WCC2008 game 4

Oct 19, 2008, 6:08 AM |

Viswanathan Anand vs Vladimir Kramnik
Queens Gambit Declined

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. a3 c5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11.Be5

The players cranked out the first 11 moves at rapid pace. These are all book moves so far. I believe the most popular option for Black here is 11...Bf6. There are also many other playable moves such as 11...Bf5, 11...Bg4, 11...Be6, or 11... f6. I do not expect Black to go all out in this game because of a few reasons: 1. He is very experienced and he will not panic after just one loss. 2. One of the common strategies in big matches is you want to try to stabilize the bleeding after a bad loss. Tomorrow would be an off day and Kramnik can then prepare to even up the score with the White pieces in game 5.


This is not the most common continuation but definitely playable. White's most logical response here would be 12.Be2. This position is roughly even.

12. Be2 Bf6

White has a number of choices such as 13.0-0, 13.Rc1, or 13.Bxf6, which most likely will be Anand's choice. Black is equal in any of the above lines. I am having a hard time finding a convincing plan for White. This opening choice suits Kramnik fine as he will try to grind things out without much risks. 12...Bf6 is technically a new move here but it really just transpose to another line. 

13.Bxf6 Qxf6

If Anand wants a quiet game, 14.Nd4 would be a logical choice. But if he wants something more lively, he may want to consider 14.0-0 allowing 14...Qxb2 15 .Qxd5


I do not expect much happening in this game. It seems that Anand is content with a +1 so far. Even if Kramnik can even up the score by the end of the match, I have to believe that Anand is quite confident with his rapid chess skill. They have played 45 rapid games against each other and Anand has a big edge with +10 =33 –2. One interesting note, Kramnik has never beaten Anand with the Black pieces in classical chess.


I expect Anand to capture the Bishop and head to a Bishop versus Knight set up. After 0-0, White has nothing to fear and his focus will be on the isolated d5 pawn. I still believe the position is even.

15.Nxf5 Qxf5 16.O-O 

Things move along as expected. Black now can place his f Rook on d8 threatening d4 to get rid of that isolated pawn. In the mean time, White can always play Bg4 to get rid of the Knight. This is certainly not an exciting position for either side.


The best thing of this match so far for the chess fans is to have Anand strike first. This way, Kramnik has to force the issues to even things out. If Kramnik would have scored first, he would just play very safe to hold. I expect Anand to play Bg4 and not take any chances.


Black can safely play 17...Qe5, 17...Qf6, or 17...Qg6 without much difference.


This is a possibility 18.Qb3 d4 19.Bxe6 Qxe6 20.Qxe6 fxe6 21.exd4 Rxd4


Unfortunately for the chess fans, basically all lines will most likely lead to a peaceful ending.


An interesting try but White can simply move out of the way with 19.Qb5. Black eventually has to trade the d5 pawn which will lead to a symmetrical pawn structure.


Black's most logical move is 19...b6 to protect the Knight since it is located on a good square. White can start moving his Rooks to the d and c files.

19...b6 20.Rfd1 Rd6 

Black obviously will double his Rooks on the d file. White can simply chase the Knight away with b4 and if the Knight retreats to e6, White can simply trade the Bishop and Knight then move the Rook to d4 to block Black's pawn from advancing. White can also play 21.Rd4 immediately. It really does not matter which order White chooses. Even with all of that, the position will not yield a decisive result for either side. Perhaps a draw will be agreed after move 30.

21.Rd4 a6 

Now White has only one move which is 22.Qb4 to stop the Nb3 threat.


Anand responded with this move instantly. Black has a wide range of possible moves such as 22...h5, 22...f5, or 22...Rad8. They are all perfectly playable.


It will be interesting to see if Anand will choose to retreat to the d1-h5 diagonal with 23.Be2 or 23.Be3 or go the other way with 23.Bh3. The ladder one is probably safer to prevent Ne6 to chase the Rook away from the nice d4 square.

23.Bh3 Rad8 

Simply a logical move. Sometimes, it is better to follow the most logical path and not complicate things for no reason. An interesting option for White now is 24.g3 to allow the flexibility for the Bishop to go back to g2 or even f1. It is risky for Kramnik to go crazy with the g5 - g4 idea because he definitely does not want to take a chance to go down a serious 0-2 hole. He is too calm and cool to panic this early with 8 games left after this one.

24.g3 g5 25.Rad1 g4 26.Bg2 Ne6 

White can simply play R4d3 = Black can start pushing the d pawn now that the Knight is on e6 to reinforce this.

27.R4d3 d4 28.exd4 

If Black recaptures with the Knight, White could move his King to h1. Kramnik is trying to make something happen out of very little. Black's Knight will be quite active after 28...Nxd4. The other option is 28...Rxd4 29.Rxd4 Nxd4 30.Kh1.


Anand has to take the Rook. 29.Qc3 is too risky.

29.Rxd4 Rxd4

White can play 30.Rxd4 Nxc4 31.Qxb6 Qe1+ 32.Bf1 =1/2-1/2