Miskolc 2007: Vladimir Kramnik draws first blood

4/27/2007 – In game three Peter Leko botched up his home analysis and handed his opponent Vladimir Kramnik a golden opportunity to go into the lead. The fourth game was a tense affair and ended after some remarkable twists in a draw. In between two eight-year-olds gave a charming chess display on the stage of the National Theatre. And then came the wine tasting in City Hall. Big illustrated report.

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Rapid Chess Match Leko-Kramnik in Miskolc

The rapid chess match between Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning world champion, and Peter Leko, Hungary's top grandmaster, takes place from April 23 and 30 in the National Theater of Miskolc, Hungary. The games start at 16:00h and 17:30h (4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.) local time, which is Central European Sommer Time (GMT +1). The arbiter is WGM Zsuzsa Veröci, Head of Communication of the Hungarian Chess Federation. The games can be watched live on the official site and on Playchess.com.

Round three + four report

The second day of the rapid chess match started relatively inconspicuously, with both players apparently well prepared in a mainline Queen's Indian Defence. But then Peter Leko forgot a critical bit of analysis and played a move he had known was losing. "After 29...Rfe8? I was simply lost," he said later in the evening. Kramnik later did give him a chance to put up a game-saving defence, but in the rapid chess tension he did not see it and his world champion opponent took the full point.


Peter Leko playing the Queen's Indian in game three against Vladimir Kramnik

Kramnik,V (2772) - Leko,P (2738) [E15]
Rapid Match Miskolc HUN (3), 26.04.2007 [Berkes/Meszaros]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0-0 12.0-0 Rc8 13.e4 c5 14.exd5 exd5 15.dxc5 dxc4 16.c6 cxb3 17.Re1 b2 18.Bxb2 Nc5 19.Nc4 Bxc4 20.Qg4

The main line of the Queen's Indian Defence. It is curious that this opening, which has occurred in many top level games, was also seen last year in the Leko-Karpov match in Miskolc. However, at that time Peter played with white. 20...Bg5 In the afore-mentioned game Karpov played 20... Bf6 and found himself in a worse position. 21.Qxc4 Nd3 22.Be5 Nxe1. 22...Nxe5? 23.Rxe5 Bf6 24.Rd5 Bxa1 25.Rxd8 Rfxd8 26.Bh3 Rc7 27.Bd7+/- Qd5-d6. 23.Rxe1 Bf6 24.Bxf6 Qxf6 25.c7 Qd6 26.Rc1 b5 27.Qc2 b4 28.Bb7 g6 29.h4!

A very strong move that forces Black to make an important and awkward decision. If he himself plays h5, then the evolving pawn structure is most likely a losing weakness in a pawn endgame, and moreover he is weakening his king. If he doesn't play h5 then he has to face a Kg2; h4-h5-h6 plan, whereafter White would have a strong tactical pawn on h6.

29...Rfe8? The losing move. At the press conference after the games Peter was not able to give an explanation to this blunder. We would not even try to do so. 29...h5 30.Kf1! happened i n an Ivanchuk-Aronian (Monte Carlo, 2007) game. With this fine move White puts his king closer to the center and prepares a favourable simplification. 30.Qa4! Qd2 31.Qc6 a5

32.Bxc8? White is impatient. He would have needed his bishop for a few more moves to defend against the threatening checks on the long diagonal. 32.Rc2 Qe1+ 33.Kg2 Qe6 34.Qb5! and there is no Qe4+. White would have won easily. 32...Rxc8 33.Rc2 Qd3? This move pays back the loan. 33...Qe1+ 34.Kg2 Qe6! 35.Qb7 Qd7 and because of the constantly threatening perpetual check White's task of intensifing his advantage to a decisive one is not so easy at all. 34.Kg2.

