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Vladimir Kramnik vs Peter Leko
World Championship Tournament (2007), Mexico City MEX, rd 12, Sep-27
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E06)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-28-07  Phoenix: Why on earth the contestants keep allowing Kramnik to play the Catalan is beyond me. They'd have a better chance playing the Albin Counter gambit.
Sep-28-07  Pulse: Apparently Kramnik can play both sides without any problem. Maybe they should just ask him. :)
Sep-28-07  scholes: how much of this was kramnik preparation
Sep-28-07  MarkThornton: <tal lover: 25...Rxe5 isnt a blunder? I dont made computer analizes but looks like to me that Leko was better before Rxe5.>

On the site that is powered by Rybka analysis, 25...Rb8 was recommended, and the resulting line was assessed as -0.06, suggesting that the position was close to dynamic equilibrium at that point.

I'm not sure if 25...Rxe5 was the key mistake, or 26...f6. They both look dodgy.

Sep-28-07  ongyj: This idea just popped into my head: Would 29...Qe6 or Be8 allow Black to force an exchange sac and get off the hook? Thanks in advance for bothering to look.
Sep-28-07  acirce: <On the site that is powered by Rybka analysis, 25...Rb8 was recommended, and the resulting line was assessed as -0.06, suggesting that the position was close to dynamic equilibrium at that point.>

Objectively speaking, maybe. In reality it was of course more pleasant to be White.

Lékó was also much lower on time at this point so while he should not have had to collapse so quickly it was not so much of a surprise.

Sep-28-07  Ulhumbrus: 21...e5 opens lines when it is White who has the lead in development. 21...Nxc5 22 dxc5 closes the c file and on 22...c6 it is up to White to find compensation for Black's bishop pair before Black can catch up in development.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <ongyj: This idea just popped into my head: Would 29...Qe6 or Be8 allow Black to force an exchange sac and get off the hook? Thanks in advance for bothering to look>

I looked at it just quickly and without engine to check it. 29...Qe6 seems to be blunder for 30.Nxe5 Qxe5 (30...Qxf7 31.Nxf7+) 31.Rxc6 and white is a piece up. After 29...Be8 30.Qf8+ Kh7 31.Nxe5 fxe5 32.Qc5 white seems to be winning a Pawn e5 or c7 with better play.

Sep-28-07  kuna65: This wasn't very good tournament for Kramnik, he underperformed I think. An interesting observation: his two wins were both tactically wild, somehow similar to the his pre99 stuff, so I'm not so disappointed and this gem is very accurate, instructive an also beautiful.

I think Anand should be recognized legit champion (finally), the RE(?)match will show if he is just another winter king or not.

Sep-28-07  znprdx: The move which might be qualified as a blunder for Black was Leko's 26...f6 Surely after the simple Re7 an exchange up should provide clear winning chances.

As for White 13.Qf4 Kramnik's new (?) move seems rather dubious but worse was Leko's poor reply Bb7. Surely the simple Bd6 (such that 14. Qh4? Bg3!) If instead 14. Ne5 so what? Bxg2[B]

