This game took place about five years ago during one of the most controversial world championships in history.

Kramnik – Topalov [D47]
Game 8
World Chess Championship Match 2006 (8) 05.10.2006

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2 A relatively rare line, which used to like and played successfully in many games. In Game 4 of this match Topalov as White played 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a3.

8…Bb7 9.0-0 This is one of my own favorite games in this opening! 9.e4 b4 10.e5 bxc3 11.exf6 cxb2 12.fxg7 bxa1Q 13.gxh8Q Qb1 14.0-0 Qf6 15.Qxf6 Nxf6 16.Ne5 Qxa2 17.Bc4 Qa5 18.Qf3 Be7 19.Bg5 Qd8 20.Bxe6 fxe6 21.Bxf6 Qxd4 22.Qh5+ 1-0 Susan Polgar- V. Dimitrov, Bulgaria 1984.

9…b4 9…Be7 was the other main choice here.

10.Na4 Now the main issue is if Black will be able to open up the a8-h1 diagonal with c6-c5, without getting in trouble.

10…c5 My opponents usually chose 10…Be7 or 10…Bd6 here instead of 10…c5.

11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.Bb5+ White could have stripped Black from the right of castling with 12.Nxc5 Bxc5 13.Qa4+ Ke7 otherwise (13…Qd7?? 14.Bb5+-; 13…Nd7 14.Rd1 and the pins are devastating for Black.)

12…Ncd7 13.Ne5 Qc7 The best move to clear space for the Rook on d8. Black would get in trouble after 13…Be7 14.Qd4 as the pin over the Knight on d7 is too dangerous.

14.Qd4 The most logical move trying to take advantage of White’s advantage in development. 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 or; 14.f4 Rd8 is not dangerous for Black.

14…Rd8 Much better than 14…Bd6 15.Nxd7 Nxd7 16.Rd1+/- Avdeenko – Novikov, Rostov on Don 1980.

15.Bd2 After 15.Rd1 a6 16.Bxd7+ Nxd7 17.Nxd7 Rxd7 18.Qxd7+ Qxd7 19.Rxd7 Kxd7 Black thanks to the pair of Bishops has a slightly better endgame.

15…Qa5 The new move. White was much better in the following game: 15…a6 16.Rfc1 Qa5 17.Bc6 Bxc6 18.Nxc6 Qxa4 19.Nxd8 Kxd8 20.a3 Qb5 21.axb4 Nd5 22.Ra5 Qb6 23.Qc4 Nc7 24.Bc3 f6 25.Bd4 Qb7 26.b5 Nxb5 27.Qxe6 Nxd4 28.exd4 Bb4 29.Rxa6+/- Cvetkovic – Bagirov, Vrnjacka Banja 1974.

16.Bc6 A must. The following sample variation shows the dangers White has to face after other moves: 16.Qd3 a6 17.Bc6 Qxe5 18.Bxb7 Qb5 19.Qxb5 axb5 and White’s Knight is trapped!

16…Be7! A fine move. Better than 16…Bxc6 17.Nxc6 Qxa4 18.Nxd8 Kxd8 19.a3 with a dangerous position for Black as the King is shaky on d8.

17.Rfc1 After 17.Bxb7 Nxe5 Black wins a piece.

17…Bxc6 The solid 17…0-0 18.Nc4 Qc7 19.Bxb7 Nc5 20.Qe5 Qxe5 21.Nxe5 Nxb7 22.Be1 would give Kramnik the comfortable small endgame advantage he is looking for.

18.Nxc6 Qxa4 19.Nxd8 More ambitious seemed keeping the Queens on the board with 19.b3 Qb5 20.Nxd8 Bxd8 21.Bxb4 although also here Black is fine after for example 21… 21…Qb6

19…Bxd8 20.Qxb4 With the King being stock on e8, I would feel relieved as Black trading Queens. White could have tried 20.b3 Qa6 21.Bxb4 but again Black is OK after 21…Nd5 or 21…Qb6.

20…Qxb4 21.Bxb4 I felt all through out this endgame that it should be a draw, but I would rather play it as Black. Many GMs disagreed with me online about it. I still don’t think that Black is actually better, but I do believe they are not worse at all either.

21…Nd5 A beautiful centralized position for the Knight!

22.Bd6 f5 A dual-purpose move: prevents White’s e3-e4 move, which would chase away Black’s Knight from d5 and clears the way for Black’s King to f7.

23.Rc8 This move looks scarier than it actually is.

23…N5b6 This forces White’s Rook to leave.

24.Rc6 Be7 Black offers to trade White’s best positioned piece.

25.Rd1 After 25.b4 Bxd6 26.Rxd6 Ke7 27.Rad1 Rc8=/+

25…Kf7 26.Rc7 26.f3 Bxd6 27.Rdxd6 (27.Rcxd6 Ne5) 27…Ne5 28.Rc7+ Kf6 29.Rxa7 Nbc4 30.Rd4 Nxe3=/+; 26.Bxe7 Kxe7 27.Rc7 (27.Rdd6 Nb8 28.Rxe6+ Kf7 29.Rcd6 (29.Rxb6 axb6 30.Rxb6 Nd7=/+) 29…Nc4-/+) 27…Ra8 leads to similar positions as in the game.

