Can Kramnik restore the honour of humanity? After Kasparov's 1997 loss to Deep Blue in New York chess fans had to wait for a long time for the revenge. Now we can only hope that Kramnik will erase the stain on chess by beating Deep Fritz, and that Kasparov too will be successful in his December match against Deep Junior. Then the ball would be back in the computer's court.
The rules of the game are different when you play against a computer, and Kramnik is sure to have worked out a completely different strategie than for his games against human opponents. He is bound to strive for closed positions which are very difficult for a computer to understand. But there are also other strategies. The Berlin Defence is a great weapon against the Ruy Lopez. This is especially true for players named Kramnik when they are playing against Kasparov and against computers. Take a look:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 The Berlin Defence! [ 3...a6 is the main line]
4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 The black bishop pair gives him compensation for the pawn structure weakened by the doubled c-pawns (normally the pawn ending would be lost) and for the white advantage in development. Whether this is enough is currently being vigorously debated in the chess world. Here the main question is how Deep Fritz will be able to handle the position. Today's opening choice was excellent. I can only assume that Kramnik will be satisfied to draw with the black pieces and to attack with White. We will see if this is true in the coming days.
9.Nc3 h6 10.b3 [ GM Ronen Har Zvi also played the Berliner in a Man vs Machine event in Kasparov Chess. He did quite well with it, and I'm sure that Kramnik has studied this game carefully. 10.Bd2 Ke8 11.Rad1 Be6 12.Rfe1 Rd8 13.a4 Bb4 14.Ne4 Bxd2 15.Rxd2 Rxd2 16.Nfxd2 Ke7 17.f3 Rd8 18.Kf2 b6 19.b4 g5 20.g3 Rd5 21.c4 Rd3 22.Rb1 Ra3 23.a5 Ra2 24.g4 Nh4 25.Ke3 Ra3+ 26.Rb3 Rxb3+ 27.Nxb3 Bxc4 28.Nd4 Bd5 29.a6 Ng6 30.Nf5+ Ke6 31.Nxh6 Bxe4 32.Kxe4 Nxe5 33.Nf5 f6 34.Nd4+ Kd7 35.h3 c5 36.bxc5 bxc5 37.Ne2 c4 38.f4 Nd3 39.fxg5 fxg5 40.Kf5 Nf2 41.Kxg5 Nxh3+ 42.Kh5 Kd6 43.g5 Nxg5 44.Kxg5 Kc5 45.Kf4 Kb6 46.Ke5 Kxa6 1/2-1/2 Comp Deep Junior-Har Zvi,R/KasparovChess INT 2000/CBM 79 ext (46); 10.h3 Kramnik has done well with this move: 10...Bd7 ( 10...Ke8 11.Ne4 c5 12.c3 b6 13.Re1 Be6 14.g4 1/2-1/2 Kasparov,G-Kramnik,V/London ENG 2000/The Week in Chess 312 (14)) 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 b6 13.Rad1 Ne7 14.Rd2 c5 15.Rfd1 Be6 16.Ne2 g5 17.h4 g4 18.Nh2 h5 19.Rd8+ Kb7 20.Rxa8 Kxa8 21.Rd8+ Kb7 22.Nf4 Ng6 23.g3 c4 24.bxc4?? ein unerklaerlicher Patzer Anands. 24...Nxf4 25.gxf4 g3!! 26.Nf1 ( 26.fxg3 Bc5+ 27.Kg2 Rxd8-+ ) 26...gxf2+ 27.Kh2 Bxc4 0-1 Anand,V-Kramnik,V/Mainz GER 2001 (27); Judit Polgar was able to defeat Garry Kasparov with 10.Rd1+!? in a rapid chess event. Kasparov was apparently so impressed with Kramnik's treatment of the Berlin Defence that he has introduced it into his own repertoire. 10...Ke8 11.h3 Be7 ( 11...a5 12.Bf4 Be6 13.g4 Ne7 14.Nd4 Nd5 15.Nce2 Bc5 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.c4 Nb6 18.b3 a4 19.Bd2 Kf7 20.Bc3 Rhd8 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 22.Kg2 Rd3 23.Rc1 g5 24.Rc2 axb3 25.axb3 Nd7 26.Ra2 Be7 27.Ra7 Nc5 28.f3 Nxb3 29.Rxb7 Nc1 30.Nxc1 Rxc3 1/2-1/2 Kasparov,G-Kramnik,V/London ENG 2000/The Week in Chess 311 (30)) 12.Ne2 Nh4 13.Nxh4 Bxh4 14.Be3 Bf5 15.Nd4 Bh7 16.g4 Be7 17.Kg2 h5 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.Kf3 Bg6 20.Rd2 hxg4+ 21.hxg4 Rh3+ 22.Kg2 Rh7 23.Kg3 f6 24.Bf4 Bxf5 25.gxf5 fxe5 26.Re1 Bd6 27.Bxe5 Kd7 28.c4 c5 29.Bxd6 cxd6 30.Re6 Rah8 31.Rexd6+ Kc8 32.R2d5 Rh3+ 33.Kg2 Rh2+ 34.Kf3 R2h3+ 35.Ke4 b6 36.Rc6+ Kb8 37.Rd7 Rh2 38.Ke3 Rf8 39.Rcc7 Rxf5 40.Rb7+ Kc8 41.Rdc7+ Kd8 42.Rxg7 Kc8 1-0 Polgar,J-Kasparov,G/Moscow RUS 2002/The Week in Chess 409 (42)]
10...Ke8 Kramnik voluntarily leaves the d-file and goes for a very solid setup with his bishops on e7, e6, h5 and a5. This position can only be stormed with very long-term plans which are difficult for the computer to find. So it is an ideal position against Deep Fritz, but a disappointment for chess fans who want to see fiery combinations.
