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Vladimir Kramnik vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
"Two Ladies" (game of the day Jan-22-2012)
15th Unive (Crown Group) (2011), Hoogeveen NED, rd 5, Oct-21
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. King's Indian Formation (A15)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Just ask David Bronstein.
Oct-21-11  Kaspablanca: Great game but do you think this game can make it to the Kramnik`s notable games?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ajk68: Can someone explain 26...Rd4...?
Oct-21-11  bronkenstein: <Can someone explain 26...Rd4...?> According to Houdini ( - Rough blunder , according to MVL most likely an attempt to take the initiative.
Oct-22-11  Mr. Bojangles: <visayanbraindoctor: Kramnik has been sacrificing non-stop in this tournament. The exchange against Giri, a pawn against Polgar, another pawn against MVL in their first game, and now still another pawn against MVL just now....>

VBD, excellent analysis and write up. U should be a writer.

Oct-22-11  strifeknot: Tenacious and deep play from both players.
Oct-22-11  visayanbraindoctor: Thank you <Mr. Bojangles>.
Oct-22-11  visayanbraindoctor: <bronkenstein: <Can someone explain 26...Rd4...?>>

click for larger view

This move challenges the white rook on the d-file and forces it to leave if it is not accepted. After it leaves, Black dominates the center and has the threat of Rxe4 followed by Nf6 hanging in White's hair. It has to be accepted for White to retain any winning chances.

Notice that the e5 square at this point is occupied and blocked by a black pawn and that the bishop on g7 is biting this pawn's concrete ass.

When Kramnik accepts the sacrifice 27. Bxd4 exd4

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suddenly the e5 square is vacated for MVL's Knight, and a1-h8 diagonal is half-opened for his b7 Bishop. Potential pressure on Kramnik's b2 pawn is on the air. Black's pawn on d4 is also in a more powerful square.

From a human point of view, MVL has made a brilliant positional sacrifice which should have worked if not for the idiosyncrasies of the position. Kramnik survives by exploiting these idiosyncrasies. For instance, at this point he has also been threatening h4 before MVL's sac, and he just proceeds with it. This game is a relatively rare case of both players simultaneously attacking each other, on the same side of the board.

In the ensuing play (28. h4 Ne5 29. hxg5 Bg4 30. Qh4 Qxe2 31. Rxd4 Nf3+ 32. Bxf3 Bxf3 33. Rd8+ Kh7 34. Nd2) MVL does occupy the e5 square for his Knight, to seriously threaten White's King via the white holes around it. Kramnik is now in darkened minefield, but he never treads off the golden bricks, until the usual pre time control time pressure causes him to make two consecutive errors that dissipate his growing advantage.

For instance, in this position

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with 3 Black pieces attacking his King, Kramnik chose the best move 31. Rxd4 eliminating Black's strong pawn in the center, the only way he could maintain winning chances, but before he could do this, he had to figure out everything that could happen after 31... Qe1+

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32. Kh2 Nf3+ 33. Bxf3 Bxf3 is forced.

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Black is threatening mate in one! Kramnik had to evaluate this position in his mind's eye and see very tough to find variations such as 34. Rd8+ Kh7 35. g6+ Kxg6 36. Rd6+ Kh7 37. Ng5+

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soon to be followed by Nxf3 exchanging Black's attacking Bishop, which barely saves his own King from mate. He is able to do this by exploiting his own attacking threats around the Black King in a series of checks in order to exchange off Black's attacking pieces.

Oct-22-11  visayanbraindoctor: Another crucial juncture is at 41. Qg8+ Kh6

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Time control has been reached. With time to think, Kramnik declind to take the easy perpetual, and instead went for 42. Rxc6 Qxc6. This exchange sac halts Black's attack, but leaves Black with a passed pawn on b3 just two steps away from Queening!

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Kramnik took a big risk here, but he evaluated that the threats posed by his own attacking Queen and Knight tandem (a very effective duo) would be enough to compensate for this pawn. He ended up winning this pawn in the ensuing complications.

Oct-22-11  visayanbraindoctor: This game reminds me of Capablanca vs Marshall, 1909 and Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909.

The fantastical beauty of such games lies in the harmonious play of the pieces both involved in simultaneous attacks on the hostile King. In both cases there is also a threatened mating attack that is staved off by a series of attacking threats by the defender which works when a crucial attacking piece is exchanged off.

It's too bad the 'perfection' of this game was badly marred by Kramnik's pre-time control errors. On the other hand, these errors allowed an awesome end game to ensue.

This game can be likened to a symphony with 4 movements.

