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GM Kramnik - GM Aronian annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 15
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 07 December 2013

By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary, FIDE 2648

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It is always nice to watch the World Nr.2 against the Nr.3, especially when they play such an exciting game.

Kramnik,Vladimir (2793) - Aronian,Levon (2801) [D44]

World Teams 2013 Antalya TUR (1), 26.11.2013

[Balogh Csaba]


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 dxc4 [The Botvinnik variation of the Slav defence is a guarantee for a very interesting fight!]


6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5

9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 [This is of course just the beginning of the theory. Thousands of games were played here so far according to the database. It is very interesting to follow the battle of the probably two best-prepared players of our time in such a sharp line.]


10...Be7!? [This is the first surprise. 10...Nbd7 is by far the most common move, but of course the text is also a well-analyzed one.]


11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.g3 [White had alternatives here, but Kramnik follows the main line.]


13...Bb7 14.Bg2 


14...Na6 [It is clear that both players were still just at the beginning of their preparation. There are still hundreds of games in the database. Here theory considers 3 main moves.]


15.Ne4 [The most common move again.]


[15.Nxb5 seems to lead to a draw after 15...000! 16.Qa4 cxb5 17.Bxb7+ Kxb7 18.Qxb5+ Ka8 White is forced to give perpetual check. 19.Qc6+ (19.Qxa6? loses to 19...Qf3! and White gets mated. 00 runs into Rxh2 and mate in a few moves.) 19...Kb8 20.Qb5+ Ka8 21.Qc6+=; 15.a4 is the third option.]


15...Qe7 16.00 000

[Here comes the novelty!]


17.h4!? [As we will see, White wants to attack with a4, but in that case Black gets strong counterplay with f5. The point of the novelty is to work out the g5 square for the knight. It is clear that Aronian's camp has also analyzed this idea.]


[17.a4 happened before in all the games, when Black replies with 17...f5 18.axb5 (18.Nc3!? was considered to be the critical line before this game. It is clear that both players know something here. 18...b4 19.Ne2 c5 20.Qc2) 18...cxb5 19.Rxa6 Bxa6 20.Nc5 Qxc5 21.dxc5 Rxd1 22.Rxd1 b4 is given as a draw after a few more moves.]


17...c5! [Black needs to act quickly, otherwise his king gets much more vulnerable after a4!]


18.a4! [The standard attack. White wants to open the a-file, which is why Black is forced to push b4, but then the c4 pawn becomes a target.]


18...Rxd4 19.Qe2 b4

[The following couple of moves are all connected to the c4 pawn.]


20.Rfd1 [White tries to remove the defender of the c4 pawn.]


20...Bd5 [Black stabilizes.]


21.Rac1! [Showing a clear intention for an exchange sacrifice. After taking on c4, Black loses his strong bishop on d5 and suddenly the queen combined with the two very active minor pieces are creating serious threats against the naked black king.]


21...Rxd1+! [Black lures the rook away from the c4 square.]


[Some random move, for instance 21...Rd8 would run into 22.Rxd4 cxd4 23.Rxc4+! Bxc4 24.Qxc4+ Nc7 25.Nc5 With a huge attack.]


22.Rxd1 Rd8


23.Rc1! [Kramnik returns to his strategy! Additionally he wants to play Nd2, gaining the c4 pawn without a sacrifice.]


23...Qb7!? [Aronian is searching for counterplay along the h1a8 diagonal. He threatens to win a piece with f5. However Kramnik found a very strong answer!]


24.Rxc4! Qc6

[How to deal with the f5 threat?]


[24...Bxc4 loses to 25.Nd6+ The queen is hanging with check. 25...Kb8 26.Qxc4 Qb6 27.Nxf7+ Black is hopeless.]


25.h5!! [Brilliant! Kramnik realizes that f5 is not really a threat, so he advances his passed pawn.]


[25.Rc1 is bad because of 25...f5 26.Nxc5 Nxc5]


25...f5 26.Nxc5! Bxc4 [And the point is that 26...Nxc5? runs into 27.Qc2! and White wins!]


27.Qxc4 Qxc5 28.Qxe6+! [White takes another pawn before capturing the knight, otherwise Black could have protected it with Kd7.]


28...Kc7 29.Qxa6

[White is slightly better materially with two pawns and a bishop against the rook and the h-pawn has a big power. The question is whether Black is able to organize counterplay against the white king or not.]


29...Rd1+ [On 29...Rd2 Kramnik intended to play 30.Qb7+ Kd6 31.Qb8+ Kd7 32.Qf4 White consolidates and the b2 pawn cannot be taken because of 32...Rxb2 33.h6+]


30.Kh2 f4 [On 30...Qxf2! was stronger. 31.h6! f4! seems to save Black. White has nothing better than perpetual check.]


31.Qb7+ [White might have tried 31.Qe2!? fxg3+ 32.fxg3 Rd7 33.Bf3 Keeping the initiative, but of course it will be very difficult to convert the advantage.]


31...Kd8 32.Qa8+ Ke7 33.Qe4+ Kd8 34.Qa8+ [Getting closer to the first time control.]


34...Ke7 35.Qe4+ Kd8 36.Qxf4 [A good practical decision to keep the pawn shield around the white king.]


[A nice line is 36.Qf3 Rd2 37.h6 Rxf2 38.h7 White seems to win, but... 38...fxg3+ 39.Qxg3 Rxg2+! 40.Qxg2 Qc7+ 41.Kg1 the pawn cannot be taken because of Qa8 and Qxa7 wins the queen, but after 41...Qc1+ 42.Qf1 Qg5+= Black holds the draw.]


36...Qxh5+ 37.Bh3 Qc5! [Black consolidates. The only way to make progress would be to advance the pawns, but that is risky because it opens the king's position.]


38.a5 Rd5 [38...Qxa5 was also possible and White probably doesn't have anything better than perpetual, but Aronian did not want to take his queen away from its active position.]


39.Qf6+ Ke8 40.Qe6+ Kf8 41.Qf6+ Ke8 [The time trouble is over. Kramnik continues pushing.]


42.Bg4 Qd4 [Black would happily trade the queens because the kingside pawns are not advanced far enough, therefore he has enough time to catch the b2 or the a5 pawn.]


43.Qe6+ Kf8 44.Qh6+ Ke7 45.Qe6+ Kf8 46.Kg2 Rd6 47.Qc8+ Kg7 48.Qc7+ Kf8 49.Qc8+ Kg7 [A great fighting draw!]



View the game

More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution bulletin. 25 pages total. Subscribe!

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 December 2013 )
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