(1) Kramnik,V (2769) - Grischuk,A (2726) [E06]
WCh Mexico City MEX (4), 16.09.2007
[Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5
Frankly speaking, it seems to me that entering the Catalan paths against Kramnik nowadays is a bit like playing with fire. This subtle opening seems to suit the World Champion's present personality and style perfectly. In this game, he will once again prove his deep opening preparation and only a time trouble miracle will save Grischuk.

4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Ra7 11.a3!?
A very rare move. White usually develops his king's rook to c1 or d1, waiting for Black to develop his knight, in order to play Ba5. Kramnik seems to believe that the modest advance of the a-pawn, keeping the enemy pawns under control, is a more useful waiting move.

11...Nbd7 12.Ba5 Qa8!?
[Grischuk aims for rapid activation of his pieces, probably with the secret hope to surprize his well prepared opponent. If the latter is true, a bitter dissapointment awaited him... A more common continuation would have been 12...Be4 13.Qc1 Qb8 14.Nbd2 Ba8 15.b4 White has stabilized the queenside and could think about gradual central expansion.]

Played without too much thinking.

13...Rc8 14.Qf4 Rc2 15.Nbd2 Rxb2 16.Rfc1 Nd5 17.Qe4
Up to this moment, Kramnik had spent less than a quarter of an hour. Quite suggestive for the degree of successfulness of Grischuk's surprize...

17...b4 18.Qd3 bxa3 19.Nc4 Bc6 20.Nxa3 Bb5 21.Nc4 Bb4 22.Qd1 Bxc4 23.Rxc4 Bxa5 24.Rxa5
White has the more compact pawn structure and a very strong light-squared bishop. However, this position might have caused Kramnik contradictory feelings. To a certain extent, the position is similar to the first game of his match against Topalov. On that occasion, he had to defend for a long time on the edge of the precipice, but eventually won.

24...Qb8 25.Nd2 N5b6 26.Rc1 g6 27.Ne4 Rb5 28.Ra2 a5 29.Nc5 Qd6 30.Nb7 Qb8 31.Qd3 Rh5 32.Nc5 Nd5 33.Qc4 N5b6 34.Qc3 Nd5 35.Qa1 Nxc5 36.Rxc5
The pawn cannot be saved anymore.

36...Nb4 37.Raxa5 Nc2 38.Rxa7?
[This spectacular move lets the advantage slip away. 38.Qa2! would have won the pawn and, most probably, the game.]

38...Nxa1 39.Ra8 Qxa8 40.Bxa8 Rxc5 41.dxc5 Kf8 42.c6 Ke7 43.c7 Kd7 44.Bc6+ Kxc7 45.Ba4
White still has some winning chances. The knight is isolated in the corner, while the black pawns are vulnerable. A new miracle is needed...

45...Kb6 46.Kg2 Kc5 47.Kf3 Kb4 48.Be8 f6 49.Bf7 Nb3
Indirectly defending the pawn and winning an essential tempo.

50.e3 Nc5 51.h4 Kc3 52.Bg8 h6 53.Bf7 g5 54.Kg4 Ne4 55.hxg5 hxg5 56.Bxe6 Nxf2+ 57.Kf5 Kd3
The incredible has just happened. Black's pieces came back into play just in time.

58.Kxf6 Ne4+ 59.Kg6 Nxg3 60.Kxg5 Kxe3 1/2-1/2