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Vladimir Kramnik vs Alexander Beliavsky
Belgrade Investbank (1995), Belgrade SRB, rd 11, Nov-27
Zukertort Opening: Queen Pawn Defense (A06)  ·  1-0


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May-03-11  LIFE Master AJ: Its only been a few days (seems a LOT longer) since this was the POTD.

I am analyzing this game ...

here is just a small excerpt of my analysis, comments ARE invited!

7.c4 Bd6 ; 8.Qb3 Rb8!? ;
9.Re1 Nh6?! ; (Why?!?)
You have heard it said ...
over and over again ...
"Knight on the rim is grim,
and his future is dim!"

click for larger view

So you have to ask yourself why
a strong GM like Beliavsky would
play such a move!
There is no doubt that this move
is dubious ... judging from the
reaction of several different chess
engines that I tested, when I was
analyzing this game.

[It was probably better for
Black to have played:
>/= ¹9...Ngf6 ;
although White is clearly
a good deal better here. ]

Now Kramnik begins open lines ...
in order to exploit the lead in his
development. ("The Morphy
Principle" ... ... ... in action!)
10.cxd5! cxd5 ; 11.h3! Bh5?! ;
Black logically hangs onto the
Bishop ... I must confess that
this is the move that I would
have probably played here ...
had I been playing the Black
pieces in this game.

click for larger view

However, Black's last move was
probably an inferior play, it was
better to have exchanged on f3,
I do believe. (See the analysis
given - just below here.)
Now the position becomes something of
a chess problem, with the caption of:
"WHITE ... to move, and win."

[Black probably should have
(instead) played the following
¹11...Bxf3 ; 12.exf3! , (Lines!)
This is good because White
opens the e-file without delay.
(Also good was:
12.Nxf3 Nf7 ; 13.Be3² ,
with a small - but solid - edge
for White. ) .
12...Qe7 ; 13.Nb1! f4 ;
This might be forced.
(Instead, after the moves:
13...0-0 ; 14.Nc3 Nf6 ;
15.Bg5± , (Maybe " ")
the box is already showing that
White's edge could be nearly
decisive at this point. ) .
14.Nc3 Nb6 ; 15.Nb5 fxg3 ;
16.Nxd6+ Qxd6 ; 17.fxg3 Qxg3 ;
18.Rxe6+ Kf7 ; 19.Re5 Rhe8 ;
20.Bxh6 Rxe5 ; 21.dxe5 gxh6 ;
22.f4± , (White is clearly better.)
White is definitely on top, but
to find a forced win for White,
(from this position); is nearly
impossible, I think. ]

May-03-11  LIFE Master AJ: I will probably make a web page out of this game.

Many good reasons:

#1.) Many people have accused me of being a "Kramnik Hater." (Nothing could be futher from the truth. I was upset with K for ducking Kasparov after Kramnik won the World Championship. But that is all in the past. See my many websites - IF you want to read up on what I wrote - quite a number of years ago.)

#2.) This contest IS a miniature ... and it is between two of the strongest players that I have ever seen (say in the last 50 years) that played such a short (real tournament) game.

#3.) IMO, it IS a BRILLIANCY by Kramnik, perhaps one of the highest order!!!!! (Although I will readily admit that Beliavsky's play was less than perfect - although if B's play had been flawless the game could have been a boring 50+ move draw.)

#4.) The existing analysis of this game is poor ... and mostly very sparse. (Where are <RandomVisitor> and <Patzer2> when I need them?)

#5.) I am sure that the game would make a wonderful web page - I am even toying with the idea of turning into my first video. (I am thinking I might do both. The web page would be my normal analysis, the video would be more like the version in Kramnik's book ... except foe some color commentary thrown in.)

I could go on ... but I think you get the general idea.

May-06-11  LIFE Master AJ: I came home from chess club - and I worked for at least an hour on my annotations. (I am getting close - right now I am only working on polishing the language.)
May-09-11  LIFE Master AJ: I continue to work on this game.

I made a (semi) happy discovery ... apparently, around 2006, (best guess); I had begun an analysis of this game ...

However, like so many other projects, (and for whatever reason); I never finished it.

I now have been working on this game - some, every day - ever since it was the POTD. I feel I am very close to being finished, and I have already begun making the web page for it.

May-09-11  Colonel Mortimer: Tell us when it's finished - don't think anyone is interested in a running commentary.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Colonel Mortimer: Tell us when it's finished - don't think anyone is interested in a running commentary.>

You don't believe you can learn from the annotations of <The. Greatest. Player. Ever.>? Open your eyes to true genius at work! Free enlightenment will be yours, should you so desire.

Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: Does anybody have a link to the webcam where we can watch the 24/7 live stream of AJ working on this game?
May-21-11  Colonel Mortimer: <hedgeh0g:> <Does anybody have a link to the webcam where we can watch the 24/7 live stream of AJ working on this game?>

...just an empty chair in front of a whirring computer last time I looked.

May-21-11  SimonWebbsTiger: those unable to wait for AJ's analysis can look at Kramnik's notes in his My Life and Games book with Iakov Damsky.

it is game 125 (pp.126-127, Everyman Chess 2000)

May-21-11  SimonWebbsTiger: I am slightly curious.

AJ has been working on this game since 2006.

Why work on a miniature for 5 years? Why did he not finish the analysis? If he cannot finish an analysis of this in 5 years, what hope does he have of analysing his own games in order to improve?!

Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: <AJ has been working on this game since 2006.

Why work on a miniature for 5 years? Why did he not finish the analysis? If he cannot finish an analysis of this in 5 years, what hope does he have of analysing his own games in order to improve?!>

Please show some more respect where it's due. As a LIFE Master, it's quite clear AJ is analysing positions 30 moves deep in his head. Naturally, this is going to take some time.

Oct-14-11  DrMAL: Thanx <SimonWebbsTiger> for pointing out miniature it brings back old memory of this game. KIA opening starts off along less popular line. On move 6 computer makes evaluations below where 6.h3 and 6.c4 transpose.

Houdini_20_x64: 30/69 7:02:08 225,992,613,107
+0.10 6.h3 Bh5 7.c4 dxc4 8.Nbd2 Nb6 9.Qc2 Nf6
+0.10 6.c4 dxc4 7.Nbd2 Nb6 8.h3 Bh5 9.Qc2 Nf6
+0.02 6.a4 Ngf6 7.c4 Bd6 8.Qb3 Rb8 9.Nc3 0-0
0.00 6.Qd3 Ngf6 7.c4 Be7 8.cxd5 exd5 9.h3 Bh5
0.00 6.Nbd2 Ngf6 7.h3 Bh5 8.g4 Bg6 9.Nh4 Be7
0.00 6.Bf4 Ngf6 7.Nbd2 h6 8.c4 Bf5 9.Qb3 g5

One plan of 6.Nbd2 not chosen at depth in above line, is to go e4 and get rid of e-pawn to open center, position sharpens with this. Beliavsky seems to have chosen 6...f5 to counter this (instead of more common 6...Ngf6). At first 6...f5 seems a good move, it gains space and sharpens position further. However, there are other plans behind 6.Nbd2 for 6...f5 reply and 7.c4! is strongest of them, making 6...f5 a poor choice.

After 6.Nbd2 f5?! 7.c4! computer lines start as follows.

Houdini_20_x64: 30/70 3:01:13 95,307,297,739
-0.38 7. ... Ngf6 8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Ng5 Qe7 10.Nb3 a5
-0.42 7. ... Bd6 8.Qb3 Rb8 9.Re1 h6 10.h3 Bh5

Beliavsky chose 7...Bd6 but then played 9...Nh6 instead of 9...h6 resulting in slightly bigger advantage for white.

Houdini_20_x64: 31/70 2:12:16 74,690,880,380
+0.52 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.h3 Bxf3 12.exf3 Qe7

After 11.h3! position is sharp and 11...Bxf3 is only move. Kramnik showed amazingly strong understanding of position his play was so accurate it defines theory line to show how 6...f5 should not be played. His handling of 11...Bh5? with 12.e4! was also superb.

Houdini_20_x64: 25/67 25:01 13,137,936,031
-0.58 11. ... Bxf3 12.exf3 Qe7 13.Qe3 Kf7 14.f4
-2.30 11. ... 0-0 12.hxg4 fxg4 13.Nh2 Nf5 14.Qd3
-2.49 11. ... Bh5 12.e4 0-0 13.exd5 exd5 14.Qxd5+

It is interesting to see occasional game at high level with 6...f5 Opening Explorer one would think it was put out of business but apparently black managed to draw even win with it. In one win game of CG database A Smith vs E Lund, 2009 white played 7.b3 a slower, weak move that gives basically equal position again. These games are good examples of how opening preparation is so extremely important, and this game from Kramnik gives good example clue of why he became WC.

