Elista Tiebreak: Vladimir Kramnik wins unified title!

10/14/2006 – The dramatic tiebreak finish of the World Chess Championship in Elista ended in a victory by Vladimir Kramnik, who won two games and drew one to take the unified World Chess Championship title. Thousands watched the events unfold on the Playchess server, where GM Yasser Seirawan provided live audio commentary. Full report with pictures and analysis.

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Veselin Topalov vs Vladimir Kramnik

Twelve games, played from September 23 to October 12 in Elista, Kalmikia. The games start at 15:00h (3:00 p.m.) local Elista time, which translates to 11:00h GMT, 13:00h CEST, 12:00h London, 7 a.m. New York.

Live coverage is available on the official FIDE site and on Playchess.com (with live audio commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan for ten Ducats per day). You can buy them in the ChessBase Shop.

Tiebreaks – Friday, October 13th


I have white, right? Veselin Topalov, the first to take his place at the board


Vladimir Kramnik arrives – and the tiebreaks can begin

The following express commentary was provided to us by Romanian GM Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin will study the game from the World Championship in Elista in greater detail and provide the results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine. Note that there is a replay link at the end of the game. Clicking this will produce a (separate) JavaScript replay window, where you have replay buttons but can also click on the notation to follow the moves.

Topalov,V (2813) - Kramnik,V (2743) [D18]
WCh Playoffs Elista RUS (1), 13.10.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 0-0 10.e4 Bg6 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5


Rapid game one, after Topalov took a knight on d5 on move 13

13...cxd5 14.Qe3. Topalov switches back to the classical main line of the Slav, which brought him close to what could have easily been his best achievement in the whole match (see the tragically ended second game). 14...Re8 15.Ne1 Rc8 16.f4 Bxe1 17.Rxe1 Bg6 18.Bf1 Rc2 19.b3 Qa5 20.Bb5 Rd8 21.Re2 Rcc8 22.Bd2 Qb6 23.Rf2 a6 24.Bf1 Rc6.

Each player has his own trumps. White has the pair of bishops and an advantage of space, while Black controls the only open file and has a fantastic bishop. 25.b4 Rc2 26.b5 a5 27.Bc3 Rxf2 28.Qxf2 Qa7 29.Qd2 Ra8 30.Rc1 Nb6 31.Bb2 Nxa4 32.Ba3 h6 33.h3 Be4 34.Kh2 Nb6 35.Bc5 a4 36.Ra1.

36...Nc4!? The start of an interesting tactical phase, leading to complete simplification and an inevitable draw. 37.Bxc4 b6 38.Qe3 Rc8 39.Bf1 bxc5 40.dxc5 Qxc5 41.Qxc5 Rxc5 42.b6 Rc6 43.b7 Rb6 44.Ba6 d4 45.Rxa4 Bxb7 46.Bxb7 Rxb7 47.Rxd4 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Kramnik,V (2743) - Topalov,V (2813) [D45]
WCh Playoffs Elista RUS (2), 13.10.2006 [Mihail Marin]


Veselin Topalov during the game


Vladimir Kramnik, on his way to the title win

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.b3. This looks like Kramnik's little surprise weapon for rapid events. He has never played this system of development in normal games, but used it twice during his blitz match against Kasparov, back in 1998, obtaining 1.5 points with it. 7...0-0 8.Be2 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Bb2 Re8 11.Rad1 Qe7 12.Rfe1.

12...Rac8. A rare move. After 12...Rad8 we would reach one of the main tabyias of the whole variation. 13.Bd3!? Moving for the second time with the bishop along the f1-d3 diagonal looks like a loss of time, but it will be compensated by the fact that Black's queen's rook will soon have to be transferred to d8 anyway. 13...e5 14.e4 dxc4 15.Bxc4 b5 16.Bf1 g6 17.Qd2 Rcd8 18.Qg5 a6 19.h3 exd4 20.Nxd4 Qe5 21.Qxe5 Nxe5 22.Nc2. White's pawn advantage in the centre offers him the better chances. In the next phase of the game Black will try to obtain active play, while White will simply regroup in accordance with the newly created weaknesses from the enemy camp. 22...g5 23.Bc1 h6 24.Be3 c5 25.f3 Bf8 26.Bf2 Bc8 27.Ne3 Be6 28.Ned5 Bxd5 29.exd5 Ned7?! This voluntary retreat from the centre is hard to understand. 29...Bd6 , blocking the dangerous pawn was better, with reasonable chances to defend.] 30.Rxe8 Rxe8 31.a4 b4? But this is equivalent with complete strategic surrendering. Black should have fought against the blockade on dark squares with 31...c4. 32.Ne4 Nxe4 33.fxe4 Nf6 34.d6 Nxe4 35.d7 Rd8 36.Bxa6 f5 37.a5 Bg7 38.Bc4+ Kf8 39.a6 Nxf2 40.Kxf2 Bd4+.

Allowing an elegant finish. 41.Rxd4! cxd4 42.a7 Ke7 43.Bd5 Kxd7 44.a8Q Rxa8 45.Bxa8 1-0. [Click to replay]


The audience in the hall between games


Topalov,V (2813) - Kramnik,V (2743) [D12]
WCh Playoffs Elista RUS (3), 13.10.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0-0 Bd6 9.g3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Be2 0-0 12.Nxg6 hxg6 13.e4 e5 14.f4 exd4 15.Qxd4.

