Magnus Carlsen - Vladimir Kramnik

Round 1
Tal Memorial 2009


Welcome to Tal Memorial 2009 live commentary on! IM Miodrag Perunovic and Goran Urosevic will be covering for you the Carlsen - Kramink game with live commentary.

As you know, Chessdom has a new improved system for live commenting with Rybka and Toga real time analysis (check it out here) where GM Christian Bauer, Jason Juett, and Pete Karagianis will be following for you ALL GAMES of the round (including Carlsen - Kramnik). Click here to enter the arena now where you have also the possibility for live interaction with the commentators.

Games start at 13:00 CET and pairing can be found at the general Tal Memorial page.

Since the World Championship match with Anand, Kramnik played only in Dortmund this summer and won yet another title in his favourite tournament. There he beat Carlsen 1.5-0.5 in the mini-match. Carlsen, on the other hand, had a stellar performance in Nanjing, winning by large margin ahead of Veselin Topalov and breaking the 2800-barrier for the first time. He is currently 2nd ranked (2801) on the FIDE list, Kramnik is 5th (2772).

Enjoy the game!

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 The same variation was seen in their Dortmund encounter and earlier at the blindfold exhibition at Melodi Amber.

4... O-O 5.a3 In their blindfold game Carlsen tried (5.e4 d6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nge2 Ba5 8.O-O Bb6 9.d5 Nb4) but it was Kramnik who claimed the win after only 20 moves.

5... Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 d5!? Most popular is 6...b6, as Kramnik himself used to play in the past. But in Dortmund he also tried d5 against Carlsen and held a draw comfortably.

7.cxd5!? The Dortmund game continued (7.Nf3 dxc4 8.Qxc4 b6 9.Bg5 Ba6 10.Qa4 c5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Rd1) etc

7... Ne4!? Interesting way to prevent a Bg5 pin by earning a tempo against the Queen.

8.Qc2 exd5 9.Bf4 Nc6 Perhaps 9...c6 would look more natural, but perhaps Kramnik wants to avoid minority attack or create an early piece activity with the next Bf5...

10.e3 Re8 This is a multi-useful move. It supports the N on e4, creates an option to play Re7 and support c7-pawn if necessary and most directly it threatens Nxd4.

11.Nf3 White would like to play 11. Bd3 and keep the possibility to develop the N to e2, but Black can create quite a mess with 11...Nxd4

11... g5 12.Bg3 g4!? This seemingly premature weakening of the castled position is not that dangerous as White is still not fully developed. 12...f5 would fit in Black's plan, but it goes better with the Rook on f8. 12...h5 is already a bit too much and breaks against 13. Ne5! and then in case of 13...h4, White has 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Be5 f6? 16. Qxc6!
Carlsen will probably continue 13. Ne5 (13. Nd2 Nd4! again).

13.Ne5 Nxe5 Black has to take, otherwise the lost tempo would allow White to prepare and execute f3, after which Black King feels the heat.
Now it is interesting to observe how will Carlsen recapture the piece. 14. Bxe5 allows counterplay with regard to the uncastled King - c5, cxd4, f6 and Knight jump, if Black can make everything on time...Most likely Carlsen would sacrifice a pawn in order to castle.

14.Bxe5 14. dxe5 Bf5 15. Bd3 c5! is what Carlsen probably disliked.

14... c5 15.Bd3 Bf5 This is somewhat easier for White, compared to the variation where he recaptured by 14. dxe5. Kramnik's idea could be to push c4, instead of taking on d4, as in (15... f6 16.Bf4 cxd4 (16... c4 again interesting) 17.O-O! dxe3 18.Bxe3) where White has excellent compensation thanks to opponent's wrecked pawn structure.

16.Qe2 Unusual move, 0-0 or Bxe4 was to be expected. The thing is that Kramnik can now play Qa5+ (or first insert f6, then check), which deprives White from castling.
To see the engine analysis and post your comments, enter the Chessdom multi-game room.
Jason Juett comments: It seems to go against principles to spend a move putting the queen opposite the rook instead of castling.

16... f6! The best move according to Rybka in our multi-game room. The point is that Black wants to dislodge Be5, before playing Qa5+ and cxd4, after which there is no recapture with Bxd4.

17.Bxe4 Reducing some of the pressure by eliminating the annoying Knight. Also earning a tempo by covering the e-file (if Black takes with the pawn), or by threatening Qxg4 in some lines (if takes with Bf5)

17... Bxe4 Kramnik played this without hesitation, but 17...dxe4 was very interesting. In such case, cxd4 comes in stronger. White can probably maintain the position, by only by passive means, which is not exactly fitting in Carlsen's style.

18.Bg3 Now White will manage to castle and finally escape with the King. 18...Qa5+ is probably best met by a pawn sacrifice b4, then 0-0. The point is that g4 is also hanging. So, after 18...cxd4 19. Qxg4+, White is probably already better.
NM Pete Karagianis: "So we have heard quite a lot on the psychological advantage Carlsen has gained from working with Kasparov, I wonder how that will factor into play here - both against Kramnik and also throughout the rest of the tournament."
More in the multi-game room.

