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Vladimir Kramnik vs Alexey Shirov
"You're Fired!" (game of the day Jan-07-2011)
Tal Memorial (2010), Moscow RUS, rd 9, Nov-14
Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Variation (D52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-14-10  Pyke: <Eyal: Shirov is really having a rough time against Kramnik in recent years – since 2007, the (classical) score between them is 6-1 in favor of Kramnik in decisive games, and 4 draws. Interesting to note, though, that Kramnik had the White pieces in 8 out of those 11 games.>

Well, maybe it's a bit of a psychological problem for Shirov. After all the trouble with the candidates (pre 2000) and everything.

Also, having such contrary styles wouldn't help I guess.

Nov-14-10  Ulhumbrus: 8...h6 disturbs the King side pawns without necessity.

White's QB on h4 creates at least two difficulties for Black.

Firstly, it keeps Black's Queen out of e7.

Secondly, it keeps Black Rooks out of the square d8 so that Black's Rooks are unable to contest possession of the d file, and have to leave the d file in White's hands.

The result is that after ...c5 White's Queen is able to occupy the square d6 on the d file and then to use that square to transfer to the King side, as in the famous game Alekhine vs Lasker, 1934

22...g5 wins White's Queen's Bishop but it also disturbs the King side pawns again and invites Kramnik's piece sacrifice. However as <polarmis> has indicated, Shirov intends a perpetual check.

An alternative is 22...Qd5

Now it becomes a question of who has seen more or failed to foresee enough in time. In the event Kramnik gains in the end too much for the piece.

At the end after 59 g5+ Kxf5 60 g6 threatens h7, and Black has no answer to the threat, so Shirov resigns at this point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: White could have held onto the piece by playing 23. Qg4 (23...e5 is bad because of 26. Bf5 and 23...f5 is bad because of 24. Nxf5 exf5 25. Bxf5).

After 26. Nxe6, what was wrong with 26...Rc6 ?

Nov-15-10  Jamboree: 48.... Qc4?? is the same as resigning. Why in the world did Shirov play that? All the major pieces instantly get traded off, and then there's no way a bishop can stop four connected passed pawns. Was he just sick of the tournament and decided to just throw in the towel? As least play on for a perpetual or tactical shot and see if Kramnik loses focus for a moment.
Nov-15-10  polarmis: Shipov on the game:

<The rare move 8. Rc1 (in the topical Cambridge Springs Variation of the Queen’s Gambit) clearly disturbed Shirov. With 8…Bb4! 9. Qd2 he could have brought the game to known positions, but he decided to take advantage of White’s inaccuracy, as it seemed to him. As a result Kramnik successfully tricked his opponent! His move 10. a3! (instead of the expected 10. Qd2) came as an unpleasant surprise. Vladimir managed to get a position with powerful compensation for the pawn.

However, on leaving the opening the ex-World Champion committed a couple of inaccuracies, allowing Black to simplify. And then Shirov overestimated his position. With 22…Ba6 23. Rfd1 Nd3! he could have gained a comfortable advantage. From a practical point of view the move 22…g5? is a terrible gamble. You can’t play like that! The computer, of course, is able to defend Black’s naked king, but for a human being that task proved too daunting. And no wonder.>

Although I think Shipov's wrong here about Shirov overestimating his position - as I said above, it seems as though he just wanted to force a perpetual with ...g5.

Nov-15-10  DAVI DE RAFE: enikkishttayi
Nov-15-10  visayanbraindoctor: Kramnik must have been awfully desperate for a win, willing to incur disadvantages for the chance for an attack, or to simply mess up his opponent in a difficult situation. When was the last time that Kramnik scored negative in a tournament?

Luckily for him, Shirov's awful 22..g5 gave him a chance.

Kramnik can get to be pretty good in open Queen positions. These are probably the most difficult positions to play for humans, but Kramnik played the open Queen part of this game without error. In this last round alone, both Nakamura and Wang Hao messed up wins in open Queen positions.

Note that Kramnik, while starting to push his pawns, avoided lines that could have led to the following endgames:

Q + 4 P vs Q + B

R + 4 P vs R + B

Are these theoretical draws?

However, when he had the chance, he quickly simplified to a

4 P vs B

endgame, which is for the most part a theoretical win for the side with the connected pawns.

Nov-15-10  Ulhumbrus: After 22...Na6 23 Rfd1 Nd3 (Shipov) one way for Black to lose is 24 Qg4 Rxc1 25 Rxc1 Nxc1 26 Bf6 Ne2+ 27 Kh1 g6 28 Bxg6 fxg6 29 Qxg6+ Kf8 30 Qxh6+ Ke8 31 Qh8+ Kf7 32 Qg7+ Kf8 33 Qg8 mate. Black will have to avoid this.
Nov-15-10  rapidcitychess: <visayan>

Endgame Explorer: QPPPP vs QB

Since you are not premium, I'll give you the stats.

