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Vladimir Kramnik vs Magnus Carlsen
Tata Steel Group A (2011), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 11, Jan-28
Catalan Opening: General (E00)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-28-11  The Chess Express: <perfidious> I would have preferred to maintain the tension as well.
Jan-28-11  Ulhumbrus: The conclusion of the ending suggests that Kramnik repeated the mistake of his game against Carlsen at London 2010: he evaluated the ending too optimistically.

Whereas at London 2010 Kramnik evaluated his ending against Carlsen as a more unbalanced win and an easier win than it was in fact, in the present game Kramnik evaluated wrongly the ending arising out of the opening as drawn for White whereas in fact it was won for Black.

Perhaps his mistake in his previous game against Carlsen had an effect on his play. To borrow the words of Bent Larsen (speaking of his win against Bronstein in his book of his games) some games are worth more than one point.

Jan-28-11  Kinghunt: Brilliant endgame play to bring home the full point. Very nicely played by Carlsen.
Jan-28-11  luzhin: Kramnik really had to swap two knights for R+P with 17.Ne5xf7-- 17.Qxa5 was not so good.Perhaps he saw too late that after 17...Qxd6 18.Rc6 Qb8 19.Nxd7? Carlsen has the devastating 19...Bb7! Of course if Carlsen had played 16...Bxe2?? then 17.Nc6 would win the Queen.
Jan-28-11  Kinghunt: An interesting line we could have seen is 72. Bd5 Kxh3 73. Ke2 Kxg4 74. Kxd2, leading to the following position:

click for larger view

We are in tablebase territory now, so it's possible to do definitive analysis which I think helps establish just how tricky it is to convert this. First of all, the position is in fact objectively won, but there are several only moves black would have to find.

First only move: <74...Kg3!> Okay, not that hard to find. But the tempting 74...h5?? fails to win. Only 74...Kg3 preserves the win.

So, you found and played 74...Kg3. White responds with <75. Ke3>. We have another only move here. Can you find it? The move is <75...h5!>.

White responds to 75...h5 with <76. Ke4>. And guess what? Yep, yet another only move. <76...h4!> is critical.

White meets 76...h4 with <77. Kf5>. Another only move: <77...h3!>.

White responds with 78. Kxf6. Only move <78...Kf4!.> And only from here is it relatively straightforward.

Jan-28-11  beenthere240: Great King tour by Carlsen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Sure looked like a draw. Only the white pawns being on its Bishop's color made a break through possible.
Jan-28-11  AuN1: if kramnik would have gotten his head out his and played his pawns to g4 and h5 the draw would have been much easier to preserve.
Premium Chessgames Member
  piltdown man: Magnificent Magnus is back in town!
Jan-28-11  polarmis: <AuN1>, don't agree with your phrasing, as ever, but yes, it does look as though pushing the pawn to h5 should be a simple draw - or at least that was Sergey Shipov's opinion. He's discussing that point in this video at about 27:52 - He thought 44. h3?! and then 45. g4? were terrible. His only explanation for Kramnik's play was that Kramnik was exhausted, though he also said that Carlsen played brilliantly and the game could go straight into an endgame textbook.
Jan-28-11  Creg: <Marmot PFL> You should look at the great Capablanca when it comes to natural endgame ability. However, with that said, Magnus is clearly on par with his endgame technique as well. I have to continuously remind myself that Magnus is only 20 years old!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: From page 101 of this thread: Tata Steel (2011)

<anandrulez: GM Nunn from official site : Carlsen was pleased with the win but said that Kramnik had to play very carelessly to lose this endgame. He pinpointed 59.Bb7 as the final error, because after 59...Kd2 White is in zugzwang. "If he had played 59. Bc8! I don't see how I can win. I would have had to bring my king back and play for ...d4, but I don't think it is enough. I have plenty of time to try, though." Earlier in the game, Carlsen described 16...b5 as "a trap. He missed that if 19.Nxd7 I have this very nice move 19...Bb7!!. Then after 22.Qxb5 he offered a draw, but I have played Kramnik often enough to know what that means - I must play on. "I was disappointed to see 24.Qe3 - I didn't see any way to win after that. But he really played the endgame carelessly. I think he could have played 44.Ke6 - after I get ...g5+ I at least have winning chances.">

Jan-29-11  Eyal: <He [Carlsen] pinpointed 59.Bb7 as the final error, because after 59...Kd2 White is in zugzwang. "If he had played 59. Bc8! I don't see how I can win.">

The point is that after 59...Kd2:

click for larger view

White has to keep his bishop on the long diagonal to keep attacking d5, otherwise ...Nd1 either wins the e3 pawn (similarly in case of 60.Kf2, when it comes with check) or achieves a passer that would cost White his bishop after 60.e4 d4. But after 60.Bc6 (or Ba8, for that matter) Ke1 he can't put the bishop on a6, to stop the invasion of the black king to f1.