18... Qa5+ 19.Qd2 Frankly, we are shocked to see Carlsen making such move. He agrees to suffer in a bad endgame resulting after 19. Qd2 Qxd2+ 20. Kxd2 cxd4 21. exd4 Bxg2 22. Rhe1. There would still be decent chances to hold a draw, but Kramnik gets all the fun of trying to squeeze the point without any risk whatsoever.
More in Carlsen's fighting style would be 19. b4!? cxb4, then 20. 0-0 or 20. Qxg4+ first, which is a position rich of possibilities for both players.
Actually, our users suggest that 19...Qa6! might be even better for Black. The point is that Carlsen hasn't castled yet, and opposite-coloured Bishops add great power to the attacking side, when there are heavy pieces on the board.

19... Qxd2+ 20.Kxd2 c4!? Instead of grabbing g2-pawn, Kramnik sets the scene to press and destroy b2-pawn, after which the c-passer would likely decide the game. But White can also make some moves...

21.f3!? Great reaction, as Carlsen is trying to disturb the dominating Bishop.

21... gxf3 22.gxf3 Bg6!? Kramnik wants to keep the files closed and prevent White Rooks from activating. But perhaps taking on f3 was better, 22...Bxf3 23. Rhf1 Be4 24. Rxf6, as then the Bishop sits on e4 undisturbed. In the game position, White might have the much needed central break in some variations.

23.h4 Bh5 24.Ke2 Re6 25.Be1 Another passive looking move, but it should be sufficient to protect both b2 and e3. 25...Rae8 26. Bd2 f5 27. Kf2 f4 28. Rae1

25... Kf7 26.Kf2 Rae8 27.Bd2 Carlsen has consolidated and his position is entirely safe now.

27... Rb6 28.Bc3 Rb3 29.a4 Right on time, to prevent the intended b5, which would get the Black pawn majority rolling.

29... b6 Kramnik will take slower route, b6-a6-b5, but this allows White to open the a-file before Black makes contact with b4.

30.Rhe1! As we mentioned earlier, the central break e3-e4 will be important resource for White. Perhaps Kramnik should have traded the f3-pawn when he had the chance.

30... Bg6 Maybe 31. Rh1!? threatening h4-h5?

31.e4! Carlsen is finally playing according to his character - brave! With Black Rook temporarily shut on b3, he sacrifices a pawn to create a passer and cause problems.

31... dxe4 32.d5 a6 Kramnik probably avoided 32...exf3 because he didn't like the look of the future Re6 and Rxf6+...

33.fxe4 Rybka from our multi-game room suggests 33. h5!? as better, the point probably being that after 33...Bf5 the Bishop will be sensible to fxe4 recapture (say, if White inserts d6 first). This should be analysed in depth, but the game goes on...

33... Bxe4 34.d6! f5 It is natural desire to enforce the Be4, but this opens the diagonal for Bc3. 34...Bf5 deserved attention, as it also keeps an eye on d7-square, which is on the way of the White passer.

35.Rg1 Ke6 36.Rg7 Kxd6 37.Rxh7 Now the outside h-passer can be very dangerous. The position is still balanced though.

37... Bd3! Kramnik is not panicking, he is trying to create some counterplay. 37...Rg8 was also possible.

38.Kf3 Re4 Now 39. Rg1 is not that effective as one move earlier as Black has Be2+ (with tempo) and Bg4, effectively closing the open files for White's second Rook.

39.h5 Rh4 40.Rg1 Be4+ 41.Ke3 Kramnik is still thinking... Meanwhile, the other four games finished in draws.

41... Rh3+ This allows White King to surge forward... 41...b5 perhaps?

42.Kf4 Jason Juett: I think Carlsen now has some winning chances. I don't see any perpetual, so I'm not sure if Rh3+ might have been counter-productive, making the king advance up the board.

42... Rf3+ 43.Kg5 b5 GM Eltaj Safarli suggested that 43...Rbxc3 might be interesting.

44.axb5 Jason Juett: Perhaps the pawn grab with Rh6+ instead of axb5 was better. Besides just greed, it restricts Black's queenside play some.

44... axb5 45.Kf6 Carlsen took a few minutes to check the consequences of exchange sacrifice on c3...

45... Rbxc3 46.bxc3 Rxc3 Now Black has wonderful counterplay with two connected passed pawns. Be4 is also dominant, controlling both b1 and b7 squares.

47.Rg8 Rh3 Clearing the way for the pawns and having an eye on White pawn as well.

48.Rc8 c3 49.Rhc7 Interesting was 49. Rhh8 or Rcc7, threatening checkmate. Then Black has to play Bc6.

49... c2 Most likely Kg5 now...

50.Kg5 Carlsen spent some time, probably evaluating 50. Rc5 or other attempts to create a checkmating net.

50... Rh2 Instant reply from Kramnik, he did not allow 50...b4 51. Rxc2 which would probably allow Carlsen to make a draw.

51.Rc3 White's idea could be to go back to f6 with the King and threaten Rd8 checkmate.
The problem is that Black has Ke5-d4 escape route before White closes him with Kf6. Perhaps Rc5-Kf6-Rc3 was more exact move order.

51... Ke6 Jason Juett: There are lots of little tactics here. 52.Re8+ is now forced, and then after Kf7 53. Rb8 Rg2+ 54. Kf4 Ke6, White can't grab b5 due to 55. Rxb5? Rg4+ 56. Ke3 Rg3+, where Black gets the rook preventing promotion.

52.Re8+ Kf7 53.Rb8 Rg2+ 54.Kf4 Ke6 55.Re8+ Kf6 56.Rf8+ Ke6 And this fantastic game ended in a draw! Thank you everyone for following Chessdom live commentary, join us again tomorrow when your host will be GM Christian Bauer. Have a nice day! 1/2-1/2