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Vladimir Kramnik vs Peter Leko
Dortmund Sparkassen (1998), Dortmund GER, rd 8, Jul-04
Benko Gambit: Declined. Quiet Line (A57)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-17-04  WMD: Leko annotated this game for NIC 98/5, dubbing it 'Drama Without Music'.

'This game was played in the eighth round and we both knew that the winner of this game was also going to be the winner of the 26th 'Dortmunder Schachtage'.'

12.Na5? 'This natural move is a big mistake which should have cost him first place.'

13...Qc7! 'This was the idea: suddenly White's a5 Knight is trapped! Only 13 moves have been played and Black is already very close to winning.'

20.Rb1! 'Vladimir is fighting like a tiger!'

22.Bf7? 'Kramnik misses a wonderful tactical shot: 22.Qd6 ed6 23.Bg7 Kg7 24.Be6!! Rc7 25.Rb7! Rb7 26.Bd5 Nc5 (26...Rb2 27.Re4) 27.Bb7 Nb7 28.Re7 and White should be able to make the draw.'

24...Nf2! 'Now Black is winning! The only thing is to survive time-trouble and then it is finished. At least that's what I thought; it turned out to be a very expensive mistake!'

35...Re5? '35...gh4'

40...Rb2 'Time trouble is over and I felt I would win easily. I even felt very fresh, so I could hardly believe that something could go wrong. All these things 'helped' me to lose concentration and not take the endgame seriously enough!'

44...Rb7? 'For some mysterious reason I thought that 43...Rf5 was the move which had spoiled this endgame and I mentally gave up. The problem is that after the natural 44...Rf3? 45.Re6!! is a wonderful defence. White can draw this lost ending thanks to STALEMATE, e.g. 45...Ke6 46.Ra6 Kd5 47.Ra5 Ke4 48.Ra4 Ke3 49.Ra3 Kf2 50.Ra2 Kg1 51.Rg2 Kf1 52.Rg1 Ke2 53.Re1 Kd3 54.Rd1 Kc3 55.Rd3 Kb4 56.Rd4, with a draw (not 56.Rf3 a5).

'This is all brilliant but together with Yusupov the next day at the closing ceremony we discovered that I still could have won easily with 44...Re3! 45.Ra7 (or 45.Rc4 Rb5) 45...Rf3 46.Rf7 Kg6!! (this is the point!; 46...Kf7? 47.Ra7 Kf8 48.Ra8 is stalemate again) 47.Rg7 Kg7 48.Ra7 Rf7.'

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Leko was +2 entering this round. After missing his opportunity here he lost in the next (last) round with White against Svidler enabling Svidler to finish in a 3 way tie for first with Kramnik and Adams. Leko's usual defense against the Queen's pawn was the Gruenfeld (He had a win against Shirov and a draw with Ivanchuk earlier in the tournament using the Gruenfeld) but here he attempted to surprise Kramnik with the Benko. Kramnik avoided mainline theory with 4 Nd2. Leko had previously played 5..g6 in a loss against Beliavsky at Ubeda 1997. Leko's 5..c3 had been played a few times previously. 7 Nc4 was new; 7 c4 and 7 Bd3 had been played previously. Accepting the gambit with 7..Nxe4 8 Qe2..Bg7 (8..Nf6? 9 Nd6#) 9 Qxe4..Bxc3+ 10 Bd2..Bxa1 11 Ba5..Qxa5 12 Nxa5..Bc3+ 13 Kd1..Bxa5 14 h4 would have been dangerous for Black. Kramnik's defense in the ending was very clever and the missed win was not that easy to find.

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