Game of the Month:September 2011

WHO: Galkin,Alexander(2598) – Kramnik,Vladimir(2781) Kramnik surely needs no introduction, known for his magnificent positional play, he reigned as World Champion from 2000-2007. Currently running at number 4 in the live ratings. Galkin – Born 1979, Won the 1999 World Junior championship. Not much is known about his life but I am lead to believe he’s more of a politician than a chess player.

WHERE: Russian Championship Super Finals 2011 OPENING: Lion’s Defence: Lion’s Jaw

WHY: Interesting game, Kramnik (!) sacs a piece – shows how the elite GMs try and beat strong players. ###pgn###[Event “64th ch-RUS”] [Site “Moscow RUS”] [Date “2011.08.15”] [Round “7”] [White “Galkin, A.”] [Black “Kramnik, V.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “B00”] [WhiteElo “2598”] [BlackElo “2781”] [Annotator “Jones, Gawain”] [PlyCount “70”] [EventDate “2011.08.08”] [EventType “tourn”] [EventRounds “7”] [EventCountry “RUS”] [EventCategory “19”] [Source “Mark Crowther”] [SourceDate “2011.08.15”] 1. e4 d6 {Kramnik is famed for his rock solid black repertoire, mainly the Petroff but also the Berlin Wall which Kasparov was unable to break down in the World Championships back in 2000. However, recently, Kramnik has tried to be more creative, particularly against lower rated players, and has added Modern / Pirc setups to his repertoire, admittedly with mixed results. Here however his risky strategy works perfectly.} 2. d4 Nf6 3. f3 $5 {This is a pretty rare alternative to the main line 3.Nc3. If Black develops normally with …g7-g6 and …Bf8-g7 then White can transpose into a Samisch Kings Indian with c2-c4. The downside behind White’s move is that he has delayed his development and Kramnik tries to exploit this.} c5 $5 {Kramnik isn’t interested in going into a Kings Indian.} 4. Ne2 (4. d5 {has typically been played in this already rather unusual position. Here Black can choose to go into a type of Benoni with …e7-e6 or back to a KID with …g7-g6.}) (4. c3 { is another way of playing trying to keep total control of the centre but Black will try to generate quick counterplay.}) 4… e6 $5 {After 4 moves Kramnik has succeeded in reaching an incredibly rare and very complex position in which he can hope to outplay his opponent.} ({Previously most players have opted for} 4… cxd4 5. Nxd4 {which has transposed to a 5.f3 line against the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3). This doesn’t have a particularly scary reputation but Kramnik isn’t interested in going back into theoretical lines.}) 5. Be3 (5. dxc5 d5 6. Be3 {would transpose to the game.}) 5… d5 {Still not interested in transposing into a Sicilian setup, the position starts to resemble some sort of odd Caro-Kann.} 6. dxc5 (6. e5 Nfd7 7. f4 Nc6 {would look like a French where both sides have lost a move (f2-f3-f4 against d7-d6-d5) except that the knight has not yet developed to c3 while the knight is rather passively placed on e2 and so feels a good version for Black.} ) 6… Nbd7 7. Nbc3 dxe4 8. b4 $5 {Attempting to maintain control of the queenside.} ({I presume Galkin looked at} 8. fxe4 {but didn’t like the look of} Bxc5 9. Bxc5 Nxc5 10. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {when someone with such good technique as Kramnik would really make White suffer due to his isolated e4 pawn.}) 8… b6 $5 {You have to admire Kramnik for playing this move which prepares a piece sacrifice. It is impossible to know when playing the move if Black truely does have enough play for the piece but this certainly puts a lot of pressure on White who now is forced to play extremely accurately.} 9. c6 Bxb4 $1 (9… Ne5 10. Qxd8+ Kxd8 11. O-O-O+ Ke7 12. Nd4 {is obviously highly unpleasant for Black and certainly not what Kramnik had in mind.