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Vasyl Ivanchuk vs Vladimir Kramnik
Corus Group A (2001), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 7, Jan-21
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense (C65)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-09-04  Bobak Zahmat: A game with so much complications and traps can't only be played by only supergrandmasters.
Nov-17-05  azaris: Here's one for those complaining about Kramnik's "boring" Berlin Defense.
Nov-17-05  aw1988: Well, it's horribly boring for White.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I think it was horribly boring especially for White's Kingside Rook...:-D

Impressive game.

Nov-18-05  azaris: After 38. Kd3 cxd4 39. Re1, how should Black proceed?

He can attack the pawn with 39...Rg6, but then 40. Ng5 Rf6 41. Bg1 (<41. Nf3 Rf4 42. h5 Kh7 looks good>) 41...Rf4 (<41...Rf1 42. Nf3 Rxe1 43. Nxe1 is not as good>) 42. Nf3 Rg4 43. Rxe2 Rxe2 44. Kxe2 Rxg2+ 45. Kd3 Rxb2 46. Nxd4 Ra2 and one pawn might not be enough to win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <azaris>
I actually like Black's winning chances in the end of your line, because White's pieces are prone to get pinned and it's hard to avoid White's king getting cut off.

After your <38. Kd3 cxd4 39. Re1 Rg6 40. Ng5 Rf6 41. Bg1 Rf4 42. Nf3 Rg4 43. Rxe2 Rxe2 44. Kxe2 Rxg2+ 45. Kd3 Rxb2 46. Nxd4 Ra2>, if then 47. Be3 Rxa3+ 48. Ke4 Rc3, White's king is cut off. But if 47. Kc3 Rxa3+ 48. Kb4, then 48...Rh3 49. Bf2 a5+! White still has trouble stopping the a-pawn after 50. Kb5 Bxd4 51. Bxd4 a4! (52. Kxa4? Rxh4 pins and wins the bishop, or 52. Bc5 a3 and the king is cut off again).

Jun-24-06  acirce: Kramnik was terribly lucky here though as it seems the fairly simple 26.Qf3 wins easily.

26..Rf8 27.Nd7, 26..Qf8 27.Nd7 etc, for example 27..Qc8 28.Be5 followed by Nf6 with an overwhelming attack

May-15-07  positionalgenius: Great game...
May-15-07  suenteus po 147: <acirce> Great find! I wonder why Ivanchuk missed it. I mean, I know why I missed it, I'm a patzer. But he's IVANCHUK :)
Jan-08-08  parmetd: uhh the berlin defense is not boring lol.
Jan-11-08  acirce: <Great find! I wonder why Ivanchuk missed it.> He's reported to have had only 90 seconds left already a few moves earlier.

This game was somehow chosen by the spectators to be the game of the day. Just like in the case of Morozevich vs P Nikolic, 2000 Kasparov was angry about the choice and stormed out of the press conference. Although this time he did not think his own game was worthy of the prize either.

Jan-11-08  KamikazeAttack: This is an OUTLAW game lol.

No law or Sheriff in town!

Very exciting. Didn't even know it existed.

Reminds of another lawless game involving Kasparov and Kramik Kasparov vs Kramnik, 1996

