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Vladimir Kramnik vs Peter Leko
Dortmund Sparkassen (2012), Dortmund GER, rd 7, Jul-20
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E01)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: What's frustrating for the superior side is that there are numerous "help-mate" scenarios, but if the defender has even a little time to think he won't just walk into checkmate for you. So you feel like you want to play on, even though it's futile.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Here's another win: Carlsen vs E L'Ami, 2011
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Here's a link to a slightly more up-to-speed live feed:
Jul-20-12  Marmot PFL: A player of Leko's ability would never lose this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: The official site says that the game was drawn by repetition after more 116. What gives?
Jul-20-12  PinnedPiece: What a way for Kramnik to get his avg moves per game back to a respectable level.


Jul-20-12  master of defence: It´s a draw. Nobody can disagree.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: This ending doesn't have the reputation for tricky defense that ♖+♗ v ♖ has, but I guess Kramnik is a stubborn son'gun.
Jul-20-12  messachess: Well, this is a draw, but players of this caliber will never get a better opportunity (over the board anyway) to study this ending. What else are they there for?
Jul-20-12  master of defence: 131...Rb8
Premium Chessgames Member <Gregor Samsa Mendel: The official site says that the game was drawn by repetition after more 116. What gives?> We think that was a glitch on the official site, perhaps triggered by an unclaimed repetition. We believe our score to be correct.

<All> See you tomorrow morning for the penultimate round at 9:15am USA/Eastern.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <CG> Thanks for the transmission of the game and the explanation.
Jul-20-12  Eyal: <abuzic: Kramnik missed many winning opportunities here: 80.Rd7 82.Rd7 84.Nxf4>

Indeed, in the position that arises after 79…Kb8 & 81…Kb8:

click for larger view

White has an elegant win with 82.Rd7! threatening Kb6 followed by Rd8#; in order to meet this threat, the black rook has to leave the 4th rank, dropping the bishop on f4. When Kramnik played 78.Kd5! & 79.Kc6 I thought he had all this figured out.

Also 80/82.Nxf4 Rxf4 leads to a won rook endgame after 83.Rh8+! Ka7 84.d5, though if you're not a tablebase it might not be so clear when you have little time left on the clock after something like seven hours of play (84.Nxf4 Rxf4 85.d5 should be winning as well).

And of course, there was the missed win at move 37:

click for larger view

The idea of 36...Bf6?? is that if White takes on b6 Black exchanges a pair of rooks, then the bishop for the knight, and draws the resulting rook endgame even though he's a pawn down. However, after 37.Rbxb6! Black can't exchange rooks, since 37...Rxb6 38.Ra8+ leads to mate, and he loses the e6 pawn as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <According to the chessgames endgame explorer : endgames are 91.1% draw.>

Funnily, it is also about the percentage of drawn RN vs R endgames among all RN vs R endgames in the tablebases. Same, BTW, holds for RB vs R (with the draw percentage being in both cases around 60%).

Jul-20-12  Jim Bartle: Nice catches on missed wins for Kramnik. But these occur after 80 moves or more; the players must be exhausted already.

Too bad there's just no way to have adjournments these days. A game like this would benefit from one (or more!), but computer analysis makes it impossible.

Jul-20-12  Everett: <Too bad there's just no way to have adjournments these days. A game like this would benefit from one (or more!)>

I respectfully disagree. OTB chess should begin and end over the board, and being able to do homework, with help from computers today or other GMs in the past adulterates the result.

If you can't find a win OTB I do not believe you should deserve it after studying the position without the clock ticking.

Jul-20-12  Jim Bartle: A reasonable opinion. And I certainly agree that adjournments are not feasible today due to computer analysis.
Jul-20-12  abuzic: Another strong continuation was on move 68.Ke4,

68.Ng5 threatening the e6 pawn; if 68...Bd6 then 69.Ra6.

After 68.Ke4 black had 68...Bb8!

click for larger view

Jul-21-12  visayanbraindoctor: <Eyal> I was watching the game live. The mating attack 82.Rd7! could have been difficult to see in time pressure.

At first I thought that when Kramnik played 78.Kd5! he was planning on driving the Black King to the side of the board with checks, and exchange his knight for the bishop, simplifying to what seemed to me a rook ending wherein he could transpose easily into a winning Lucena position. Even in time shortage, this looked like a completely reasonable plan; even if the tactical backrank mating threat was not available. Sure there was Leko's h-pawn, but it was not far advanced and visually it looked as though White could just ignore it.

So I was rather surprised when Kramnik allowed Leko to retain his bishop. Perhaps it was psychological. Previously Kramnik had to retain his knight and reached this winning endgame only when he found a way to eat the Black b-pawn without exchanging off his knight for the bishop. Now, called to exchange his valiant steed for the bishop, he fails to do so.

Leko must be highly pleased with his tenacious defense but I can imagine Kramnik kicking his hotel furniture over so many missed wins (",).

Kramnik need not be so frustrated though. The way he converted what I thought was surely a drawn endgame into a winning one (even if the time pressured Leko had to cooperate a little) was quite amazing IMO.

Jul-21-12  niemzo: Another win was 94.d6! with a winning endgame according to the tablebases.
Jul-21-12  Eyal: <Kramnik missing a win in a technical endgame is like finding out Santa isn't real.> (
Jul-21-12  Everett: <Eyal> that's a funny quote, but the game reminds me of the Karpov: Endgame Virtuoso book by Tibor Karolyi, where time and again Karpov would spring a mating net in the middle of a technical endgame. I think one of the disastrous Larsen-Fischer games ended that way as well: Larsen was thinking "technical" and Fischer just mated him.
Jul-21-12  KingV93: surprised Kramnik didn't convert this into a point. I see from the kibitzing that he could have, great analysis here.
Nov-30-12  Whitehat1963: Why not 79. Nxf4? Doesn't that pick up black's h-pawn?
Nov-30-12  shivasuri4: <Whitehat1963>, it's a tablebase draw after 79.Nxf4 Rxf4 80.Rxh5.
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