CHESS

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The Independent Culture
WHEN YOU need to win a game at all costs, the worst thing you can do is seek complications. Keep it simple. Prey upon your opponent's nerves. Don't let him know what you are up to. That is a lesson the world number three, Vladimir Kramnik, evidently has yet to learn.

White: Vladimir Kramnik

Black: Alexei Shirov

Ninth match game; Cazorla, Spain, 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3

One down with two to play, Kramnik shows with this move that he is already in the wrong frame of mind. A war of attrition is the correct strategy, not this sort of gung-ho, centre-grabbing adventurism.

3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 e5 9.d5 c6 10.h4

Going straight for the throat with an attack down the h-file is all very well, but where is White intending to put his own king for safety?

10...h5 11.Be2 cxd5 12.exd5 N8d7 13.d6 Nf6 14.Bg5 Re8 15.Rd1

This condemns the king to homelessness. If White cannot play 0-0-0 here, then his entire strategy must be wrong.

15...Be6 16.Nh3 Nc4 17.Bxc4 Bxc4 18.b3 Ba6 19.Nd5 e4

White's king is caught directly in the firing line of the black rook.

20.Nxf6+ Bxf6 21.d7 (See diagram.)

White had relied on this move. Now 21...Re6 22.Bxf6 Rxf6 (Qxf6 allows the d-pawn to march home) 23.fxe4 favours White, but Shirov has a brilliant resource.

21...Qb6!! 22.dxe8=Q+ Rxe8

White is a clear rook ahead, but helpless against the threat of exf3+. His next few moves are the only way to fight on.

23.Qe3 Bxg5 24.Qxb6 Bxh4+ 25.Kd2 axb6 26.fxe4 Rxe4

The dust has settled, but White is fatally wounded. Two bishops are often a match for rook and knight anyway, but with two extra pawns they are unstoppable.

27.Kc2 Rg4 28.Rd2 Be7 29.Rg1 Kg7 30.Nf2 Rf4 31.Nd3 Re4 32.Rgd1 Bb5 33.a4 Bc6

This bishop will apply the final strain.

34.Re1 Rxe1 35.Nxe1 Bb4 36.Re2 Bxe1 37.Rxe1 Bxg2 38.Kd2 h4 39.Ke3 Bd5 40.b4 h3 41.Re2 f5 42.Rd2 Be4 43.Kf4 Bg2 44.Rd7+ Kf6 45.Rh7 g5+ 46.Kg3 f4+ 47.Kg4 Ke5 48.b5 and White resigned.

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