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Vladimir Kramnik vs Loek van Wely
Corus Group A (2010), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 6, Jan-22
King's Indian Defense: Orthodox Variation. Gligoric-Taimanov System (E92)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Great double act. First he rounds up the knight then the fork handles Van's sketchy position. Cor bet he was barking mad seeing that the horse made it in time. Vladimir shoots back Ng4 and it's goodnight from him.
Feb-22-10  wordfunph: i found 56.Ng4!
Feb-22-10  johnlspouge: Monday (Very Easy)

Kramnik vs Van Wely, 2010 (56.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Up a N. Black is about to play 56…f1=Q, so White must look for a N fork of f1 and g2 at e3. Symmetry creates 2 conjugate candidates, 56.Ng4 and 56.Nc4. Of the 2 conjugates, 56.Ng4 is superior, because it attacks Pf2, forcing the move Pf2-f1.

Candidates (56.): Ng4, Nc4

56.Ng4 f1=N [else, 57.Ne3+]

There is now an endgame to force Black to sacrifice Nf1 for Pe4, after which White wins Pa7, plays a8=Q, and then wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I'm surprised nobody has tried 56.Nc4:

click for larger view

This threatens the same forking check on e3 as 56.Ng4, but since it doesn't attack the pawn Black can escape with 56...Kf3! Now 57.Ne5+ Ke2 changes the forking square to g3, which the knight cannot reach in time. And after 57.Nd2 Ke2 White can no longer control f1 and his pawn on e4 prevents his knight from getting to g3.

The basic idea today is Monday level, but there's some tricky underlying play.

Feb-22-10  Patriot: <<vlado23>: <gawain: I have nothing to add. Ng4 wins. I wonder how far in advance Kramnik saw that black's f-pawn could be rendered harmless with this move> Looks to me like 47.Kc4 was where he made that calculation.>

You could be right. It's a delicate balance at that point. If white is truly winning, then 47.Kc4 may be the only way to win. For example, 47.d6 looks bad because of 47...Nxc5+! 48.Naxc5 Nxd6 49.Nxd6 Bxd6. However 47.Kc4 looks risky as it is leaving the defense of g2 and therefore "could" be losing. Kramnik had to make sure it was safe to do so.

Feb-22-10  Patriot: <<Phony Benoni>: I'm surprised nobody has tried 56.Nc4>

I thought 56.Nc4 might work but didn't think it was worth calculating since 56.Ng4 is much more forcing. You proved it!

Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: <gawain: I wonder how far in advance Kramnik saw that black's f-pawn could be rendered harmless with this move>

<vlado23: Looks to me like 47.Kc4 was where he made that calculation.>

Yes with that move the King definitely abandons the K-side. But maybe even as early as 44 Ke2 where (as it turns out) the White King may already be contemplating an adventure far forward on the Queen-side

Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <gawain> Good call! It amazes me how far-sighted and pecise Kramnik was in his calculation on move 47. He not only had to see 56. Ng4 (not Nc4) was the only move, but even c1=N would not save black. Mind you, it might have been different if the N was green instead of black ;-)
Feb-22-10  YouRang: Well, this position was very familiar to me. In fact I commented on it quite a bit the day it was played (exactly one month ago!).

Nevertheless, I will give myself credit for solving it. ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: If play had continued with 55...f2 56 Ng4 f1q 57 Ne3+ Kf3 57 Nxf1 Kxe4, we get this position.

click for larger view

Continuing from this position, in some variations white's knight may not have to move again for white to win, but it has to remain on the board for white to keep the opposition.

Feb-22-10  Marmot PFL: Keep telling them not to trade queens with Kramnik but they never listen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A very coy conclusion. White forces black to queen,then gathers up the lady in a fork. Black can knight the pawn,the the extra pawn wins for white.
Feb-22-10  Samagonka: I actually went for 56Nc4 and I'm yet to find out why does not fulfil the same purpose as Ng4...
Feb-22-10  wals: Black self-destructed on move 47...Bxc5 (+ 4.44)
Better was Nxc5 (+0.45)

It took a while to sink in that if pf1N, pe4-5 was an easy win.

