Vladimir Kramnik - Viswanathan Anand

Round 3
WCC 2008


Anand missed excellent winning chances in the previous game. Being a pawn up, he got himself into time trouble and agreed to draw having clear edge. For a chess player to be unable to win a even once in a dozen of games (the Indian finished last in Bilbao with a mix of losses and draws) is quite a psychological burden. This obviously influences him and should give Kramnik extra confidence. Will the Russian be able to exploit this today, having the White pieces? We'll soon see if he will go on being cautious or will try to convert his psychological advantage into something real.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 Once again Slav Defense.

3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 ( Avoiding the fashionable Moscow Variation 5.Bg5 h6)

5... Nbd7 6.Bd3 Kramnik enters the Meran line.

6... dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 The sharpest and most ancient plan. Lately other continuations (8... Bb7) (8... Bd6) (8... b4) enjoy more popularity.

9.e4 c5 10.e5 ( For a long time the Reinolds Attack - 10.d5 was considered quite dangerous, but the fashion is back to the classical 10.e5)

10... cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 Following the classics. (11... Nxe5) or (11... Ng4) are other well tested alternatives.

12.exf6 gxf6 13.O-O Qb6 14.Qe2 Bb7 Seems to be a novelty prepared for this match. (14... Ba6 is usually played, in order to protect the 'b5' pawn.)

15.Bxb5 Bd6 Anand is playing in blitz tempo. The 'd4' pawn may be protected by a manoeuvre as Rh8-g8-g4, weakening the long diagonal in case g2-g3 is provoked. ( Winning a pawn by 15... Bd6 16.Nxd4 is too risky: 16... Rg8 17.Nf3 Ke7 and White is too passive.) (15... Bd6 16.Rd1 may lead to great complications. Just an example: 16... Rg8 17.g3 Bxf3 (17... Rg4 18.Nd2 h5) (17... O-O-O) 18.Qxf3 Rd8 19.Qd3 Ke7 20.Qxd4 Nc5 (20... Bc5 21.Qxd7+) 21.Qc4 Bxg3 22.Rxd8 Bxf2+ 23.Kxf2 Nd3+ 24.Ke2 Rxd8 25.Be3 Qd6 26.Qh4)

16.Rd1 Rg8 17.g3 Rg4 Played instantly. There is more than 30 minutes gap on the clock. (17... Rg4 18.Nd2 lets Black perform a promising sacrifice 18... Ke7 ( besides the normal 18...h5) 19.Bxd7 (19.Qxg4 Qxb5 20.Ne4 Ne5) 19... Rag8 20.Bb5 Bxg3)

18.Bf4 Kramnik decides that it's vital to finish rapidly the development, even if it results in weakening of the pawn structure.

18... Bxf4 19.Nxd4 The Russian isn't content just to wait passively and is trying to take over the initiative. Clock readings: 0.44 1.45. Now it's Anand's turn to get deeper into the position. Obviously the analysis is over. (19.Rxd4 h5 (19... Kf8 20.Bxd7 Rd8 21.Rad1 Rxd7 22.Rxd7 Bxg3 23.hxg3 Rxg3+ 24.Kh2 Bxf3 deserves further analysis) 20.Rad1 Kf8 21.Rxf4 Rxa2 22.Bxd7 Rxb2 23.Nd2 Qd4 24.Qe3 Rb4 should be OK for Black.) (19.Nxd4 Rg6 seem as the safest way to proceed, and if 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Rxd7 Kf8 22.Rxh7 then 22... Rh6)

19... h5 ( Perhaps Anand didn't like the line 19... Rg6 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Rxd7 Kf8 22.Bd3 Rg5 (22... Be5) 23.Rxb7 Qxb7 24.Be4 Qb8 25.Bxa8 Qxa8 26.Qxe6)

20.Nxe6 ( In case of 20.Bxd7+ Kxd7 White has no way to exploit the position of the Black King)

20... fxe6 21.Rxd7 Kf8 22.Qd3 ( It seems to be the right moment for the Indian to sacrifice the piece back: 22.h4 Qd6+ 23.Rxd6 with probable draw.)

22... Rg7 Anand is in a fighting mood.

23.Rxg7 Kxg7 24.gxf4 Rd8 ( An important intermediate move. 24... Kh6 25.a4 Rg8+ 26.Kf1 Rg2 27.Qd2 Rxh2 28.Ra3 is advantageous for White.)

25.Qe2 (25.Qb3)

25... Kh6 26.Kf1 Rg8 Exploiting the fact that the Queen took away the 'e2' square from White King.

27.a4 (27.a4 Bg2+ 28.Ke1 Bh3 29.Rd1 (29.Ra3 Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Qd4+) 29... Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Rg2 31.Qe3 Rxf2+ 32.Be2 Rxe2+ seems quite unpleasant.)

27... Bg2+ 28.Ke1 Bh3 29.Ra3 (29.Ra3 Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Qd4+ 31.Kc2 Bf5+ 32.Kb3 Rc1 wins the Queen but White gets a strong passed pawn: 33.a5 Bc2+ 34.Qxc2 Rxc2 35.Kxc2 Qc5+ 36.Kb1 Qxb5 37.a6)

29... Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Qd4+ 31.Kc2 Bg4 32.f3 Bf5+ 33.Bd3 A blunder.

33... Bh3 (33... Bxd3+ 34.Rxd3 Qc4+ was winning outright.)

34.a5 Time trouble desperation.

34... Rg2 35.a6 Rxe2+ 36.Bxe2 Bf5+ 37.Kb3 Qe3+ 38.Ka2 Qxe2 39.a7 Qc4+ 40.Ka1 Qf1+ 41.Ka2 Bb1+ White resigned. Vishy took early the initiative in this game and forced Kramnik into a time trouble. This lead to the 25.Qe2 inaccuracy and subsequently to 33.Bd3?? when White was doomed. Good game by Anand and he takes the lead in the match. 0-1