Former World Champion Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik was born in Tuapse, on the shores of the Black Sea, on June 25, 1975. As a child, Vladimir Kramnik studied in the chess school established by Mikhail Botvinnik. In 2000 he won the Classical World Championship from Garry Kasparov and then won the unified title when he defeated Veselin Topalov in 2006 to become the 14th undisputed World Champion. He relinquished the title in 2007 to his successor, the 15th undisputed (and now former) World Champion, Viswanathan Anand.
<Age> In 1991 he won the World Under 18 Championship in Guarapuava, Brazil.
<National> He was =1st in the 1990 RSFSR (Russian) Championship in Kuibyshev, Russia, but placed 2nd on tiebreak behind Andrei Kharlov. He was =3rd in the Russian Superfinals (2013) after a last round battle with Ian Nepomniachtchi for =1st and the possibility of the title for the first time. However, he lost the game and scored 5.5/9, placing =3rd.
<World> Kramnik’s early attempts at storming the citadel of the World Championship met with mixed results. In 1994, he lost a Candidates quarter finals match for the PCA championship to Gata Kamsky by 1˝-4˝, and a few months later he lost a Candidates semi-finals match for the FIDE championship to Boris Gelfand by 3˝-4˝. In 1998, Kramnik was defeated by Alexey Shirov by 3˝-5˝ in the Candidates match held in Cazorla to determine the right to play Garry Kasparov for the Classical World Chess Championship. In 1999, Kramnik lost in the quarterfinals of the FIDE knockout championship in Las Vegas to Michael Adams by 2-4, including the 4 game rapid play-off.
Although Shirov had defeated Kramnik for the right to challenge Kasparov, suitable sponsorship was not found for a Kasparov-Shirov match, and it never took place. In 2000, however, sponsorship became available for a Kasparov-Kramnik match instead. This meant that Kramnik was the first player since 1935 - when Alexander Alekhine selected Max Euwe as his challenger - to play a world championship match without qualifying. In 2000 Kramnik reached the pinnacle by defeating long-time champion Kasparov for the World Championship in London by the score of 8˝ to 6˝ (+2 =13 -0) without losing a game, becoming the next Classical World Champion in the line that started from Wilhelm Steinitz. It was the first time since the Lasker - Capablanca World Championship Match (1921) that the defending champion had lost a match without winning a game and it was also the first time Kasparov had been beaten in a World Championship match. Kasparov said of Kramnik that: <”He is the hardest player to beat in the world.”>
In 2004, Kramnik successfully defended his title as Classical World Chess Champion against challenger Peter Leko at Brissago, Switzerland, by drawing the Kramnik - Leko World Championship Match (2004) in the last game. Lékó was leading the 14-game match until the final game, which Kramnik won, thus forcing a 7 - 7 draw and ensuring that Kramnik remained world champion. Because of the drawn result, the prize fund of 1 million Swiss francs was split between the two players.
Kramnik refused to participate at the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005), but indicated his willingness to play a match against the winner to unify the world championship. His next title defence in 2006, therefore, was a reunification match with the new FIDE world title holder from the 2005 tournament, Veselin Topalov. The $1 million Kramnik - Topalov World Championship Match (2006) was played in Elista, Kalmykia from September 21 to October 13 and after controversially forfeiting the fifth game, Kramnik won the rapid game playoff by 2˝ -1˝ after the classical games were tied 6-6, thereby becoming the first undisputed unified World Chess Champion since the 1993 split. In the following year, Kramnik lost the unified world title when he finished second to Viswanathan Anand at the Mexico City FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007). In October 2008, Kramnik exercised his entitlement to a rematch as a challenger to World Champion Anand in Bonn, Germany, but lost the Anand - Kramnik World Championship Match (2008) match by 4˝ to 6˝ (+1 =7 -3).