♕♙♙♙♙ vs ♕♗

61.5% win for superior. 30.8% draw. 7.7% win for inferior.

Endgame Explorer: RPPPP vs RB

♖♙♙♙♙ vs ♖♗

72.9% win for superior. 25% for draw. 2.1% for inferior win.

I think this says that it's still a win. Though it is probably a bit complex.

Nov-16-10  visayanbraindoctor: <rapidcitychess> What are the stats for

4 P vs B


I believe that for the 4P side, it's a theoretical win for most cases, and definitely 0% chance of losing. Which might be the main reason why Kramnik avoided the less optimal (as the stats you dug up shows) endgames above.

BTW, here is another open Queen game that Kramnik handled without errors, and which impresses me far more than most novelty - initiative - attack - combo - sac - checkmate games.

Kramnik vs Naiditsch, 2009

You might find it interesting as a Kramnik fan.

Nov-16-10  Eyal: 4♙ win against ♗ 84% of the time (that is, 21 out of 25 games in this database – the other 4 are drawn).

Endgame Explorer: PPPP vs B

Apparently, the defending side can draw only in special cases – e.g., if the pawns are weak and the king isn’t close enough to support them before the K+B can safely blockade (Navara vs Kramnik, 2008), or if the king gets "trapped" and can’t support its pawns (V Jakovljevic vs Korchnoi, 2007).

Regarding this game, to quote an online commentator:

<42.Qb4+ [42.Qxd5 Bxd5 43.g4 should be winning thanks to the fourth pawn, in my opinion, but maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps Kramnik felt that he could always head for this ending, but should in the meantime try to extract more from the position with queens on. It should be noted that if White can trade both pairs of heavy pieces, it's a clear and straightforward win - as happens in the game.]


48…Qc4? This is either a strange misjudgment by Shirov or motivated by a desire to stop suffering. As mentioned above, the pure ending with pawns against the bishop is an easy win for White. If it were only the three pawns, then Black can draw - either by blockading or by sacrificing the bishop for the f- and g-pawns. But the one extra is one too many: it can help break the blockade and the bishop sac will no longer work.> (

Nov-16-10  rapidcitychess: <visayan>

Thanks for that game!

Jan-07-11  rapidcitychess: Ah, I see, Kramnik pulled his "Trump Card". :)
Jan-07-11  PhilFeeley: What does the headline refer to? "You're fired!" Who's fired? His second?
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Four pawns would require a pope to stop,not a mere bishop.
Jan-07-11  4tmac: Interesting game but very difficult to play for Black without Pawns! Hard to find but necessary was 33. ..Qe7! and if 34. Qh5+ Kg8! also meeting Ra5 with Bb5! then Rc5! with complications.
Jan-07-11  redorc19: why not 8...NxN 9. RxN Qxa2 wsith a pawn up?
Jan-07-11  WhiteRook48: ah! Kramnik's four pawns overwhelm Shirov's bishop.
Jan-07-11 You're fired - could it refer to Shirov's book "Fire on Board"?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: I think it's a double pun - it's the catchphrase of both Donald Trump and Alan Sugar in the US and UK version of the TV show "The Apprentice" and it's a reference to Shirov's book as <> has already suggested. In this game, Kramnik is the one to bring fire to the game.

Who knows? It might even have a reference to the game. Shirov spends several moves trying to exchange of queens and leave rooks on the board, but Kramnik only allows the queens to come off when he can also exchange off the rooks. That way he liquidates into a winning bishop versus many connected pawns endgame rather than a tricky rook + bishop versus rook plus pawns endgame.

In a way, Kramnik is saying that he doesn't mind the queens leaving the board, as long as he is the one to do the firing...

Jan-07-11  Blunderdome: No, really. How is this a pun?
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I think its a reference to the book "Fire on Board" and the Donald Trump bit, as suggested above.
Jan-07-11  jmactas: Why is <> blasting Alexey Shirov in their latest GTOD's (two Shirov losses this week). Shirov's sharp and tactical style is good for the spectator and that style promotes chess to beginners. I'm speaking in generalities, not just this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <jmactas: Why is <> blasting Alexey Shirov in their latest GOTD's (two Shirov losses this week). Shirov's sharp and tactical style is good for the spectator and that style promotes chess to beginners. I'm speaking in generalities, not just this game.>

Including the two losses this week, Shirov's record in GOTDs is +16 -7 =2 (68%). If anything, it looks like they were trying to even things up a little. :-)

But seriously, my observation is that might occasionally use the GOTD to honor a particular player, but never to cut somebody down. Two losses in the same week is sheer coincidence, and has probably happened to many players other than Shirov.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Phony Benoni: But seriously, my observation is that might occasionally use the GOTD to honor a particular player, but never to cut somebody down.>

Very well said ... with the possible exception of NN, of course!

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