Oct-14-11  DrMAL: To futher confirm how 6...f5?! is poor because of 7.c4! I put Rybka 4.1 engine into Arena where Houdini 2.0 (and 1.5a) resides. It does not have it's big opening book which may affect output here, if engine has enough time to compute I think it is best to not let book affect it anyway.

After 6.Nbd2 f5?! 7.c4! here is result with similar compute time.

Rybka 4.1 x64: 24 4:54:26 2,449,578,346
-0.31 7. ... Ngf6 8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Qb3 Qb6 10.Ng5 Ke7
-0.43 7. ... h6 8.Qb3 Qc7 9.Qe3 Kf7 10.b3 Ngf6

Rybka prefers 7...h6 to 7...Bd6 difference must be trivial in engine score but position and plans from here are quite different, it is matter of "style" in set of rules but 7...Bd6 seems better than 7...h6 either way. Similarly, after 7...Ngf6 it prefers 8.c5 for a whole hour before depth=22 where finally 8.cxd5 is preferred.

In looking at its history of eval scores at various depths, Houdini seems to converge to deep eval score much more quickly, maybe because it evaluates nodes much faster getting in many more at any given time but this may merely be what "node" is defined as, for Houdini it means one position. Houdini "style" seems to prefer sharper moves more and it seems to give higher score to side gaining initiative from positional sac. For whatever reason, Houdini appears clearly more agile I think it is better engine.

Oct-15-11  SChesshevsky: I'm wondering if this was some sort of blitz game. Black seems to make some strange moves pretty early.

I'm not sure how good 7...Bd6 is. It seems that it isn't very well placed on the b8h2 diagonal and would look a lot better on the h8a1 diagonal. Maybe he wanted to tempt c5 and try to close the center.

I also don't get 9...Nh6. Maybe he's trying to get to f7 but then I'd think you might want to exchange the white squared bishop on f3 but that seriously reduces the protection on the backward e-pawn.

Seems Black will eventually have to lose time with his ...Bd6 and ...Nh6 and does with 11...Bh5 plus with now two hanging Bishops & Nh6 and a weak King I'd guess it looks like he's already pretty much busted.

Oct-15-11  DrMAL: Belgrade 1995 was big tournament with different sections like Biel this year, cannot remember exactly how many rounds each section was different but if memory serves, Gelfand won.

One problem with going g6 for Bg7 to put on long diagonal is that pawn structure is poor too many dark square weaknesses looks like checkers game. With existing structure Bd6 is very good spot it's only drawback is in occupying d file. This relates to 9...Nh6 it seems clear Beliavsky wanted to put N from d7 on f6 and shift B to c7 this make strong position but the timing of plan is off white can attack too quickly black does not have enough tempo to achieve plan. Of course 11...Bxf6 was necessary for it to have any chance, black simply misjudged white's attack.

Oct-15-11  SChesshevsky: Thanks DrMal.

These short games are interesting since I have some pretty good experience in getting blown out in less than 20.

It's interesting to see that it does happen even to the world's best.

Dec-10-11  Nemesistic: I don't think 12.e4 is such a hard move to find,certainly not as hard a move to find as some have said,and then the brilliant 13.Ng5 is one of only two moves to consider ..I may have played the "safer" 13.Nxe4 ..It's the play from Kramnik from move 7 leading up to the killer 13.Ng5 that seperates us mere mortals from the Kramniks,Carlsens,Aronians and Goldsbys of this world! ... Imho
Jan-07-12  LIFE Master AJ: (My analysis of this game.)
Jan-10-12  LIFE Master AJ:

All three video's are now up - the above link is for Part One.

Apr-19-12  LoveThatJoker: GOTD: Brilliancy in Belgrade


Aug-29-13  notyetagm: Kramnik vs Beliavsky, 1995

Another -brilliant- Kramnik game.

Aug-29-13  parisattack: Is there a quick finish I am missing here? White is surely winning but cannot Black at least attempt a defense?
Aug-30-13  SimonWebbsTiger: @<parisattack>

Kramnik was presumably just as surprised going on his notes ("evidently it had become unbearable for Belyavsky to continue").

Vlad had expected 18...Nf6 19. Rxe7 Nxd5 20. Re6 with a won ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: Truly a great game by Kramnik against the very experienced opening theoretician Beliavsky, who had he calmer nerves, might have gone even further in the chess world.

This game for me further solidified Kramnik's top talent level.

Apr-04-19  Ironmanth: Great miniature!! Thanks, chessgames.
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