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Judit Polgar vs Vladimir Kramnik
Dos Hermanas (1997), Dos Hermanas ESP, rd 6, Apr-08
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-30-04  lebohang: kramniks positional sense in this french is just supreme
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: You don't see Kramnik play the French very often. Polgars choice of the Exchange variation is also a departure.

The most striking move in the game is 9..Be6!?. Kramnik accepts a crippled e pawn in exchange for an open f file and increased control of d5. I suspect most grandmasters would not make make such a move. Club players would also avoid it as it breaks so many rules. Polgar gets a good position so perhaps it was a miscalculation. Kramnik says that after 19 Qd3 or 19 Rc1 Polgar would have a significant advantage. Psakhis says that after 19 Qd3..Qd5 black is OK but he must have overlooked 20 Rg5 which appears to win on the spot. 21 d5 is a speculative pawn sacrifice which turns out badly; not sure what Polgar missed. After the second speculative pawn sacrifice 26 c5 Kramnik wins in routine fashion.

Jun-25-07  openingspecialist: i think that its good to see white lose in exchange french. I hate it when people do cheap exchange tactics in the french and try to draw. Yesturday I had the great pleasure of having the same honour Kramnik did this day in 1997. Why play for a draw as white? It is stupid.
Jun-25-07  micartouse: <Why play for a draw as white? It is stupid.> I think there's an incorrect stereotype that White is playing for a draw if he plays the Exchange French. The reason most players use it is because they enjoy simple symmetrical open positions and because it usually annoys the opponent. It's like any other opening - the better player will usually win.
Jun-25-07  euripides: The exchange variation with c4 is not a drawing attempt. It gives Black the option to inflict the isolated d pawn on White, producing a sharp line like the Panov-Botvinnik attack in the Caro-Kann. For a more successful example which might have been in the players' minds see Kramnik vs Judit Polgar, 1996
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: What micarthouse said. Even Kasparov played the Exchange French a few times. Morphy never played anything else.

Besides, if Polgar wanted a draw here she wouldn't have tried 7. c4, as euripides pointed out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  theagenbiteofinwit: This is one of my favorite games. Kramnik clearly isn't playing for a draw with 9..Be61? He isolates a pawn, but he gets mad activity for doing so.

Even if white declines to move the bishop for the 3rd time in the opening by playing 10.B3, black can just continue with a lead in development with 10..Qd7 11.Nc3 Bb4 and white is stuck defending an IQP against some very well-placed pieces.

Black's lead in development makes it relatively easy to fend off white's kingside assault.

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