11.Bb2 Be7 [ Kramnik has certainly studied the following game: 11...a5 12.Ne2 a4 13.Nf4 Be6 14.g4 Ne7 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Nd4 ( 16.Kg2!? ) 16...Kf7 17.c4 ( 17.f4 Nd5<=> ) 17...h5!= 18.Nf3 Ng6 19.Ng5+ Ke7 20.Ba3+ Ke8 21.Bxf8 Nxf8 22.Rad1 hxg4 23.Rd4 Rh6 24.Rxg4 axb3 25.axb3 Ra3= 0-1 Klovans,J-Dautov,R/Minsk 1986/EXT 86 (40)]
12.Rad1 a5 Kramnik cleverly holds back with his Bishop on c8, so that his bishop pair may not be prematurely cut in half. [ Folgende Partie ist ein Beispiel dafuer wie Schwarz untergehen kann, wenn er zuviele Abtaeusche zulaesst und nicht aktiv genug steht: 12...Be6 13.Ne2 Rd8 14.Rxd8+ Bxd8 15.Rd1 Rg8 16.Nf4 g5 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.g4 Ne7 19.Nd4 Rg6 20.c4 c5 21.Ne2 Rg8 22.Ng3 Ng6 23.Nh5 Be7 24.Kg2 Rf8 25.Kg3 Rf7 26.Rd3 Bd8 27.f3 b6 28.Kf2 Rd7 29.Rxd7 Kxd7 30.Ke3 Ke8 31.Ke4 Kf7 32.Bc1 c6 33.Be3 Nf8 and now the white pawn majority is a clear danger. 34.f4 gxf4 35.Bxf4 Kg6 36.Nf6 Bxf6 37.exf6 Nd7 38.h3 b5 39.f7 h5 40.gxh5+ Kxf7 41.Kd3 Kf6 42.a4 a6 43.a5 Kf5 44.Ke3 Nf6 45.h6 bxc4 46.bxc4 Kg6 47.Be5 Nh7 48.Bf4 Nf6 49.Kf3 Kf5 50.h4 Kg6 51.Be5 Ng8 52.Bg7 Ne7 53.Ke4 Nf5 54.h5+ Kf7 55.Be5 Nxh6 56.Kf4 Nf5 57.Kg5 Kg8 58.Kg6 Nh4+ 59.Kf6 1-0 Klovans,J-Reichenbach,W/Berlin 1998/CBM Extra 66 (59)]
13.a4 [ 13.g4?! doesn't achieve anything: 13...Nh4 14.Nxh4 Bxh4 15.h3 h5 and Black has no problems]
13...h5 secures the knight on and allows a possible Rh6.
14.Ne2 Be6 15.c4 [ 15.Nf4!? g5 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.Nd2 was also possible ( oder 17.Rd3 ) ]
15...Rd8! This is a good strategy since the black rooks are uncoordinated and White has control of the d-file
16.h3 b6 17.Nfd4 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 c5 19.Nxe6 fxe6 The bishop pair has been decimated, but the black position is very solid. An important detail is that the pawn on e5 is on the same coloured square as the bishop on b2. This makes it a weak piece with no perspective on either wing. Does Fritz see and understand this?
20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Bc1 Kc8 Kramnik is planning to exchange the other rook as well, so that Fritz will be left with just the bishop.
22.Rd1 Rd8 23.Rxd8+ Kxd8 24.g4 g6 [ After 24...hxg4?! 25.hxg4 White has the plan f4, Kg1-g2-h3 and Bc1-d2-e1-h4 etc. For this reason Kramnik leaves the white pawn on h3.]
25.h4? A human being would have hardly played this move, since it makes the draw quite evident. [ An alternative strategy would have been 25.Kg2 Ke8 26.Kf3 Kf7 27.Ke4 with the idea f2-f4-f5. Kramnik will certainly have checked such endgames, but I am unable to quickly find the correct defence. I would like to show you some of the ideas and the dangers that lurk with the following lines: 27...Bd8 ( 27...hxg4?! 28.hxg4 g5 29.f4 gxf4 30.Bxf4 Kg6 31.Kf3 c6 32.Kg3 Bd8 33.Kh3 with the idea Bf4-g3-h4.) 28.f4 Be7 29.f5 hxg4 30.hxg4 c6 31.f6 Bd8 and the black position should be quite inpenetrable, since the following plan does not succeed: 32.Be3 Bc7 33.b4? axb4 34.a5? b3-+ ; 25.gxh5?! gxh5 26.Kg2 Ke8 27.Kf3 Kf7 28.Ke4 Kg6 29.f4 c6 is of course totally drawn.]
25...hxg4! [ If Deep Fritz was a human being one would think that it was hoping for 25...Bxh4?? But this blunder was too obvious for Kramnik. The danger is 26.g5 and the bishop will never see the light of day. [However Kramnik later told us that he acutally considered this, because although White can capture the bishop with Kg1-g2-h3 this does not give him a path to penetrate. In fact an immediate 26...Bxf2+ 27.Kxf2 makes the draw obvious.]]
26.Bg5 Bxg5 27.hxg5 The pawn ending is completely drawn since both kings cannot move into the enemy space.
27...Ke8 28.Kg2 and the draw was agreed. We can only wait to see whether Deep Fritz will be able to force his will on the opponent in the next games. 1/2-1/2