Aronian-Kramnik: game 2 drawn

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The second game of the friendly match between Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik ended in a draw. To everyone's surprise, Aronian started with 1.e4 and it became a Ruy Lopez, Berlin Ending. The Armenian soon pushed e5-e6, which was the safest option, and then Black no longer had any problems. The score is 1.5-0.5 for Aronian with four more games to follow.

EventAronian-Kramnik | PGN by TWIC
DatesApril 21-28, 2012
LocationZurich, Switzerland
System6-game match
Players

Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik

Rate of play40 moves in 120 minutes, 20 moves in 60 minutes and, for the remainder of the game, 15 minutes plus an increment of 30 seconds per move
BonusAs a bonus for the audience, Kramnik and Aronian will play an additional rapid game if the main game on any given day is drawn in under three hours

Below is Sunday's live commentary by Sergey Shipov on the second game. Aronian had the white pieces and the match initiative after winning yesterday's opening game. Monday is a rest day, games 3 and 4 take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the last two games are on Friday and Saturday.

[Commentary by GM Sergey Shipov - original in Russian at Crestbook]

[Event "Aronian-Kramnik Match"]
[Site "Zurich (2)"]
[Date "2012.04.22"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Levon Aronian"]
[Black "Vladimir Kramnik"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "ChessVibes"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2012.??.??"]
[EventType "match"]

