is full of good moves to pick from, but he seems to have a hard time finding the right one. He tries 24.d5. There are possibilities here for Kramnik to play for the win of black's h pawn or f6 pawn or even winning the exchange. He continues to look for the right combination to bring home the point, but after 30.Rxd1 he is down to 30 minutes to play his last 20 moves. there appears to be no way to get to a won end game. Even the exchange doesn't seem to work because black's two bishops get stronger and should be enough to hold the draw. At move 35.Bc6 he still hasn't found a winning line and is now down to less than 15 minutes to play his last 15 moves. Leko is even worse on the clock with just 5 1/2 minutes left on his clock. They agreed to a draw.

The pressure cooker is starting to get a little warmer now with just four games left. Kramnik must win one to keep his title and Leko needs to get an insurance win to relieve some of the pressure he is under to keep finding ways to draw and keep Kramnik at bay. Tune in Tuesday for another chapter in the Classical World Chess Championship match.

Shelby Long (10.10.04)

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