Jul-06-08  invas0rX: bxc3 and nxe5 is good for black. center powerfull
Mar-05-11  Hesam7: A game of very low quality, the number of mistakes are staggering.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5 d5 8. Bg5 Re8 9. f4 dxe4 10. d4 Bb6 11. Nd2 c5 12. dxc5 Bxc5 13. Qe2 h6 14. Bh4 g5 15. fxg5 hxg5 16. Bg3 e3 17. Nb3 Bb6? <17. ... Bd6! 18. O-O-O Qe7 19. Qxe3 Bxe5 20. Qxg5+ Kf8 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Qg5+ => 18. Qf3 Be6 19. Rd1 g4 20. Qe2 Qe7 21. Nc6? = <21. Nd4! Ne4 22. O-O f5 23. Qxe3 and White is simply a pawn up.> 21. ... Qf8 22. Nbd4 Qc5? <22. ... Bc8! would highlight why White had to keep the e-file closed (why 21. Nc6? was a mistake). 23. O-O Ba6! 24. Qxa6 e2 25. Qd3 Qh6 26. Rde1 exf1=Q+ 27. Rxf1 Qg5 => 23. Ne5! <now we are basically in a position which would arise had White played 21. Nd4. The only difference is that the Black queen is on c5 instead of e7 but unfortunately for him that does not help with maintaining the e-pawn.> 23. ... Nh5? <23. ... Qf8 24. O-O (24. Qxe3 Bc4! =) 24. ... Qg7 25. Qxe3 and Black has to fight for a draw but now he is simply lost> 24. Nxe6 Rxe6 25. Qxg4+ Ng7 26. Nxf7? <26. Qf3! would win on the spot as acirce mentions. But not all is lost since White is still better.> 26. ... Rf8 27. Ng5? = < If White wanted to maintain his advantage he had to find 27. Nd8! Re7! 28. Rd7! Rxd7 29. Qxd7 Rf6! 30. Rf1 Rxf1+ 31. Kxf1 Qc4+ 32. Ke1 Qxa2 ... where White has the upper hand in a sharp endgame.> 27. ... e2 28. Rxd4? <28. Nxe6 would maintain equality: 28. ... exd1=Q+ 29. Kxd1 Qd5+ 30. Ke1 Qxe6 31. Qxe6 Nxe6 32. Rf1 and White should be able to hold this endgame where he has 3 pawns for the knight. Note that 28. Rd8 would lose to the simple 28. ... Ree8 29. Rxe8 Rxe8> 28. ... Rg6? = <28. ... Qb5! 29. Nxe6 Rf1+ 30. Kd2 Qxb2+ 31. Kd3 Bxd4 32. cxd4 Qb1+ 33. Ke3 Qc1+ 34. Ke4 Qc6+ 35. d5 Qa4+ 36. Nd4 Rxh1 37. Qxe2 > 29. h4 Qf5 30. Qxf5 Nxf5 31. Bf2?? <31. Rf4! Nxg3 32. Rxf8+ Kxf8 33. Rh3 Nh5! 34. Rf3+ Ke7 35. Kxe2 would have held the balance.> 31. ... Nxd4? <31. ... Bxd4! was the way to victory: 32. cxd4 (32. Bxd4 Ng3! ) 32. ... Rc6! 33. Kd2 (33. Kxe2 Rc2+ loses the bishop) 33. ... Nxd4 34. Bxd4 Rf1 35. Kxe2 Rxh1 > 32. cxd4?? <Ivanchuk misses another chance: 32. Bxd4 Bxd4 33. cxd4 offered more resistance.> 32. ... Re8? <Kramnik is keeping up with the blunders. 32. ... Rc6! would have ended the game> 33. a3 Rc6 34. Kd2 Rf6? = <34. ... Rd6 was essential: 35. Nf3 c5 36. b4 cxd4 37. Ne1 etc.> 35. Nf3 Rg6 36. Ng5? <36. Rg1! would have kept things equal.> 36. ... Rd6 37. Nf3 c5 38. Re1? <The final mistake. 38. b4 cxd4 39. Ne1 would have kept the game alive.> 38. ... Ba5+ [0-1].

Mar-06-11  Hesam7: I found the TWIC report on this round of 2001 Corus written by John Henderson:


<Last year Garry walked out of a press conference after his final game against Polgar, after discovering the audience had just given Weird Al Morozevich his record-equalling fourth award (he now shares the title of most awards with Ivanchuk and Anand 1996 and 1999), he simply marched off to his hotel, muttering under his breath: “They [the audience] don’t understand the first thing about chess. I won this tournament by a margin of 1.5 points – and still they show no respect!”

Well, let’s fast-forward twelve months: Again Garry is annoyed with the audience, and again he’s stormed out of a press conference due to their choice for game of the day. Our highly efficient press officer, Tom Bottema, was cock-a-hoop with delight after persuading Garry to do the press conference of the on his win over Veselin Topalov. Tom's joy soon turned to gloom as Garry upped and walked after discovering that the audience (by a 4 vote margin over Garry - I did tell Gazza he should have done a "Gore") had presented the daily award to Kramnik – who had been lost for much of his game to Ivanchuk!

