Kramnik, Vladimir - Sasikiran, Krishnan

Round 3
Chess Olympiad 2008


1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.h3 Bf5 (8... Bh5 is played more often, but 9. g4 Bg6 transposes back to the game.)

9.g4 ( GM Ivan Sokolov preferred 9.Bb2 as introduction to queenside expansion with c5 and b4...)

9... Bg6 10.Ne5!? Specialty of IM Iweta Rajlich, who played this move on three occasions.

10... Nxe5 11.dxe5 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.f3 Bg6 14.cxd5 cxd5 ( Queens exchange after 14... Qxd5 was also playable, but in this case White King would be much safer in the center (d2) and White could quickly seize the c-file.)

15.a4 b4 16.e6!? Instead of completing the development, Kramnik tries a blockading pawn sacrifice that is common in some Caro-Kann lines. Should Black accept, he would experience serious problems with the locked Bf8 and Rh8.

16... Qd6! The best way to meet Kramnik's exhibition. The Queen forces White to take on f7, at the same time threatening to check on g3.

17.f4 Be4 18.exf7+ Kxf7 19.Bf3 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 g6 21.f5?! A small inaccuracy, probably missing the strength of Black's reply.

21... Bg7! 22.Ra2 ( Necessity, as opening of the f-file actually favours Black! 22.fxg6+? Ke8 23.Qf7+ (23.Ra2 Rf8 24.Qg2 Rc8 25.Bd2 Qxg6! threatening check on b1) 23... Kd7 and White is in huge trouble, as 24.Ra2 Bc3+ with Raf8 and Qg3 would be crushing.)

22... Bc3+ 23.Bd2 Rhf8 24.O-O Kg8 25.Qf4 Everything was pretty much forced up to now. Taking on c3 is out of question because the passed pawn would be very dangerous. Now Sasikiran can trade the Queens on f4 and continue with a slightly better endgame, or keep the tension on the board.

25... e5!? 26.Qh6 Rad8 27.e4 dxe4 28.Bg5 Rd7 Objectively, Kramnik's display of activity with Qh6 and Bg5 is harmless, but perhaps this had influenced Sasikiran to seek for safe exit.

29.Kg2 e3 (29... Qd5! with idea Qxb3 was decisive. There should be no fear of White taking on g6 30.fxg6 e3+ 31.Kh2 (31.Kg1 Rxf1+ 32.Kxf1 Qf3+ is checkmate) 31... Rxf1 32.gxh7+ Rxh7 33.Qg6+ Rg7 34.Qe8+ Rf8 White runs out of checks.)

30.Bxe3 Qd5+ 31.Kh2 e4 32.Raf2 Bg7 33.Qg5 Bf6 ( Black is still holding an edge. There were two possible ways to continue the game - sharper 33... Qxb3 34.fxg6 Rxf2+ 35.Rxf2 Qe6 36.gxh7+ Kxh7 37.Qh4+ Kg8) ( and safer 33... Rdf7 Instead, Sasikiran chose the third option - to take a draw.)

34.Qh6 Bg7 35.Qg5 1/2-1/2