WCC 2008 game7
Vladimir Kramnik was struggling again in the seventh game of the World Chess Championship taking place in Bonn and after a 36 move draw he remains three points behind the champion Vishy Anand with five to play. Kramnik, a former champion, played black and despite reaching a position in the Slav Defence with which he was familiar he was soon on the defensive.
Anand played very simple chess, keeping the draw in hand but maintaining a slight edge and one move 21 when Kramnik exchanged queens he turned down the offer of a draw. At one point Kramnik's position looked awkward but a pawn sacrifice and a series of accurate moves enabled him to block the position. Anand is 5-2 ahead and needs just three more draws to retain the title. The colour sequence reversed at the halfway stage so Kramnik is white in games 8, 10 and 12.
Game 8 is Kramnik's last realistic chance to keep the match going the distance. He must win otherwise Anand will be able to draw with white to reach 6.5 and everyone will go home early. Experience tells us that a win with Black at the top level when the player with white only needs a draw is very hard to achieve. Kramnik's difficulties are compounded by the fact that he hardly ever wins with black. His repertoire is built around winning with white and drawing with black. Kramnik's last win with black was against Topalov in 2006 in a game referred to below. He was completely lost and triumphed only after Topalov missed a mate.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4
Preventing b7-b5 defending the c4 pawn
If colours had been reversed we might have seen the wild 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 Bb4 8.e4 Bxe4 9.fxe4 Nxe4 10.Bd2 Qxd4 11.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 12.Qe2 Bxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Qd5+ 14.Kc2
6...e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 0-0
The pawn sacrifice is rarely accepted nowadays 10...Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxe4 12.Ba3 prevents castling on the kingside. If the black king goes the other way White plays moves like Qb2 and Rhb1 with an attack
11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3
This position was seen twice during the infamous Toiletgate match between Kramnik and Topalov at Elista in 2006
14...Bg6 15.Ng5 Re8 16.f4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 f5 18.Be3 Nf8 19.Kh1 Rc8 20.g4! gave Topalov a huge attack in game 2 although Black later won
15..Rc8 was played at Elista
16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Nd3 Qb6 18.Nxb4 Qxb4 19.b3
White is just a fraction better here as Black's knight cannot get into the game. This remains the basic theme of the struggle as Anand continues to deprive it of squares. Had the knight been on c6 Black would have been better
19...Rac8 20.Ba3 Qc3 21.Rac1 Qxe3 22.fxe3 f6 23.Bd6 g5 24.h3 Kf7 25.Kf2 Kg6 26.Ke2 fxe5 27.dxe5 b6
The knight is still stuck 27...Nb8 28.Bxb8 Rxc1 29.Rxc1 Rxb8 30.Rc7 is just good for White
Position after 28.b4! taking away the c5 square. White intends Ke2-d3-d4, b4-b5 and Rc6 Black cannot exchange rooks as White could control the open file and penetrate on c7 28...Rc4 29.Rxc4 dxc4 30.Rc1 Rc8 31.g4
Preventing g5-g4 when Black's king could become active. Black is going to lose the pawn on c4 but hopes to block the position
32.bxa5 bxa5 33.Rb1!?
32...c3 33.Rc2 Kf7 34.Kd3 Nc5+
The knight finally emerges and Black is safe
35.Kxc3 Nxa4+ 36.Kb3 Rxc2 37.Kxc2 Ke8 holds
35...Rxc5 36.Rxc3 Rxc3+ draw
Final position after 36...Rxc3+ White recaptures and the position is totally blocked.