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Hikaru Nakamura vs Vladimir Kramnik
London Chess Classic (2016), London ENG, rd 5, Dec-13
Queen's Gambit Declined: Harrwitz Attack. Two Knights Defense Blockade Line (D37)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Afternoon: Kramnik made his life difficult with 28...f6?1, but salvaged the draw with a nice stalemate idea, 58...Nf7!
Dec-13-16  iking: what a save .. bravo!
Premium Chessgames Member
  transpose: Watching the game, I was struck by how both players played seemingly optimal moves--Nakamura applying pressure in the most advantageous way around the first time control, and Kramnik finding the toughest defense, culminating in the brilliant 54..Nh8 followed by Nf7. Nakamura was flabbergasted by the stalemate idea, but soon he could not hide a smile that acknowledged the beauty of Kramnik's maneuver. Well played, gentlemen. Well played indeed.
Dec-13-16  activechess55:

Naka's 7.c5 makes the game interesting. White plays 14.Ne5. Old-time dogma says,'control of key square, in such positions, is more important than occupation'. But,may be, chess hasn't remained dogmatic anymore.

Black had active pieces for the concession of space. Yeah, 28...f6 could be the source of trouble. But beautiful game, nevertheless! Bravo both players!

Dec-14-16  Ulhumbrus: The computer analysis suggests that 44 Qa3 can be answered with 44..Qe4. Nakamura has probably seen that 44 Qa3 can be answered by 44...Qe4. He waits for Black to play 44...Kg7 before playing 45 Qa3 so that 45...Qe4 can be answered with 46 Nxg5 and now Kramnik has to survive an ending a pawn down.
Dec-14-16  WorstPlayerEver: Yes! A Knight is stronger than two pawns! You just won't believe it but it's a draw.

By the way, if you put pawns on e6 and f5 only, thus without the other pawns, and start placing the Knight on different squares in Lobomotov 7 tablethingy, it doesn't matter where the Knight stands, it's a draw except if the Knight is on h7 (and d6/d7/g6 -obviously- and I excluded the a-c files).


A crucial position to study is -unfortunately only 7 pieces:

White: Kf6, c5, e6, f5
Black: Kf8, Nc7 (or Ne7), c6

White draws, Black wins.

Same position with the N on d8 (or h8):
White wins, Black draws.


-Ng7: White wins, Black wins.

-Nc8: White draws, Black draws.

-Ne8+ Black wins.
-Ng8+ draw.
-Nh7+ White wins.

Dec-14-16  WorstPlayerEver: Obviously you can do the same position with a Bishop. That's right!

Black DSB, White to move:

Ba1-h8+ (except e5) or
Bh4+ : Black wins.

Ba3/a7/b4/d8/e7/e3/f2/g1: draw.

Bb8-h2 or Bc1-h6 (except e3)
or Ba5/Be1: White wins.

Black DSB, Black to move:

Black wins (except Ba7/b6/b8/d6/d8/f4/h2: draw).


Black LSB, White to move:

White wins (except Bh3/Bg4=).

Black LSB, Black to move:

White wins (except Bd1-h5/Bf1-h3).

Speaking of a bad Bishop.

Dec-14-16  Eyal: The subtlety of both attacking and defensive play at the later stages of the game is very impressive.

click for larger view

With <41...Nc8>, Black "threatens" to transfer the knight to a more active position on b5 (hitting d4) via a7. Trying to prevent that with an immediate 42.Qa2 or Qa5 doesn't work because of 42...Qd3+. So Nakamura finds a way of gradually maneuvering the queen to a3 by creating a series of threats: <42.Qf2!> (the main threat is Qf6, forcing a winning knight endgame after the queen exchange - 42...Na7? 43.Qf6 Qxf6 [or 43...Nb5 44.Qh8+ Qh7 45.Qxh7+ Kxh7 46.Nxg5+] 44.exf6 Kg6 45.Nxg5 Kxf6 46.Nf3) <42...Kg7> (now after 42...Qd3+? 43.Kh2 the d4 pawn is defended and Black loses; 42...Qg7? is also no good because of 43.Qh2! and Black is in trouble - 43...Kg6 44.Nxg5!) <43.Qe3> (attacking g5) <43...Kh6 44.Qf3> (renewing the threat of Qf6) <44...Kg7 45.Qa3> and the queen has reached its destination.

click for larger view

And here <45...Qe4!!> may not be the only way to draw, but it's definitely the most forcing and allows Black to avoid going into a long passive defense. From this point up to the end nearly all of Black's moves are only moves (except for 57...Nd8 - 57...Ke8 with the same idea [58.e6 Kf8] is also ok) - including the two "strange" knight maneuvers on moves 54 & 58; so Kramnik had to pretty much calculate it all in advance if he wanted to be sure that 45...Qe4 works.

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