In fairness, Garry did have a point, and he didn’t really think that his game should have been a candidate after Topalov’s horrific blunder. “If Chucky had won he would have been my choice of the day, but Kramnik was losing – how could they award it to him? It was random, he won because Chucky was in serious time trouble.” And with that, the winter coat, boots and furry hat was put on as he and his second, Yuri Dokhoian, trudged through the snow back to his hotel.>


[1] <<16. ... e3!?> Missing the big chance to centralise with 16. ... Qd5! 17. Rf1 Be7. As it is, Kramnik's choice is, as we call it in the trade, a bit "iffy".> Since Black could have maintained equality with 17. ... Bd6! instead of 17. ... Bb6? I don't think 16. ... e3 was a mistake.

[2] <<19. ... g4> The only move: 19. ... Qe7? 20. Nc6 Qf8 21. Qxf6!>

[3] <<20. Qe2> 20. Qf4?! Nd5 21. Qc4 c6 22. Nxc6 Qg5!>

[4] <<21. Nc6> 21. O–O! looks much stronger - the rooks are powerfully placed on the d and f files.>

[5] <<22. ... Qc5?> 22. ... Qh6! A crucial saving move - it holds the Black game together beautifully: 23. Nxe6 (23. O–O? Bc4! 24. Qxc4 e2!; 23. Be5 Ne4!) 23. ... Rxe6 24. Ne5 Qg5 and Black's over the worse, and White's got a few problems to solve.> So this gives Black yet another option to equalize beside 22. ... Bc8.

[6] <<23 Ne5> You can now see why both players - more so Chucky with just about 90 seconds left - were in a frantic time scramble. All sorts of complications now had to be calculated: 23. Be5? Bc4 24. Qxe3 Nh7! with f6 to follow, and White's in a bad way.> The novelty of the game was 8. Bg5 so in other words Ivanchuk must have spent something around 1 hour and 55 minutes on the 15 moves from move 9 to move 23 ...

[7] <<23. ... Nh5??> With Black's position hanging by a thread - not to mention Chucky's flag - Kramnik's serious error has one advantage - his opponent hadn't calculated it, so had to use more time on the clock! 23. ... Bxa2 at least gave Black chances 24. O-O (24. Qxe3 Nd7 25. Qg5+ Kf8 26. O-O Rxe5! 27. Bxe5 Nxe5 28. Kh1) 24. ... Rxe5 25. Rxf6! Re4 26. Rf4 Rxf4 27. Bxf4 Qh5!> There is a whole in this analysis: 23. ... Bxa2 24. O-O Rxe5 25. Rxf6! Re4 and now 26. Bf4! Qf8 27. b4! and Black is struggling to survive. In the original line given with 26. Rf4 Black equalizes completely.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 4 d3 was played some in the 19th century but very rarely in the 20th. Ivanchuk's use of it was likely a response to Kasparov's lack of success with the standard 4 0-0 in the World Championship match. 4..Bc5 is not even mentioned in my two reference works though it has become quite popular in recent years. 6 0-0..d6 7 d4..Bb6 would be illogical as White would be a tempo down compared to a standard position in the Classical Ruy (C64). 8 Bg5?! was a new move that has not been repeated; 8 0-0 seems better. 9 d4?..Rxe5 10 dxe..Bxf2+ 11 Kxf2..Nxe4+ 12 Kg1..Qxg5 would have been good for Black. Instead of 17..Bb6? which gave White a strong game Kramnik recommended 17..Bd6 18 0-0-0..Qe7 19 Qxe3..Bxe5 20 Qxg5+..Kf8 21 Rhe1..Ng4 with unclear complications. After 23 Qe5 White had a clear advantage but only a minute left on the clock while Black only had two. 28..Qxd4 29 Qxd4..Bxd4 30 Nxe6 would have been winning for White. White lost on time though his position was hopeless.

<Hesam7: A game of very low quality, the number of mistakes are staggering.>

This is very harsh. The players left known theory very early and entered a very complicated double-edged middlegame. The end of the game was, of course, marred by time trouble but from a competitive standpoint I enjoyed this game immensely.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Fun advert for the Berlin defence - pure chaos!

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