Black's position is beyond recovery. From now on Kramnik doesn't give his opponent any more chances. 34...Kg7 35.Rc5 a4 36.Qxa4. 36.Qb7 Qd7 37.Qxb4 Rxc7 38.Qc3++–. 36...Qe4+ 37.Kh2 Qd4 38.Qc2. 38.Rc2? Rxc7 39.Rxc7 Qxf2+ 40.Kh3 Qf1+=. 38...h5 39.Kg2 Qd6 40.Qb2+! f6. 40...Kh7 41.Qxb4 Rxc7 42.Rxh5+ gxh5 43.Qxd6+-; 40...Kg8 41.Qxb4 Rxc7 42.Qb8+ Kg7 43.Qxc7+–. 41.Qc2 Kf7 42.Qc4+ Kg7 43.Rc6 Qd7 44.Qc5 Kf7 45.Kh2 Kg7 46.Qb6 Qf5 47.Qd4 Kf7 48.Rxf6+! Qxf6 49.Qd7+ 1-0. [Click to replay].


Tomorrow's Stars

Between the two games between the super grandmasters the spectators received a very special treat. Two eight-year-olds, members of the Peter Leko school, took the stage and played a five-minute game, which was followed by everyone, exactly like the Kramnik-Leko games. It was a beautifully exciting amateur game, and the audience was enthralled.

Csendi,Balázs - Kassay,Krisztián [C50]
Miskolc exhibition, 26.04.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 d6 7.Nc3 Bg4 8.0-0 Nd4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.gxf3 0-0 11.Nd5 c6 12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Qd2? Nxf3+ 14.Kh1 Nxd2 15.Rg1+ Kh8 16.Rg2 Nxc4 17.dxc4 Qd7? 18.Bxf6+ Kh7 19.Rg7+ Kh8 20.Rxf7+ Kg8 21.Rxd7 Rxf6 22.Rxb7 Rxf2 23.Rg1+ Kf8 24.Rbg7 Re8 25.Rg8+ Kf7 26.R1g7+ Kf6 27.Rg6+ Kf7 28.R8g7+ Kf8 29.Rg8+ Kf7 30.Rxe8 Kxe8 31.Rxh6 Rf1+ 32.Kg2 Rg1+ 33.Kh2 Bf2 34.Rxd6 Ke7 35.Rxc6 Kd7 36.Rf6 Be3 37.Rf5 Ke6 38.Rf3 Re1 39.Rg3 Bf4 40.b3 Bxg3+ 41.Kxg3 Rxe4 42.c3 and Black lost on time. 1-0. [Click to replay].


Arbiter WGM Zsuzsa Veröci and the chess moms follow the game on the stage


Leko,P (2738) - Kramnik,V (2772) [C88]
Rapid Match Miskolc HUN (4), 26.04.2007 [Berkes/Meszaros]
At the beginning of the fourth game Kramnik sat down with a strikingly pleased expression on his face, while at the same time Peter appeared to be very tense. GM Berkes discribed it as a bad omen, and was within a hair of being right. But let us not move too far ahead... 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nbd2 Nc6 13.Nf1 Bc8 14.c3 Be6 15.Bxe6 fxe6 16.b4 Qd7 17.Ng3 Rfb8.

Interesting move. Black "scares" White with the possibility of a sweep on the queenside. 18.d4 Peter decides to play in the centre. 18.Be3 cxb4! 19.axb4 a5 20.bxa5 Rxa5 21.Rxa5 Nxa5 22.Qd2 Nc6=. 18...exd4 19.cxd4 cxd4. 19...c4 would have been an interesting idea. The open question is: Who arrives first? (GM Berkes thinks it would be White...). 20.Nxd4 Nxd4 21.Qxd4

