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Kramnik – Gelfand, Corus 2008

preview, pgn, replayable games

Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand will meet each other at Corus Wajk aan Zee 2008 in one of the most interesting battles of the championship. They have proved to be great tacticians and to have deep theoretical preparation, which always leads to complicated battles from the beginning of the game. Kramnik and Gelfand met during the WCC in Mexico, only three months before the start of Corus 2008. There they finished two draws which could have been one of the main reasons Vishy to grab the title.

Here is a Corus 2008 preview of the two games from the WCC by IM Miodrag Perunovic.


Vladimir Kramnik – Boris Gelfand
World Chess Championship
Round 7
Mexico City
2007.09.20

In a key game this round favorite Kramnik, who is playing for nothing but a draw in his black games, is playing the surprise leader Boris Gelfand, who defeated Moro yesterday. Kramnik has the white pieces and we expect an interesting game.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.h4 is the main line here

10.O-O Nbd7 Kramnik has certain compensation for the pawn. 11.d5 is interesting, though played less than 11. Ne5 and 11.Qc2

11.Ne5 h5 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Qc1 This is a big surprise, everyone so far has played 13.Be5 (13.Be5 Rh6 and now 14.Qc1)

13… Rg8 14.Rd1 This was the idea behind Kramnik’s last move.

14… Bb4 It’s not good for black to give this important bishop even to win a pawn…

15.Qe3 The black king will have a hard time finding a safe place in this game. Kramnik will surely attack the queenside with a4.

15… Qe7 This move’s goal is not to let the typical d5 breakthrough. But e5!? is also at hand for Kramnik.

16.h3 h4 17.Bh2 (17.Be5 looked better. Now black gets more counter play after g4 at the right moment.)

17… Bxc3! 18.bxc3 g4 a smart idea, without the knight white’s initiative is less dangerous.

19.Kh1 Now g3!? is interesting

19… c5 very ambitious and a little dangerous…But the white king will be safe no more. There is a repetition draw variation that can happen…

20.hxg4 It’s getting more and more interesting here… 20…cd4, Nxe4, Nxg4…Gelfand has a lot of options.

20… cxd4 Black kept the pawn, but Kramnik’s dark-squared bishop is very dangerous.

21.Rxd4 e5 White has full compensation no matter which pawn black recaptures.

22.Rdd1 Nxg4 23.Bxg4 Rxg4 After f3 the Bb7 is quite weak.

24.f3 Rg6 25.a4 The extra pawn is not important in such positions. It’s equal.

25… a5 A very int eresting move! Gelfand is trying to keep all queenside files closed. The black pawn will be quite strong if it gets to a3.

26.axb5 a4 27.Qe2 Black gets nice counter play after h3 with a possible f5 in the future.

27… Qc5 28.Rab1 Rd6?! 29.Rxd6 Qxd6 30.Qxc4 It wasn’t good to sacrifice this pawn right now.

30… a3 31.Ra1 h3 32.Qe2! This flexible move is Kramnik’s best chance

32… hxg2+ 33.Qxg2 (33.Kxg2!?)

33… O-O-O! Like a bolt from the blue such a late castle! But the black pieces are finally coordinated and the game still hangs in the ballance – a great ideq by Gelfand!

34.Qa2 f5 35.Qxa3 fxe4 Qxa3 first was also good

36.Qxd6 Rxd6 37.fxe4 Bxe4+ 38.Kg1 Bd3 This interesting game, in which both opponents showed good class, will end in a draw.

39.Bxe5 Rg6+ 40.Kf2 Bxb5 We finally saw an interesting game by Kramnik, but Gelfand showed he is not leading the world championship by accident.

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Boris Gelfand – Vladimir Kramnik
World Chess Championship
Round 13
Mexico City
2007.09.28

Vladimir Kramnik admitted that he lost all chances to win the tournament, but we believe he will still go after win. Boris Gelfand restored his ambition after yesterday’s win over Grischuk and this is excellent opportunity to challenge Anand’s lead. IM Miodrag Perunovic starts the commentary and Goran Urosevic will join us shortly. Enjoy!

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Classical Meran setup. For some reason I was hoping white could have tried 6.Qc2!? with really challenging 7.g4 idea and attack on king side. Since Kasparov played this line against Deep Blue, it has been explored numerous of times.

6… dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a3 One of the common choices on top level. Another one was classical 9. 0-0 and after 9…b4 10. Ne4 black used to make solid positions in the past. Also interesting, but quite risky approach was 9.e4 b4 10. e5!? – but I guess it’s simply not in Gelfand’s style.

9… b4 10.Ne4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 bxa3 12.O-O Typical move where white is struggling for initiative and tries to seize his activity of pieces. Of course it requires some concessions, like on this occasion, pawn down…But i guess it’s gonna be more than enough compensation for weak isolated pawns on c6 and a7 like i mentioned above.

12… Nf6 13.Bd3 axb2 14.Bxb2 a5 Preparing solid Bb4 with maintaining his position and pawn structure.

15.Qa4 Bb4 16.Ba3! Kramnik is aware that 16…Ba3 17. Qa3 would be total domination over dark squares, so he will have to react with Nd5 and Nb6 trying to get rid of the annoying Qa4. Gelfand’s play could be qualified as quite interesting, fairly popular for spectators, and Kramnik will not have an easy game I guess….

16… Nd5 17.e4 Nb6 18.Qb3 Qe7 All i can see here is very disappointing line for Gelfand ….so after 19.Bb4 ab4 20. Ra8 Ba8 21. Rb1 he will not have anything better but just taking back the material and deadly drawish position without much chances for either of the players.

19.Rab1 Gelfand is going for risky operation! I am not sure what kind of position will appear after 19…Ba3 20. Qb6 Bb4, because black will be pawn up and pair of bishops, but on the other hand pretty exposed king and not the best development of pieces….

19… Bxa3 20.Qxb6 Bb4 21.Ne1! Nice positional move after which Gelfand will drag that knight to c2 and seriously threaten to take the bishop on b4. Although i think Kramnik will have enough time to equalise the game.

21… O-O More or less expected…We all know that Kramnik likes to play endings and is big fan of draws. He decided to play 0-0 and slightly worse ending. With his skills i guess it won’t be tough to handle this position.

22.Nc2 Rfd8 23.Nxb4 axb4 24.Qxb4 Qxb4 25.Rxb4 Ba6 After 25…Ba6 players will agree on soon draw. This was well played game by Kramnik and I am disappointed with Gelfand’s choice. He had his chance, but he had to show more will for playing on win today.

26.Bxa6

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