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Kramnik vs Leko, 2004
Brissago, Switzerland

In 2002, the annual Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting had an added significance: it also functioned as a Candidates Tournament, for the winner would earn the right to play Vladimir Kramnik for the title. Seven of the top ten players competed in Germany, and emerging as winner was the Hungarian chess prodigy, Peter Leko.

 Kramnik-Leko 2004
 Leko (left) playing Kramnik in Switzerland, 2004
The financial backing for the match (a prize fund of $1.2 million) was contributed by the the cigar manufacturer Dannemann, the latest in a line of corporate sponsors (Intel, Braingames, and Einstein) for the non-FIDE World Championship title. The match was only 14 games, one of the shortest in World Chess Championship history. Kramnik was to retain the title in the event of a tie match, a detail which was to prove very important.

The very first game illustrated Kramnik's incredible defensive techniques. Leko, by most accounts, had the advantage by move 23; but Kramnik's masterful handling of the ending, combined with an error by Leko, enabled the Russian to take the full point. Not until the fifth game was Leko able to accomplish what Garry Kasparov could not: beat Kramnik in a World Championship match. Then in the eighth game, Leko was able to take the lead, when he achieved victory with the Black pieces by alertly finding over the board a serious flaw in Kramnik's immense opening preparation. Games 9 through 13 were all draws, leaving Leko ahead in the match with only one game left.

Come game 14, Leko needed only one more draw to secure the title of World Chess Champion. Kramnik was faced with the task of winning, at all costs, in order to save his title. Chess author and grandmaster Raymond Keene wrote of this phenomenal game:

Kramnik, the defending world champion, scored a brilliant victory in the 14th and final game; Peter Leko resigned after 41 moves when faced with checkmate. This is only the third time in the entire history of the World Championship that the defending champion has saved his titled by winning in the final game.

The game itself was a jewel of controlled aggression. Despite consistent exchanges throughout the game, Kramnik maintained an iron grip on the position and ultimately blasted his way into the black camp via the dark squares. Taking no account of material sacrifices it was Kramnik's king that dealt the fatal blow when it marched right into the heart of the opposing position.[1]

After 14 games, with a tie score of 7 to 7, Vladimir Kramnik defended his title of World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314
Kramnik1½½½0½½0½½½½½1
Leko0½½½1½½1½½½½½0

FINAL SCORE:  Kramnik 7;  Leko 7
Reference: game collection Kramnik - Leko WCC Brissago,2004

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #14     Kramnik vs Leko, 2004     1-0
    · Game #8     Kramnik vs Leko, 2004     0-1
    · Game #1     Leko vs Kramnik, 2004     0-1

FOOTNOTES

  1. World Chess Championship: Kramnik vs Leko by Ray Keene, 2004, Hardinge Simpole, p. 145.

 page 1 of 1; 14 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Leko vs Kramnik 0-1652004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC42 Petrov Defense
2. Kramnik vs Leko ½-½182004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
3. Leko vs Kramnik ½-½232004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC42 Petrov Defense
4. Kramnik vs Leko ½-½432004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
5. Leko vs Kramnik 1-0692004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Kramnik vs Leko ½-½202004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
7. Leko vs Kramnik ½-½212004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchD16 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
8. Kramnik vs Leko 0-1322004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
9. Leko vs Kramnik ½-½162004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
10. Kramnik vs Leko ½-½352004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchC78 Ruy Lopez
11. Leko vs Kramnik ½-½172004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
12. Kramnik vs Leko ½-½342004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
13. Leko vs Kramnik ½-½652004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchA61 Benoni
14. Kramnik vs Leko 1-0412004Kramnik - Leko Classical World Championship MatchB12 Caro-Kann Defense
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 73 OF 73 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-17-06  Whitehat1963: Who takes the credit for this super exciting match that included six draws of 23 moves or less?
May-20-07  Scarecrow: I see this match is linked to the series of WCC matches now. This was a great match, for the first time in history a Hungarian player had a shot at the world title. It still hurts to recall how Leko lost that last game.

<chessgames.com> I spot an error in the text above. Leko's second win was not the seventh game but game 8. And, although it's not my task to judge it, he won it not because of his immense preparation but because of Kramnik's preparation errors and his own calculation OTB. The game is special because it's an OTB masterpiece in the era of home prep.