21...Rc8. Of course Kramnik does not step into the pitfall 21...Nd5? 22.exd5 Bf6 23.dxe6 Bxd4 24.exd7 Bxa1 25.Bg5 Bf6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Nf5 Rd8 28.Re7+–. 22.Bb2 Rc2! A draw would satisfy Kramnik. 22...Rc4 23.Qd3 Rac8 24.Re2 Qc6 25.Rae1 +/=. 23.Rad1 Peter is keen to win. He wouldn't like to start the second half of the match at a disadvantage. However, needless to say, the exaggerated amition can be disasterous. 23.Rac1 Rac8 (23...e5? 24.Qd3 Rxb2 25.Qc3 Ra2 26.Qb3++-) 24.Rxc2 Rxc2 25.Rc1 Qc6 26.Rxc2 Qxc2=. 23...Qa7! 24.e5 dxe5 25.Qxa7 Rxa7 26.Bxe5 Rd7 27.Rxd7?! 27.Bxf6! Rxd1 28.Rxd1 gxf6 29.Rd7 Kf8 30.Ra7 Rc6 31.Nh5 and White's position is more comfortable. In spite of the fact that it's not clear how to break down the barricades of Black, he can only wait for it passively. 27...Nxd7 28.Bd4 Kf7 29.Rd1 Nf6 30.Be5 Ra2 31.Rd3 a5!? 32.bxa5 Bxa3

33.Rb3? We started to worry for Peter after this mistake. He would have to destroy the f6 knight which controls e4, because now Black suddenly gets alife-threatening attack. 33.Bxf6! gxf6 34.Rb3 Bc5 35.Ne4 Bd4 36.Rxb5 Re2 (36...f5 37.Ng5+) 37.Nc5 Re1+ 38.Kh2 Bxf2 39.g4=. 33...Bc5 34.Rxb5 Bxf2+ 35.Kh2 Be1! In order not to lose his a5 pawn, white has to put his pieces to passive, defensive position. 36.Rb7+. 36.Bc7 Nd5 37.Rb7 Kf6 38.Ne4+ Kg6 39.Ra7 h5!-/+ h4, Re2] 36...Kg6 37.Bxf6 gxf6 38.Rb6

38...Bxa5? Kramnik's strategy apparently worked because Peter over-stretched the string. But instead of restoring the material balance, Black would have been able to win the game. 38...Bc3! 39.Rxe6 (39.Ne4 Be5+ 40.Kg1 Bd4+ 41.Kh2 Bxb6 42.axb6 Rb2-+) 39...Be5 40.a6 h5 41.h4 Ra3-+. 39.Rxe6 Bc7 40.Re3 Ra4 41.Rf3 h5

42.Kg1. High precaution is needed even in positions with low material. [For example: 42.Kh1? h4 43.Nf1 Ra1 44.Kg1 Bg3 45.Rb3 f5 46.Rf3 Kf6 47.Kh1 Ke5 48.Kg1 Ke4 49.Kh1 Be5! 50.Re3+ Kd5 51.Rd3+ Bd4 52.Rf3 Ke4 53.Kh2 Rd1 (53...f4? 54.Nd2+=) 54.Kh1 f4 55.Kh2 Be3 56.Kh1 Kd3 57.Kh2 Ke2 58.Nxe3 fxe3-+. 42...Bb6+ 43.Kh2 h4 44.Nf5 Bc7+ 45.g3 hxg3+ 46.Nxg3 f5 47.Kg2 f4 48.Nf1 Kf5 49.Ne3+ Ke4 50.Ng4 Ra2+ 51.Nf2+ Kf5 52.Rb3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay].


Picture Gallery


Kramnik vs Leko, game three, in the packed National Theater


The audience can see the players, and follow the moves on giant screens


The game approaches a critical point


When Peter Leko played 29...Rfe8? Kramnik looked around in disbelief


Peter Leko resigns game three, Vladimir Kramnik has drawn first blood


Game four, with a grimly determined Peter Leko


After the day's play there is public commentary by both players, with translations
from and to Russian (from Hungarian) provided by WGM Zsuzsa Veröci.

