Games: chess

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The Independent Online
With one round left to play in the "Amber" rapidplay tournament in Monte Carlo, Vladimir Kramnik leads by half a point from Vassily Ivanchuk. In the early rounds, Kramnik built up what had looked like an unassailable lead, but he suffered a run of unlucky accidents in the second half of the event and the pack, which seemed at one stage almost to have given up chasing him, were again at his heels.

The one game that did more than any other to close the gap was Ivanchuk's win in his blindfold game against Kramnik. After the opening, the battle- lines were drawn when Black invaded his opponent's half of the board with 12...d4 and supported the pawn with 13...c5 and 14...e5. If Black's pawn wedge is not challenged, it will secure him a clear advantage.

Ivanchuk nibbled away at it with 17.exd4 when Kramnik rejected the natural recapture with the e-pawn in favour of the very aggressive 17...cxd4, leading to a volatile position after 19.f4.

Kramnik replied with 19...Bc5, threatening to win the queen with d3+, while also defending his d-pawn to make ...exf4 a more attractive option. 20.Qd2 both got the queen out of the way of the threat of d3+, while also preparing to recapture on f4, if necessary, with the queen.

20... Qb6 virtually forced White into a promising exchange sacrifice. After 23.Rxe1 Black could not move his knight from f6, but found a neat defence in 23...d3 (when exf6 loses to Rxe1+) and 24...Qd8 (when exf6 is met by Rxe1+ and Qxd4+).

25.Nxf7! was a clever way to solve White's problems. After 25...Kxf7 26.Bd5+, the bishop on d4 is shielded and White can play exf6 next. Kramnik went for complications, but fell for a neat combination at the end. In the diagram position, 29.Qxg4! Qxg4 30.Nh6 is mate.

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

1 d4 Nf6 16 Rad1 Re8

2 c4 e6 17 exd4 cxd4

3 Nf3 d5 18 Ng5 g6

4 g3 Be7 19 f4 Bc5

5 Bg2 0-0 20 Qd2 Qb6

6 Qc2 c5 21 fxe5 Bb4

7 0-0 cxd4 22 Qf2 Bxe1

8 Nxd4 Nc6 23 Rxe1 d3

9 Nxc6 bxc6 24 Bd4 Qd8

10 b3 Ba6 25 Nxf7 Ng4

11 Bb2 Rc8 26 Qf4 Qa5

12 Nd2 d4 27 Rf1 Rf8

13 Rfe1 c5 28 e6 Qh5

14 e3 e5 29 Qxg4 resigns

15 Nf3 Bd6