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Vladimir Kramnik vs Alexey Shirov
Shirov - Kramnik WCC Candidates Match (1998), Cazorla ESP, rd 1, May-24
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Spassky Variation (D87)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-12-03  PVS: There seemed to be some tension here, but perhaps neither player wanted to make the first mistake.
Aug-15-04  acirce: In the first matchgame the approach is often "safety first". Normally I think Black could have played on trying to utilize the morepawn.
Apr-27-07  Shajmaty: Volodya deviated from the more usual (and maybe worse) 18. Bh4, but Alexei equalized with 18...e5!
Apr-22-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 17 Bg5 was prepared by Kramnik for the match; he also played it in game 5. 17 d5 and 17 Rc3 had also been played here. After 18 Bf4..e5 Black equalized easily. It is unclear why Kramnik chose this as the final position was likely seen in his preparation. In game 5 he improved with 18 Bh4 and pressed Shirov for the first time in the match. All seven draws in the match were initiated by Kramnik and Shirov accepted all seven offers.
Jun-09-13  csmath: <Volodya deviated from the more usual (and maybe worse) 18. Bh4, but Alexei equalized with 18...e5!>

18. Bh4 was a novelty when it was played in the 5th game of this match thus it was not "usual" before this game.

One wonders why did Shirov accept draw? I am assuming it was a matter of principle and that he intended to play 25. ... Rae8 not allowing white to bring rooks on the seventh rank which would result in a tense draw. He clearly outplayed Kramnik in the opening but could not really see anything realistic to continue.

According to Salov 25. ... f5! is a more provoking but it would likely end up in a draw as black would be just one move short of promoting the pawn.

This game set the tone for the whole match.

After Cazorla Shirov stature increased dramatically deservingly so. He played excellent chess here. Unfortunately this all ended in crash and burn mainly due to Kasparov.

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