Dannemann: Kramnik holds his lead

9/26/2004 – "I decided to play a double-edged opening and see whether Vladimir was feeling frisky," said a spirited Peter Leko in the press conference after the game. Kramnik wasn't, and the very sharp game on the board ended in a 18-move draw. Here's an updated pictorial and video report...

Dannemann: Kramnik holds his lead

"I decided to play a double-edged opening and see whether Vladimir was feeling frisky," said a spirited Peter Leko in the press conference after the game. Kramnik wasn't, and the very sharp game on the board ended in a 18-move draw. Here's the game, with a full video report to follow.

Second game ends in a sharp draw

Anyone who was expecting a cast-iron draw by challenger Peter Leko, who had the black pieces after yesterday's traumatic loss, was pleasantly surprised. The 24-year-old Hungarian chose a very sharp line in the Closed Ruy Lopez. "I decided to play a double-edged opening and see whether Vladimir was feeling frisky," Peter said after the game. If the classical chess world champion had started to press for a win there he would have had an opportunity to go astray. And Peter would have been ready to pounce.

After 18 moves, however, Vladimir Kramnik offered a draw, and Peter Leko accepted. The score is now 1.5:0.5 in favour of Kramnik. The reigning champion only needs to tie the final score in this 14-game match to retain his title. Tomorrow is a rest day, the third game will be played on Tuesday.

Kramnik,V (2770) - Leko,P (2741) [C88]
WCh Brissago SUI (2), 26.09.2004

1.e4 Unlike Leko, Kramnik plays e4 and d4 openings almost equally often these days. Leko, like Fischer, is e4 only. 1...e5 Already something of a surprise from Leko, who is practically married to the Sicilian. (Don't tell his wife, who is Armenian.)

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 The only time Leko has played the Spanish in the past few years he played the fashionable 3...Nf6, 4...Bc5 variation.

4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 This, along with 8.a4, tends to be categorized as an "anti-Marshall" move instead of the standard c3. After 8.c3 Black can play the Marshall Gambit with 8..d5!, taking the initiative and entering one of the most analyzed systems in chess. The 1.e4 world of GMs can be divided into those who will allow the Marshall and those who won't. It's safe to say nobody plays 8.h3 because they are afraid of 8.c3 d6.

8...Bb7 9.d3 Re8 [9...d6 The main line. 10.a3 Na5 (10...Nb8 11.Nbd2 Nbd7 12.Nf1) 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nc3 Nc6] 10.Nc3 Kramnik had this position last year against Anand in Dortmund and went for a3. [10.a3 Bc5 11.Nc3 d6 12.Nd5 h6 13.c3 Ba7 14.Be3 Bxe3 15.Rxe3 Nd7 16.Ba2 Ne7 17.Nxe7+ Qxe7 18.Nh2 Nf6 19.Ng4 1/2-1/2 Kramnik,V-Anand,V/Dortmund GER 2004/(19)]

10...Bb4 (diagram) Provocative play from Leko, and he admitted as much after the game. He said he wanted to see if Kramnik was feeling frisky with white, something he might be able to exploit. Since the game was drawn eight moves later we'll assume a low level of friskiness. According to the MegaBase, this move has only been played once before: by Ivanchuk in Monaco, 2003... against Leko!

[10...h6 11.a3 Bc5 12.Be3 Nd4 13.Ba2 d6 14.b4 Bb6 15.Bxd4 exd4 16.Ne2 1/2-1/2 Bologan,V-Onischuk,A/Cap d'Agde 2002/CBM 92 (47)]

11.Ng5 The attack on f7 gains a tempo to play f4. [11.Bd2 Na5 12.Nd5 Nxb3 13.Nxf6+ Qxf6 14.axb3 Bf8 15.c4 b4 16.Nh2 Qe6 17.Qf3 a5 1/2-1/2 Leko,P-Ivanchuk,V/Monte Carlo 2003/CBM 93 ext (54)]

11...Rf8 12.a3 "Give me the bishop or give me a tempo gain by retreating it." This also creates a hiding spot for the bishop. [12.f4] 12...Bxc3 13.bxc3 White has the two bishops, and the doubled c-pawn might aid in central expansion with d4.

