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David Howell vs Vladimir Kramnik
London Chess Classic (2009), London ENG, rd 5, Dec-13
Russian Game: Classical Attack. Chigorin Variation (C42)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-13-09  SufferingBruin: 1000 rating, trying to get better.

Watching this live on FICS is not the worst way to pass the time. The comments are civil, the analysis fun. By the 30th move, this game was getting attention, even from the Carlsen/Nakamura crowd.

I don't know what it was like here but the comments on yesterday's Carlsen-Nakamura watch was non-stop. On a Saturday morning, no less.

Dec-13-09  Marmot PFL: I was interested in 47 Bxf4. Doesn't look like such an easy draw for black.
Dec-13-09  Marmot PFL: Some lines black has to give up the rook for the b pawn, but white must lose a piece for the h pawn, draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Pretty explosive, for the Petrov. 9...f5 doesn't really look like a Kramnik move. Exciting game. It did seem confusing though, a few moves later, VK repeated moves twice, seemed willing to take an early draw. Thats not good for chess.

I think Howell played well to hold the draw, it seemed he regained his footing when when Kramik played 28...f4, allowing exchange of pawns and white gets to centralize his king.

Dec-13-09  Ulhumbrus: 10 Nbd2 is more flexible than 10 Qb3 if White is not going to follow Qb3 with Qxb7

An alternative to 19 Ne5 is 19 Nf1. because on 19 Nf1 Bxf3 20 gxf3 Ng5 as in the game Lasker vs Pillsbury, 1895 White has 21 Bxg5 Bxg5 22 Re6 as could have happened in the game Capablanca vs B Kostic, 1919 as Capablanca points out in his book "My chess career" As in that game after 19 Nf1 Kramnik may have 19..Bxf3 20 gxf3 Nxf2 21 Kxf2 Bh4 22 Ng3 f4. Without a N on f1, White has to allow the capture ..Bxe1.

In the ending with two minor pieces against a Rook and two pawns one question is whether Howell could have won as in the famous game Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1944 An alternative to 42 Nd6 is 42 bxc5 because then after 42...Rc8 White's N is not tied to the defence of the c3 pawn and Black - as in the actual ending- does not gain a draw by attacking the N -while tied to the defence of White's passed pawn and defended by the bishop- with his King and Rook.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <9...f5 doesn't really look like a Kramnik move>

It's actually the absolute mainline here (Opening Explorer) and Kramnik has always played it when his Petroff games reached this position - it's just that one doesn't see it so often, because c4 is popular both on move 8 (instead of Re1) and move 9 (instead of c3). In general, Kramnik is quite ready to play very sharp-looking lines in the Petroff, they just tend to fizzle out to a draw... as this line should have, according to Rybka, after 22.g3 (instead of Kf1): 22...f4 23.Kg2 fxg3 24.hxg3 Bh3+ 25.Kxh3 Bxg3 26.Nf3 Rxf3 27.Kg2 Rf2+ 28.Kxg3 Rxc2 29.Bxc2 Qe7 30.Rb2 Qe6 31.Bd3 h5 32.Rf2 Qg4+ 33.Kh2 Qh4+ with perpetual check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <Eyal> ahh, thanks for the update. It seems against VK's style to open up the game that early, unharmonius pawn structures. I guess when i see Petrov grandmasters, there are exchanges that take place before f5 can be played. Maybe most players don't want to go into the middlegame with upended pawn structures.

Nice game, I thought he had enough to win. Good D by Howell.

Dec-13-09  kb2ct:


Around move 43, Kramnik came within a tempo of losing. If white gets in Pb5 before Kg7 for example. Extremely close.


