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Vladimir Kramnik vs Nikita Vitiugov
Alekhine Memorial (2013), Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS, rd 1, Apr-21
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-21-13  fisayo123: Nikita has been playing well recently but black against Kramnik is probably the hardest game in chess. I must say Kramnik's play in this game is unbelievably 29.Rd7! .Nikita was playing well until he blundered with 41...Qe6 which loses tempi after white simply attacks the pawn. Nice game.
Apr-21-13  suenteus po 147: Watching the live feed, I was expecting 45.Nd5 and almost fell over when Kramnik played 45.b5! Of course in the ensuing moves I saw how quickly and elegantly it forced a win. Really great and instructive play here throughout.
Apr-21-13  Marmot PFL: The Bc7 always looked misplaced. I think 8...Be7 is good then Re8, Bf8 (where it can defend the b4, c5 squares) Qc7 and so on.
Apr-21-13  Mudphudder: Love Kramnik's style...he always manages to magically get a pawn to the endzone!
Apr-21-13  Beholder: <Kramnik's passed pawns always pass>, as the saying goes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: An interesting case of a knight pair being superior to a bishop pair, and then a knight superior to a bishop.

Kramnik mentioned in his comments after the game 33...f6 as a point where he feels Black started seriously slipping, by allowing Qd6 - he suggested 33...Qc7 instead. (According to the computer, Black's decisive mistake may have come only on move 41, but by then it's indeed very difficult to hold from a practical viewpoint.)

He also mentioned that after 47.a6:

click for larger view

he was somewhat worried about 47...Qa3 (instead of Qb4) as giving Black some counterplay which made it difficult to see a clear win - 48.a7 Kh7 (so that Qb8 doesn't come with check) 49.Nc2 Qa2 and now 50.Qb8 is met by 50...Qb1! and White has to bring the queen back to b6, since 51.a8Q allows perpetual check with 51...Qg1+. He started giving some rather complicated lines, but the computer shows a very simple and elegant win by 50.Qg1! - keeping an eye on the a7 pawn while preparing Qa1.

Apr-21-13  Everett: The KIA is back, played by the very best players at the top. Simply amazing.
Apr-21-13  kia0708: <The KIA is back> yes, I'm back and I'm also happy that 2.800+ players play KIA.
Apr-22-13  paavoh: @Mudphudder, Beholder: Yes, his ability to make his pawns run is amazing, isn't it? It is like setting a play for a running back ... and a touchdown!
Premium Chessgames Member
  simaginbg4: I was wondering about 27Rd8, which would seem to have been the point of 26...b6. Evidently it was not played because of 28 Rxd8+ Bxd8 29 Qd6 Qxd6 30 Nxd6 Bxh4 31 gxh4 and thanks to the bad bishop, Black is defenseless against Nc8 winning a pawn. However, "defenseless" is not the end of the story! 31Kf8 32 Nc8 Ke8 33 Nxa7 Kd7 Whites knight is in trouble. 34 b4 f6 35 b5 He has to play this sooner or later, else K-c7-b7, and I dont see anything else useful he can do in the meantime; for instance 35 c4 Bf8 just makes things worse. So the b-pawn advances and then 35cxb5 either 36 axb5 Kd6 and Blacks king walks into Whites position; or 36 Nxb5 Kc6 (36Be8!?) 37 Kf2 Kc5 again White is in difficulty, eg 38 c3 (to prevent Kb4) Be8 etc.
Apr-22-13  Nerwal: Kramnik made the interesting point that black tried to avoid the "weakening" move b6 for quite a while (move 21-25), but got nothing but trouble for it.
Apr-22-13  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 27...a6, 27...Rd8 contests the d file without delay. On 28 Qd2 Rxd3 29 Qxd3 f6 30 Nxg6 hxg6 Black may end up with the better ending if he can exchange queens on the d file
Apr-24-13  Al2009: After 16.f3, it seems a bad strategy mistake 16...Nxg2?, exchanging a good Knight for a bad Bg2.

Much better was the maneuver 16...Ne6! 17. Rd1 Nd4! 18. Nxd4 exd4 19. Bxd4 Nd5! with a good game and advantage for Black, and just for a little pawn sac.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Damn, I thought 45. Nd5 Qd7 46. Ne7+ Kh7 47. Nxc6 had to be a win. But Kramnik's line wins faster.
Apr-05-14  Dr. J: <Eyal: (After 47.a6) 47...Qa3 (instead of Qb4) 48.a7 Kh7 49.Nc2 Qa2 50.Qg1! - keeping an eye on the a7 pawn while preparing Qa1.>

Amazing long-distance play, in all 4 corners of the board, in this variation!

Apr-05-14  waustad: <al_wazir>That's the road I went down too.
Apr-05-14  morfishine: <45.Nd5> looks winning; 46.Ne7+ forking the Queen severely limits Black's options since either the Queen or King must move; For example, 45.Nd5 Qd7? 46.Qxc6 Qxc6 47.Ne7+

or 45.Nd5 Kf7 46.Qe7+ Kg8 47.Qxf6 cxd5 (or 47...Qe8 48.Ne7+ winning a piece 48.Qxg6 d4 49.Qd6

PM: Wonderful play by Kramnik taking advantage of the pin in another and better way


Apr-05-14  Marmot PFL: remembered seeing the game, and the 45 b5 breakthrough.

The neat thing is that 45 Nd5 may not even win, as after c6 falls the b5 pawn is backward and the black king soon arrives.

Apr-05-14  patzer2: <morfishine: <45.Nd5> looks winning...> I thought so too. However after plugging 45. Nd5 into the computer, Frtiz 12 found a strong defense for Black in 45...Qd7! (diagram below)

click for larger view

Here White wins a pawn with the Knight Fork combo 46. Qxc6 Qxc6 47. Ne7+ Kf8 48. Nxc6 (diagram below),

click for larger view

but leaves White a very difficult end game with unclear chances after 48...Be8 49. Nd8 Ke7 50. Nb7 Bb5 51. Nc5 Kd6 52. g5! (position below).

click for larger view

P.S.: Better hardware and software than mine might find a win for 45. Nd5, but Kramnik's stronger 45. b5! is a clear win which is far easier to calculate.

Apr-05-14  diagonalley: ... OTB i would have surely gone for the obvious 45. N-Q5 (with thoughts of increasing the pressure on the black position)... but then again... i'm no kramnik ... (not even 1% of a kramnik!)
Apr-05-14  JohnBoy: I'm right there with <suenteus po> & <al wazir>.
Apr-05-14  morfishine: <patzer2> Yes, thats the continuation I had: 45.Nd5 Qd7 46.Qxc6 winning a pawn but a difficult endgame ahead
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I was thinking of 45.Nd5 Qe8? 46.Ne7+ Kh8 47.Nxg6 Qxg6 48.Qxc6, eventually having white up 2 pawns, but 45...Qe8 isn't forced (45...Qd7 probably better).
Apr-05-14  cunctatorg: A wonderful game, a very convincing victory: a game for the manuals indeed...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: I thought of 45.Nd5, like many others. It's probably quite a good move, but not quite good enough. I think it was Silman who wrote that one mark of a top GM is the ability to reject a plausible move and look for a stronger one -- as Kramnik does here.
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