Vladimir Kramnik is on the path towards causing one of the greatest upsets
in chess history, if the early games of his Braingames World Championship
match against Garry Kasparov in London are any indication.
The first three games of the match saw a visibly nervous Kasparov forced to
play three complex endgames and the results were not auspicious for the
world number one - one loss and two draws, including a series of
uncharacteristic missed opportunities for Kasparov in game three.
Underdog Kramnik, 25, talked down his early lead, saying that, although he
was pleased to win the second game, "there was a long way to go" in the 16
Kasparov, 37, began the match by delaying the first game with requests for
last-minute changes to the playing room and appears to have remained edgy
since then. In contrast his opponent looks relaxed and Kramnik's relatively
conservative strategy has set up a defensive wall which Kasparov so far has
been unable to breach.
The following game has been the only decisive contest in the match so far
and was Kasparov's first loss in a serious tournament game for more than 18
Opening: Grunfeld Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3
Qa5 9.Qd2 Bg4 10.Rb1 a6 11.Rxb7
Amazingly, this is new. Kramnik does not mind losing his d pawn in return,
so long as he retains pressure.
11...Bxf3 12.gxf3 Nc6 13.Bc4 0-0 14.0-0 cxd4 15.cxd4 Bxd4 16.Bd5 Bc3 17.Qc1
Played with confidence by Kasparov, but the resulting positions are not as
easy as he thought. 17...Rac8 was also to be considered.
18.Bxd4 Bxd4 19.Rxe7 Ra7 20.Rxa7 Bxa7 21.f4 Qd8 22.Qc3 Bb8 23.Qf3 Qh4 24.e5
g5 (Diagram) 25.Re1!
The move Kasparov had overlooked. Now Black decides to swap to an
unpleasant endgame, but 25...exf4 26.e6 was also depressing.
25..Qxf4 26.Qxf4 gxf4 27.e6 fxe6 28.Rxe6 Kg7 29.Rxa6 Rf5?! 30.Be4 Re5 31.f3
Re7 32.a4! Ra7?!
Weak defence, although after 32...Ba7+ 33.Kg2, White must win in the long
33.Rb6 Be5 34.Rb4 Rd7 35.Kg2 Rd2+ 36.Kh3 h5 37.Rb5 Kf6 38.a5 Ra2 39.Rb6+
A blunder but, despite Kasparov's protestations, Kramnik was adamant he
would also have won after 39...Kg7 40.a6 Bd4 41.Rg6.