However, if the bishop really must shuttle between a6 & c8 as long as the black king is within one move range from d2, it doesn’t look as if White could hold on much longer even after 59.Bc8 before Black induces the desirable zugzwang – e.g. 59....Kc1 60.Ba6 Kc2 61.Bc8 Kd1 62.Ba6 Ke1 and White has to remove the bishop from the a6-f1 diagonal and allow the invasion to f1.

Jan-29-11  acme: <Eyal> After 59. Bc8 Kc1 why can't white respond with 60. Kf2?

60. ...Nd1+ will no longer lead to loss of the e3 pawn because of Ke2.

Jan-29-11  Eyal: <acme: <Eyal> After 59. Bc8 Kc1 why can't white respond with 60. Kf2?

60. ...Nd1+ will no longer lead to loss of the e3 pawn because of Ke2.>

Yeah, but 60...Kd2! is again winning in such a case (the Nd1 threat becomes decisive)

Jan-29-11  polarmis: Amusing coincidence - when Carlsen beat Kramnik with Black in Wijk-aan-Zee 2008: Kramnik vs Carlsen, 2008

...Kramnik also made a simple tactical blunder by taking a poisoned a-pawn, and tried offering a draw in a bad position after Qb5!

Jan-29-11  arjunkakar: especially creditable after two uncharacetristic losses earlier in this tournament to much lower ranked players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: <Eyal: 59..K[d2-]c1 60..Kc2 61..Kd1 ... and White has to ...>

GMs move their Ks in elegant little triangles!!

(and their Kts in slightly bigger ones)

Jan-30-11  Ulhumbrus: Carlsen gives Kramnik's move 44 h3 (keeping Black's Knight out of g4) as an example of the way in which he says that Kramnik played the ending "really carelessly", saying that he could have played 44 Ke6.

This suggests the paradox that the "careful" move 44 h3 which keeps the Black Knight our of g4 is an example of careless play.

Jan-31-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: Magnus Carlsen Best Games
Jan-31-11  JamesT Kirk: 80.../f5(another Greek's gift).Simple and
Feb-04-11  Eyal: There's an (inevitable) analysis of this endgame by Karsten Mueller on chessbase ( - I see that he mentions the same triangulation maneuver that I pointed out in a previous post as forcing zugzwang and allowing the black king's invasion even after <59.Bc8> - <59...Kd2 60.Bb7 Kc1 61.Bc8 Kd1 62.Bf5 (62.Ba6 Ke1 Zugzwang 63.Bd3 Kd2 64.Ba6 Nd1 65.e4 d4 ) 62...Ke1 63.Be6 Kf1 64.Bg8 Kg1 65.Kg3 Ne4+ 66.Kf3>:

click for larger view

The position is similar to the one reached in the game after 64.Kf3, except that the bishop is on g8 rather than a8, and this way it's actually harder for Black to win - because 66...Nd2+ (as in the game) runs into 67.Ke2 Nc4 68.e4! (68.Bxd5 Ne5 69.Be4 Kh2 70.Kf2 Kxh3 71.Bf5 Kh4 is the idea that would have won in the game). But there's another, more intricate, way for Black to win after <66...Kh2 67.Bxd5 Nc3! Black must win a tempo. 68.Bc4 Nb1!! The point. The knight will either sacrifice itself on d2 or return with gain of time [etc.]>. Some brilliant stuff there.

So perhaps White's last chance to draw was 57.Bd3 Kb2 58.Kf2 Kc1 59.Ke1, not allowing the black king to invade.

Another nice sideline given by Mueller, toward the end: <79.Kxf6 (instead of 79.Ke4) Ne3 80.Be2 Nxg4+ 81.Kg6 h5 82.Bd1 Ne3 83.Bxh5 Ng4

click for larger view

White is in zugzwang. A tragicomical picture.>

Feb-07-11  splatty: A legitimate positional/endgame win against Kramnik with black demonstrates a level of class that very few players possess or are capable of. Great win.
Feb-26-11  Ulhumbrus: One sequence after 44 Ke6 ( instead of 44 h3) is 44...Ng4 45 Kf7 Nxh2 46 Kxg7 Ng4 47 Be6 Nxe3 48 Kxh6 Nf1 49 Kg7 Nxg3 50 Kxf6 with a draw
Aug-23-11  splatty: Amazing game from Carlsen, seemingly easily getting a clear advantage and potential win against Kramnik straight out of the opening with black in a fairly quiet standard looking Slav position. The sequence 16..b5, 17.Qxa5 Qxd6 18.Rc6 Qb8 19.Rxa6 Rxa6 20.Qxa6 Nxe5 21.dxe5 Qxe5 22.Qxb5 Rb8! (the point as far as I can tell) 23.Qd3 Rxb2 looks like an incredibly deep sequence of trades by Carlsen who saw further than Kramnik.
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