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Vladimir Kramnik vs Francisco Vallejo Pons
Chess Olympiad (2014), Tromso NOR, rd 8, Aug-10
Queen's Gambit Declined: Vienna Variation (D39)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-10-14  Marmot PFL: The first win in standard time control after several draws between these two top players.
Aug-10-14  Marmot PFL: Kramnik can still bounce back tomorrow against Carlsen.
Aug-10-14  fgh: <Marmot PFL: Kramnik can still bounce back tomorrow against Carlsen.>

Russia will face Norway 2 tomorrow.

Aug-10-14  dehanne: Vallejo can beat Kramnik blindfolded.

Kramnik vs Vallejo-Pons, 2005

Aug-10-14  SirRuthless: <<fgh> Wow!>
Aug-10-14  visayanbraindoctor: As a Kramnik fan, I am saddened to see Kramnik play this way. When Vallejo's Rook found its way to d3, the old Kramnik, the one that beat Kasparov, would surely have driven this powerful piece away and neutralized it, perhaps with a maneuver like 20. Qe2 and later on maybe Rd1. And then begin pushing his Kingside pawns while keeping the game semi-blocked to prevent counter-play.

Instead Kramnik IMO makes another significant positional error based on a mis-evaluation of the resulting position. He allows Black's rook to remain on d3, a powerful active piece in the middle of his territory, and begins a direct Kingside attack. Eventually the attack fails precisely because of this rook, which Vallejo soon pushed into White's second rank, creating havoc inside White's position.

I believe Kramnik should have gotten rid of this rook first. He had a strong center anyway in a semi-closed position, and his attack could wait.

Recently Kramnik has been playing quite erratically. He not only has been making tactical errors, but also positional ones. I think that with such play he has virtually zero chances for becoming Challenger again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  lost in space: I think he is trying to overcome that he was Drawnik. He really takes higher risks especially with Black to become a complete player, able to win also with Black.

Higher risk means not only higher chances to win but also higher chances to loose.

And it mean to go through a phase were the own play is a bit more shaky before managing to reach the own target.

I very much appreciate his change of style.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black is two pawns ahead.

White threatens 31.Nxe2.

The first idea that comes to mind is 30... Rxg2+ 31.Kxg2 Nxf4+ but after 32.Kf2 Black looks lost.

Another option is 30... Nxf4, directly:

A) 31.Qxf4 Qd5

A.1) 32.Qf1 Rxg2+ 33.Kh1 (33.Qxg2 Qxg2#) 33... Rxg3+ and mate next.

A.2) 32.Qf3 Rxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Qxf3+ - + [Q+4P vs R+N].

A.3) 32.Nxe2 (or 32.Rxc6) 32... Qxg2#.

A.4) 32.Ne4 Qxe4 33.Qxe4 Bxe4 - + [3P].

B) 31.Ne4 Rxe4 - + [N+2P] and many threats (Ne2+, Nxg2, Rxd4, etc.).

C) 31.Rxc6 Qd5 and White can't protect g2 (32.Qh3 Nxh3+; 32.Ne4 Qxe4 33.Qf2 Rxf2 34.Kf2 bxc6, etc.).

D) 31.Be5 Rxg2+ 32.Kf1 (32.Kh1 Qxd1+ 33.Rxd1 Rxg3+ 34.Rd5 Bxd5#) 32... Bb5+ 33.Ke1 (33.Ne2 Bxe2+) 33... Rg1+ 34.Kf2 Rxd1 wins decisive material.

E) 31.Nxe2 Nxe2+ followed by 32... Nxc1 - + [3P].

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: I followed <agb2002> in that the first idea to come to mind is 30...Rxg2+; However, this comes up short, so returning material with 30...Nxf4 looks best

As <visayanbraindoctor> pointed out, Kramnik's play is sadly erratic in this game. One could hardly tell it was him moving the White pieces


Premium Chessgames Member
  gofer: Nice puzzle - not many choices; Rxg7+, Ne3 and Nxf4, but they all look possible, so quite a lot to check and look through...

30 ... Rxg7+
31 Kxg7 ...

31 ... Ne3++
32 Kf7 Nxd1+
33 Rxd1 Qd5
34 Qh6

This looks fine for white...

31 ... Nxf4++
32 Kf7 Qd5
33 Qxf4

This also looks fine for white...

30 ... Ne3
31 Bxe3 ...

Okay, so maybe not that one either...

