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Vladimir Kramnik vs Levon Aronian
Kramnik - Aronian (2012), Zuerich SUI, rd 1, Apr-21
Semi-Slav Defense: General (D43)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: < sarah wayne: Kramnick was down on time.I wonder what he wasted it on?> 1.Nf3.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I'm surprised this game hinged on poor endgame play. I thought Kramnik would be much more accurate with such little material on the board. It looks like advancing his e pawn was the error, letting black capture at b2 and take control of the position.
Apr-22-12  lotus123: Kramnik as white seems to be most uncomfortable with QGD and English.
Apr-22-12  acirce: <BTW, is Kramnik's 26th best? It seems Aronian's shift to the b-file caused some immediate problems. I'm also curious about Whites play starting with k-side action at move 23. Doesn't he want to play on the q-side with his majority?>

26.f4 looks like a simple blunder.

23.g4 was to discourage ..f5; 23..f5 24.Nh4 must have been the idea, with some complications. After 23..Kh7, Black is threatening ..f5 again, so 24.g5 is consistent. Of course, this all wrecks White's pawn structure, so he must keep playing for some initiative. 26.Ra3 was suggested. 26.f4 would have been good if not for the little detail that it didn't work.

All in all, it must be said this was a horrible game by Kramnik, compared to the expected standards of a 2800 player.

Apr-22-12  polarmis: Sergey Shipov's commentary on this game:

Apr-22-12  Everyone: <14. h3!> comes out of the Fritz box as best move.
Apr-22-12  AVRO38: <Everett><So it seems Kasparov used 1.c4 as a transpositional device to get into an opening commonly reached by 1.Nf3.>

What you failed to realize is that it was Karpov that steered the game into 1.Nf3 lines in order to secure the draw and win the title. Unfortunately he missed 33...Nc5! which would have won him the world championship.

Kasparov played 1.c4 against Karpov for the same reason Korchnoi did in his matches, i.e. because there was a perception that this was a weakness for Karpov. Karpov proved them wrong as he handled this opening well against both of them, but nevertheless the perception was out there.

To make a long story short, Kasparov played the move he believed would give him the best chance of winning. Karpov in return steered the game into 1.Nf3 territory in order to secure a draw and regain the title.

Apr-22-12  Ulhumbrus: Reshevsky in his comments on the game Reshevsky vs M Pavey, 1956 says <This game clearly indicates how effective the Reti Opening can be, especially when slightly mishandled by Black> In that game the Reti opening transposes into a King's Indian attack. Kramnik could have chosen the Reti partly because he shared Reshevsky's opinion of the Reti opening.

6 Bxf6 concedes the bishop pair.

12 e4 may threaten 13 e5 but Aronian does not wait for the latter move and 12...e5 appears to gain the advantage because White seems at first sight to have no advantageous choice of moves. This suggests that instead of 12 e4, 12 Ne4 or 12 Rc1 may be better.

12...e5 does open lines in a position where White is ahead in development, something which we are told is an inadvisable thing to do

On 12...e5 White may have an alternative to 13 d5. Suppose that White simply invites Black to take the d4 pawn.

Instead of 13 d5, on 13 Bb3! exd5 14 e5!! Black seems unable to keep the d4 pawn and White has a potential threat of e5-e6.

With the move 17 cxd7 White's d pawn moves a fourth time to exchange irself for a bishop moves once. That makes a loss of three tempi for development. Moreover Kramnik has by then parted with the second bishop for a knight, and he does not win a pawn for it.

White's opening variation seems inadequate but perhaps it is one of his choices of single move within the sequence which is faulty, eg the move 13 d5?!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 are both 'transpositional devices' in that both are sufficiently flexible to lead to a wide variety of different opening systems. Any reasonably competent player can do this: you don't have to be 2800. But there's a higher value on understanding the themes and structures of the openings you reach, rather than simply memorizing moves.

For some reason, a small number of people - mostly diehard 1.e4 fans - are irritated by this way of playing. But it's becoming more popular -- in recent years, almost as many of my opponents in, say, the 1800-2200 range have opened with 1.c4/1.Nf3 as have played 1.d4 or 1.e4.

You certainly can't play an English/Reti and expect your opponent to be unprepared. But you can hope to steer the game into channels they may not be expecting. Psychology is a factor.

I prefer 1.Nf3 because it avoids the Reversed Sicilian or King's English *and* you can always switch back to a d4 opening, as Kramnik tends to do.

Apr-22-12  Mr. Bojangles: Domdaniel nice post
Apr-22-12  twinlark: <40. Rd7> was a time trouble blunder that made it easy for Aronian, but Kramnik was already lost by then it would seem. <26. f4> certainly didn't do much except make his life very difficult, but it would seem that <37. Rh7> landed him with a lost game, ie: was the losing move. Not being a great expert on such endgames, and not really trusting my engine to offer straightforward solutions, I spent some time examining the position with my abacus and trusty board after <36...Kd8>:

click for larger view

Kramnik of course played <37. Rh7> taking his rook away from the action and forcing Aronian's DSB onto a better square. What looks like a tempo win is actually a loss of tempo. It seems Kramnik should have kept his rook in the centre with <37. Rcc4> making it much more difficult for the black King to cross over to assist his passed a-pawn. After <37. Rcc4>:

click for larger view

Black has two main alternatives, <37...a5> and <37...Rd6>:

I. <37...a5 38. Red4+> forces Black back to the king side to avoid the perpetual: <38...Ke7 39. Re4+ Kf7 40. Rc7+ Kg8 41. Rc8+ Kg7 42. Re7+ Rf7 43. Rxf7+ Kxf7>:

click for larger view

and White holds as he will pick up the g-pawn.