Kramnik's tournament performances in 2009 (see below) raised his rating (average of July 2009 and January 2010 ratings) sufficiently to qualify him for the World Championship Candidates (2011). In the first round he beat Teimour Radjabov by the narrowest of margins*: after tieing the classical games 2-2 (+0 =4 -0), and the rapid games 2-2 (+0 =4 -0), he won the blitz playoff by 2.5-1.5 (+2 =1 -1) to move to the semi final match against Alexander Grischuk, which he lost 1.5-0.5 (=1 -1) in the blitz tiebreaker after he drew the classical games 2-2 (+0 -0 =4) and the rapid games 2-2 (+0 -0 =4), thereby eliminating him from the contest. Participating in the World Championship Candidates (2013) on the basis of his rating, Kramnik came =1st with Magnus Carlsen on 8.5/13 after both lost their last round games. As the first tiebreaker (individual score against the other player in the tournament) left them level, the second tiebreaker (greater number of wins in the tournament) relegated Kramnik to second place due to scoring four wins to Carlsen's five.
Kramnik was seeded directly into the World Chess Championship Candidates (2014), as he met the pre-condition that he participate in the World Cup (2013). During the Cup, he defeated Zambian IM Gillan Bwalya in the first round, compatriot GM Mikhail Kobalia in the second round, Ukrainian GM Alexander Areshchenko in the third round, veteran Ukrainian GM and twice former Candidate Vassily Ivanchuk in the Round of 16 (round four), his third Ukrainian opponent in the shape of GM Anton Korobov in the quarter final (round five), one of the wildcards of the event, French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave match in the semi final (round 6) before defeating compatriot GM Dmitry Andreikin in the final by 2.5-1.5 (+1 =3). His win also guarantees qualification in the World Cup 2015, although he would qualify by rating alone. At the Candidates in March 2014, he placed 3rd with 7/14 behind Anand and Karjakin.
Kramnik won Chalkidiki 1992 with 7.5/11, and in 1993, he played in Linares, finishing fifth and defeating the then world number three, Vassily Ivanchuk. Following some solid results in the interim which resulted in him winning the 1994 PCA Intel Grand Prix, major tournament triumphs were soon to follow, such as Dortmund 1995, Horgen 1995, Belgrade 1995, =1st in Dos Hermanas in 1996 and 1997, =1st in Tilburg 1997 (8/11). Dortmund became a favourite stop, as Kramnik has gone on to win nine more times in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, Dortmund Sparkassen (2006), Dortmund (2007), Dortmund (2009) and Dortmund (2011), as either equal or clear first; in the 2011 edition of the event he won by 1.5 points despite losing in the last round. In 2000, Kramnik won his first Linares tournament, completing his set of victories in all three of chess' "triple crown" events: Corus, Linares, and Dortmund. Kramnik later captured additional Linares victories in XX Ciudad de Linares (2003) (shared) and 21st Linares (2004) (outright). He won the Tal Memorial (2007) with 6.5/9, 1.5 ahead of Shirov. Kramnik had exceptionally good results in 2009, winning once again in Dortmund and then winning the Category 21 (average ELO = 2763) Tal Memorial (2009) in Moscow with 6/9 and a TPR of 2883. At the time, the average ELO rating of the field made it the strongest tournament in history. He also participated in the London Chess Classic (2009) in December, finishing second to Magnus Carlsen. These magnificent results qualified him for the 2011 Candidates on the basis of his boosted ratings. Kramnik began 2010 at Corus (2010) in the Netherlands, during which he defeated new world number-one Carlsen with the Black pieces in their head-to-head encounter, ending Carlsen's 36-match unbeaten streak. A late loss to Anand knocked him out of first place, and Kramnik finished with 8/13, tying for second place with Shirov behind Carlsen's 8˝ points. He came 2nd in the preliminary Shanghai Masters (2010) to qualify for the Bilbao Masters (2010) against Carlsen and Anand, who had pre-qualified. He then won at Bilbao with +2 -0 =4 over world champion Anand, then-world number one Magnus Carlsen, and Shirov. The 2009 Tal Memorial and the Grand Slam Final at Bilbao were the most powerful tournaments (in ratings terms) ever staged. In late 2011, he easily won the 15th Unive (Crown Group) (2011) with 4.5/6 and a TPR of 2903 and finished the year with outright first at the London Chess Classic (2011) with +4 -0 =4 and a TPR of 2934, recovering ground lost following a mediocre performance in the Tal Memorial (2011) where he failed to win a game. In June 2012, he placed =4th at the category 22 Tal Memorial (2012), with 4.5/9 and in July 2012, =3rd (4th on tiebreak) at the category 19 Dortmund (2012) tournament. Kramnik finished 2012 with a surge, placing 2nd at the London Chess Classic (2012) behind Magnus Carlsen, scoring 6/8 (16 points in the 3-1-0 scoring system used in the event) and a TPR of 2937 to Carlsen's 2994.