May-20-07  Plato: <Scarecrow> You're absolutely right, in my opinion, and <chessgames.com> should change their summary accordingly.
Sep-24-07  Karpova: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

User: offramp became famous

Dec-14-07  amadeus: 4 wins out of 32 games?
Dec-14-07  Illogic: The text in the description is still the same. It was the eighth game Leko won, and Scarecrow and Plato are correct, Leko busted Kramnik's prep OTB, it was not a win with his own prep.
Feb-20-08  positionalgenius: A fine match with deep chess.
Feb-25-09  WhiteRook48: the match was a tie? Aww...
Mar-31-09  WhiteRook48: why didn't they play one more game?
Jul-03-09  WhiteRook48: therefore, Leko is better than Kasparov
Jul-20-09  dumbgai: Too bad there were so many short draws in this match. But the rest of the games are genuine treasures.
Apr-02-13  Xenon Oxide: Remarkable to remember how Leko was considered one of the strongest and most promising talents. He was phenomenally strong back then. Pity he's never been the same since this match. Seems like he peaked rather early.
Jul-18-13  notyetagm: Leko vs Kramnik, 2004

45 ♕f4-f6


click for larger view

45 ... h7-h6!


click for larger view

<45. Qf6 h6

This is a very clever move from Kramnik, clearly overlooked by Leko, whose last move could have no other purpose than to threaten h6. <<<If now 46Qxh6, then ...R8a6 traps the white queen.>>>>

(VARIATION)
45 ♕f6xh6?? ♖a8-a6! <trapped piece: h6-queen>


click for larger view


click for larger view

Nov-10-13  InfinityCircuit: Remember watching this as it was happening, the final game was so exciting.
Aug-03-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Leko talking about this match (during rd 1 of the Tromsö Olympiad 2014) https://soundcloud.com/chessbase/ol... audio starts around 3m30s
Jul-09-18  ColdSong: Leko was so close to become the 15th World Champion.that can (must ?) be hard for him.Now this chance has gone forever it seems.
Jul-09-18  offramp: <ColdSong: Leko was so close to become the 15th World Champion.that can (must ?) be hard for him.Now this chance has gone forever it seems.>

That reminds me of this great piece of prose from Mr G G Marquez:

<In December, when the Caribbean world turned to glass, he would take the closed carriage on a climb along the cornices of crags until he came to the house perched on top of the reefs, and he would spend the afternoon playing dominoes with the former dictators of other nations of the continent, the dethroned fathers of other countries to whom he had granted asylum over the course of many years and who were now growing old in the shadow of his mercy, dreaming in chairs on the terrace about the chimerical vessel of their second chance, talking to themselves, dying dead in the rest home he had built for them on the balcony of the sea after having received all of them as if each were the only one, for they all appeared at dawn in the dress uniform they had put on inside out over their pajamas, with chests of money they had pilfered from the public treasury and suitcases with boxes of decorations, newspaper clippings pasted into old ledgers, and photograph albums they would show him at the first audience, as if they were credentials, saying look, General, that’s me when I was a lieutenant, this was the day I was inaugurated, this was the sixteenth anniversary of my taking power, here, look, General, but he would give them asylum without paying any more attention to them or inspecting credentials, because the only document of identity for an overthrown president should be his death certificate, he would say, and with the same disdain he would listen to the self-deluding little speech of I accept for this short time your noble hospitality while the justice of the people brings the usurper to account, the eternal formula of puerile solemnity which a while later he would hear from the usurper, and then from the usurper’s usurper, as if the @#$%*!&ed fools didn’t know that in this business of men if you fall, you fall, and he put all of them up for a few months in the Presidential Palace, made them play dominoes until he had fleeced them down to their last cent, and then he took them by the arm over to the window looking out onto the sea, he helped them grieve over this stinking life that only goes in one direction, he consoled them with the illusion that they would go over there, look, he said, over there to that big house that looks like an ocean liner aground on the top of the reefs, where they would have some lodgings with good light and good food, and plenty of time to forget along with other companions of misfortune, and with a terrace overlooking the sea, where he liked to sit on December afternoons not so much for the pleasure of playing dominoes with that bunch of boobs but to enjoy the base good fortune of not being one of them, to look at himself in the instructive mirror of their misery while he wallowed in the great slough of felicity, dreaming alone.>

Jul-09-18  JimNorCal: <ColdSong> Leko came up short at San Luis 2005 as well. But he has had more chances than most players.

FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005)

Nov-01-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: One of the very best World Championship matches of its time. It has since become one of my favorites. As much as Leko is disparaged for his style of play, these games are his ultimate legacy. In which he should be remembered for fighting tenaciously and coming up just short of the highest honors.
Oct-18-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I attended an online workshop with Nigel Short yesterday. His take on this match was that Leko committed a crime against chess by trying to draw the last six games, and the goddess Caïssa punished him for it. He had a similar view of M Gurevich vs Short, 1990.
Oct-18-20  SChesshevsky: <...His take on this match was that Leko committed a crime against chess by trying to draw the last six games...>

Maybe true but probably a bit over dramatic.

Think the overriding basis of the entire match was that Kramnik was going to have a major advantage in complicated, dynamic positions. Especially with any sort of initiative. So Leko's play in the last six games have some logic. Though admittedly not the most ambitious.

Gm 9: Game 8 probably an unexpected win which puts Leko in the lead. So a quick draw to help settle the nerves and reset not a bad or unknown idea.

Gm 10: Leko probably lucky to escape a not great opening. The early ...Bc5 Ruy was maybe a bit aggressive but figured a change was needed.

Gm 11: Could be after the escape in game 10, Leko not inclined for anything that's going to get out of control. Preferring another safe reset. Can see the sense but can also see the argument for more enterprising play with the white pieces.

Gm 12: Leko goes to his backup defense. Seems preferred the Caro in this match rather than mix it up with Sicilian. Draw probably acceptable.

Gm 13: Kramnik really shines. Benoni likely totally surprised Leko. And gets a game that is going to have to be unbalanced and complicated. Think Leko does well to hold the match lead.

Gm 14: Kramnik probably wins the opening again. Going with the aggressive early h4 line. Delivers a complicated game with white initiative. Seems just what Leko wouldn't want. Apparently being inaccurate in the middle game and going down. Maybe can disagree with Leko going with the Caro but think Kramnik more took this game rather than Leko being too passive.

Overall, think Kramnik was just the better player. Especially in complex and unclear positions. Think an argument might be made that Leko actually over achieved and Kramnik only saved his title with clever and brave opening choices in the last two games.

Oct-18-20  Petrosianic: : <...His take on this match was that Leko committed a crime against chess by trying to draw the last six games...>

<Maybe true but probably a bit over dramatic.>

Over dramatic, yes. (Not a crime, just bad match strategy). The worst offenders in the list are Game 11, where Leko agreed a GM draw with White, and Game 12, where he agreed a draw in a superior position where it had seemed that victory was near. At the end, Black has a clear edge with little chance of losing, but is still anxious to draw.

Oct-19-20  SChesshevsky: <Petrosianic: Over dramatic, yes. (Not a crime, just bad match strategy)...>

Felt more that Short's statement on Leko's last six games was over dramatic. But do agree that the match strategy probably wasn't best. Though maybe more on a retrospective basis. Can imagine, if Leko could have saved the last game, analysts would be praising his ability to completely stifle Kramnik's potent offense with draws.

But your take on game 12 is spot on. Even believe Leko would have continued play had he foreseen Kramnik's aggressive opening choices in 13 and 14.

Game 11 is a bit of a mystery. Think something bothered him in or after game 10. Or he just didn't feel comfortable with anything he had against Kramnik's QID. Wonder the real reasoning for the pass with the white pieces?

