Chess: Contender Kramnik

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The Independent Culture
AFTER yesterday's list of men who might eventually topple Kasparov as the world's best player, there is one more name to add to the list of hopefuls. Vladimir Kramnik, 19, was the man who won the Chess Olympics for Russia. Incorporated into the team at the last minute, after Karpov decided not to play, Kramnik made the highest percentage score of any participant.

His was an inspired selection, for he was almost unknown outside Russia. Without even the title of International Master, he had performed well, though not outstandingly, in the previous year's last USSR Championship, but somebody must have recognised his remarkable potential. After the Olympics, he again made a huge score in the European Team Championships, but his tournament performances have been characterised more by solidity than brilliance. In Dortmund this year he finished second to Karpov, winning one and drawing six of his seven games.

Today's game, from the Immopar Quickplay tournament in Paris, was a poor advert for Kramnik. Facing the world champion, he missed a tactical point in the opening and was never given a chance to recover.

Kasparov's 8. b4] is similar to an idea used by Bobby Fischer against Boris Spassky last year. If Black takes the pawn with 8 . . . cxb4, he runs into trouble after 9. c4] followed by Bb2. The gaping black squares on the K-side would give White every prospect of launching a devastating attack. Kramnik castled, but his lag in development and weakened king position were enough for Kasparov to go on the rampage. After 19. d5] Black is helpless against the threat of Ne4 and Qb2. With 21. Nxf6] Kasparov netted a pawn since Kxf6 allows Qe5 mate. The attack raged on. At the end any queen move would be met by either Nd6 or Nf6+ with fatal consequences.

White: Kasparov

Black: Kramnik

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5 e6

4 0-0 Nge7

5 c3 d5

6 exd5 Qxd5

7 Re1 g6

8 b4 Bg7

9 Bb2 0-0

10 c4 Qh5

11 Bxg7 Kxg7

12 bxc5 Qxc5

13 d4 Qb6

14 Nc3 Rd8

15 Bxc6 Qxc6

16 Qe2 a6

17 Rac1 Qc7

18 d5 f6

19 dxe6 Rd6

20 Nd5 Qd8

21 Nxf6 Rxe6

22 Ne4 Nc6

23 Qb2+ Kg8

24 Nfg5 Re5

25 f4 Rf5

26 Rcd1 1-0