The FURTHER ADVENTURES OF KRAMNIK 2.0 - Matters of Chess Culture.
I remember recently reading some annotations by Kasparov to one of his games and at one point he made some statement about "chess culture." by which I guess he is talking about a player's ability to understand strategy and to not merely kick out moves in a robotic fashion. Moves that are obvious or stereotypical for a given type of opening or position. He was talking about a player's ability to weave together all of what they know about chess and to bring it all together in one unified effort during a game while playing a living breathing opponent.
Kramnik's game against GM Anish Giri from the first round of the 15th edition of the Unive Hoogeveen tournament reminded me about that Kasparov comment. A special moment of that game shows Kramnik's hand make a move of deep understanding and it leaves Giri's position shattered though he may not have even noticed it right up until that fateful moment. Upon completing that twenty third move Kramnik shows Giri's entire placement of pieces to be less than ideal. GM Anish Giri is no push over at 2722 and knows an incredible amount about chess and has the ability to create wonderful games as well while he is at the chess board.
This is the position after Black has completed his twenty second move ...Nd4. Powerful Knight at d4 - but alas not for long! Black's position looks good...
...but is not and just like that Kramnik shows his opponent who really controls the center. With this single move he removes Black's most active piece, creates a far passed pawn, controls the center and invades down the c-file and begins an attack against the Black King. Not bad for the price of an exchange!
23. ...Bxd4 24. cxd6
With a gain of time even!
24. ...Ng8 25. Nd5 Kh8
Looks, as in life, can be deceiving in chess. Here White's invasion continues while most of the Black pieces continue to spectate. What can Kramnik do to improve his position even more?
Both White Bishops can exert power along the diagonals that start over on the Queenside and that lead to the Black King. The position is actually very drafty and every square is tender over by the Black King. Kramnik combines his forces easily to over coming resistance and the secret ingredient for his success is based upon his control over the key open lines and his better placed and well centralized pieces.
A rule of thumb in chess is attack where you have a numerical superiority and in the above position every Black piece but the Bishop on d4 is on the back rank. In fact three of the six Black pieces are standing upon their starting squares! White's pieces are primed and this game reminds me of a game between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov that was played in the Saemisch variation of the King's Indian Opening. A game in which all of Karpov's White pieces were rolled back to his first rank by Kasparov's Black pieces! Another King's Indian, another full court press but a different variation of the King's Indian and a different outcome as regards which color pieces achieved victory.
To eliminate the peasant intruder.
27. Bb2 Qxd6
The pawn matters not in this case - the lines of play are everything! Besides when a pawn disappears even more lines open up. Additional avenues are always useful for our attacking forces.
28. Rxb7 g5
This pawn push by Black is another weakening move that now gives Kramnik's light squared Bishop even more angles from which to attack. This prelate immediately begins an outflanking maneuver upon which success in this game is achieved but only after awaiting one further line opening attempt. By this point in the game it is already difficult to find alternative moves for team Giri.
29. b6 a5 30. Bh5 Rab8
It would be nice to exchange off such a powerful Rook as a pig on the seventh really in it's seventh heaven!
Diagonals, files and ranks are controlled by Kramnik with true understanding in this game.
31. Ra7 Bxb2 32. Qxb2+ Nf6
Checkmate is not far off now!
It is amazing to see how all of Kramnik's forces unit in this attack. All of this flowing together nicely after move twenty three!
The next star move is... drum roll please!
A wonderful interference move!
33. ...Kg7 34. Rd7!
A fine tactical shot. The Rook is obviously immune to capture.
and the final wonderful move was 35. Be6 +!
A wonderful master piece by Kramnik!
Enjoy - Chess Coach Sean.