}) 10. cxd7+ Bxd7 {So what exactly is Kramnik’s idea? At the cost of a piece for two pawns Black has a lead in development and an annoying pin on the c3 knight. Not only does White need to be careful not to drop the piece but he really struggles to develop his kingside as the e2 knight is tied down.} 11. a3 Ba5 12. Qd4 Qe7 {Giving up another pawn but dissuading Galkin from castling long.} 13. fxe4 {And oddly this pawn should probably not have been taken; White is simply running out of time!} (13. Bf4 Nd5 $1 14. Qxg7 Rf8 {is very pleasant for Black as the c3 knight is becoming under too more pressure.}) ({Kramnik’s last was directed against} 13. O-O-O $1 {but this was probably White’s best. However, obviously Black has great compensation. The game could continue} Qxa3+ 14. Kb1 exf3 15. gxf3 O-O-O 16. Bc1 {when White has succeeded in getting his king to relative safety and probably has a slight edge as the extra knight should trump the three pawns.}) 13… e5 14. Qd3 O-O {Getting the king to safety while waiting to see if the queenside rook should go to c8 or d8.} (14… Rd8 {was a good alternative as if White tries to continue as Galkin did with} 15. Bg5 $6 {then} Bg4 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 17. Qe3 (17. Qg3 h5 {continues to maintain the pressure.}) 17… Qc6 $1 18. Kf2 b5 $1 {preparing to drop the a5 bishop back into the game and I doubt White will survive the attack.}) 15. Bg5 Rac8 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 ({ Computers prefer} 16… gxf6 {which is very strong but here experienced players would prefer not to damage the structure.}) 17. O-O-O $1 {This is the reason that 16…gxf6 might have been stronger. Galkin has succeeded in castling and has an extra piece for just one pawn but Black has so much pressure with the bishop pair, queen and two rooks all directed at White’s king.} Be6 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. exd5 (19. Qxd5 $2 Rcd8 20. Qb3 Qg5+ {is obviously impossible.}) 19… e4 $1 20. Qd4 Qd6 21. h4 $5 {I thought the idea interesting and definitely a human response. The point is to bring the rook round via h3 to protect via the third rank and maybe also generate some threats against Black’s king to distract Kramnik.} Qxa3+ 22. Qb2 Qc5 $6 {The computer preferred a4 for the queen. The point can be revealed in the following variation.} (22… Qa4 23. h5 Rxc2+ $3 24. Qxc2 Qa1+ 25. Qb1 Rc8+ 26. Nc3 Qxc3+ 27. Qc2 Qa1#) 23. Rh3 (23. h5 $1 {was now playable and should be thrown in as White threatens h5-h6 while if Black responds with …h7-h6 then Black won’t be able to defend his king with …g7-g6.}) 23… e3 {Preventing the rook from swinging across to the queenside.} 24. Rg3 (24. Rd3 $1 {The plan of third rank defence was a good one and should have been continued with the other rook.}) 24… Bd2+ $1 {Preventing the rook swing.} 25. Kb1 g6 26. h5 Rfe8 27. hxg6 {The open h file doesn’t actually give White as much counterplay as you’d think.} ({Therefore perhaps} 27. h6 {was a better try.}) 27… hxg6 28. Rh3 Re5 $1 {A stronger way of blocking the diagonal than …f7-f6 which weakens the kingside somewhat.} 29. Nc1 Bc3 30. Qb3 $2 {Eventually the pressure on Galkin has become too strong and here he cracks.} ({It was necessary to put the queen on a2 with} 30. Qa2 {when Black could force a draw with 30…Qb4+ 31.Qb3 Qa5 32.Qa2 etc. but instead I imagine Kramnik would have continued with something like} a5 {with pretty horrific pressure on White’s position.}) 30… Re4 $1 31. Na2 Qa5 $1 {Renewing the threat of ….Rb4 and this time White has no defence.} 32. Ba6 Rb4 $1 33. Bxc8 Rxb3+ 34. cxb3 e2 35. Nxc3 Qxc3 $1 {A pretty final move giving up the queen for one move. A very energetic and creative game by Kramnik; who said that quick draws are killing our game at the elite level?} 0-1%%%pgn%%%

(Click on the speech bubble for the annotations!)