His final training preparation for the Candidates tournament in March at the category 21 Zurich Chess Challenge (2013), was less than completely successful in terms of results (2.5/6), drawing five and losing one to Anand, although it seemed to contribute to his game fitness at the Candidates as he placed second by the narrowest of margins, scoring equal to Carlsen who won the event and the right to challenge Anand for the World Championship. He placed =4th with 4.5/9, a point behind the winner, in a low scoring Alekhine Memorial (2013) and then had one of his worse ever results at the Tal Memorial (2013), coming last with 3/9 (+0 -3 =6). However, he returned to form in the Dortmund (2013), placing outright second behind Adams, scoring 6.5/9, jointly dominating the category 19 field to the extent that no other player scored better than 50%. In November 2014, Kramnik competed at the category 20 Petrosian Memorial (2014), and was outright second behind Alexander Grischuk with 4.5/7, signalling a mild return to form after a slump that saw him exit the world's top 10 for the first time since he entered the top 10 in January 1993. There followed 2nd at the powerful Qatar Masters (2014), with 7/9, and =1st at the London Chess Classic (2014).
2015 saw Kramnik starting his competitive year by placing outright 3rd behind the winner Anand and runner-up Hikaru Nakamura, ahead of Sergey Karjakin, Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana respectively, in the standard section of the RR category 22 Zurich Chess Challenge (2015). He won the final section of the Zurich event, namely the Zurich Chess Challenge (Rapid) (2015), but the added points were insufficient to give him the overall lead and he finished with 3rd prize behind Nakamura and Anand respectively. A relatively poor performance at the Gashimov Memorial (2015) where he scored only 4/9 was followed by a solid performance at the Russian Premier League 2015 (see below).
<Olympiads> Kramnik has won three team and and individual gold medals at the Olympiads as well as two team silvers. He played in the gold medal winning Russian teams in the Manila 1992, Moscow 1994 and Yerevan 1996 Olympiads, his first gold medal being awarded to him as an untitled 16 year old in 1992 when he scored eight wins, one draw, and no losses to record a remarkable TPR of 2958. In 1994, he came fifth on the second board with 8/11 and a 2727 TPR. In 1996, he scored a relatively meagre 4.5/9 on the second board. He did not participate in any more Olympiads until 37th Chess Olympiad (2006) in Turin, when he again won a gold medal with overall best performance on the top board with 6.5/9 (2847 TPR). In the Olympiad (2008) in Dresden, he scored 5/9 on top board and a 2735 TPR. Kramnik played board one for the silver medal winning Russian team in the Chess Olympiad (2010) in Khanty-Mansiysk, coming fifth with a scored of 5.5/9, winning 2 and drawing 7 with a TPR of 2794. At the Chess Olympiad (2012) held in Istanbul, he again played top board scoring 5/9 and coming 7th on that board, leading his team to another silver medal. At the Chess Olympiad (2014), he again played board 1 for Russia.
<National Team Events> In 1991, 2490-rated FM Kramnik represented Russia on board 2 at the World U26 Championship played at Maringá; with a perfect score of 6/6 he helped Russia to win gold, and won individual gold for his performance. He played in the European Team Championships on one occasion, in 1992, when the then FM was rated 2590. Again representing Russia, this time on board 3, he helped his team to win gold with a 6/7 effort, and won individual gold for board 3 as well as a gold medal for the best rating performance at the event, that being a 2863 performance, ahead of Kasparov's 2809 performance that won rating silver. That same year (1992), he also played on the USSR team against the Rest of the World. He played for Russia twice in the World Team Championship, in 1993 and 2013. On the first occasion, he lead his country to a bronze medal, and on the second occasion - at the FIDE World Team Championship (2013) - to a gold medal.
<European Club Cup> Until Kramnik participated in the 2015 Russian Premier League, he does not appear to have played in the Russian or any other national league, his sole club representations being in the European Club Cup between 1995 and 1999 inclusive, and in 2005. He started off playing board one with SV Empor Berlin in 1992 and 1993, moved on to Sberbank-Tatarstan Kazan in 1994 where he helped the club to bronze, then played board one with the powerful Agrouniverzal Zemun team that won silver in 1999. His only participation in the ECC since then was a single season in 1995 playing for NAO Paris, which won bronze.
