Vladimir Kramnik - Viswanathan Anand

Round 1
WCC 2008


Note: The live comment by Chessdom for this event in fact would be with some delay - a requirement for all game translations by the organizers of the match. For a live broadcast go to the official site. Every match for the title of World Champion is a tough test for the contenders. The preparation involves a lot of analytical work with a helped by the seconds - and both opponents have impressive list of such - for several months, as well as improving in psychological and physical aspect. Such event may turn very nerve-consuming as we've seen during the Kramnik-Topalov match. Both contenders were recently focused only on this encounter. The Russian was preparing without playing much, while Anand was far from his usual results, apparently saving his energy for defending the title. With such short distance every inaccuracy may prove decisive in the long run, so we may expect an uncompromising battle with both opponents very focused over each move.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 Anand's choice of the Slav Defence is no surprise - it is his main weapon as Black for many years.

3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 Well, that is a surprise. The drawing tendency of the Exchange line makes it less preferable at top level, as it minimizes the chances to make good use of the White pieces.

4... cxd5 5.Bf4 Nc6 6.e3 ( is a popular choice but the Indian's first task is to neutralize the opening pressure - drawing as Black is a good thing in match fight.)

6... Bf5 7.Nf3 e6 8.Qb3 (8.Bb5 is more common. The game move usually leads to complete equality.)

8... Bb4 9.Bb5 O-O 10.Bxc6 Bxc3+ 11.Qxc3 Rc8 12.Ne5 Ng4 (12... Ne4 13.Qa3 bxc6 may lead to some problems for Black due to the inferior pawn structure. Anand prefers to maintain the symmetry.)

13.Nxg4 Bxg4 14.Qb4 ( Going for the 'a7' pawn is risky - 14.Qa3 Rxc6 15.Qxa7 Qe7 16.O-O Rfc8 and White experiences difficulties.)

14... Rxc6 (14... bxc6 15.Bd6 would lead to obvious difference in the Bishop activity. The pawn sacrifice offered by Black involves no risk, as the piece activity and the opposite colored Bishops level the chances.)

15.Qxb7 Else Anand would control the 'c' file just for free. (15.Qxb7 Qc8 (15... Qa5+ 16.b4 Qa4 17.O-O Be2 18.Rfe1 Ba6 19.Qe7 Rfc8 comes to mind as well) 16.Qxc8 Rfxc8 17.O-O Be2 seems completely equal.)

15... Qc8 16.Qxc8 (16.Qb3 is met by 16... Qa6 ( not by 16... Rc1+ 17.Kd2))

16... Rfxc8 17.O-O a5 Black has full compensation due to his active Rooks and a variety of possible plans. Anand decides to prevent b2-b4 before anything else. A kingside expansion by f7-f6 or Bishop transfer via 'e2' comes to mind as follow up. Or just Rc2.

18.f3 Bf5 19.Rfe1 Bg6 ( The dangers of letting White create a passed pawn are well illustrated by the line 19... Rc2 20.e4 dxe4 21.fxe4 Bg6 22.d5 R8c4 23.Rad1 Kf8 24.d6 Ke8 25.d7+ Kd8 26.Bg5+ f6 27.Rf1 Bxe4 28.Rxf6)

20.b3 ( Deprives Black Rooks of the 'c4' square. 20.e4 dxe4 21.fxe4 Rc4)

20... f6 21.e4 The only reasonable attempt to try for some advantage in this position.

21... dxe4 22.fxe4 Rd8 ( There was nothing wrong with 22... Rc2 planning doubling the Rooks on the 2nd rank and if 23.d5 e5 leaving the 'e4' pawn vulnerable.)

23.Rad1 Rc2 24.e5 Else e6-e5 was possible with mass exchanges resulting in a dead draw.

24... fxe5 25.Bxe5 Rxa2 Kramnik got an active Bishop but Anand recaptured the sacrificed pawn.

26.Ra1 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rd5 A draw agreement could be expected briefly.

28.Rc1 Rd7 29.Rc5 Ra7 30.Rc7 Rxc7 31.Bxc7 Bc2 32.Bxa5 Bxb3 Draw agreed. Kramnik played cautiously this game - or maybe had something prepared in the 6...a6 line - and didn't pose any real problems to Anand, so the game logically concluded in a draw as could be predicted by move 16. 1/2