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Maxim Matlakov vs Vladimir Kramnik
Qatar Masters (2015), Doha QAT, rd 5, Dec-24
Queen's Gambit Declined: Neo-Orthodox Variation. Main Line (D55)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: King's Power in action
Dec-24-15  Atking: Impressive!
Dec-24-15  maelith: Positional masterpiece by Kramnik.
Dec-25-15  Pulo y Gata: A masterpiece indeed!
Dec-25-15  fallen angel: why not 22.kf5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <fallen angel: why not 22.kf5?>

If 22.Nxf5 Rxf5 23.Bxf5 Ne2+.

Dec-25-15  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 22 Nc6? 22 Rxc3! Rxc3 23 Nxf5 threatens 24 Qxc3 as well as 24 Nxe7+ and on 23...Qb4?? 24 Qxg7 is mate. This suggests that 21...Nc3? does not equalize for Black and indeed in the position after 21 Qe5 White's queen and bishop are placed more actively thn their black counterparts. This suggests that Black had better play to defend.

After 26...Bc6 Black's bishop is placed well and perhaps it is time for White to settle for a draw. White will risk losing if he overrates his position and insists that he has still an advantage

52 Bxd5? is an error if we consider that in a queen and pawn ending the most important thing to have is a passed pawn

After 53...exd5 Svidler indicated that one plan for Black was to march his king to a3 in order to attack White's queen side. This is more or less what happens and Kramnik wins the ending.

Dec-27-15  OneArmedScissor: Kramnik is quite possibly the greatest pawn pusher in the past 20 years of chess, IMO. This is a great example of pushing a pawn to a win, which Kramnik seems to make these sorts of endings come out of nowhere with great effect.
Dec-27-15  RookFile: Well, it's a classic rule in queen and pawn endings that you can let material go if you can push a passed pawn like this. Lasker and Capa certainly knew about this, for example.
Dec-27-15  visayanbraindoctor: <Ulhumbrus: 52 Bxd5? is an error if we consider that in a queen and pawn ending the most important thing to have is a passed pawn>

Bingo! I doubt if GM Matlakov would have made that error if he had attended Botvinnik's school, which of course Kramnik did. Botvinnik must certainly have taught his students about this, Kramnik included.

This is another example of an endgame where a present-day active chess master apparently overlooks a basic endgame rule. Adjournment or no adjournment, I am under the impression that present day competitive chess players do not study endgames as much as past ones did.

<RookFile: Well, it's a classic rule in queen and pawn endings that you can let material go if you can push a passed pawn like this. Lasker and Capa certainly knew about this>

I can't quite recall a Lasker Queen endgame where he demonstrates this rule. It would be nice if you can provide links.

Capablanca certainly knew this rule and moreover demonstrates a profound understanding of when and when not to apply it.

See J Bernstein vs Capablanca, 1915

Capa purposefully creates a passed pawn but then refrains from pushing it too far prematurely so that it can act as cover for his King in order to avoid perpetual checks. The game above is one of the most profound Queen endings I have ever played through in the application of the passed pawn rule in Queen endings, demonstrating when to push the passed pawn and when to avoid doing so.

Lisitsin vs Capablanca, 1935

In the next game, Capablanca again demonstrates the passed pawn rule. Against one of the leading Soviet masters of that time, Capa conjures a win out of thin air by immediately creating a Kingside majority and consequently an outside passed pawn in a Queen ending, when his opponent allows him to. While he gives the impression of knowing exactly what to do Lisitsin at times does not seem to be aware of what is happening.

You might have forgotten that Alekhine knew about this rule too.

Keres vs Alekhine, 1936

In this little known endgame clash between giants, Alekhine purposefully pushes his Kingside majority in order to create a passed pawn, all the while never letting go of the initiative by harrying Keres' King, and avoiding perpetual checks. Paul the Great had to concede defeat in the end.

In brief, the general rules in winning Queen endings are: one, create a passed pawn; two, maintain the initiative; three, avoid perpetuals. Of course most Queen endings are still objectively drawish and do end in draws, but if one wants to win, following these rules is the way to optimize playing for a victory.

Kibitzers who ascribe to Watson's false speculation that these past World Champions could not play 'modern' chess should open their eyes. A danger of such a Watsonian attitude is that it promotes a trend to ignore such games as above, just because they were played pre WW2. We in the present certainly can learn a lot from such games.

Dec-28-15  RookFile: The idea is really old. Here is one of Morphy's opponent's using it:

G Neumann vs Paulsen, 1870

I can't think of a successful Lasker example, but he unsuccessfully tried to use this tactic to save him the last time he played Capa.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: I could imagine Capablanca winning an apparently dead drawn endgame like this against someone like Bogoljubov, or against most of Watson's present-day heroes. Compare this game Capablanca vs Botvinnik, 1936 and the comments by Botvinnik afterwards (quoted by user <laskereshevsky> probably from Botvinnik's memoir Achieving the Aim that I don't have with me). Against a lesser player than Botvinnik, and especially if Capa were 17 years younger, he probably would have won just like Kramnik did here.
Jan-21-16  5hrsolver: That's why Kramnik is ranked #2 right now.
Dec-26-16  nummerzwei: There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with 10.c6, a logical move which, however, hasn't been tried so far.
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