Converting Advantage According to Kramnik, Part 5

  • WIM energia
  • | Jul 19, 2013

Today we start wrapping up our series on converting an advantage according to Vladimir Kramnik. Over the last four articles we explored methods and techniques that Kramnik uses to efficiently convert the advantage in slightly better or winning positions. This article concentrates on games from his very recent practice, from the last half year or so, and features different techniques already discussed in the previous articles.

In the first position, a game from the Tal Memorial blitz tournament, we revisit pawn breaks as an effective means to realize an advantage. Black is underdeveloped and has weak dark squares all around. White has the bishop pair and space in the center. Obviously White is better, but what plan to choose to capitalize on this advantage? Opening files for the bishop pair is a logical follow-up, and Kramnik masterfully proceeds with this plan.

The e6-pawn cut Black's position in two halves and Black didn't manage to coordinate his pieces. Kramnik created a second weakness in the enemy position by winning the a6-pawn.

In the next blitz game against Alexander Morozevich, Kramnik sacrificed two pawns to get an attack on the black king. He opened the f-file with a pawn push forward, and this cleared the way for all white pieces. Did he have to be so radical in converting the advantage? After all, sacrificing two pawns is a high price?

Well, if the attack succeed White checkmates no matter how many pawns he is down. By normal means White will have a slight edge, but Kramnik went for a more ambitious and slightly risky continuation that required calculation, but especially for a blitz game it was the right decision.

Kramnik at the Tal Memorial blitz tournament last month

The next two examples are of a completely different nature: Kramnik is playing for domination instead of a direct assault. In the first position, against Michael Adams, Kramnik might be a bit worse in the starting position as White can force a draw in many lines. Instead, White plays for an advantage, presses too hard and ends up losing the game. Kramnik first avoids the exchange of minor pieces, then grabs space on the kingside and finally ends up with bishop vs. knight, where the knight does not have many squares to move to.

In the concluding example Kramnik has two knights for two bishops but the bishop on g6 doesn't participate much. White is better because he controls the d-file and because the white pieces are better placed. Kramnik first regroups his pieces to get a better grip on the d-file, and exploits the position of a better placed knight compared to the bishop. The endgame Q+N vs. Q+B has multiple zugzwangs where White wins with a pawn break.

As today's article shows, in his games of 2013 Kramnik converts advantages as well as ever, using methods of pawn breaks, tactics, domination and zugzwang. In the next article we will look at some of my games from recent practice where I applied some of Kramnik's methods.



  • 2 years ago


    great articles!

  • 3 years ago


    Nice article

  • 3 years ago


    The match Kramnik vs Morozevich is on youtube if anyone fancies a watch!

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks rolandinnyu!  Regarding my 2nd question, I had of course calculated 29 ... Qg8, but then somehow I just didn't see the mating attack that followed.  Thanks for pointing it out and answering my questions!  I appreciate it!

  • 3 years ago



    You're right. Bg7+ is more powerful than Qf6+. I didnt see the Bxg5, but Bxg5 is a better move than Bg7+ (but both moves are winning immediately). If Morozevich decides that he takes the g5 bishop, 28. Bxg5 Qxg5 than 29. Qf8+ Qg8 30. Qf6+ Qg7 and Qxg7 is a mate. But I think Kramnik Qf6+ wasn't a very good continuation, however this is also a winning position for white.

  • 3 years ago


    Very interesting article!  My favorite of the series!  I did have two questions on Kramnik's game against Morozovich ...

    After move 27. ... Qe7, why didn't Kramnik play 28. Bg7+?  I feel that he would have traded a bishop & knight for a queen and had an advantage following 28. ... Qxg7, 29. Nxg7 Kxg7 (if 28. ... Kg8, 29. Bd5+ and mate soon after).  Or would black have enough pawns to compensate ...?

    Also, could Morozovich play 28. ... Qxg5 if Kramnik had played the possible 28. Qxg5?  Instead of 28. ... Qxe8?

    I feel like I'm missing something obvious asking these questions, but I guess I'm just not seeing it ... Embarassed

    I liked your comment that "If black will suffer they might as suffer for extra material. There was no good alternative in this position."  Haha.  Even though black lost, this is good advice to remember!

    The final moves of the last game analyzed reminded me of the final moves of your R7 game in this year's recent USWCh ... where you ultimately deflected Foisor's constant checks with your knight ... very cool game! Cool

    Looking forward to seeing some examples of these techniques in your play in next week's article!

  • 3 years ago


    Nice article.

  • 3 years ago


    Kramnik kinda looks like a doosher..just sayin.


  • 3 years ago


    I'm looking forward to see a part 10 of this article. Thank you very much Ms. Iryna Zenyuk :)

  • 3 years ago


    Great series of articles for a great player ! Thanks !

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