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Magnus Carlsen vs Vladimir Kramnik
Tal Memorial (2012), Moscow RUS, rd 1, Jun-08
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical Variation (E32)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-08-12  pskogli: Not one of his best games (Magnus) looks like a beginners game.
Jun-08-12  zubenator: awesome play from Kramnik, especially considering every other player with black lost today.
Jun-08-12  WiseWizard: How fast was Kramnik playing? Magnus better watch out, they might be on to him. He always plays these sidelines this time Kramnik was ready and outprepared him, 8...exd5 is a rare move and black quickly gets more than he deserves.
Jun-08-12  Eyal: The two already went into this line last year (Carlsen vs Kramnik, 2011), where Kramnik played 8...Nxd5.

White should probably play 14.exd4 so as not to allow ...Nc5, but then after e.g. 14...Nc7 15.0–0 Re8 his advantage is minimal at best. Carlsen said in the press conference that after 15...Qa6 it dawned on him that he cannot castle without simply losing a pawn (to 16...Nxb3), so he decided to try and complicate matters with 16.Nf4, even though it was "ridiculously risky". Kramnik (who wasn't left with much time on the clock when the draw was agreed) said he couldn't see anything clear in the line 23...g5 24.fxe3 gxf4 25.Rf1:

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even though he saw clear wins in all the other lines.

[E.g., 23...g5 24.Nh3? (24.Ne2 Qa5+ 25.Kf1 Qxc5) should lose to 24...exf2+ 25.Kxf2 Ng4+ 26.Kg3 Rd3+! (26...h5? 27.Nxg5 Rd3+ 28.Nf3) 27.Kxg4 Qd7+ 28.Kh5 Qf5 and now the threat of Qg6+ forces White to give up the queen with 29.Qxd3, but even then the win - made possible by the position of White's king - is not trivial]

Jun-08-12  balzarius: The amount of work made by Kramnik in the Nimzo-Indian for Anand match and after it speaks for itself in this game.Probably Kramnik knows virtually all the intricacies of the 4.Qc2 variation and therefore I think that the Knight sacrifice was not found at the board:it was all calculated at home as a drawing line.
Jun-08-12  Eyal: Both from what Kramnik said at the press conference and from the time he spent thinking it's quite clear that he found the knight sac at the board; as I mentioned, he took the draw by repetition without much time left. And it's possible that by taking it he missed winning chances in the 23...g5 line.
Jun-08-12  Eyal: Btw, if all Black wants is to force a draw, he could already do it after White's 16th move: 16...g5 17.Bb2 gxf4 18.Bxf6 Nd3+ 19.Kf1 (19.Kd2?? Nxf2 defending against the queen check on g4, with threats of Ne4+ & Qd3+) 19...Nc1+ 20.Ke1 Nd3+ etc.
Jun-08-12  balzarius: I didn't see the press conference and therefore my opinion was only of speculative nature.It's quite unclear if Black has something at all after 23...g5 as you mentioned.(e.g.24.Nh2 and then what)
Jun-08-12  Eyal: I gave the winning line after 23...g5 24.Nh3 in a previous post; the really critical line seems to be 24.fxe3 gxf4 25.Rf1, which needs some analysis. I'm not saying it wasn't a reasonable practical decision by Kramnik to take the draw, but it's not like he was certain that's what the position is worth - he just wasn't sure what to make of it.
Jun-08-12  haydn20: I ran some lines with 16.0-0 thru Fritz and it seems White can grind his way to = with very precise play. Black's extra P is an iso dP and the range of the B helps. The positions end up around -0.4 with no clear path to a win. I wonder if Carlsen will try 7. e3 again. And I still don't see the point of 9. Bd3. Oh well, he's MC, and I'm not.
Jun-08-12  balzarius: I think 7.e3 was a way to avoid the main lines and to confuse Kramnik.
Jun-08-12  Eyal: Btw, with regard to the opening Kramnik said explicitly that he wasn't prepared for this line, he just had a recollection from that game he played with Carlsen a year ago at the Botvinnik Memorial that on move 8 it's better to recapture on d5 with the pawn rather than with a piece, as he did back then.

