Vladimir Kramnik - Magnus Carlsen

Round 11
Tata Steel 2011


1.d4 No surprise from Vladimir, 1.d4 on the board. In several games during Tata Steel he showed strong preparation. Now he is up against a 2800+ player and will need to show all the best of it

1... Nf6 In their last game in London Carlsen went d5 and after 2.c4 played Nc6

2.c4 e6 And so far they follow their own game from Bilbao 2010 (replay here). Following the style of Kramnik for this event, he will quickly deviate and search opening advantage.

3.g3 Bb4 4.Bd2 Bxd2 5.Qxd2 d5 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.Nf3 c6 8.O-O b6 The game has turned into Slav-like structure. b6 takes away a square for the knight, but shows the general perspective of the game - a fight on the c file and especially for the c5 square which is the key to central control as well.

9.Rc1 O-O 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Na3 Bb7 Not playing Ba6 allows the knight to enter Na3-Nb5-Nd6, without being bothered, as the black knight on d7 was blocked by the b6 pawn.

12.Nb5 a6 13.Nd6 Qb8 14.Qb4 a5 in this case for Carlsen, what else? White is going to double the rooks on the c file and black has to gain some space via a5, while at the same time opening space for the light figures to manuver.

14... a5 The knight on d6 is unprotected, so Qa3 only option for Kramnik.

15.Qa3 Ba6 is recommended at this moment. How about a Ne4?! This might lead to total control in the center for white combined with c file domination in exchange for a queenside pawn majority 15. ... Ne4 16. Nxe4 dxe4 17. Nd2 Nf6 18. Qe3 Ng4 19. Qg5 Nf6 20. Qh4 Qd8 21. e3 a4 22. Rc2 Bd5 23. Rac1 Bxa2 24. Nxe4, still looks better for white. After Ba6 white can storm with Ne5, but still manages to keep the c file locked, for example 15. ... Ba6 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Nd7 18. Qe3 Ra7 19. Rc6 Nc5

15... Ba6 How about Rc6! Keeping control of the c file for white after 16. Rc6 Bxe2 17. Qe3 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Ne8 19. Nc8 b5 20. Rac1. Complex calculation ahead, especially in view of the obvious Ne5 and e3.

16.Ne5 b5 Carlsen keeps insisting he wants to have a knight on d7! 17. ...Nxd7 18. Nxd7 keep the status quo. And he also wants to challenge the knight of Kramnik after leaving it unprotected with 17. b4. A question for Kramnik, what else to do than protect Nd6 with Rc6?

17.Qxa5 Oy, oy, what was that? Kramnik drops a pawn and his highest hopes now can be saving the draw 17. ... Qxd6 18. Rc6 Qb8 19. Rxa6 Rxa6 20. Qxa6 Nxe5 21. dxe5 Qxe5 Just when we had high hopes that white can actively look for advantage, the game turns around. Now Black will be material up and has to find way to convert his future initiative.

17... Qxd6 18.Rc6 Qb8 19.Rxa6 Rxa6 20.Qxa6 Nxe5 21.dxe5 Qxe5 Kramnik and Carlsen followed the forced line given above, at the same time games with analysis from Gibraltar have started, follow them here)

22.Qxb5 Rb8 23.Qd3 23. Rc1 was also option

23... Rxb2 24.Qe3 The only way to keep the pawn on the a file

24... Qxe3 25.fxe3 Rxe2 26.a4 The rook has to hurry and go to b2 now, in order to reach on time and block the a pawn on a dark square 26. a4 Rb2 27. a5 Rb7 28. a6 Ra7. Taking the pawn would lead to 26... Rxe3? 27.a5 Rc3 28.a6 Rc8 29.a7 Ra8 30.Rb1 Nd7 31.Rb7 Nf8 32.Bf1 g5 33.Bb5

26... Rc2 Note: computer analysis of the game continues here, commentary will continue asap.

27.a5 Rc7 28.a6 Ra7 29.Bf1 Kf8 30.Rb1 Ke7 31.Rb7+ Rxb7 32.axb7 Nd7 33.Kf2 Kd6 34.Bb5 Nb8 35.Be8 Ke7 36.Bb5 f6 37.Kf3 Kd6 38.Be8 Kc7 39.Bf7 Kxb7 40.Bxe6 Kc6 41.Bg8 h6 42.Kg4 Nd7 43.Kf5 Ne5 44.h3 Kc5 45.g4 Kd6 46.Bh7 Ke7 47.Bg8 g6+ 48.Kf4 Nf7 49.Bh7 g5+ 50.Kg3 Nd6 51.Bg8 Ne4+ 52.Kg2 Kd6 53.Kf3 Kc5 54.Bh7 Nc3 55.Bd3 Kb4 56.Ba6 Kb3 57.Bb7 Kc2 58.Ba6 Kd1 59.Bb7 Kd2 60.Bc6 Ke1 61.Bb7 Kf1 62.Ba8 Kg1 63.Kg3 Ne4+ 64.Kf3 Nd2+ 65.Kg3 Nf1+ 66.Kf3 Nd2+ 67.Kg3 Nc4 68.Bxd5 Nxe3 69.Bb7 Nf1+ 70.Kf3 Kh2 71.Kf2 Nd2 72.Bg2 Nc4 73.Bf1 Ne5 74.Ke3 Kg1 75.Be2 Kg2 76.Ke4 Kxh3 77.Kf5 Kh4 78.Bd1 Nc4 79.Ke4 Nd6+ 80.Kd5 f5 0-1