<30 ... Nxf4>

31 Rxc6 Qd5! mating

31 Qxf4 Qd5!
32 Ne4 Qxe4 (Rxe4 Qh6! winning for white!!!)
33 Qxe4 Rxe4

<31 Nxe2 Nxe2+>
<32 Kf1 Nxc1> (Kf2 is worse and Kh1 is horrible!!)

click for larger view

Now this is the interesting bit!

33 Rxc1 e5!

<33 Qh6! Qf8 >
<34 Qxc1! ...>

White keeps his queen on the board hoping for 35 Bc5 winning!

<34 ... Qb4+>

At this point, I think black is "safe" for the win, but it wasn't all plain sailing!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Okay. I got 30...Nf4 31.Qxf4 (wouldn't know what to do after 31.Nxe2) and then 31...Rxg2+ instead of 31...Qd5.
Jan-23-15  Castleinthesky: I got the idea, but not the solution. I was playing with combinations after Rxg2 and Nf4 following clearing the way for the bishop-queen threat. However, I could not make anything of it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: <morfishine: I followed <agb2002> in that the first idea to come to mind is 30...Rxg2+>

The line 30... Rxg2+ 31.Kxg2 Ne3+ 32.Kh3 Bg2# was only a nice red herring.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I saw one tricky alternative after 30...Nxf4, beginning with 31 Qh6?!

click for larger view

If black follows up with 31...Qf8, white gets most of his material back after 32 Qxf4.

The correct path begins with 31...Rxg2+ 32 Kf1 Bb5+!

click for larger view

Now, after 33 Ke1 comes 33...Qf8.

If white tries 34 Qxf4 this time it's a different result with the king on e1. 34...Qb4+ 35 Rd2 Rg1+ wins for black.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: And relish poured on dips off under drink dibs again door handle doom low in light dock of the bay dorm douse the flames put petrol out dove of peace dune buggy dues to be had rook mops up i a2 at enact padre dunce of the class dumb bell dull down and out dutch treat dish up hood wink dash off dab d4 hand dasher bet head off hilled away like light elephants at gates of dawn rear cage line take at boat hoof effect flush a toe atta boy hope fave heed care hugged and d4 hogged principle mate at g7 as hod h4 flushed and lashed out hand it hind maneovre in abreast amp d4 and queen's a fag pin h4 mushed an mashed i nashed hod d4 di carrier to pinched quoshed rushed thod hud enough rudder did gash borough dud trough deed hogged too bind did fragged flagged to heed.

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Jan-23-15  Edeltalent: I'm not gonna attempt to "solve" the puzzle today, as I've seen the game before. Instead, here's Paco himself explaining the solution (and of course also the rest of this exciting game):
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: <18.f4 Ng4> casts Kramnik as ... Rotlewi :=O

<19.Qxg4 Rxd3> was an unplayable sideline in Rubinstein's Immortal. Kramnik dared to attack instead, but maybe misjudged Black's synergy after <28..Bc6>.

<23.N3e4 Rxb2> and <27.Bd4 Rxa2> have a siren-song's allure: a noob's pawn-grab, disguising a tyro's retreat-from-attack ... but hiding a GM's preservation of forward outpost. Am I sacking those pawns, or is he lurking on 2? It's hard to admit that your brilliancy is refutable by just accepting the material -- we convince ourselves that it is not so, and attack!

Jan-23-15  M.Hassan: "Difficult"
Black to play 30...?
Black is two pawns up.

If 31.Kxg2 Ne3++
32.Kg1 Qd5 to mate on g2
33.Qh3 Nxd1
34.Rxd1 h5
This does not work, also what is going to happen if Rook sac is denied:

<if...Ne3+ 32.Bxe3 and Black Queen becomes enprize> I did not have answer for this line

Looks like taking the f4 pawn could be the best line:

31.Nxe2 Nxe2+
32.Kh1 Nxc1
33.Rxc1 e5
<if 34.Bxe5 Qd2 35.Qe1 Qxg2#> 34.Be3 Qd5
Black is one more pawn up and the game may continue for long. Of course, the two passed pawns of Black on a and b files can cause serious troubles for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: Black is a pawn up and has an invading rook on the 7th (2nd). White threatens Nxe2 and also has the possibility of Qh6 with a mate threat that forces black to an unwanted exchange. All pieces are actively engaged except Ra8. Black must strike quickly and g2 is the obvious target. The first tempting alternative is setting up the double check with 30... Rxg2+, but after 31.Kxg2 Ne3+ (not 31... Nxf4+ 32.Kf2 and black gets nothing for the rook) 32.Kf2 (Kh3?? Bg2#) Nxd1+ 33.Rxd1, black does not appear to have enough for a piece and must remain on guard against Qh6. It seems the 2nd candidate does the trick:

30... Nxf4!! A greek gift to unleash overwhelming force at g2

A.31.Qxf4 Qd5! (the real point - many would look first for Rxg2+) 32.Qf3 Rxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Qxf3+ 34.Kh3 Qg2+ 35.Kh4 Qh2+ 36.Kg4 h5+ 37.Kg5 Qxg3+ 38.Kh6 Qxf4#

A.1 32.Qf1 Rxg2+ 33.Kh1 Rxg3+ forces mate.

A.2 32.Qf2 Rxf2 33.Kxf2 Qxg2+ 34.Ke3|e1 Qxh2 with an easy win.

A.3 32.Ne4 Qxe4! (Rxe4?? 33.Qh6 Re1+ 34.Kf2 Qxg2+ 35.Kxe1 and black runs out of checks before mate on g7.) 33.Qxe4 Bxe4 34.Bf2 Rc2 and black's three pawns up should prevail in the opposite-colored bishops ending.

A.4 32.Qe4 Rxe4 wins.

A.5 32.Rxc6 (and most others) Qxg2#

B. 31.Nxe2 Nxe2+ 32.Kf2 Nxc1 31.Qh6 Qf8 32.Qxf8+ Rxf8 33.Rxc1 Rd8 with three pawns up in the opposite-colored bishops ending.

C. 31.Qh6 Rxg2+ 32.Kf1 (Kh1? Rd2+! 33.Rxc6 Qd5+ 34.Ne4 Qxe4+ 35.Kg1 Qg2#) Bb5+ 33.Ke1 Re2+! 34.Kf1 Rxh2+ wins the Q.

Not quite done, but time for review...

Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: In A.3, I deviated from the game line with 33... Bxe4, but the game move 33... Rxe4 is clearly better.

In C, overlooked that white has 34.Nxe2, so 33... Re2 is ??. See <Jim> post for the improvement (Qf8).

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For yesterday's Friday solution, 30...Nxf4! wins a pawn with decisive advantage after 31. Qxf4 (31. Nxe2 Nxe2+ 32. Kf2 Nxc1 33. Rxc1 Qd5! ) 32. Qd5! Ne4 33. Qxe4 Rxe4 .

The themes involved included clearance, overloading of pieces, Knight fork, double attack and mate threat tactics.

White appears to go wrong in this game in trying to create complications and attacking chances in a level position, allowing Black a strong counterattack after the attack fizzles.

For improvements for White, I would start with the opening. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with the mainline 7. Bxc4 = to . However, I prefer 7. e5 as in White's win in R Edouard vs E L'Ami, 2014.

Another interesting and perhaps novel try in the opening might be 9. Bxf6 Bxc6 10. Kf1!? = to .

Of course early opening choices had nothing to do with White's loss in this game.

Instead of going for unclear complications with 22. Nc5 Rd2! =, White might have gone for a safer and more secure position with 22. Rfd1 = to . Also holding for White appears to be 23. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 =.

Black's game declined quickly after 25. Nf6+ Bxf6 26. exf6 g6 . Black secured a clear win after 29. Ne4 (putting up more resistance might be 29. Ne6 Rxg2+! to ) 29...Re2! .

Jun-26-15  doctork: The opening is OK for White. braindoc notes that the old Kramnik would not have allowed the invading rook to remain comfortable on d3, etc. I think he would not have allowed the ...Ng4 tactic in the first place by playing Bb1 and only then f4, or after the game continuation 18.f4 Ng4 now 19.Nd5! may be an improvement, e.g. 19...exd5 20.Qxg4 dxe4 21.Bxe4 Bd7 22.Qh5 White would still have a slight initiative. But Vallejo deserves alot of credit for this game - especially ...Nf4!! with the ...Qd5! follow up.
Jun-25-17  Whitehat1963: What's the finish?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Whitehat1963> I think white resigned because black is threatening Rxf6 Bxf6 Kxf6 and white has 4 pawns for the exchange. Or a more "prudent" plan would be 41...Bd5 42. Ra3 Bb3 followed by b5/b4 and Kramnik is cooked.
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