16.0-0 indeed seems less risky than Nf4 - White loses a pawn after 16...Nxb3 17.Qxb3 Qxe2, but he has the bishop and Black's d-pawn is rather weak.

Jun-08-12  fisayo123: He should have made sure Carlsen actually played 22.exf3 though not 22.Nh3. Unless Magnus had a lot of time.
Jun-08-12  luzhin: Yes, there are some beautiful possibilities if Kramnik had played for a win with 23...g5. For example, if then 24.Ne2? Qa5+ 25.Kf1 Qxc5!! 26.Qb3 Qc4!!
Jun-08-12  Eyal: <For example, if then [23...g5] 24.Ne2? Qa5+ 25.Kf1 Qxc5!! 26.Qb3 Qc4!!>

There was an even prettier possibility on a similar motif during the game had Carlsen tried 20.Qb3 (instead of Qc2): 21...Qa6+ 21.Kg1 (21.Ke1 g5 is worse for White with the queen on b3, because in some lines the black rook can come to d3 with a gain of tempo and the e4 square is available to the black knight) 21...e2 22.Be3:

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And here Black wins with 22...Qxa3!!

Jun-08-12  luzhin: That reminds me a little of the 24...Rxa3!! in the famous 1965 game Mikenas-Bronstein.
Jun-08-12  HectorChess: This was a good draw.
Jun-08-12  Atking: Beautiful lines <luzhin>&<Eyal>
Jun-09-12  visayanbraindoctor:

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And Black wins!

Thanks for this beautiful line <Eyal>.

Jun-09-12  apsalgarkar: good game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <luzhin: That reminds me a little of the 24...Rxa3!! in the famous 1965 game Mikenas-Bronstein.>

A justly famous tactical shot. Here’s a link: V Mikenas vs Bronstein, 1965.

Jun-11-12  Boomie: <Eyal: the really critical line seems to be 24.fxe3 gxf4 25.Rf1, which needs some analysis.>

Hi, Eyal.

Kramnik's instincts seem right on here. I couldn't find anything decisive and it seems drawish to me. However white's position is not pleasant and black can torture him without risk. But the clock situation precluded that strategy and the decision to take the draw makes perfect sense.

Assuming 21...g5 before the repetitions.

22.fxe3 gxf4 23.Rf1 (-0.42/21 Houdini)

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(23...Ng4 24. Qe2 Qxe2+ 25. Kxe2 fxe3 =)

24. Kf2 Nxc5 25. Kg1 Qd3 26. Qxd3 Rxd3 27. Rxf4 Rd1+ 28. Rf1 Rfd8 29. Bb1

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The king walk makes sense to me here. Most of black's shenanigans revolve around the exposed white king. Plus I find king walks elegant...heh.

There are other variations that lead to roughly equal positions.

Jun-11-12  Eyal: <Boomie> Thanks - I also had another look at this line and came to a similar conclusion. It seems that Black's best winning chances were actually missed a few moves earlier in the line 17...Nd5! 18.Nxd5 (18.bxc5 Nxf4 19.exf4 Rfe8+) 18...Nd3+ 19.Kd2 Nxf2, though that's also far from simple.
Jun-11-12  Octal: 17 ... Nd5 18 Nxd5 Nd3+ 19 Kd2 Nxf2 followed by ... Ne4+, ... d3, and ... Rd8 looks very much winning for Black.
Jun-11-12  Boomie: <Eyal: <Octal: 17 ... Nd5 18 Nxd5 Nd3+ 19 Kd2 Nxf2 followed by ... Ne4+, ... d3, and ... Rd8 looks very much winning for Black.>>

17...Nd5 is probably best but I haven't seen a winning line yet. Still, getting such a position in under 20 moves has to be depressing for white. Black's winning chances probably lie in white's emotional turmoil.

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