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Vladimir Kramnik vs Viswanathan Anand
"Two Passed Five" (game of the day Apr-23-2015)
Belgrade Investbank (1997), Belgrade SRB, rd 2, Nov-12
Semi-Slav Defense: Anti-Moscow Gambit (D44)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-29-05  Hesam7: I have not Nunn's book. Can someone explain whether the piece sac was entirely a bad idea or Kramnik went wrong later?

<Lawrence> your line with 27 ♘e6 seems interesting. At the end the pawn chain c5-d4-e5 is really strong. It severly restricts the Black knight and queen.

May-29-05  acirce: <iron maiden> It's a good game from both sides, I wouldn't have a Kramnik loss where he is just outplayed.

<Hesam7> Nunn considers the piece sac entirely sound and 11..a6? a mistake that allows it: <Anand falls in with Kramnik's plan and soon finds himself in a critical position.> Instead of 17.Ne4?! he suggests 17.Qc2 as <a dangerous alternative, after which Black would face serious difficulties. 17..Rh7 is bad, since after 18.Qg6+ Kh8 19.Bxe6 Qg5 20.Qe4 White avoids the exchange of queens, and without his e6-pawn Black is bound to be struggling. One line might be 20..Rb8 21.Rf5 Qe7 22.Bxd7 Qxd7 23.Raf1 Kg8 24.e6 Qd6 25.Rf7 Bg7 26.Kh1, when White has a winning position. Other moves are little better; for example, 17..Bg7 18.Qg6 Re8 19.Ne4 or 17..Qe8 (preventing Qg6+) 18.Ne4! Rh7 19.Rf6 and again the e6-pawn falls, since 19..Re7? loses to 20.Nd6.>

17..Rh7 is given a ?! mark while he gives detailed analysis of 17..c5 that seems to lead to a draw.

Instead of 19.b4? (<This is the wrong move. Kramnik reasons that Black's only way to free himself is to play ..c5, so he attempts to clamp down on this move. It is certainly an unexpected move, but in fact it allows Black to slip out of the net. In a situation where one has a strong bind, it is often hard to decide between slowly trying to increase the pressure and cashing in with immediate action. Here White should have chosen the latter course. Perhaps the main defect of the text-move is that it doesn't succeed in its main ambition. Black can often play ..c5 despite White's pawn grip, since the activation of the light-squared bishop is usually worth more than a pawn. Moreover, if White meets ..c5 by bxc5 then Black obtains connected passed pawns, while White's pawn-chain e5-d4-c5 can be blockaded on the light squares>) Nunn suggests <19.axb5! cxb5 (if 19..axb5, then 20.Ra7 is good for White) 20.Nxb7 Rxb7 21.Rxa6 Rb6 (21..Nb6 22.Rf6) 22.Rxb6 Nxb6 23.Rf6 with a very unpleasant position for Black, since White obtains a third pawn for the piece and acquires two connected passed pawns in the centre of the board. The game Ward-Grabliauskas, Copenhagen 1998, played shortly after Kramnik-Anand, tested this assessment.>

Some more of the annotation, very far from all since virtually every move is commented:

19..h5! <This bid for space is essential. If White manages toplay Bh5, then Black will be virtually paralysed. Of course, 19..cxb3 is bad since 20.Qxb3 wins the e6-pawn.>

May-29-05  acirce: continued:

23..Ba8! <The strongest move. Black frees his rook to move to f8, and preserves his bishop ready for the eventual breakout with ..c5. This is in fact the last passive move Black plays in the game. Move by move, the circumstances for a breakout have been gradually improving - Black has organized his kingside pieces and activated his dark-squared bishop, while White has made scant progress.>

25..c5!! <A brilliant idea, the point of which is revealed next move. Black cannot play 25..Be3 as 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Qh8+ wins at once.>

26..Bd5! <Remarkable. Black simply ignores the fact that White has taken a piece and focuses on the real priority: supporting the crucial e6-pawn. 26..Rxg5 is bad as 27.Bxe6+ Kg7 28.Qh4 leaves Black in a deadly pin, and White wins after 28..cxd4 29.Bxd7 Rxf1+ 30.Rxf1 Qxe5 31.Be6! After the text-move, Black is genuinely threatening to take the knight. White decides simply to retreat it, but then Black aquires two connected passed pawns on the queenside.>

27..cxb4 <The material balance has shifted so that instead of being a piece down, White is now a pawn up. However, everything else has changed in Black's favour. All his pieces are now on active squares, he has two well-advanced connected passed pawns and White's pieces (especially his queen and the h3-bishop) are out of play.>

Great game. And great book, if like me you like instructive verbal explanations.