A typical structure for the Slav Defence. White has the pair of bishops and a strong kingside majority. Black's main hopes for maintaining the balance even are connected with the counterplay along the d-file and the relative weakness of the dark squares from White's camp. From the matches for the World title, the situation is similar to that from the 12th game of the first match between Botvinik and Smyslov. The former carried out a systematic and very dangerous attack based on the massive advance of the pawns and eventually won. To a certain extent, the present game had a similar course. 15...Qe7 16.Kg2 Bc5 17.Qd3 Rad8 18.Qc2 Bd4 19.e5 Nfd5 20.Rf3 Nxc3 21.bxc3 Bc5 22.Bd2 Rd7 23.Re1 Rfd8 24.Bd3 Qe6 25.Bc1 f5. The only way to prevent the advance of the white f-pawn and restrict the white light-squared bishop at the same time. However, it will only slow down White's attack and not really parrying it. 26.Qe2 Kf8 27.Rd1 Qe7 28.h4 Rd5 29.Qc2 Nc4 30.Rh1 Na3 31.Qe2 Qd7 32.Rd1 b5 33.g4 fxg4 34.Rg3 Ke7 35.f5 gxf5 36.Bg5+ Ke8 37.e6 Qd6.

38.Bxf5! Rxd1 39.Bg6+ Kf8 40.e7+ Qxe7 41.Bxe7+ Bxe7 42.Bd3 Ra1 43.Qb2 Rd1 44.Qe2 Ra1 45.Qxg4 Rxa2+ 46.Kh3 Bf6 47.Qe6 Rd2 48.Bg6 R2d7 49.Rf3 b4 50.h5 1-0. [Click to replay]


The audience in the hall at the end of game three


Kramnik,V (2743) - Topalov,V (2813) [D47]
WCh Playoffs Elista RUS (4), 13.10.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4. If I remember correctly, this is the only classic World Title match where all the games started with the same move. There has only been one match (Botvinnik-Petrosian 1963) when 1.e4 has not been played at all, but White occasionally deviated with 1.c4. 1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3


The final fateful world championship tiebreak game is under way

5...Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2 Bb7 9.0-0 Be7. The experimental 9...b4 worked out well in the 8th game, but Topalov apparently decided not to push his luck too much. 10.e4


Kramnik after the pawn push 10.e4

10...b4 11.e5


Topalov capturing the knight on c3

11...bxc3 12.exf6 Bxf6 13.bxc3 c5 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Bb5+ Kf8 16.Qxd8+ Rxd8 17.Ba3 Rc8 18.Nd4.

White's advance in development is an adequate compensation for Black's better structure. Unlike the 8th game, where he let his initiative vanish, Kramnik will eventually manage to convert it in an extra-pawn. 18...Be7 19.Rfd1 a6 20.Bf1 Na4 21.Rab1 Be4 22.Rb3 Bxa3 23.Rxa3 Nc5 24.Nb3 Ke7 25.Rd4 Bg6 26.c4 Rc6 27.Nxc5 Rxc5 28.Rxa6 Rb8 29.Rd1 Rb2 30.Ra7+ Kf6 31.Ra1 Rf5 32.f3 Re5. Planning ...Re3-c3-c2 or even ...Bb1. 33.Ra3! Preventing both threats and stablizing the situation to White's favour. 33...Rc2 34.Rb3 Ra5 35.a4 Ke7 36.Rb5 Ra7 37.a5 Kd6 38.a6 Kc7 39.c5 Rc3 40.Raa5 Rc1 41.Rb3 Kc6 42.Rb6+ Kc7 43.Kf2 Rc2+ 44.Ke3.

White has made obvious progress over the past ten moves, but it is hard to evaluate how realistic his winning chances would be after 44...e5 followed by the transfer of the bishop to e6. 44...Rxc5?? The last of a surprisingly long series of mistakes in this match. As it frequently happens, the player who commits the last-but-one error emerges as glorious winner. 45.Rb7+ and finally, after 13 long years, the Chess World has one sole Champion. 1-0. [Click to replay]


Game four is over, Vladimir Kramnik world championship


Topalov being comforted in his defeat by Berik Balgabaev, personal assistant to
President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (Berik suffered a soccer accident a few months ago)


That was the championship that was, in Elista, Kalmykia

Pictures by FIDE (first three) and
Murat Kul
, Deputy President of Turkish Chess Federation

Final standing (regular games)

 Player
Rating
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
 Tot. 
 Perf. 
 Veselin Topalov
2813
0
0
½
½
(1)
½
½
1
1
0
½
½
6.0
2702
 Vladimir Kramnik
2743
1
1
½
½
(0)
½
½
0
0
1
½
½
6.0
2844

Tiebreaks results

 Player
Rating
R1
R2
R3
R4
B1
B2
Ar
 Tot. 
 Veselin Topalov
2813
 ½  0  1  0      
2.5
 Vladimir Kramnik
2743
 ½  1  0  1      
3.5

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