Mar-09-21  Allanur: I am curious: Did Kramnik spend lots of time in bathrooms in this match as well? What about his match against Kasparov? What about his tournament performances circa 2006? Did he used to spend his time in bathrooms as he did against Topalov? I am trying to decide if his behaviour in that toiletgate was his usual way or unique to that match only
Oct-22-22  Honest Adin Reviews: [Event "wcc"]
[Site "Berlin"]
[Date "1910.??.??"]
[Round "10"]
[Comments "Strange loss, Schlechter had easy draw, nerves?"] [White "Lasker Em"]
[Black "Schlechter C"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. Qc2 Na6 8. a3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Bd3 b4 11. Na4 bxa3 12. bxa3 Bb7 13. Rb1 Qc7 14. Ne5 Nh5 15. g4 Bxe5 16. gxh5 Bg7 17. hxg6 hxg6 18. Qc4 Bc8 19. Rg1 Qa5+ 20. Bd2 Qd5 21. Rc1 Bb7 22. Qc2 Qh5 23. Bxg6 Qxh2 24. Rf1 fxg6 25. Qb3+ Rf7 26. Qxb7 Raf8 27. Qb3 Kh8 28. f4 g5 29. Qd3 gxf4 30. exf4 Qh4+ 31. Ke2 Qh2+ 32. Rf2 Qh5+ 33. Rf3 Nc7 34. Rxc6 Nb5 35. Rc4 Rxf4 36. Bxf4 Rxf4 37. Rc8+ Bf8 38. Kf2 Qh2+ 39. Ke1 Qh1+ 40. Rf1 Qh4+ 41. Kd2 Rxf1 42. Qxf1 Qxd4+ 43. Qd3 Qf2+ 44. Kd1 Nd6 45. Rc5 Bh6 46. Rd5 Kg8 47. Nc5 Qg1+ 48. Kc2 Qf2+ 49. Kb3 Bg7 50. Ne6 Qb2+ 51. Ka4 Kf7 52. Nxg7 Qxg7 53. Qb3 Ke8 54. Qb8+ Kf7 55. Qxa7 Qg4+ 56. Qd4 Qd7+ 57. Kb3 Qb7+ 58. Ka2 Qc6 59. Qd3 Ke6 60. Rg5 Kd7 61. Re5 Qg2+ 62. Re2 Qg4 63. Rd2 Qa4 64. Qf5+ Kc7 65. Qc2+ Qxc2+ 66. Rxc2+ Kb7 67. Re2 Nc8 68. Kb3 Kc6 69. Rc2+ Kb7 70. Kb4 Na7 71. Kc5 Kc8 72. Kb6+ Kb8 73. Rc7 Nc8+ 74. Kc6 Na7+ 75. Kd7 Nb5 76. Rc8+ Kb7 77. a4 Na7 Schlechter could have won it all, he should have been proclaimed co-champion of the world, this was drawn, it was his match. There is enough proof Lasker demanded +2 winning score if Schlechter was to become champion, if it's true, how insane; duh, imagine if Schlechter won this game & thus the match, then questions will arise, how come he did not win it? 10 games match in 1910 1-0

[Event "World Championship 19th"]
[Site "Moscow R6"]
[Date "1951.03.26"]
[Round "24"]
[Comments "Weird game, Bronstein had easy draw, was it bad nerves cuz it was final game?"] [White "Bronstein, David I"]
[Black "Botvinnik, Mikhail"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B63"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 h6 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. O-O-O a6 10. f4 Bd7 11. Kb1 Be7 12. Be2 Nxd4 13. Qxd4 Qa5 14. Rhf1 h5 15. Rf3 Qc5 16. Qd2 Bc6 17. Re3 Qa5 18. Bf3 O-O-O 19. Qd3 Rd7 20. h4 Kb8 21. a3 Bd8 22. Ka2 Qc5 23. Re2 a5 24. a4 Bb6 25. b3 Rc8 26. Qc4 Qxc4 27. bxc4 Rh8 28. Kb3 Rdd8 29. Rd3 Bg1 30. Red2 Kc7 31. Ne2 Bf2 32. Rd1 Bc5 33. Ng3 Rdg8 34. Ne2 Rh7 35. f5 e5 36. Nc3 Bd4 37. Rxd4 exd4 38. Rxd4 Rhg7 39. Ne2 Rxg2 40. Bxg2 Rxg2 41. Nf4 Rg3+ 42. Kb2 Rg4 43. Nxh5 Rxh4 44. Nxf6 Kb6 45. Rxd6 Kc5 46. e5 Rd4 47. Rxd4 Kxd4 48. Ng4 Bxa4 49. e6 fxe6 50. f6 Be8 51. Kb3 e5 52. c3+ Ke4 53. Nh6 Kf4 54. f7 Bxf7 55. Nxf7 e4 56. Nd8 e3 57. Kc2 Kg3 58. Kd1 Kf2 Again, almost a champ. ♗otvinik kept the title he didn't deserve, this was luck and (communist) pressure on ♗ronstein was not small, ♗ronstein should have been named co-champ of the world because he drew the match. He was white in the final game, if the champ retains title if match is drawn, opponent should be allowed last game's color, at least here ♗otvinik was blak! 0-1

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