May-29-05  Hesam7: <acirce> Thank you very much for responding! I know typing the annotations is a very difficult thing to do and it is not the first time that you do it upon my request. So Best wishes friend! Hope I can return your favor!
May-29-05  AdrianP: Anand, too, considers 11 ...a6? a mistake, and calls the piece sac 12 Nxg5! very strong.

17 Qc2 is a dangerous alternative - with three(!) pages of analysis, concluding "Thus 17 Qc2 would have been good for White, but there is no reason to criticize the text move."

19. b4? "What on earth is this move, I hadn't even considered it. After the surprise faded. I realised that unless Black takes drastic action he is going to be squashed. Incidentall, it is difficult to imagine that this pawn move is going to be the cause of White's defeat!" Anand recommends 19 axb5!

25 c5! (without further comment)

26 ... Bd5!! After the text-move the bishop finally gets out. Unbelievably, Black is already better. Vladimir was short of time and now missed his last chance.

27 Nf3? 27. Bxe6! is recommended instead.

My Best Games of Chess (Anand). Nunn contributed to this book as well, so the coincidences in text/analysis may be unsurprising.

May-29-05  aw1988: Notice acirce's collection is *interesting* Kramnik games, not just games where Kramnik wins.
Sep-06-05  Queens Gambit: This its a fantastic game!!!!
Feb-27-06  alexandrovm: it seems that Bxe6 was unsound, on move 37, after that I think Kramnik was just fine, but in a dificult game because of black's dangerous passed pawns.
Feb-27-06  kakhander: Kramnik sacrifices never work.................
Feb-27-06  aw1988: Very nice statement, can you back it up?
Feb-27-06  Hesam7: <AdrianP> The recommended move by Anand (27. Bxe6) leads only to draw:

27. Bxe6 Bxe6 28. Nxe6 Qxe6 29. bxc5 b4 30. Qe2 Rxf1 31. Rxf1 c3 32. Qd3 Qd5 33. Qxa6 Qxd4 34. Qe6 Kh7 35. Qh3 Kg8 36. Qe6

While 27. Nxe6 (suggested by <Lawrence>) looks better and might give White the advantage.

Feb-27-06  alexandrovm: <Hesam7: <AdrianP> The recommended move by Anand (27. Bxe6) leads only to draw:> thanks for the contribution my friend...
Feb-28-06  Kasparov Shadow: Anand played like a Magician here, awesome game!
Jan-24-08  sallom89: 16.Bh6 ?
Jul-19-08  notyetagm: <Kasparov Shadow: Anand played like a Magician here, awesome game!>


Hopefully a preview of the Bonn WC match this fall. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: This game was played in the second round. Anand had lost with white in the first round to Lautier. He went on to tie for first with Ivanchuk at 6-3. At the time 6 Bh4 was rarely played; 6 Bxf6 was the main line though white's results with it had not been impressive which may explain Kramnik's choice. Anand felt that Kramnik probably should have played the piece sacrifice a move earlier with 11 Nxg5 as after 11 a4?! Anand could have played 11..b4 12 Ne4 avoiding the sacrifice with unclear play. After 17 Ne4 Anand's quote was "Here I was struck by the fact that white has only a pawn for the piece and still has the better position! The problem for black is that his bishops are awful. I dreampt for a second about how nice a bishop on d5 would look, but had to return to the position at hand!" Anand had not even considered 19 b4? and felt that 19 axb would have been much stronger. Kristensen pointed out that a computer probably would have played 25..Rxf1+ 26 Rxf1..Nf8 27 Nf6+..Bxf6 28 exf..Qf7 but anand, instead, gave back the piece for active counterplay with 25..c5! Kramnik, apparently, underestimated 26..Bd5!. After 27 Nf3..cxb white was lost as the queenside pawns were too strong. Anand considered 36..Rb7? but then realized that 37 Bxe6+! wins.
Nov-06-08  hitman84: Vladimir Kramnik – Viswanathan Anand
Beograd 1997

Semi-Slav Defence (D43)
(Notes based on Anand’s annotations in the Informant CD)


A flexible move characteristic of Kramnik. It reserves all options for White.

1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 c6

The Semi-Slav Defence.

5.Bg5 h6

Heading for the Moscow Variation.

5…dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9. Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 is the Botvinnik System.

