The 14-game Classical World Championship match in Brissago, Switzerland, between titleholder Vladimir Kramnik and challenger Peter Leko is tied 3-3 after a draw in yesterday's sixth game. With two wins and four draws, the match is a highly technical affair with a mixture of short draws and long endgames. The middlegame, the most creative part in chess, appears in the games briefly and quickly vanishes.
Each player scored a victory on Saturday. Kramnik's win came in the first game after Leko failed to establish a simple defense, leading to a drawn pawn endgame with a pawn down. Last Saturday in the fifth game, it was Leko's turn.
Leko-Kramnik, Game 5
After 55 moves the players reached the position of today's diagram (White: Ke4, Rc8, Bd4, P:e5,f2,f4,h3; Black: Kg7, Ra4, Bh4, P:f7,g6,h5). Leko, as White, won the exchange with a little combination:
56.e6+! Bf6 (On 56...Kh6 57.Rh8 mates.) 57.e7! Rxd4+ 58.Ke3 (The threat of 59.e8Q forces Kramnik to give up the exchange.) 58...Bxe7 59.Kxd4 Bh4? (Too far. After 59...f5!? 60.Ke5 Bf6+ 61.Ke6 Bd4 62.Rc7+ Kg8, it is hard for white to break through.) 60.f3 f5 (Kramnik prevents the pawn break f4-f5, but can he create a fortress with the king and the bishop now? After 60...Bf6+ 61.Ke4 Be7 62.f5!, it is hopeless for black, for example 62...Bf6 63.fxg6 fxg6 64.Kd5 Bh4 65.Ke6 and the king gets soon to f7 and white wins; or 62...gxf5+ 63.Kxf5 Bh4 64.Re8! Bf6 [or 64...Kh7 65.Re4 Bd8 66.Rd4 Be7 67.Rd7 wins] 65.Rg8+! Kxg8 66.Kxf6, winning the pawn endgame.) 61.Rc7+ Kf6?! (Kramnik begins to waver, blocking the bishop. The best try, although not adequate, was to go to the eighth rank either with 61...Kf8 or 61...Kg8 and wait.)
62.Kd5 Bg3 63.Rc6+ Kg7 64.Ke5 h4? (This looks like a losing blunder, since closing the diagonal d8-h4 to the bishop allows the white king to attack the pawn on g6 effortlessly. Kramnik had to regroup with 64...Bh4 65.Rc7+ Kf8 66.Ke6 Kg8 preventing the white king to enter by covering the key-square f7 with his king and controlling the diagonal d8-h4 with the bishop. White does not make any progress keeping the rook on the seventh rank: 67.Rf7 Kh8 68.Rb7 Kg8 etc. Unfortunately, after 67.Rc8+ Kg7 68.Rb8! black is in zugzwang and the bishop has to leave the vital diagonal d8-h4, for example 68...Bg3 69.Rb7+ Kh6 70.Kf7! Bxf4 71.Rb6 Kg5 72.Rxg6+ Kh4 73.Ke6 Kxh3 74.Kxf5 and white wins.)
65.Rc7+ Kh6 66.Rc4! (Black can't stop the penetration of the white king to f7.) 66...Kg7 67.Ke6 Bh2 68.Rc7+ Kh6 69.Kf7! (After 69...Bxf4 70.Rc6 wins; and on 69...g5 70.Rc6+! Kh5 71.Rc8 gxf4 72.Kf6 and 73.Rh8 mate.) Black resigned.
A Sudden Storm
With yesterday's last round victory over English grandmaster Murray Chandler, Russian GM Petr Kiriakov shared first place with GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran at the Monarch Assurance Masters in Port Erin, Isle of Man. The winners scored seven points in nine games. Chandler was the sole leader before the last round after defeating the 73-year- old legend Viktor Korchnoi in the French defense in mere 23 moves with a nifty tactical play.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.Bf4 (Korchnoi should not have been surprised by this version of the French Steinitz variation, since Chandler played it in the past.) 7...Be7 8.Bg3 Nxc5 9.Bd3 Qb6 (Trying to disturb white's development by hitting the b-pawn.) 10.0-0!? Nxd3 (After 10...Qxb2 11.Nb5! white has at least a draw, e.g. 11...Rb8 12.Rb1 Qxa2 13.Ra1 etc. Korchnoi plays for more.) 11.Qxd3 Bd7 (Now 11...Qxb2?! is dangerous after 12.Nb5 Nb4 13.Qd2 0-0 14.Nfd4, threatening 15.Rfb1 to trap the queen.) 12.a3 0-0 (The b2-pawn is now protected :12...Qxb2? 13.Rfb1 wins.) 13.Rfe1 Rfc8 14.Bf4 Na5 (After 14...Bc5 white can simply drop the knight 15.Nd1. But knowing Chandler's love for wild attacks, we could have seen 15.Ng5!?, for example 15...Bxf2+ 16.Kh1 Bxe1 [On 16...g6 comes 17.Rf1] 17.Qxh7+ Kf8 18.Rxe1 with a powerful attack, for example 18...Qd4 19.Nge4! dxe4 20.Qh8+ Ke7 21.Bg5+ f6 22.Bxf6+! gxf6 23.Qxf6+ Ke8 24.Rf1 Qc5 25.Nxe4 and white wins.) 15.b3 Qc7? (A blunder, overlooking white's combination.)
16.Nxd5! (Chandler would never pass on tactics like this.) 16...exd5 17.e6! Qd8? (It goes downhill from here. After 17...Qxf4 18.exd7 Rd8 19.Rxe7 Nc6 20.Re8+ Rxe8 21.dxe8Q+ Rxe8 22.Qxd5, white is a healthy pawn up.) 18.exf7+! (Another shocker.) 18... Kh8 (After 18...Kxf7 19.Qxd5+ Kf8 20.Rxe7! Qxe7 [On 20...Kxe7 21.Re1+ wins.] 21.Bd6 wins.)
19.Rxe7! (Preparing the final mating attack by eliminating an important defender.) 19...Qxe7 20.Ng5 Qxg5 (The only way to prevent mate. After 20...g6 21.Qd4+ white mates.) 21.Bxg5 (White has a winning material advantage and black can't easily capture the f7-pawn.) 21...Be6 22.Qf3 Rf8 23.Re1! (After 23...Rxf7 24.Qc3, the double-attack wins; and on 23...Bxf7 24.Re7! Kg8 25.Qg3 Nc6 26.Bh6 g6 27.Bxf8 wins.) Black resigned.
A similar knight sacrifice was played in the last round in a refreshing miniature.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Bd6 6.0-0 Bxe5?! 7.dxe5 Nc5 8.Nc3 Nxd3?! (Waiting with 8...c6 is better.) 9.Qxd3 c6 10.Qg3! Kf8 (10...Rg8 was necessary.) 11.Bg5 Qe8? (11...Qc7!?) 12.Nxd5! (After12...cxd5 13.Bf6!! gxf6 14.exf6 Rg8 [14...Qd8 15.Qg7+] 15.Qa3+ wins.) Black resigned.