Converting Small Advantages

Converting Small Advantages

IM Fins0905
Apr 6, 2011, 12:34 AM |

I became enamored with Vladimir Kramnik's games shortly after I graduated high school.  

In 2005, the 14th World Champion was nearing the tail end of a significant rating decline.  Still, he seemed capable of producing masterpieces whenever he sat down at the board.  The ever-present cast-iron logic behind his games made an impression on me, and I soon endeavored to "play like Kramnik."

The first thing I did was purchase Kramnik: My Life and Games.  Kramnik published this work in 2000, so his World Championship matches are not covered.  Nevertheless, this book proved to be a valuable resource.  Kramnik's victories throughout the '90s reflected a style that always seemed to be in control of the position.  In effortless fashion he would accumulate a number of small advantages, devise a plan for victory, and execute it with ruthless accuracy. With White, he was particularly unstoppable.  A typical example from this period:

After a thorough study of Kramnik's games, I next sought to incorporate his openings into my repertoire.  This meant learning 1.Nf3!  As a 1.e4 player, this was quite a transition.  With help from GM Alexander Khalifman's Opening for White According to Kramnik series, I eventually became a full-fledged 1.Nf3 player.  I credit this switch as a big factor in making my IM title in 2006.

Since then, I'm happy to have produced a few Kramnik-esque games.  One of these games was played during my sophomore year at the University of Texas at Dallas GM Invitational.  My opponent, FM Keaton Kiewra, is a good friend of mine who recently achieved his second GM norm (congrats, Keaton!).  My plan was to aim for a queenless middlegame in which I had a couple of small edges and chances to outplay my opponent...Kramnik style!

Here is a fragment from the blitz game I mentioned in the note to Black's 25th move:

Accumulating and converting small advantages is how elite players like Kramnik make their living.  One can benefit a great deal from their expertise!