The Prime Minister vs the World Champion

3/6/2005 – The German state of Nordrhein-Westphalia has a political leader who is also an avid chess player. On March 5 he played an exhibition match against classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik. To everybody's amazement the game lasted 37 moves.

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The web site Express.de reports (in German): A sporting knockout is what the Prime Minister of the state of Nordrhin-Westphalia Peer Steinbrück of the SPD had to digest. On Saturday he lost an exhibition match to chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik. "I'm glad that I lasted for more than 20 moves," said Steinbrück, who has played chess since he was six and is considered an ambitious and able amateur. In spite of the superiority of the world champion Steinbrück caused him a lot of problems. "I did not expect such a high level of play," said Kramnik. "I was surprised that Herr Steinbrück got me into so difficult situations."

The news magazine Der Spiegel writes: Peer Steinbrück always plays in the front row, in the politics of Nordrhein-Westphalia. And in chess, against world champions Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn, where he suffered the same fate on the chessboard as his party in the polls. Hang on for as long as possible, then drown. Just a few kilometers away the opposition party NRW-CDU is calling for a change of power, at the state elections on May 22. The TV stations are reporting on the CDU candidate Jürgen Rüttgers, while another channel portraits the prime minister as a strategist who ponders every move and takes the offensive at the right moment. Steinbrück can use these pictures, since his coalition is running eight points behind the CDU.

Steinbrück,Peer - Kramnik,Vladimir
Bonn exhibition, 05.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.h3 Na5 9.c3 Nxb3 10.Qxb3 Bb7 11.d3 0-0 12.Be3 c5 13.Nbd2 Qc7 14.Rac1 Rfe8 15.Qc2 d5 16.Bg5 Rad8 17.Rcd1 h6 18.Bh4 dxe4 19.dxe4 c4 20.Bg3 Bc5 21.Bh4 g5 22.Bg3 Nh5 23.Nf1 Nf4 24.Bxf4 exf4 25.N1h2.

Here Black can win a pawn with 25...Rxd1 26.Rxd1 Bxe4, but Kramnik gives the politician a chance: 25...Qb6 26.Ng4. Well, if he really wants it to happen, here goes: 26...Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Bxe4 28.Qd2 Bxf3 29.gxf3 Qe6 30.Qd7 Kg7 31.Kg2 Qxd7 32.Rxd7 Re2 33.Rc7 Be7 34.Rc6 h5 35.Nh6.

The game is long lost, of course, but White's last mistake really seals his fate. 35...Re5 (covering the escape route of the knight) 36.Rxa6 f6 (cutting off the rook's protection) 37.Ra7 Kxh6 and Steinbrück gave up the hopeless battle: 0-1. Click here to replay the game.


Taking it seriously: Vladimir Kramnik


During the battle


The chess playing prime minister


Exchanging presents: the politician and the chess professional


Refreshments after the game: ACP president Joel Lautier, Vladimir Kramnik

Pictures by Jeroen van den Belt


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