{Greetings, dear friends! This is Grandmaster Sergey Shipov welcoming you -
I'm at home in Moscow in the company of two cats and three computers. I
consult them constantly when studying a position, but I don't trust any of
them... The second game of the Aronian - Kramnik friendly match is about to
start. The Armenian grandmaster is playing White and leading 1-0. Kasparov's
commentary on the first game was brief: "It was no contest!". I hope Kasparov
will have to look for other epithets for the second game. I wouldn't want the
match to turn into a one-man show. We need a fight, we need intrigue! Of
course, it's hard to believe that Kramnik will already take his revenge today.
More likely than not he won't force matters and he'll try to play more solidly
with Black. He's got two white games in reserve - and that's a lot. However,
all those idle considerations will take a back seat if he manages to catch his
opponent out with some opening preparation - we saw an example of that change
of scenario yesterday. Strong players with a flexible nervous system (and I
don't commentate on any others) are always ready to switch from solid play to
a sharp attack, and vice versa. While as for the opening... Of course, it's
unlikely Kramnik prepared for this match as seriously as he would, let's say,
for the Candidates Tournament. There isn't the same status or motivation. He
must, however, have stored up some ideas! After all, Vladimir remains the top
player in world chess when it comes to studying theory. It's high time for him
to prove that once again.} 1. e4 {The first surprise. You might have predicted
a closed opening. However, Levon probably didn't want to see the Queen's
Gambit either. On the other hand, there's still the Petroff and the Berlin
Wall...} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 {So then, the bastions of the Petroff have been left
behind.} 3. Bb5 {But the Berlin Variation is perfectly possible.} Nf6 {And
there it is. That same system that proved such a hard nut to crack in
Vladimir's match of his life against Kasparov (London 2000). Since then a lot
of water has flowed under the bridge, but the Berlin isn't simply holding but
getting stronger by the day.} 4. O-O {The most principled approach.} ({Lately
Carlsen has been playing} 4. d3 {- and winning. But not against Kramnik.}) 4...
Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {So then, we've got the
famous Berlin endgame on the board. Computers still remain weak here, as
everything is based around purely human positional ideas.} 9. Nc3 {There's a
choice here...} Be6 {Only the fifth most popular move. The bishop will come
under attack from the white knight on g5.} ({In the battles against Garry at
the turn of the century Volodya played the moves} 9... Ke8) ({,} 9... h6) ({and
} 9... Bd7 {They're still perfectly playable today.}) 10. Rd1+ Ke8 11. Ng5 {
This is what we were talking about. The exchange on e6 gives White a
persistent edge.} Bc8 {Black's ready to repeat moves. But who's going to do
that...} 12. h3 {Routine prophylaxis. Ideally White should launch a pawn
advance on the kingside, but again, that's just a dream for now.} ({The
dramatic blow} 12. Rd8+ $2 {would be equivalent to suicide:} Kxd8 13. Nxf7+ Ke8
14. Nxh8 {- the knight won't, of course, return from the corner, and Black
doesn't need to rush to capture it -} Nd4 $1) ({But} 12. Ne2 {was a serious
alternative. For example,} a5 13. a4 b6 14. b3 c5 15. Bb2 Be7 16. Ne4 Be6 17.
Nf4 h5 18. g3 Rd8 19. Rxd8+ Kxd8 20. Rd1+ Kc8 21. Nxe6 fxe6 22. Kf1 Rd8 23.
Rxd8+ Kxd8 24. Ke2 Kd7 {and Black held this visually difficult endgame in the
encounter V. Topalov - V. Ivanchuk, Wijk aan Zee 2012. I recall trying to
prove in analysis that this position was lost for Black. But I couldn't.})
12... Be7 {Black is, of course, behind in development and his rooks aren't
connected, but in the absence of queens those factors should be divided by
three. Or even by five.} 13. Bf4 {A novelty, it seems. White is completing his
mobilisation without any positional subtleties. It's possible that the mission
of the bishop on f4 is to destroy the c7-pawn. After all, the pawn on e5 won't
stay there forever...} ({While here's what was played before:} 13. b3 h5 14.
Nce4 f6 15. exf6 gxf6 16. Bb2 Rh6 17. Nf3 Nd6 18. Nc5 Kf7 19. Re1 b6 20. Nd3 c5
21. Nf4 Bb7 22. Nh4 Rg8 23. Re6 Bc8 24. Re2 Nf5 {and Black had the better
prospects, S. Dvoyris, V. Ionov, Chelyabinsk, 1991.}) ({Twenty years later
there followed the hardly musketeer-like, but more solid} 13. Nf3 h5 14. Bg5
Be6 15. Rd2 Rd8 16. Rxd8+ Kxd8 17. Rd1+ Ke8 18. g3 f6 19. Bf4 Bb4 20. exf6 Bxc3
21. bxc3 gxf6 22. Bxc7 {and White turned out to have an edge, D Swiercz (we
spent a long time on our forum arguing over how to pronounce the surname of
this Polish guy - and still couldn't decide) - R. Hovhannisyan (the question's
easier here, but there are also so many letters in the surname that it'll be
safer to keep writing in English), Chennai (the city - to complete the set)
2011.}) 13... Nh4 {Played remarkably quickly. In general it's not common for
Kramnik to spend a long time thinking in positions he knows. He also likes to
put psychological pressure on his opponents. As if to say, Levon, did you want
to upset me with a new move? But I know it! And this is how it's refuted...
