zaterdag, oktober 09, 2004

Desultory Turgescence

WCC Game 9: Nobody Wins!

Game 9 ended in a short draw, where nobody came out a winner; not Kramnik, not Leko, not the spectators at the game site, and not the chess world as a whole. Nobody! Why? Because we have seen it all before.

The game started out as a Queen's Indian Defense and followed normal moves all the way to the end. Instead of seeing where championship play could take the position, Leko chose to play it safe and preserve his single point lead for another day. He left with a slight advantage due to his better central position and a very slight initiative after 14.Ne5. Kramnik's position was very solid, however. Kramnik played pretty much on auto pilot, with less than 15 minutes off his clock. He wanted to respond with 14...Rc8, but instead chose 14...h6 preventing white from gaining an improved position with 15.Bh3. Leko followed with 15.a3, transposing to a familiar drawing line which had been played by others over the years. After 15.a3 by Leko, Kramnik saw that he would not be able to play his knight to b4 to cramp white's play on the queen side, and there was no advantage to be gained by leaving his queen knight on the side of the board, so he embarked on a plan to bring it to e6 via c7 with 15...Nc7. Leko's obvious response was to play 16.e4, but not before he had examined every possibility he could think of and running his clock down to less than one hour for his last 25 moves. When Kramnik quickly played 16...Ne6, Leko ran his clock down some more, but left us all hanging when the two players agreed to a draw without playing another move.

So... We are left to ponder if there is a winning line in the position. The game was so abruptly brought to a close that Kramnik never even got a chance to offer the queen trade we have all come to know as a staple in his games. Nobody won! We can only wonder; "what would Bobby Fischer do? What would Alekhine do? What would Tal do?" But alas, all we have is "What will tomorrow bring. Maybe it will be a better game and no split point".

Shelby Long (9.10.04)

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