Pursuits: Chess

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YESTERDAY, I gave (arguably) Kasparov's best game from his blitz match with Kramnik over the weekend. Today it's Kramnik's turn. In contrast to Kasparov, Kramnik is rather conservative in his opening play, particularly as White. He started with two 4 Qc2 Nimzo Indians - 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2; but as I explained yesterday, this is one of Kasparov's favourite lines as White and Kasparov won both.

For his remaining 10 Whites, Kramnik therefore retreated back into his shell, starting with his habitual 1 Nf3 and then fighting a transpositional battle to get the best he could out of whatever opening Kasparov chose to throw at him.

It was a varied diet, with five Slavs starting 1 Nf3 d5 2 d4 Nf6 3 c4 c6 followed by three Queen's Gambit Exchange Variations, all of which started 1 Nf3 d5 2 d4 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 c6 5 Bg5 Nbd7 6 cxd5 exd5 7 e3 Be7, with a Grunfeld thrown in after the first of these latter three. Kramnik scored well against all, not losing a single game and winning four: two Slavs and one against each of the others.

But before any of these, in game 6 Kasparov had tried what used to be one of his most fearsome weapons, the King's Indian Defence: an experiment he did not repeat...

Instead of 12... f5 - Kramnik had faced the less weakening 12... Bh6 three times in 1996 and 1997, scoring two draws against Topalov and a win against Van Wely Kasparov's more forcing but also weakening choice suggests that he isn't very comfortable in this position.

18... f4 prevented a later exf5 followed by Bxb7, but was rather ugly. But instead of the horrible 26... b6? in the diagram, ossifying his position, he could still have tried 26... Rba8, when if 27 axb7 Rxa1 28 Bf1 Rb8 29 Rxa1 Rxb7 Black is fighting since 30 Ra8 Rb1 31 Rd8 c4 is too slow.

The rest was slow strangulation. In the final position 43 Rdd3 followed by 44.Rxf3 wins easily.

White: Vladimir Kramnik

Black: Gary Kasparov

ICC 1998

Kings Indian Defence


1 Nf3 Nf6

2 c4 g6

3 Nc3 Bg7

4 e4 d6

5 d4 0-0

6 Be2 e5

7 0-0 Nc6

8 d5 Ne7

9 b4 a5

10 Ba3 axb4

11 Bxb4 Nd7

12 a4 f5

13 Ng5 Nc5

14 Bxc5 dxc5

15 Bf3 Ra6

16 a5 Kh8

17 Ne6! Bxe6

18 dxe6 f4

19 Qxd8 Rxd8

20 Rfb1 Rb8

21 Nd5 Nxd5

22 cxd5 Bf8

23 Be2 Ra7

24 a6 Bd6

25 h4 Kg7

26 Bc4 (see

diagram) b6?

27 Bb5 h6

28 Kf1 Rf8

29 Ke2 Rf6

30 Rb3 Kf8

31 Rh3 Ke7

32 Kd3 Kf8

33 Kc4 Kg7

34 Bc6 Kf8

35 Kb5 Kg7

36 Bb7 Kf8

37 Rg1 Ke7

38 g3 f3

39 Rc1 Kd8

40 Rc3 h5

41 Rh1 Ke7

42 Rd1 Black

resigns 1-0