After this jump by the black knight to the edge of the board the c8-bishop can
also come out to f5, while the knight will probably return to g6 in order to
put pressure on the e5-pawn... Aronian is having a long think. Perhaps he
hadn't studied this particular concrete position. Or he simply suspects a
trick and is rechecking his preliminary plans. The clocks show: 1.31 - 1.47.} (
{It also didn't look bad to play} 13... h6 {, though I'm not sure exactly
where the g5-knight should retreat. That's something Aronian will demonstrate
in future games.}) 14. e6 {Very boldly played! My assumptions about the
mission of the f4-bishop have been confirmed incredibly quickly. Of course
Black shouldn't take on e6 immediately. It's better to maintain the
flexibility of the pawn structure and take the scallywag a little later - with
the bishop i.e. the obvious move is 14...f6. However, the computer disagrees
with my "of course" - it sees some tactical possibilities for Black in the
variation 14...fxe6!?. I'll take a look and bring you the results of my
analysis. Volodya has his head between his hands and is straining to think.
He's faced with looking at all the complications without metal friends. The
difficulty of such a task at the board is not only in seeing subtle and
unobvious resources, but also in TRUSTING your own analysis. It's hard to
decide to go for it - it's hard not to play more solidly, just in case, as
they say.} ({The alternatives to the move in the game aren't so spectacular.
For example,} 14. Nge4) ({,} 14. Rd2 {and so on. They wouldn't fundamentally
alter anything.}) 14... f6 {And that's what happened. Volodya has played more
solidly - so his team don't worry.} ({After} 14... fxe6 {the variation tree is
by no means so branched:} 15. Nge4 {(otherwise the bishop can't take on c7)} e5
$1 16. Bxe5 Bxh3 $1 {(this was the resource you had to find)} 17. Bg3 $1 (17.
Bxc7 $2 Bxg2) 17... Be6 ({Bad are} 17... Bxg2 $2 18. Bxh4) ({and} 17... Nxg2 $2
18. Kh2) ({while including} 17... Bg4 18. f3 Be6 {is worth consideration}) 18.
Bxc7 Nf5 ({if} 18... Kf7 {there's the unpleasant} 19. Bd6) 19. Ne2 $1 {the
knight is heading for f4} g5 $1 20. Nd4 Nxd4 21. Rxd4 Kf7 22. Bd6 Bf6 $1 23.
Nxf6 Kxf6 {and you get approximate equality in a position with
opposite-coloured bishops.}) 15. Nf7 Rg8 16. Bxc7 {The bishop has done its
duty, the bishop can... remain on the board.} Bxe6 {While the pawn really has
played the role of that Moor. (Translator's note: "The Moor has done his duty.
The Moor can go" is an oft-quoted (by Russians!) line from Schiller's "Fiesco")
} 17. Nd6+ Bxd6 {Black has been deprived of the advantage of the two bishops,
but now he doesn't have any weaknesses in his pawn structure. Aronian has
stopped to think - what should he capture with? I must admit I don't see even
a hint of an advantage for White. It seems Black will manage to complete his
development successfully. He just has to be careful not to allow the white
knight to d6.} 18. Bxd6 {The opening is over. Black, in my view, has conducted
it successfully and can look confidently to the future.} Kf7 {He's managed to
connect his rooks. The knight will return from the edge of the board to f5 or
g6.} 19. f3 {Very sharply played.} ({I nevertheless looked at the attempt to
post the knight on d6:} 19. Bh2 Rad8 20. Ne4 Nf5 21. g4 $1 Bd5 $1 22. Nc3 Ne7
23. Nxd5 Nxd5 {- it seems that White doesn't have any real advantage here
either. The black knight is very active and White has potential weaknesses.})
19... Nf5 20. Bc5 {It's no good to retreat to h2 here because of the invasion
of the black knight on e3. The white bishop is emphasising the weakness of the
a7-pawn. Black will have to somehow alter the structure on the queenside...
I'd prefer to play b7-b6 here, and I'd think about a pawn advance on the
kingside. If you fantasise a little and imagine the position after h7-h5 and
g7-g5-g4 then it'll be perilous for White. But of course Aronian won't stand
still. He'll counter Black's attack with g2-g4. The players have plenty of
time: 1.24 - 1.14. There's no point in agreeing to a draw yet. It's unlikely
the grandmasters want to play an extra game in rapid chess - that's what's
being counted on. That's the point of the new anti-draw regulations.} b6 {As
was to be expected.} ({Much worse was} 20... a6 {and in that case White's
bishop would stand on b6 and the c5-square might become a staging post for the
c3-knight.}) 21. Bf2 Rgd8 {Kramnik is playing strictly for a draw. Without any
risky movements.} 22. a4 {Underlining a small drawback to the move b7-b6. The
a4-a5 break is threatened. It's unlikely that will be a really dangerous idea
as Black can also play c6-c5, restricting the white bishop. Vladimir is using
his time generously, but luckily he's got plenty: 1.23 - 1.01.} Ne7 {All hands
to the queenside!} ({The immediate} 22... c5 {was also playable, as in case of}
23. Nb5 {White isn't actually threatening anything. Removing the a7-pawn would
allow the black rook to invade on d2.}) 23. a5 {You have to hurry before Black
plays c6-c5 and Ne7-c6.} c5 {Essential, it seems. The position that's arisen
is very subtle and complex. Levon has managed to create tension and a real
fight almost out of nowhere. For now it's not clear how White can attack
effectively. For example, after 24.Nb5 there's a good defence: 24...Nc6. But