26…Ra8 The computer programs suggest to trade Rooks with 26…Rc8 but I think that would favor White.

27.Rb7 I think here Kramnik still thought he is the one playing for a win (just a many commentators during the game) and started “over pushing” just like Topalov did in Game 1.

27…Ke8 Provoking White to trade Bishops. If White does not trade soon, the Rook on b7 can get trapped for example after 28.Kf1 Bxd6 29.Rxd6 Kd8 30.Rxe6? Kc8.

28.Bxe7 Kxe7 29.Rc1 a5 I think White should try to trade Rooks or some Pawns if they can. It is quite amazing that somebody of Kramnik’s caliber without any obvious blunder loses this game in about a dozen moves!

30.Rc6 30.Rcc7 Kd6 31.Kf1 a4=/+

30…Nd5 31.h4 31.Kf1 g5 32.Ke2 h5 33.h3 h4=/+

31…h6 31…Nb4 32.Rcc7 does not help Black.

32.a4?! A positional mistake! Better was simply 32.Kf1 g5 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Ke2

32…g5 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Kf1 Another GM suggested sacrificing a Pawn with 34.g4 fxg4 35.Kg2 which maybe better for White, than what we saw happen.

34…g4 35.Ke2 N5f6 The beginning of an interesting Knight maneuver.

36.b3 In hindsight, this is a mistake as soon the Rook on b7 gets almost trapped.

36…Ne8! 37.f3 g3! Now we can see already the shadows of serious danger for White: Black’s Rook may get around soon with Ra8-h8-h2 attacking the Pawn on g2 and with the help of the Knights a mating attack may develop. If, 37…Nd6 38.Rbc7 gxf3+ 39.gxf3 Rb8? 40.Ra6 and the table is turned. Now White is better.

38.Rc1 38.b4? Nd6 39.Rbc7 axb4-+

38…Nef6 39.f4 This weakens the e4 square. White hoped to get Black’s g3 Pawn, but will lose too much in return.

39…Kd6 40.Kf3 40.b4 axb4 41.Rxb4 Nd5 42.Rbc4 N7b6 43.Rc6+ Ke7 and the a4 Pawn is lost.

40…Nd5 41.Kxg3? This makes things worse for White. 41.Rb5 Ra7! threatening to trap the Rook with Nc7. 42.Rd1 (42.e4 Nc7 43.e5+ Ke7 44.Rxc7 Rxc7 45.Rxa5 Rc3+-+) 42…Nc5 with also good chances for Black. (Instead 42…Ke7 43.Rdxd5 exd5 44.Rxd5 Ke6 45.Rb5 with most likely a draw result. White will be able to reach in worst case a R vs. R+N theoretical draw endgame.)

41…Nc5 The strongest move. Now the two Black Knights dominate the game. 41…Nxe3 was not bad either, but not as good as the game move.

42.Rg7 42.Rb5 Ne4+ 43.Kf3 Rg8 44.Rxa5 Rg3+ 45.Ke2 Rxe3+ 46.Kf1 Rxb3-+

42…Rb8 The rest is matter of technique as they say. 42…Nxe3 was also good.

43.Ra7 Rg8+ 43…Rxb3 44.Rxa5 Rxe3+ 45.Kh4 Nd3-+

44.Kf3 The White King gets in trouble also after 44.Kh2 Nxe3 45.Rg1 Ne4 46.Rh7 Ng4+ 47.Kh3 (47.Kh1 Ng3#) 47…Nef2+ 48.Kh4 Nf6 49.Ra7 Rg4#.

44…Ne4-+ 45.Ra6+ 45.Rxa5 Rg3+ 46.Ke2 Rxe3+ 47.Kd1 Nxf4-+

45…Ke7 46.Rxa5 Rg3+ 47.Ke2 Rxe3+ 48.Kf1 48.Kd1 Nxf4-+

48…Rxb3 48…Nxf4-+

49.Ra7+ 49.Rb5 Ra3 50.a5 Nxf4-+

49…Kf6 50.Ra8 Nxf4 51.Ra1 If, 51.a5 Rb2 52.a6 Ng3+ 53.Ke1 (53.Kg1 Rxg2#) 53…Nxg2+ 54.Kd1 Ne3+ 55.Ke1 Re2#.

51…Rb2 52.a5 Rf2+ White resigned as the checkmate is unavoidable. 53.Kg1 [53.Ke1 Nd3+ 54.Kd1 Nc3#] 53…Rxg2+ 54.Kf1 [54.Kh1 Nf2#] 54…Rf2+ 55.Kg1 [55.Ke1 Nd3+ 56.Kd1 Rd2#] 55…Nh3+ 56.Kh1 Ng3#


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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