Dec-14-09  Atking: I have no detabase Maybe <Eyal> will help me again, but why black doesn't try 20...c5 here? 21.f3 c4 looks interesting.
Dec-14-09  arnaud1959: <In general, Kramnik is quite ready to play very sharp-looking lines in the Petroff, they just tend to fizzle out to a draw...> ...and that's ok for black when he plays against a top level player but I think that a player like Howell who is around 2600 would be happy with a draw and he would play 1.e4 again next time against Kramnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: Here is one earlier example of Kramnik sacrificing a piece on f2 in this line of the Petroff (a thematic idea), only it took his position from slightly worse to losing. Anand vs Kramnik, 1998

This is a more successful one, more similar to Howell-Kramnik and showing the downside of 11.Nfd2.. Ljubojevic vs S Makarichev, 1975

Kramnik's opening choice and the implicit draw offer is a bit mystifying given his opponent and the tournament situation, and his play in the round before that, against Adams, was also puzzling - moving very quickly into an endgame that looked very easy to hold, and to all appearances was.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Atking> Yes, 20...c5 definitely seems playable. In fact, it was played with good result just a few months ago, in a game which is missing from this database:

21. f3 Qb6 22. Bxe4 fxe4 23. fxg4 cxb4+ 24. Kh1 Qf2 25. Qd1 [seems like a losing mistake - Rg1 is probably best here] bxc3 26. Ra1 cxd2 27. Bxd2 Qd4 28. e6 Qe5 29. Ra6 d4 30. Qb3 e3 31. Bb4 e2 32. Raa1 d3 33. Bxe7 Qxa1 0-1 [Amonatov Farrukh (TJK) 2641 - Kunin Vitaly (GER) 2532, Moscow (Russia) 2009.04.27]

Dec-15-09  crwynn: <In general, Kramnik is quite ready to play very sharp-looking lines in the Petroff, they just tend to fizzle out to a draw... as this line should have, according to Rybka, after 22.g3 (instead of Kf1): 22...f4 23.Kg2 fxg3 24.hxg3 Bh3+ 25.Kxh3 Bxg3 26.Nf3 Rxf3 27.Kg2 Rf2+ 28.Kxg3 Rxc2 29.Bxc2 Qe7 30.Rb2 Qe6 31.Bd3 h5 32.Rf2 Qg4+ 33.Kh2 Qh4+ with perpetual check.>

It's hard to believe a human player would go into such a line. For one thing there is another critical variation 27...Bxe1 (instead of 27...Rf2+) 28.Kxf3 Qh4 29.Ke2 Rf8 30.Kd1 (who would be comfortable doing this?) Qh1 31.Qa2 Bxc3+ (or maybe 31...c5!? to get a base for the bishop on c3, I am not sure what happens there) 32.Kc2 Rf2+ 33.Bd2 Rxd2+ 34.Kxc3 Rxd3+ 35.Kxd3 Qe4+, and Black has a perpetual because if the king goes to d2, Qg2+ will win. There are other possibilities for Black too I think.

Dec-15-09  ex0duz: What was the Knight Sac about? What happens if Howell played 22. g3? Would Kramnik sac the bishop and play f4 or something like that and just destroy Howell?

Have to say, it's a very interesting game nonetheless, especially since it's a Petroff and i thought they were drawish and boring types of games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: After 22.g3 f4 23.Kg2 fxg3 24.hxg3, <24...Bxg3> is apparently stronger for Black than Bh3+ which I mentioned earlier, and should lead to a win - here is a surreal computer-generated line given on chessninja: 25.Bxh7+ (25.Kxg3 Qg5 and Black also seems to come on top at the end) 26...Kh8 26.Rh1 Qg5! 27.Bf5+ 28.Ne4 Bf3+ 29.Kf1 Qxf5 30.Rxh4+ Kg8 31.Nf6+(!) Rxf6 32.Qxf5 Rxf5 and Black emerges a pawn up with e5 about to fall as well... In short, Howell probably did wisely to play 22.Kf1.
Dec-16-09  Atking: Thanks again <Eyal> I tried the line you gave : 21.f3 Qb6 22.BxNe4 fxBe4 23.fxBg4 cxb4+ 24.Kh1 Qf2 25.Rg1 and I think Black is also better here e.g 25...Bc5 26.Bb2 e3 27.Qb3 QxNd2 28.Rbd1 Qf2 29.Qxd5+ Kh8 30.QxBc5 QxBb2 black pawn e3 has a major influence here. Maybe 31.cxb e2 32.Rc1 Rbe8 I like Black here.

Indeed before to go to the attack on the king side to add some force on the center (backward c7 is so strong in c5) is a very classical approach.

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London 2009
from # Greatest Tournaments 2009 by Qindarka

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