13...Na5 14.Ba2 c5 The standard plan of queenside expansion, although sometimes the knight goes back to b8 to head to d7. 15.f4 Temporarily giving up a pawn to gain a push in the center. 15...exf4 16.e5 Nd5 17.Bxd5 [17.Qh5?! h6 18.Ne4 (18.Bxd5 hxg5 19.c4 bxc4 20.dxc4 Bxd5 21.cxd5 f6 22.Bb2) 18...c4]

17...Qxg5 [17...Bxd5 18.Qh5 h6 19.Ne4 Bxe4 20.Rxe4 Qg5] 18.Bxb7 (diagram) 1/2-1/2

[18.Bxb7 Nxb7 19.Qf3 Qg3 20.Qxg3 fxg3 21.Bf4]

Of course we'd like to see every game played out to bare kings, but White has no advantage on the board and Kramnik saw no chance of creating one in this position against Leko. White quickly gets back the pawn.

An easy draw with Black against Kramnik is no small thing, but every half point suits Kramnik because he is up a point (really two points because Kramnik keeps the title if the match is drawn). – Mig Greengard

Picture Gallery


Game days start with a scenic and sometimes slightly scary car ride along the mountain coast of Lago Maggiore to the Centro Dannemann, where the match is being staged.


An audience of about 40 spectators is waiting for the game to begin. We counted between 30 and 60 visitors in the playing hall at different times during the first two games.


The gladiators enter the arena: Peter Leko, Vladimir Kramnik


1.e4 – well, let's see, is there something sharp I can come up with in the Ruy?


Okay, here's something to test your nerves, Mr Title Holder


Locked in a soundproof cabin at the back of the hall, with an ample supply of coffee: commentators GM Artur Jussupow and GM Helmut Pfleger.

During the game we asked Pfleger what was happening, how Peter Leko was taking the shock defeat in the first round. "Maybe today will be a shock for Vladimir Kramnik," Helmut answered. "Nobody knows, it is a very sharp game. Kramnik is attacking on the kingside, Peter Leko on the queenside. It is impossible to tell how this will end." The full video interview is at the end of this report.

Not very much later, to the surprise of many spectators, Vladimir Kramnik offered Peter Leko a draw, on move 18. The challenger accepted and the two proceeded to the post match press conference.


Vladimir Kramnik in the press conference

"It was difficult to play today after yesterday's very emotional game. I felt I needed some time to digest it, to take a deep breath and return to normal. There was not time for me to get into the most aggressive mood. Peter played a surprising opening, and managed to equalize. I will have to check at home to see if I could have done better at some point. In the final position, after 18...Nxb7 19.Qf3 Qg3 we would be forced to exchange queens and the position is just drawish."

After the press conference Artur Jussupow inquired whether ChessBase had installed Fritz into the players' brains. "Fritz was displaying a 0.00 evaluation in our commentary cabin, and the draw was immediately agreed. Only the two players and Fritz saw it coming." No, Artur, we have not developed a bionic interface. Maybe just great minds thinking alike?


Peter Leko in good spirits in spite of trailing by a point

"I was quite pleased to finish today with a draw, after yesterday. I still can't understand how it was possible for me to lose that game. So my aim this time was to go for a double-edged position, and if Vlady gets over-excited then let's see what happens. I learnt my lesson in yesterday's game, that you do not have to try to win every single game. I simply wanted to be a little more professional. But in general I think the game was of very high quality.I though about 17...Bxd5, but the problem is that there is 18.Qh5 with massive complications."

The two also told us what they had done after the previous game. Kramnik: "I tried to get the two rooks out of my mind, and to stop trying to coordinating them in different attacking patterns. I think it was four o'clock in the morning when I was able to sleep." Peter Leko: "I needed till five a.m. to get rid of those two black rooks."


A fan gets an autograph from the challenger, which wife Sophie waits patiently

Contacts and further information

Rolf Behovits
Press Officer World Chess Championship
CENTRO DANNEMANN
Via Ruggero Leoncavallo
CH-6614 Brissago
rbehovits@chessgate.de

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