At the end of the two exciting games the Mayor of Miskolc invited the players and special guests to a wine tasting in the Town Hall. This involved eleven different Hungarian wines and lasted late into the evening.


Wine tasting in the Town Hall – one of the reasons we are in Miskolc


The wine masters are ready to walk us through the eleven different sorts


And the next one is something really special...


Vlagyimir, as the Hungarians call him, enjoying one of the heavier sorts, while
Lékó Péter seems a bit skeptical (or still mulling over game three?)


Experts know: you swirl the wine in the glass, sniff it, then swirl it in your mouth


The Mayor Sandor Kali making sure that everyone (here Peter Leko's wife Sofi,
right, and her mother Marina) is enjoying the feast


Sofi (that's her preferred spelling) enjoying the wine and the company


And the wine helps Peter slowly recover from the shock of game three

Borkóstoltatás Miskolc – the wines we tasted

  1. Balatonlelle Konyári Pince Ikon 2004 (chardonnay & irsai olivér)
    Vegetal, clear nose. 9 C. Alc: 12.5%, Sugar: 1 g/l, Acid: 6.6 g/l
  2. Látrány Palota Borház Tisli 2006 (Rajnai Rizling)
    Springlike, graceful, a fresh aroma and flavour. A real conversational wine. 10 C. Alc: 12.08%, Sugar: 6,08 g/l, Acid: 6.8 g/l
  3. Balatonszepezd Alexander Pincészet Olaszrizling 2003
    Honey and apricot notes dominate its fragrances. Rounded, fine and balanced on the palate, distinctive for its variety on the finish. 12 C. Alc: 12.9%, Sugar: 2.3 g/l, Acid: 5.5 g/l
  4. Mád Benza Pincészet Furmint 2003
    Characteristically fiery, full-bodied, flinty yet harmonic aroma and palate.11 C. Alc: 13.1%, Sugar: 1.6g/l, Acid: 6.3 g/l
  5. Hegymagas Palota Borház Pillangó 2006 - Pinot Noir Rosé
    Exotic fruit fragrance. Mildly carbonic, crispy texture. 7 C. Alc: 13.9%, Sugar: 1.2g/l, Acid: 6.0 g/l
  6. Látrány Palota Borház Palota Rubin 2003
    Elegant barrel, flattering, round acids, velvety tannins. 16 C. Alcohol: 12,4%, Sugar: 1,3 g/l, Acid: 5,6 g/l
  7. Balatonlelle Konyári Pincészet Loliense 2002 (Cabernet Sauvignon)
    Spicy nose, big acids, fruits of the forest on the palate. 16 C. Alcohol: 13,4%, Sugar: 1,5 g/l, Acid: 5,4 g/l
  8. Tállya Benza Pincészet Hárslevelu 2003
    Full-bodied succulent, almost oily in consistency; ends with intensive linden aromas and notes from the maturation barrel. 13 C. Alcohol: 15,06%, Sugar: 6,1 g/l, Acid: 5,6 g/l
  9. Tállya Benza Pincészet Aszú 3 puttonyos 2003
    Rich world of fragrances: lily-of-the-valley, linden honey. The palate opens to the exotic. 13 C. Alcohol: 12,4%, Sugar: 74 g/l, Acid: 8,2 g/l
  10. Tállya Benza Pincészet Aszú 6 puttonyos 2002
    Deep ambergris colour. Aromas reminiscent of dried apricot, prune, date. 12 C. Alcohol: 11.4%, Sugar: 156 g/l, Acid: 11.6 g/l
  11. Tállya Benza Pincészet Aszúesszencia 2002
    Every aroma and fragrance characteristic of the grand aszú's: from honey to apricot, from tobacco to chocolate. Dill and pumpkin. 14 C. Alcohol: 7.1%, Sugar: 255 g/l, Acid: 9.2 g/l

  12. The wines were provided by Borfalu Borteka / Andras Kovacs

Photos and report by Frederic Friedel

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