Sep-28-07  mrbasso: <Ulhumbrus> Think again, your suggestion 22...c6?? buries the light-squared bishop. <znprdx> Surely not, Nxb7 wins the exchange back.
Sep-28-07  Ulhumbrus: <mrbasso> 22...c6 answers the threat of c6 and a part of catching up in development consists of moving the B elsewhere
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <kuna65> Kramnik's main problem in Mexico is that he did not exploited all chances he had had in previous games. He could have been +3 or +4 at least now and in better form he would be. But Anand's form and play in Mexico is superb and if he wins the tournament (it seems to be certain but everything can happen in last two games) he would become the World Champion absolutely deservedly.
Sep-28-07  Marmot PFL: 25...Rxe5 hurts black, but I don't think anything is really good. That pawn is coming to e6 otherwise. His real problem is he has no pieces to challenge Nc5 so the whole plan of grabbing the exchange looks bad. Probably he should just trade with 21...Nxc5 22.dc5 e5 23.Nxe5 Bf6. Now if the knight retreats Bg5 really is a threat so 24.c6 Bxe5 25.cb7 Qxb7, and black should be fine.
Sep-28-07  mrbasso: <Ulhumbrus> 22...c6 is bad, there is no good place for this bishop elsewhere. I'm a long time Catalan player, I would be very happy to see such a move OTB.
Sep-28-07  znprdx: <mrbasso: <znprdx> Surely not[26....Re7\ 27.Nxb7 wins the exchange back.> thanx- I guess it it gets messy. I'd suggested 13..Bd6 as far superior tothe losing Bb7. I still cannot accept (despite valiant attempts to convince me otherwise) that a player can move the queen so often in the opening and not pay a price. This will be busted very shortly - I wouldn't advise Kramnik to think he can keep playing it :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: Interesting game, although not flawless. I am still wondering why Kramnik played 20.Nc5 and why Leko didn't play 21...Nxc5. For Kramnik, maybe there was some hidden possibility but what could it be? Or he thought Leko could not resist to the offer of the exchange? For Leko, maybe he saw the possibility to win the exchange and became greedy. From move 22 until the end Kramnik's accurracy is just amazing.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.O-O dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Qc8 12.Bg5 Nbd7 13.Qf4 <Novelty. 13.Nbd2 is usual.> Bb7 <13...c5, a key move in the Catalan, should be considered of course.> 14.Rc1 Bd6 15.Qh4 h6 16.Bxf6 Nxf6 17.Nbd2 Re8 <Leko prepares e5.> 18.e4 <threatens e5.> Nd7 <18...e5 19.dxe5 Bxe5 20.Nxe5 Rxe5, White has a small edge too. It seems that Leko wants to keep his Bishop pair.> 19.Nb3 <18.e5 was interesting but the drawback was to give up the control of ‘d5’.> a5 20.Nc5?! <20.a4 was natural. According to general principles, this move looks weird. White should occupy ‘c5’ with a piece, not with a pawn.> Be7 21.Qf4 e5?! <21...Nxc5 22.dxc5 was logical, giving Black a slight edge in my opinion.> 22.Nxe5! <White will have compensation. Knight + pawn for the Rook and what a Knight! An elephant.> Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bg5 24.Qf3 Bxc1 25.Rxc1 Rxe5 26.Qc3 f6 27.Qb3+ <27.f4 does not work. 27...Re7 28.Nxb7 Qxb7 29.e5 Qb6+ : this is the point, after f4, the g1-a7 diagonal is opened.> Kh8? <The losing move. 27...Kh7 was the only move, although it was not obvious. The difference is that after 28.Qf7 Bc6 29.Nd3, Black can answer 29...Be8, because there is no check if White plays 30.Qf8.> 28.Qf7 Bc6 <What else? 28...Rb8 29.Nd7. 28...Ba6 29.Nd7. In both variations, Black has to give back the exchange and then should lose a pawn.> 29.Nd3 Re6 <29...Bd7 30.Nxe5 fxe5 31.Qe7, White wins a pawn. The same after 29...Be8 30.Qf8+ (the all point) Kh7 31.Nxe5 fxe5 32.Qe7.> 30.Nf4 Rd6 31.Ng6+ Kh7 32.e5 fxe5 <32...Rd7 33.Ne7 (33...Rxe7 34.Qxe7 Bxg2 35.exf6!, White wins) Qe8 34.Qxe8 Rxe8 35.Nxc6, White wins.> 33.Bxc6! Rf6 <33...Rxg6 34.Be4, the pinned Rook is lost.> 34.Qd5 Qf5 <34...Rb8 35.Nxe5, White has the material advantage and a much better position.> 35.Bxa8 <The simplest.> Qxf2+ 36.Kh1 Qxb2 37.Qc5 Kxg6 38.Be4+ Kh5 39.Rb1 <The simplest again. 39...Qd4 40.Qxd4 exd4 41.Rxe5+ is an easy win for White.> 1-0

Sep-28-07  Marmot PFL: <mateo> Nice work. Good point about 27...Kh7 although black still looks bad after 28.f4 Re7 29.Qxb5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  boz: Thanks for the analysis <mateo>. Are you titled?

Some comments from the players in the post game interview may interest you.

Kramnik: Black should have played 13...c5.

Leko: I realized 13...c5 was the principled move, but there were many long and very difficult lines. In the line played, White has some control, but it should be playable for Black.

Kramnik: After 20. Nc5 the endgame for White might be slightly better but it is very close to drawn.

Leko: Saw that 20...Bxc5 21.dxc5 was equal but became excited by 21...e5, totally missing the move 28.Qf7.

Kramnik: 27...Kh7 was best.

Sep-28-07  Ulhumbrus: <mrbasso> After ..c6, the QB may be able to come into play after either ...b4 or else by the manoeuvre ...Bb7-c8-d7-e8
Sep-28-07  Pulse: <znprdx> Do you actually think general principles (i.e. don't move the queen too much in the opening) work all the time? Chess doesn't exactly follow a formula; there are many different ways to play an acceptable game.
Sep-29-07  sanyas: <znprdx> 26...Re7 27.Nxb7 Qxb7 28.e5 with some squeezing ahead for Kramnik.
Sep-30-07  Davolni: <Mateo> During the game I was sitting with GM Arshak Petrosian, and that's what he was commenting on too, 20.Nc5 was type of a "blunder" by Kramnik, which Leko should have taken advantage of by playing 21..Nxc5, as you suggested, after which it would be white who would fight for a draw.
Sep-30-07  you vs yourself: Watching it live, I remember seeing Rybka on give black a slight edge after 21..Nxc5 followed by 22..e5
Oct-02-07  Resignation Trap: Photo of the players at the start of this game: .
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