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Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Vladimir Kramnik
Russian Championship Superfinal (2013), Nizhny Novgorod RUS, rd 9, Oct-14
English Opening: Symmetrical. Four Knights Variation (A35)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Too deep to really understand. White's pawns looked horrible after 20 moves, but he won with it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <HMM>: As noted by <csmath> elsewhere, White was clearly worse throughout this ending and fortunate to obtain even half a point.
Oct-14-13  Ulhumbrus: 7 h4? begins an attack in a position where White can hardly claim any advantage at all, let alone enough to justify an attack on the h file. This attack is unsound and can be forecast to fail.

An alternative to 9...N5b4 is 9...Nb6

10 Kf1 accepts the disconnection of White's rooks. This suggests that it is time for Black to connect his rooks as quickly as possible eg by 10...Qd7

Is 11...Qa5 necessary? Three alternativea are 11...Qd7, 11...Bd7 and even 11...a6

An alternative to 20...Bc6 is 20....0-0-0 eg 21 Rc4 b5 chasing the rook away or 21 Ne2 Be6 keeping the rook out of the square c4

49...Nd4 allows White's bishop to escape. Instead of this 49...Nxf4+ removes the bishop and White seems to lose at least one or two pawns in a perhaps hopeless rook and pawn ending

It seems that Kramnik had the advantage for most of the game until he finally allowed White's h6 pawn to become a decisive weapon.

Oct-14-13  fisayo123: <perfidious> I think it is a great exaggeration to say white was clearly lost. The endgame was roughly equal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Seems like vk should have eliminated the pesky h pawn first, then concentrated on the rest of the board. The weak h pawn later drew away too much of black's resources.
Oct-14-13  hugogomes: 47...Kxh6 looks good to me, but these players always see too many moves ahead, maybe he saw a ghost!
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  offramp: Kramnik deserved a win. I can see why he was so annoyed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: old story. should have, would have and could have don't win chess games. Good moves do. The position was unclear. Nepo saw through the complications better. It is what it is, 1-0.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <fisayo123: I think it is a great exaggeration to say white was clearly lost....>

There is a difference between being clearly worse and having a lost position; moreover, I did not write that White was 'clearly lost'.

Oct-14-13  Jim Bartle: Good stuff on the tournament page:

acgneves: <Kramnik didnt blunder his 69. ..b5, he bluffed, and thats a huge difference.. he needed to win, tried to squeeze it out of nothing but it didnt work out... that can explain his bad mood after the game Kudos to Svidler>

csmath: < I do not think he bluffed and I do not think he blundered.

I think he made an error that many would have made. It was unfortunate error and it was decisive. To call that a blunder would be to assume it was obvious. It was certainly not obvious to me at all. It only become obvious in analysis. Therefore that is not a blunder.>

Oct-15-13  csmath: 8. ...Bf5!

[This natural move is improvement over Ding Liren-MVL game from Biel this year. Kramnik is on top of recent theory.]

10. ...Kf1!

[And so is Nepo.]

11. ...Qa5

[Black could repeat 11....Bd7, 12. Qb3 Be6 but Kramnik has no intention of drawing the game.]

15. Rb1

[Natural move. 15. d3 seems inviting Rc8 and c4 and given the weakness in development of white pieces he is not ready for that.]

16. ...f5!

[Aggressive "Kramnik-style" as of lately.]

17. Nxc5?

[17. Ng5 Bf6, 18. d3 is natural and better as it is in the interest to block f7 square for black king. Black surely does not want to exchange his powerful dragon for that knight.]

36. ...e6!

[Black is better. Kramnik keeps tension though 36. ...Rxd3, 37. b5 axb5, 38. axb5 Na7, 39. Re5 e6, 40. Rc5 Rd7, 41. Ba5! Rd5, 42. Rd7 Rd5! 43. Rc7+ Kg6, 44. Re7 e5, 45. Bxe5 Kxh6, 46. d3 Rxd3, 47. Rxb7 Rd5, 48. f4 reduces game to a draw by "stalemate" of black king since black has no other way to protect h-pawn.]

40. Re1

[White goes into fishing since there is nothing good to wait for on the kingside. This is the best practical chance.]

43. ...Nd8!

[43. ...Nd4 was not better, as in 44. Bxd4 Rxd4, 45. Rb3 Kxh6, 46. Rc3! Rd5, 47. b6 looks drawish.]

44. f3

[This is simply attempt to complicate the difficult game for white and thus warranted.]

46. ...e4

[46. ...Rxg3, 47. Bxe5 Rg4, 48. d4! Nf7, 49. Bg7 Nxh6, 50. Bxh6 Kxh6, 51. Rd1 Kg5, 52. d5 Re4+, 53. Kf3 Re7, 54. b6! Rd7, 55. Ke3 h5, 56. Rc1! draws.]

47. ...Ne6?

[47. ...Kxh6 is needed, leaving this pawn will spell the doom for black.]

49. ...Nd4?!

[49. ...Nxf4, 50. gxf4 Rxf4 51. Rc1 most probably draws but it was still the best chance. Kramnik wants more.]

53. Rc1!

[Now it is a draw.]

54. Rc8

[54. Be3 draws as well.]

In the next <excursion of black king to h3> Kramnik loses compass and sense of danger. What he creates is an ending difficult to play for black all for the search of win which is not any more there.

69. ...b5?

[Infamous move that loses the game. 69. ...Ng4 and 70. ...Rd3 should be a draw although it is not so simple. Black should be able to eliminate all the white pawns and give a knight for black h-pawn.]

71. ...Nf7?!

[loses faster but 71. ...Rd5, 72. Rxh7 b3, 73. Rb7 Ng6, 74. Be3 Rd8, 75. Rxb3 Kxg3, 76. Bb6+ Rd3, 77. Rxd3 bxd3, 78. Kxd3 Nf8, 79. Bc5 Nh7, 80. Kd4 Kf4, 81. Be7! Kg4, 82. Ke3! f4, 83. Kf2 Kf5, 84. Kf3 Kg6, 85. Kxf4 Kxh6, 86. d4 Kg7, 87. Ke5 Kf7, 88. Kd6 is hopelessly lost.]

Excellent game by Kramnik for 46 moves.

After that in his desire to win the game he started playing without a sense of danger, in particular gambling from move 64 to 68 getting himself into a difficult ending to play for black.

And surely enough he made immediate decisive error on move 69 that loses the game. Sometimes a draw is a draw and one has to take it.

This is one fine example of ending play, impressive play by Nepo in a difficult position, looking for best practical chances and turning the tables on his eager opponent when he lost the sense of danger.

Oct-15-13  tivrfoa: kramnik tried to win, then lost. could have draw for repetition.
May-04-15  cplyakap: 77..Ra7?? is shocking.

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