zondag, oktober 03, 2004

WCC Game 6: A Rat in the Woodpile

I'm getting the distinct odor of rat coming from the woodpile now! Draw no. 4 in our match to determine the World Chess Champion, appears to have no solid basis in reality. Kramnik was clearly being outplayed and as the game began to build up to a cresendo, Voila, Leko offers a draw! Now I don't need some body to identify that odorous smell. It's a dead rat! ...And it's coming from one of the chess ruling bodies of the world. Sombody got to Leko; I'm not sure if it was the Russian Chess Federation or that FIDE organization president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, but I wouldn't put it past either source. They are both pretty devious. It Stinks!! There are no other words to describe it.

The game developed into a a Spanish Opening, the third in this match, and followed the previous occurrence's move order until black's move 10, when Leko played 10...Na5. (Previous game was 10...Nd7) on move 14, black offered a pawn with 14...d5, but white didn't bite on it. On move 16...c4 white's bishop was locked into a2 and if white plays b3, his pawns on a3 and c3 get very weak. Then on move 18, Kramnik ignored his opportunity to force his misogyny on Leko, with 18.Nf5. Now he has two pieces on the fifth rank. The queen exchange possibility remains in tact. ...And he played the move very quickly. Almost no time came off his clock. But Leko refused, probably feeling that to exchange all the heavy pieces on the d file would lead to a draw. After black played 18...Qe6, a draw was certainly no longer likely. And now Kramnik played 19.Qe2 transferring more power to the king side and forsaking Qc2 which would allow b3 to be played. Play is getting very interesting now and Kramnik is visably nervous. Leko responded with 19...Bf8, skipping over the possibility of either 19...Nd7 or h6, but creating a space for his knight to come to e7 and challange white's knight at f5. His position is getting more strong with each move. Kramnik then took an enormous amount of time to play 20.Bb1 aiming for the c2 square and protecting the pawn at e4. Of course that was his decision, but all commentators thought he should play Rad1, still looking at ways to build up to a draw. Leko quickly played 20...h6 forcing Kramnik to have to determine whether to back the bishop off or trade for the knight on f6. After a few minutes into Kramnik's thinking about his next move, Leko offered him a safe way out with a draw. Huh?? Surely there is more chess to be had in this position. What does Leko see that we do not? Here he has a chance to go for the kill and take the lead in the match. Kramnik is visably uncomfortable with the position and has run his clock down to nearly 30 minutes (and still counting) to play his last 19 moves, and Leko offers him a draw?? What is Leko thinking? That's why I smell a rat in the woodpile!!

Oh Yes! There was one very pleasant distraction to reflect on during the match. Ms. Kass, President of the Estonian Chess Federation, payed a visit to the commentator's area and spent some time chatting with the website commentators about chess (but she made it clear that she was not qualified to comment on the game's position). Carmen Kass, as some of you undoubtedly know, is a super model who somehow finds the time to play chess.

by Shelby Long (3.10.04)

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