First movement is the opening and to early middle-game transition:

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qa4+ Bd7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 a6 7. d4 b5 8. Qd3 Bg7 9. g3 b4 10. Ne4 Nxe4 11. Qxe4 Bc6 12. Qf4 O-O 13. Bg2 Qd6 14. O-O Nd7 15. Qh4

Second movement is the middle-game ballet:

e5 16. d5 Qxd5 17. Be3 Qb5 18. Rac1 Bd5 19. Rxc7 Rac8 20. Ng5 h6 21. Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Ne4 g5 23. Qh3 Be6 24. Qh5 Rc4 25. Rd1 b3 26. a3 Rd4 27. Bxd4 exd4 28. h4 Ne5 29. hxg5 Bg4 30. Qh4 Qxe2 31. Rxd4 Nf3+ 32. Bxf3 Bxf3 33. Rd8+ Kh7 34. Nd2 Bc6 35. gxh6 Bxb2 36. Qg5 Qd1+ 37. Nf1 Qf3 38. Qg8+ Kxh6 39. Rd6+ Bf6 40. Qh8+ Kg5 41. Qg8+ Kh6

Third movement is the risky late middle-game and transition to the end-game:

42. Rxc6 Qxc6 43. Ne3 Qf3 44. Ng4+ Kh5 45. Nh2 Qd1+ 46. Kg2 Qd5+ 47. Kh3 Qe6+ 48. Ng4 Bg5 49. f3 Qf5 50. Qh8+ Kg6 51. Qg8+ Kh5 52. Qg7 Be3 53. Qc3 Qe6 54. Qg7 Bh6 55. Qh8 f5 56. Nxh6 Qxh6 57. Qg8 Qd6 58. Qxb3

Fourth movement is the difficult open Queen end-game:

Kg6 59. Qg8+ Kf6 60. Qh8+ Kg6 61. Qg8+ Kf6 62. f4 Qd3 63. Qf8+ Kg6 64. Kh4 Qd5 65. Qe8+ Kf6 66. Qh8+ Kg6 67. Qh5+ Kg7 68. g4 Qh1+ 69. Kg5 Qc6 70. gxf5 Qg2+ 71. Qg4 Qb2 72. Qf3 Qf6+ 73. Kg4 Qb6 74. Qc3+ Kf7 75. Qe1 Qd4 76. Qe6+ Kf8 77. Qc8+ Kf7 78. Qe6+ Kf8 79. f6 Qg1+ 80. Kf5 Qc5+ 81. Qe5 Qc2+ 82. Kg5 Qg2+ 83. Kh6 Qh2+ 84. Kg6 Qc2+ 85. Qf5 Qc3 86. Qd5 Qc2+ 87. f5 1-0

There was no easy stretch in this game at all. At all times one or both players were balancing on the high wire.

From this game, we can predict that MVL is going to be a future Candidate and possibly even a Challenger. He is going to be one of the young GMs who will probably become Carlsen's stiffest competitors for the Title in the future after the Anand era.

Oct-22-11  Karpova: It should be noted that going into the Q+P endgame, Kramnik had 3 min left while MVL had about 20 min left.
Oct-22-11  bronkenstein: <visayanbraindoctor> , you should get payed for this.

PS small tip, or recommendation for future literary attempts , the number of textlines used multiplied by the number of readers is approximately constant ;)

Oct-22-11  coolchess1: Kramnik's technique is superb and his play is so fluid.

One the greatest players of all time.

Oct-22-11  coolchess1: VBD - You are a legend of Your comments are always worth reading. Thank you.
Oct-22-11  superstoned: <VBD>, <bronkenstein> but the more diagrams you use ... more pictures=more readers.

VBD you should start writing for Mig Greengard, quick before everyone stops going to the Daily Dirt

Oct-25-11  ounos: What an intense game. Hats off. Great effort by Maxime.

I so much wish though he had played the nerve racking, quiet super slow 55. ...a5. Just an extra test to Kramnik's patience.

Oct-27-11  Hesam7: <As for the second game against Vachier-Lagrave… It was simply that it ended up being an interesting position! Of course, there were many occasions when I could have repeated moves and forced a draw, but I realised that I’d been winning before the time control and had just lacked a little time to fully calculate everything. At a glance it seemed as though there should be some mate in the position after the time control. There were a million checks, but it turned out there wasn’t a win, and it was somehow annoying to make a draw. Therefore I kept trying to “squeeze out” something, to maintain the tension, and Maxime didn’t withstand it and went wrong.

click for larger view

Of course he could have drawn, but it wasn’t so simple, it wasn’t trivial. The computer defends easily, but in human terms it’s hard to play with a bare king which is always threatened by mates. Therefore I think my win was fair, especially as I could have won before the control – and I’d seen how. The simplest way was to play 35.Qc4 instead of 35.gxh6. I was planning to do that, but then I decided that 35.gxh6 wins even more quickly, and I spoilt things a little. Overall it was a very interesting game, incident-packed; it took a lot of energy. I think that was the most interesting game I played there.> -- Kramnik


Jan-22-12  LoveThatJoker: <<visayanbraindoctor> This game is an unreal and fantastic epic.>

I couldn't agree more: What a fantastic game!

"Edge of your seat excitement" for sure.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: And from an equal position, Kramnik brings home the full point.
Jan-22-12  tmcconnell: Why can't black play 43. ... b2?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 44 Nf5+ Kh5 45 g4 mate
Jan-22-12  Albion 1959: What a game !! It just shows how hard it is for one top rated grandmaster to overcome another one. Objectively the sacrifce on move 42 is Kramnik's best chance, because the bishop pair are powerful and easily make up for any material deficit. Even then it is still not a certain win for Kramnik, but what a game to look at:
Jan-22-12  Funicular: When a GM moves his queen several times in the opening, breaking one of the most well known and taught basic principles, you know you're in for a treat.

By the way, just how many times did white's queen move?

Crazy game.

Jan-23-12  kevin86: I know this for sure-that queen and pawn endings require a lot of finesse and patience (like most queens do-lol)
Aug-30-12  Blunderdome: Yeah.
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