II. <37...Rd6 38. Kf1 Rd1+ (38...Rf6+ 39. Kg1 a5 Red4+ basically transposes to variation I) 39. Re1 Rdd2 40. Rce4 a5 41. Re8+> and White should be able to hold even though the King can get through to the queen side:

click for larger view

There are lots of variations, and it is a difficult defensive task, but it's do-able. An indicative variation is <41...Kc7 42. R8e7+ Kc6 43. R7e6+ Kb5 44. R1e5+ Ka4 45. Re4+ Kb3 46. Rxg6 Rd1+ 47. Re1 Rxe1+ 48. Kxe1 Bd2+ 49. Kd1 Bb4 50. Nf3!>:

click for larger view

and the reentry of the Knight into the game plus the passed pawn gives White enough to hold the game, as far as I can determine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Aronian's 16...Qe6 seems to be a definite improvement on 16...Qd6, played just a couple of weeks earlier in a game between Gunina and Muzychuk in the European Women's Championships - and won by White.

Which shows just how deep and up-to-date top-level prep has to be these days. Kramnik's 11.Re1 used to be thought inferior to other moves such as 11.Rc1, but has been rehabilitated and turned into a winning weapon in the last year. But Aronian either had an improvement ready on move 16 or found it OTB.

Incidentally, since White's first three moves were Nf3, d4, and c4, it doesn't really matter what order they were played in. As long as Black is willing, you still reach a Semi-Slav.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: As twinlark's variations show, these endings - with pawns on both sides of the board, one or two rooks apiece, and bishop vs knight - are fiendishly difficult to play. Unless you happen to be a computer.

I'm not, and I lost two similar endings recently.

Apr-22-12  BadKnight: In the post game interview Aronian said he found 16...Qe6 OTB.
Apr-22-12  LoveThatJoker: <Everett: I don't think the first move indicates anything. It's what you do with it of course.>

Well said: Of course!


Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <BadKnight> Interesting, thanks. Aronian's play was really beautiful in this game -- both very delicate and brutally strong. Kramnik was punished relentlessly for a couple of small errors, and then went under more quickly than he had to. He still played well, though, in trying to get his rooks active -- it's just that Aronian seems to be on a higher level now.
Apr-22-12  cro777: <Domdaniel: Aronian's 16...Qe6 seems to be a definite improvement on 16...Qd6, played just a couple of weeks earlier in a game between Gunina and Muzychuk in the European Women's Championships - and won by White. Which shows just how deep and up-to-date top-level prep has to be these days.>

This game is a rare example of bad opening preparation by Kramnik. As he explained after the game, he was inspired by the win by Gunina over A.Muzychuk , which he briefly saw and did not analyse with a computer, but anticipated (because it was a decisive game of the championship) that it all was Gunina's (deep) computer preparation.

Apr-23-12  ughaibu: So, still no explanation of why not 17.Nc7. . . . ?
Apr-23-12  twinlark: <ughaibu>

Someone answered immediately: Kramnik vs Aronian, 2012

Apr-23-12  ughaibu: I guess it must be someone on my ignore list. But in any case, I've just realised that it would be the loss of two pieces for a rook, not a win of the exchange.
Apr-23-12  Ulhumbrus: <Domdaniel: ...
...1.Nf3 ... it avoids the Reversed Sicilian or King's English *and* you can always switch back to a d4 opening, as Kramnik tends to do.>

A good point. The Reti opening avoids 1...e5. That could have been one of Kramnik's reasons for playing it.

Apr-23-12  Everett: <Domdaniel> <Ulhumbrus> 1.Nf3 is a personal favorite for the similar reason of avoiding reverse-sicilian's as well, but one cannot avoid everything! For instance, 1.Nf3 g5?! Woodpusher vs Jonny, 2011
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: The Semi-Slav scalps another one.
Apr-24-12  SChesshevsky: <Ulhumbrus: White's opening variation seems inadequate but perhaps it is one of his choices of single move within the sequence which is faulty, eg the move 13 d5?!>

I haven't looked at it that closely but I also think the soundness of the opening is unclear. It seems computer flashy enough but I was thinking something simple like 14. dxc6 probably eliminates most risk for White and he does have potential for advantage.

This compared to the line in which 16...Qe6, which had to be considered, seems to make equality tougher.

Jul-09-12  Hesam7: Kaufman in his new book gives: 14. h3 Nc5 15. Qe2 a5 16. Rac1 Bf8 17. Qe3 Bd7 18. a3

click for larger view

as best play for both sides. And evaluates the diagrammed position as follows: <White is still a bit better as he has much more space and can double rooks on eiĀ­ther the c-or d-file while Black can't do anything constructive.>

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