on the other hand, it's not clear how Black can remove the pawn tension and
completely squeeze the life out of the play.} ({Exchange variations conceal
some venom for Black:} 23... Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Bf5 25. Ne4 $1 Bxe4 26. fxe4 bxa5 {
(nothing else suggests itself, as the pawn's under attack and the white rook
will come to d7)} 27. Bc5 Ng6 28. Rd7+ Kg8 29. b3 $1 {and the noose tightens.})
24. Nb5 {Nevertheless.} ({Attacking with} 24. Na4 {would be repulsed by} Rxd1+
25. Rxd1 Rb8 {and it's only White who's in danger after} 26. axb6 axb6 27. Rd6
Nc8 28. Rc6 {due to} Rb7 $1 {and the rook on c6 comes under attack.}) ({The
metal friend recommends the deep} 24. g4 {with an even deeper idea... Kg1-g2!
Such an unhurried and demonstrative improvement of the position far from the
field of the real combat isn't something everyone's capable of. But no, I'm
sure that Aronian could also have played like that. If he'd thought longer and
looked wider.}) 24... Nc6 {So then, the knight that had until recently been
living on h4 - overseas, you might say - has found an ideal post and is
reinforcing the weakened flank. The a7-pawn is no longer hanging and rook
exchanges are perfectly acceptable for Black, while in future the knight can
jump to b4 and counterattack... Aronian has sunk into a long analysis. Times:
1.01 - 0.47. He's probably looking at exchanges on d8 and b6 with the Ra1-a6
invasion to follow. But believe me, things aren't so simple there... For
complete happiness White's lacking precisely the inclusion of g2-g4 and Kg1-g2.
I promise to go into more detail.} ({It was clearly unsound to play} 24...
Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Nc6 {due to} 26. Rd6 Rc8 (26... Nxa5 27. Rxe6 $1) 27. axb6 ({
you also need to look at} 27. Nxa7 Nxa7 28. axb6) 27... axb6 28. Bg3 {- it's
hard for Black to untangle his tight knot of pieces. The b6-pawn is very
vulnerable.}) 25. Rxd8 {We're following the path indicated.} ({After} 25. Nc7
Rac8 26. Nxe6 Kxe6 {it turns out that the black knight is at the very least no
weaker than the white bishop - which has been restricted.}) ({There was also
no reward after} 25. Rd6 Nxa5 26. Bxc5 Bd7 $1) 25... Rxd8 26. axb6 axb6 {And
now we await the appearance of the white rook on a6. Getting ahead of myself,
I'll note that in that case Black mustn't play passively...} 27. Ra6 {Well,
we'll get to check what the Russian grandmaster thought on that score. It's
very suspicious that he's hesitating for so long rather than making the
correct move...} Rd1+ {No, everything's fine. Vladimir's within his rights to
use his time as he sees fit. If he wants he can make a move, if he wants he
can drink some coffee.} ({The path to inevitable ruin was} 27... Rb8 $2 28. Bg3
Ne5 (28... Rb7 29. Nd6+) 29. f4 Nc4 30. Ra7+ Kg8 31. f5 $1 {and so on.}) 28.
Kh2 {Here if the white king could escape to g2, supporting the f2-bishop...
but no, he has to leave his friend to suffer.} Rd2 {The best defence is
counterattack. Black eats up no less than White.} 29. Rxb6 ({If} 29. Bxc5 {the
correct move is} Rxc2 $1) 29... Rxc2 $1 {The correct choice. You have to start
with the little things... I'll note, my friends, that three hours haven't yet
passed. The players are simply being forced to play thoughtfully, unhurriedly
- in the face of inevitable simplifications and getting a dead drawn position.}
({In case of} 29... Rxf2 $2 30. Rxc6 Rxc2 {White would win material with} 31.
Rc7+ Kf8 32. Nd4 $1) 30. Nd6+ ({Or} 30. Rxc6 Rxf2 31. Nd6+ (31. Rxc5 Rxb2 $11)
31... Ke7 32. Ne4 Rxb2 33. Rc7+ Kf8 $1 34. Nxc5 Bf7 {with equality again.})
30... Ke7 31. Ne4 {The c5-pawn's in trouble, but there's a defence.} Nd4 {Of
course. The soldiers in black shield each other from the enemy fire.} 32. Rb7+
({On} 32. b4 {there would follow} Bd5 $1 33. bxc5 Bxe4 34. Bxd4 Bxf3 {and it's
actually White who has to exercise prudence:} 35. Rb2 Rxb2 36. Bxb2 $11) 32...
Kf8 {The resources to continue the fight are quickly drying up.} ({It was just
as reliable to play} 32... Ke8) 33. Rc7 {Forcing the denoument.} Rxb2 34. Rxc5
Nf5 {And that's all. The intrigue has been exhausted. The disappearance of the
queenside has brought an end to the struggle. The clocks show: 0.42 - 0.20.
They can agree a draw.} 35. Ng3 {This seems a bit superfluous, but it's a
question of hospitality...} Rxf2 36. Nxf5 Bxf5 37. Rxf5 Ra2 {DRAW. I suspect
Kasparov will also say "it was no contest" about this game, but with entirely
different connotations. Aronian did in fact rush sharp operations coming out
of the opening and therefore, by the logic of events, got a dull and almost
equal ending, which Kramnik managed to hold without any particular problems.
So then, Vladimir has managed to carry out the first part of his match-saving
plan. The score is still in Levon's favour, 1.5 - 0.5, but in the next
encounter he'll have the black pieces. Working for you, dear fans, has been
Grandmaster Sergey Shipov. Tomorrow will be a rest day for us all. All the
best and see you the day after tomorrow!} 1/2-1/2
.

Schedule

Saturday, 21 April: 15:00  Round 1
Sunday, 22 April: 15:00  Round 2
Monday, 23 April: Rest Day
Tuesday, 24 April: 15:00  Round 3
Wednesday, 25 April: 15:00  Round 4
Thursday, 26 April: Rest Day
Friday, 27 April: 15:00  Round 5
Saturday, 28 April: 13:00  Round 6

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