6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.e5 Nh5

This move gives White a free hand. 10...Nd5 is preferable.-NSH


The tempting 11.Nxg5 is good for Black. 11...Nxg3 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.fxg3 Kg8 14.0–0 Na6!.

11...a6 12.Nxg5! 12...Nxg3 13.Nxf7 Kxf7 14.fxg3 Kg8! 15.0–0 Nd7 16.Bg4

16.Bh5 is innocuous on account of 16...Rh7 17.Qg4+ Qg5.

16...Qe7 17.Ne4


Not 17...c5? 18.Nd6 Bd5.

Now the tempting 19.Rf7 fails to 19...Qd8! 20.Qc2 Qg5 21.Bf3( 21.Rd7Qg4 or 21.Raf1 Bxd6 22.exd6 Qxg4 23.R1f4 Qg5 24.Rxd7 cxd4) 21...Bxd6 (21...Nxe5 22.dxe5 Bxd6 23.Rf4) 22.Rxd7 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Bf8.

So White should play 19.Bf3!Bg7(19...cxd4 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Qg4+ Bg7 22.Rf7± ) 20.Nf5± !( not 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Nf5 Qe6 22.Qg4 Rh7).


If 18.Nf6+ Nxf6 19.Rxf6 Bg7 20.Rxe6 Qg5.

18...Rb8 19.b4?

Missing 19.axb5! cxb5 (19...axb5 20.Ra7±) 20.Nxb7 Rxb7 21.Rxa6 Rb6 22.Rxb6 Nxb6 23.Rf6± (Kramnik).

If 23...Qd8 24.Bxe6+ Kh8 25.Qg4! Bg7 (25...Be7 26.Rg6 Bg5 27.Rg8+ Qxg8 28.Bxg8 Kxg8 29.h4 ) 26.Rf7 .

Or 23...Kh8 24.Bxe6! 24...Bg7 25.Rg6±.


A brilliant counterattack. Now Kramnik does not get a second chance.


Not 20.Bf3 h4 21.g4 Bh6.

If 20.Bxh5 Qg5.

20...Bh6! 21.Kh1 Bg5 22.Qc2

22.Ra3 c5! 23.bxc5 Bd5 is good for Black.

22...Rg7 23.Qe2 Ba8! 24.Qxh5 Rf8


25.axb5 cxb5! - Anand.

If 26.Rxf8+ (26.Rxa6??Rxf1# ) 26...Nxf8 27.Rxa6? Bd5–+ -NSH

25...c5! 26.Nxg5 Bd5!

The greedy 26...Rxg5? fails to 27.Bxe6+ Kg7 28.Qh4± !.

Or 28...cxd4 29.Bxd7 Rxf1+ 30.Rxf1 Rxe5 31.Qxd4 .


White could have put up more resistance with 27.Bxe6+!, although after 27...Bxe6 28.Rxf8+ Nxf8 29.Ne4 Rh7 30.Qd1 (30.Qe2 cxd4) 30...Rxh2+ ! 31.Kxh2 Qh7+ 32.Kg1 Qxe4 , he would still have lost.

27...cxb4 28.axb5 axb5 29.Nh4 Qg5 ! 30.Rxf8+ Nxf8 31.Qe8 Rf7! 32.Nf3 Qg6

Alert as ever. 32...Qe3? 33.Bg4!.

33.Qxb5 b3 34.Rf1 Qd3 35.Kg1 Qe3+ 36.Kh1 c3

36...Rb7??37.Bxe6+ .


A last brave attempt.

37...Bxe6 38.d5 Rxf3! 39.gxf3

Or 39.Rxf3 c2–+ 40.Qf1 Qxf3 41.gxf3 b2.

A picturesque position.

Analysis Diagram: after 41...b2

39...Bh3 40.Qc4 Bxf1 41.Qg4+ Kh7 42.e6 Ng6



May-11-09  KamikazeAttack: <Indeed.

Hopefully a preview of the Bonn WC match this fall. :-) >

It turned out to be a preview indeed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Annotations by Anand included in the ChessBase copy of this game contain the following interesting comment <re>: <19. b4>:

<“Vlad now sank into thought for a long time - I imagined that he was trying to decide which of several promising continuations to go for. As it turned out, he had spent a long time on many lines, and didn't find anything convincing. Then he saw a move which discourages Black's 'only' resource - c6-c5 and decided to go for it.”>

This is an all-too-common pattern from my own games: spending a lot of time analyzing several moves, not really liking any of them, getting the bright idea that some other move looked good and (feeling that I had already used up too much clock on the current turn) playing the new idea quickly, only to have its flaws quickly and brutally revealed in the further course of the game.

