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Vladimir Kramnik vs Ivan Sokolov
Corus Group A (2005), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 4, Jan-18
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Closed Defense (C96)  ·  1-0



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Given 12 times; par: 38 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-18-05  Knight13: I like this game. 26. Bxf3 gxf3 pretty much helped White in the endgame. Gotta learn how to use files.
Jan-18-05  hintza: Sokolov underestimated Kramnik's mating threats, effectively costing him the game. Brilliant play by Kramnik to score a much-needed win.
Jan-19-05  TheAussiePatzer: Yes, from the 31st move Kramnik was very accurate, Sokolov must miscalculated something in this attack when he played 30...Kg7.
Jan-19-05  hintza: Many people have said that Kramnik's play was "flawless" in this game; I am tempted to agree with that.
Jan-19-05  acirce: Kramnik might have been a little lucky and his play not entirely flawless. Chessbase initially reported that Sokolov "lost the thread in move 33", but now has changed that to "in the end". Probably they were thinking about 33..Rb4 as a way to save it. It looks reasonable since 34.Ne4 Kh5 perhaps surprisingly leads nowhere, but 34.Nxb5!? with the thought of ..Rxg4 35.fxg4 and now the question is if White's extra pawn is enough to win. I guess it might be based on the fact that the f6-pawn will be a natural target easy to attack, on the outposts for White's knight, and on White having a clear plan to create a passer.

But more testing is 34..Kh5!

a) 35.Rg7 Kh6! 36.Nd6 Nd4!

b) 35.Rxb4 Nxb4 and White can't hope for much as far as I see -- his extra pawn is tripled and even though Black's king is cut off it doesn't seem possible to utilize for a mating attack or something. For example 36.Nc7 Rc8 37.Ne6 Nd5 38.Rg7 Kh6 39.Rg4 Nf4! 40.Nxf4 exf4 41.Rxf4 Kg5 and it's become obvious that the lack of dynamism in White's pawn formation makes the draw inevitable.

c) 35.Nc7 Nd4 36.Ne6 Rf7 37.Kh1 Rb2 38.Ng7+ Rxg7 39.Rxg7 h6 and it's possible Black's activity compensates. There are even stalemate tricks as in a plausible line such as 40.f4 Nxf5 41.Rg8 Rxf2 42.fxe5 fxe5 43.Re1 e4! although perhaps 40..Rxf2 is better. White may win in lines such as these somehow but it surely doesn't look easy. Even 36..Nxf3+ 37.Kg2 Rxg4+ 38.hxg4+ Kxg4 39.Nxf8 Nxg1 40.Kxg1 h5 may well be sufficient for draw, in fact I highly suspect that!

The game is annotated at where it is BTW clear that Kramnik makes no health excuses for his embarrassing 20-move loss against Topalov. Makes no mention of 33..Rb4 though. The first critical mistake is 28..Rxb3? while after 28..Rxf3! the line 29.axb5 axb5 30.Kg2 Rxb3 31.Kh2 Kg7 32.Rg1+ Kh6 33.Rg4 is given -- the same position as in the game but without White's f3-pawn! <Still white's attack is very dangerous and if black does not survie than this whole line might be in danger according to Kramnik.> But he seems do to just that -- Fritz still gives no more than +0.03 after 9 hours. Apparently this game has great theoretical significance for this line, because if Black *does* survive here without trouble White has to look for earlier improvements which doesn't look easy. But after 28..Rxb3 the game should be lost. For example 30..h5 (White threatens 31.Rg1+ Kh8 32.Nf7+!) 31.Rg1+ Kh8 32.Rg6 Rxf3 33.Rh6+ Kg7 34.Rxh5 Rxf2+ 35.Kh1 Rd8 36.Ne4! and the threats are too many. (continued)

Jan-19-05  acirce: But if 33..Rb4 is a hidden saving resource in the game, then the alternative way for Kramnik as suggested during the live relay, 31.Ra7+, must have been better. 31..Kh6 32.Rg1 Rd3 (32..Rxf3 33.Rgg7 Rh8 34.Rg4 Nc6 35.Nf7+ Kh5 36.Rc7 ) 33.Nf7+ Rxf7 34.Rxf7 wins the exchange but it requires some technique to win the game. 34..Nd5 is forced and 35.Rd7 seems natural, then 35..Nf4 36.Rxd3 Nxd3 37.Rb1 Kg5 38.Rxb5 Kxf5 and it's not obvious to me that White is winning with doubled pawns and all pawns on one wing. But 35.Rgg7 attacking is probably better: 35..Rxf3 36.h4 Kh5 37.Rd7 Nc3 (37..Nb4 38.Rg3 Rxg3 39.Rxh7+ Kg4 40.Rg7+ Kxh4 41.fxg3+ Kh5 42.g4+ Kh6 43.Rg6+ ) 38.Rg3 and winning in the same way ..Rxg3 39.Rxh7+ Kg4 40.Rg7+ Kxf5 41.fxg3 .

Some other comments from the site:

<[18...Bxd5? 19.Be2 Bxf3 20.Bxf3 Nc6 21.Ne3 ]> is what I was quoting during the game from <Opening for White according to Anand> by Khalifman who gave the line 18. exf5 Bxd5 19. Be2! <The threats of White capturing on d5 and b4 compel Black to part with the light-squared bishop leaving a whole complex of loose squares in his camp.> Bxf3 20. Bxf3 Nc6 21. Ne3 Kh8 22. Nd5 Qd8 23. Be3 Bf6 24. Rc1 Obviously 18..Bf6 is superior.

<[Kramnik saw some lines with favorable endgames, but he thought he could do better. 22.Ba3 Qxd1 23.Raxd1 Bxe4 24.Rxe4 Nb7 25.Re2 a5 26.Red2 (26.Bxd6 Nxd6 27.Rxd6 Rc1+ 28.Kh2 e4 ) 26...b4 27.Bb2 and black is still holding on.]> This is beyond my horizon because I don't understand why Black isn't just better. I'll leave that one to the real experts.

Jan-19-05  Hesam7: Dear <acirce>
I am not claiming that it is in my horizon but in the position arising after 27.♗b2 just try to play with black it is really hard.
Jan-21-05  patzer2: <Acirce> Thanks for an excellent piece of analysis, making for a fascinating and instructive endgame study. As a result, I've added 28...Rxb3?? 29. axb5 axb5 30. Kh2! to my endgame tactics collection and 28...Rxf3! and 33...Rb4!? to my defensive combinations collection.
Oct-30-06  ChrisBreeden: A very nice finish by kramnik. Sokalov resigned in view of

<37... Nd4 38.Ng3+! Rxg3 39. fxg3 < 39... Nxf5 40. Rh4+! Nxh4 41. g4#> 39... Nf3+, this just delays the inevitble mate by two moves. 40. Kg2 e4 41. Kf2 (any move) 42. Rh4+ and mate >

Jun-27-11  wordfunph: Kramnik - Sokolov

final position after 31.R1g4 1-0

click for larger view

Quote of the Game:

"One of the few instances in my career when I was disappointed that my opponent resigned. I wanted to make a few more moves: 36...Nd4 37.Ng3 Rg3 38.fg3 Nf5 39.Rh4! Nh4 40.g4 mate."

- GM Vladimir Kramnik

Source: New In Chess Magazine 2005/02

Mar-13-12  LoveThatJoker: GUESS-THE-MOVE FINAL SCORE:

Kramnik vs I Sokolov, 2005.
Your score: 42 (no par)


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