CHESS

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Much Has been said and written in praise of the young Russian Vladimir Kramnik. Indeed he is being widely touted as the most likely replacement, when one is needed, for the other two Ks who have bestrode world chess so colossally these past two decades. Yet the young lad has a clear weakness. Today's game comes from the last round of last week's Dortmund tournament. Kramnik, level with Anand, needed to win to take undivided first prize. Instead, he let White force a draw by the simple expedient of sacrificing a bishop and both rooks and under-promoting a pawn. He'll have to learn to avoid these tame draws if he wishes his name to be up there with the real chess greats.

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7

This is the Botvinnik System, named after the first great Soviet champion who delighted in such post-revolutionary dynamism.

11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 c5 13.d5

Fine stuff! After 13...b4 White just barges through with 14.dxe6.

13...Qb6 14.Bg2 0-0-0 15.0-0 b4 16.Rb1!

Bravo! Black will never survive the open b-file after 16...bxc3 17.bxc3.

16...Qa6 17.dxe6 Bxg2 18.e7

Barge on and never mind the horses. White must be ready to eliminate the rook on d8 and this pawn is the man for the job.

18...Bxf1 19.Qd5!

At great expense, White has bought back a share in the long white diagonal. The threat is Qa8+ and exd8=Q+ in either order.

19...Bxe7! 20.fxe7 Bd3

Now that the rook on d8 is defended by its colleague, the bishop may continue his feast.

21.Ne4 Bxb1 22.Nd6+ Kc7 23.Bf4 (see diagram)

The swarm of white men around the black king is enough to draw, but no more.

23...Kb6! 24.Nxc4+ Kb5 25.Nd6+ Kb6 26.exd8=B+!

Just his little joke.

26...Rxd8 27.Nc4+ Kb5 28.Nd6+ Kb6 29.Nc4+ Kb5 draw agreed.

All rather routine stuff, really.

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