I did not previously think players of Kramnik’s class were susceptible to the same flaw.

Jun-20-13  Nerwal: <I did not previously think players of Kramnik’s class were susceptible to the same flaw.>Those players are much better than we are, so maybe most of their mistakes are not of a technical nature, but more of a psychological one. Tal's comments about Tal vs Petrosian, 1962 are similar to this : unable to decide which of two moves was stronger, Tal impulsively decided on a third, very bad one.
Aug-11-14  DrGridlock: This game is extensively analyzed in books by Vishy Anand "Vishy Anand: World Chess Champion" and by John Nunn "Understanding Chess." Both of these analyses (not separately, since the authors cross-polinated their analyses) come to the conslusion that after 26 ... Bd5 Black's game is nearly won. Anand writes, "Unbelievably, Black is already better. Vladimir was already short of time, and missed his last chance." Anand then criticizes 27 Nf3, suggesting instead 27 Bxe6+ Bxe6 28 Rxf8+ Nxf8 29 Ne4 Rh7 30 Qd1 Rxh2+! 31 Kxh2 Qh7+ 32 Kg1 Qxe4, "Black has a clear advantage but White is not quite dead."

In the introduction to his book, Nunn writes, "There are some people who believe that the use of computers makes it easy to write a chess book - you just turn on the machine, it checks all the analyses, and you have a book with hardly more effort than pressing a few keys. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the power of computers grows, they become more and more adept at finding holes in games formerly thought to be sound." Such is the case with Komodo looking at White's options at move 27.

While previous analyses have looked at three options at move 27: Bxe6, Nf3 and Rxf8, no analyst has looked at White's saving move: Nxe6!

Vladimir Kramnik - Viswanathan Anand

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo 5r1 32-bit :

1. = (0.12): 27.Nxe6 Bxe6 28.bxc5 Rxf1+ 29.Rxf1 Nf8 30.axb5 axb5 31.c6 Bd5 32.e6 Qd6 33.Qh6 Qe7 34.Rf5 Bxc6 35.Qe3 Qa7 36.Rc5 Qa1+ 37.Qg1 Qa8 38.Qe1 Ng6 39.Kg1 Ne7 40.Re5 Qa2 41.Re2

2. = (-0.09): 27.Bxe6+ Bxe6 28.Nxe6 Qxe6 29.Rxf8+ Nxf8 30.axb5 axb5 31.dxc5 Rg4 32.Kg1 c3 33.Rc1 Rxb4 34.Qg5+ Ng6 35.h4 Re4 36.Rxc3 Rxe5 37.Qd8+ Kh7 38.Ra3 Qe7 39.Qxe7+ Nxe7 40.Ra7 Kg6 41.Rb7 Nc6 42.Rxb5 Kf5

3. = (-0.12): 27.Nf3 cxb4 28.axb5 axb5 29.Ra6 b3 30.Qh6 Rh7 31.Qg6+ Rg7 32.Qh6

4. = (-0.12): 27.Rxf8+ Nxf8 28.Nxe6 Nxe6 29.axb5 Nxd4 30.bxa6 Rg5 31.Qh6 Rxe5 32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Qh6+ Kg8

Not only does Nxe6 save the game at move 27, but including it in the Bxe6 and Rxf8 lines also saves those lines in a way neither Nunn nor Anand analysed.

Moreover, Komodo also finds that the previously undected resource 29 Ra6 also "saves" the Nf3 line.

If you want to find the "real culprit" which cost White this game, try looking at 29 Nh4 (instead of Ra6), which neither Anand nor Nunn comment on.

Or, if you want to find the "real story" of this game, it's why Nxe6 remained hidden from Kramnik, Anand, Nunn and others for so many years.

Apr-23-15  LoveThatJoker: WC Anand's analysis of this game in his Chessbase DVD is just simply Classic - yes, with a capital 'c'.


Apr-23-15  morfishine: This one's a doozy! Nice post from 2014 by <DrGridlock> discussing 27.Nxe6
Apr-23-15  kevin86: The pawns advance to a dizzying height.
Apr-23-15  mruknowwho: I find 10.e5 to be an interesting challenge. It's a natural looking move that seems reasonable, but it also seems unnecessary. I wonder if White was going for dark square control or if this was based on the fact that Black's king is in the center and can't castle comfortably.
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