At the 2015 Russian Premier League, Kramnik played board 1 for Siberia Novosibirsk, winning silver for that board. His effort also helped his team to win gold.
In 2004, he won a simul against the German National Team 2˝:1˝.
In October 2002, Kramnik played an eight game match against Deep Fritz (Computer) in the Brains in Bahrain (2002) match, drawing 4-4 after leading 3-1. In 2006 the German organization Universal Event Promotion (UEP) staged a return match of six games between Kramnik and Deep Fritz in Bonn, which Kramnik lost, +0 -2 =4.
In April 2012, Kramnik and Levon Aronian played, as part of their preparation for the 2012 Candidates Tournament, a six-game training match in Zurich. The Kramnik - Aronian (2012) match was drawn 3-3 (+1 -1 =4).
Kramnik has been an excellent and consistent performer at rapid and blindfold play. He won or shared the overall lead at Amber in 1996 (outright overall 1st), 1998 (=1st with Shirov with 15/22), 1999 Monaco (14˝/22), 2001 (=1st with Topalov with 15/22), 2004 (=1st with Morozevich with 14.5/22), and 2007 (outright overall first with 15˝/22). He also won the 2001 rapid play match against Lékó by 7-5, drew the 2001 rapid play Botvinnik Memorial match with Kasparov 3:3 and the 2001 rapid play match against Anand 5:5, lost the 2002 Match Advanced Chess Kramnik vs. Anand (Leon) 3˝:2˝, was runner up to Anand in the Cap D'Agde FRA (2003), won the 2009 Zurich Champions Rapid (2009) with 5/7 and shared 1st in the 2010 President's Cup in Baku with 5/7. In tandem with the London Classic 2014, Kramnik came =1st in the blitz event and =3rd in the rapid play open.
Kramnik entered the top 100 in January 1992 and has remained there since that time. He rose rapidly in the rankings such that a year later in January 1993, he entered the top 10 where he has been ensconced since, apart from a few months in 2014. Yet during that time he made it to world #1 in only two rating periods.
In January 1996, Kramnik became the world top rated player. Although he had the same FIDE rating as Kasparov (2775), He became number one by having played more games during the rating period in question. He became the youngest ever to reach world number-one, breaking Kasparov's record; this record would stand for 14 years until being broken by Magnus Carlsen in January 2010.
Ironically, during his reign as world champion, Kramnik never regained the world number-one ranking, doing so only in January 2008 after he had lost the title to Viswanathan Anand. As in 1996, Kramnik had the same FIDE rating as Anand (2799) but became number-one due to more games played within the rating period. Kramnik's 12 years between world-number one rankings is the longest since the inception of the FIDE ranking system in 1971.
In July 1993 soon after his 18th birthday, he crossed 2700 for the first time and has remained in the 2700+ rating ever since. In April 2001, he became the second of only eight chess players to have reached a rating of 2800 (the first being Kasparov, followed by Anand, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Caruana and Grischuk). Kramnik's highest standard rating to date is 2811 achieved in May 2013 when he was ranked #3 in the world.
In 1995, Kramnik served as a second for Kasparov during the latter’s successful defence of his Classical World Chess Championship against Anand, and in an ironic counter point in 2010 he served as a second for Anand during the World Champion’s successful defence against Topalov.
Kramnik has a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. In January 2006, Kramnik announced that he would miss the Corus Wijk aan Zee (2006) to seek treatment for this condition. He returned from treatment in June 2006, playing in the 37th Chess Olympiad, winning gold by top scoring on the top board. Kramnik's performance in winning the Classical World Championship in 2000 won him the Chess Oscar for 2000, while his 2006 victory in the reunification match earned him the Chess Oscar for 2006.
On 30 December 2006 he married French journalist Marie-Laure Germon and they have a daughter, Daria, who was born 28 December 2008, and a son, Vadim, born 28 January 2013.
Sources and references Website: http://www.kramnik.com/; Biography: http://www.kramnik.com/eng/biograph...; Extended and candid interview with Kramnik by Vladislav Tkachiev in August 2011: http://whychess.org/node/1605; Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; * http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp...; Wikipedia article: Kramnik
Latest update 28 May 2015