Courtesy of Rybka 3 1-cpu: 3071mb hash:

Feb-22-10  dzechiel: <Phony Benoni: I'm surprised nobody has tried 56.Nc4: This threatens the same forking check on e3 as 56.Ng4, but since it doesn't attack the pawn Black can escape with 56...Kf3! Now 57.Ne5+ Ke2 changes the forking square to g3...>

After 56 Nc4 Kf3 57 Ne5+ Kxe4 and it looks like black will win.

Feb-22-10  turbo231: In the World Blitz Championship Alexandra Kosteniuk had the same position when she beat Judit Polgar. In the same tournament she also defeated Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Morozevich, and others to be named later.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Samagonka: I actually went for 56Nc4 and I'm yet to find out why does not fulfil the same purpose as Ng4...>

The key difference is that 56. Nc4 doesn't attack the black pawn on f2. So black has time to move his king to a square where it can't be checked and forked.

One way is 56...Kf3. As <dzechiel> has pointed out, 57. Ne5+ loses to 57...Kxe4. But if white tries some other move, such as 57. e5, black plays 57...Ke2

click for larger view

This stops the white knight from covering the f1 pawning square and black will queen first. And there's not a single fork trick in sight.

By contrast, 56. Ng4 forces black to do something about his attacked f2 pawn. He simply can't let white capture it eg. 56...Kf3 57. Nxf2

click for larger view

White wins. If black plays 57...Kxf2, the e pawn races up the board.

After 56. Nc4 I think black could also win with 56...Kf1 intending Ke2 and f1=Q.

Feb-22-10  TheaN: Monday 22 February 2010


Target: 0:40;000
Taken: 0:21;786

Material: White up, ♘+2♙ / 2♙ endgame

Candidates: <[Ng4]>

The reason this took so 'long' was because I thought it was familiar and obviously it is, I've seen this game before. Even then, the simple move here is:

<56.Ng4> truth be told, if White does nothing Black promotes so this move isn't so difficult to spot. Well, why CAN'T Black promote then?

<56....f1=Q 57.Ne3† > and after 58.Nxf1 the e-pawn starts walking. As the pawn is also attacked directly from g4 Black HAS to promote (56....=/ f1 57.Nxf2 ) and then it's obviously that there is only one piece that can prevent a Knight fork:

<56....f1=N> a Knight. However, this should still be winning.

<57.e5 Ng3 58.e6>

<58....Nf5> preventing 59.e7? Yeah, that's true.

<59.Ne3†! > not now it ain't and it ain't protecting against e8 anymore either.

<58....Nh5 59.e7 Ng7 60.Kd7 > wins, even though White should be consistent into winning the Black pawn first and then moving his a-pawn, before forcing e8=Q Nxe8. All in all, the Monday puzzle ended after 56.Ng4.

Feb-22-10  David2009: Monday 22/02/2010 puzzle Kramnik vs Van Wely, 2010 White 56?

56 Ng4! and if f1=N 57 e5 and this Pawn will win Black's N after which the ending should be an easy win. Alternatively, f1=Q 57 Ne3+ Kf3 58 Nxf1 Kxe4 59 Kb7 Kd4 60 Nd2 Kc3 61 Nb1+ Kb2 62 Kxa7 Kxb1 63 Kb7 1-0. In a tournament game the position is resignable after 56 Ng4: in Blitz you never know. Time to check:
All as expected. Time to enjoy the game and others' comments.

Feb-22-10  Cushion: Ng4 wins
Feb-22-10  David2009: POSTSCRIPT to Kramnik vs Van Wely, 2010: There is a nice finesse which I had missed. Play the ending out against Crafty using the link at the end: the win is there but you have to be alert. There is a quick win and a slow win. Enjoy finding them both!
Feb-22-10  WhiteRook48: 56 Ng4 duh!
Feb-22-10  msmith5: This took me a minute, but the key is white must keep black from queening his pawn. The knight is the only candidate that can stop this; and to do this, white must make two simultaneous threats:

1. To capture the passed pawn on the next move


2. To fork the king and queen should the pawn promote.

Ng4 is the only move that accomplises both of these goals.

Feb-22-10  msmith5: A trickier point to consider is whether underpromotion to a knight saves black. I don't think it does, because black can't save his a-pawn, and will have to give up the knight to get the e-pawn, after which white can win with the a-pawn and knight.

Though I haven't looked at all variations.

Feb-22-10  SufferingBruin: Swear to God, I was guarding against black's pawn move from a7 to a8.

Yes, I have been a bit tired lately. Why do you ask?

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