Breaking news: Kramnik wins to retain WCh title

10/19/2004 – In the final game of the Dannemann world chess championship Vladimir Kramnik ground down challenger Peter Leko to equalise 7:7 and, according to the rules, retain his title. A full report will follow later, for now we bring you analysis of the critical game.

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Games 14: Kramnik wins to retain his title

Official press release from Brissago, October 18, 2004. Vladimir Kramnik from Russia is still the World Chess Champion. In the last and decisive game of the Classical World Chess Championship at the CENTRO DANNEMANN, he defeated his challenger Peter Leko (Hungary) in a dramatic game after four hours and 41 moves. The 29 year old Russian, who was one point down since Game 8, today turned the tables and equalized the score.

With a final result of 7 to 7 points Kramnik as titleholder remains the World Champion. “I had to give everything, especially at the end, to win against such an opponent. Peter Leko is an incredible defender. For me it was more difficult than my match against Kasparov in the year 2000”, said Kramnik after the game. His 25 year old challenger from Hungary said: “It was a very hard fight. In the end it was not enough for me to win the title. I’m disappointed, but I’m looking forward to the future. I’m 25 years old, and I hope to get a new chance to become world champion.”

It was a Caro-Kann defense once again. Kramnik chose a sharp variation and got an advantage out of the opening. Leko defended well and was able to neutralize some threats and to reach the endgame, which looked only slightly better for the World Champion. But here Kramnik started to play really impressive chess. With a positional pawn sacrifice he managed to break into the black position. Suddenly his pieces became coordinated ideally. When he pushed his f-pawn, Black's defense started to collapse. Facing inevitable checkmate in two moves, Leko resigned the game.

Kramnik,V (2770) - Leko,P (2741) [B12]
WCh Brissago SUI (14), 18.10.2004

B12: Caro-Kann: Advance Variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 [4.Nc3 e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2 The main line.; 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 A modern quiet line popularized by Nigel Short and Boris Gelfand.]

4...h6 ..h5 is a more popular alternative. [4...h5 5.c4 e6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.g3 1/2-1/2 Topalov,V-Bareev,E/Cap d'Agde 2003/CBM 98/[Lukacs] (57)]

5.g4 Bd7 [5...Bh7 6.e6 Qd6 7.exf7+ Kxf7 8.Nc3 e5 9.Qf3+ Nf6 10.g5 hxg5 11.hxg5 Be4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Qb3+ Nd5 14.Rxh8 exd4 15.Ne2 Nd7 16.Nxd4 Qe5 17.Qxb7 Bb4+ 18.c3 Rxh8 19.Qxd7+ Kg6 20.Nxc6 Bxc3+ 21.Kd1 Qf5 22.Qxf5+ 1-0 Sveshnikov,E-Gagunashvili,M/Dubai 2003/CBM 93 ext (22)] 6.Nd2N (D1)

A new move already. It's very early but you have to consider Kramnik's opening a success. He has all the pieces and pawns on the board in an unusual and unbalanced position. Leko isn't a Caro-Kann player and the positions don't come naturally to him. You could say the same about Kramnik, who only recently returned to 1.e4.

[6.Be3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.a3 a5 9.b3 e6 10.h5 b5 11.Nf3 Qb8 12.Bg2 c4 13.bxc4 bxc4 14.Qc2 a4 15.Nbd2 Na5 16.0-0 Nb3 17.Ra2 1-0 Bronstein,D-Donner,J/Budapest 1961/EXT 98 (32); 6.c3 c5 (6...e6 7.h5 c5 8.f4 Qb6 9.Nf3 Bb5 10.Bxb5+ Qxb5 11.Na3 Qb6 12.dxc5 Bxc5 13.b4 Be3 14.Qd3 Bxc1 15.Rxc1 0-1 Kotronias,V-David,A/Plovdiv 2003/CBM 98 (39)) 7.Bg2 e6 8.Ne2 Bb5 9.Na3 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bxa3 12.bxa3 Nc6 13.Be3 Qa5+ 14.Kf1 Nge7 15.Rb1 Rb8 16.Bh3 Qa4 17.Rd1 Qxa3 18.Kg2 Qa6 0-1 Tal,M-Botvinnik,M/Moscow 1961/MainBase (41); 6.c4 e6 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.c5 b6 9.h5 bxc5 10.dxc5 Bc8 11.Be3 Ba6 12.Bxa6 Nxa6 13.Qa4 1/2-1/2 Bronstein,D-Portisch,L/Moscow 1961/EXT 2001 (49)]

6...c5 The normal reaction, hitting the advanced center as quickly as possible. 7.dxc5 c3 might maintain the pawn center, but the structure would become static and predictable. Kramnik needs to keep the position dynamic.

7...e6 8.Nb3 Bxc5 9.Nxc5 Qa5+ 10.c3 Qxc5 11.Nf3 Ne7 12.Bd3 Nbc6 13.Be3 Qa5 14.Qd2 (D2)


[14...d4!? A surprising pawn sacrifice suggested by Garry Kasparov on It's a move you would expect from Kasparov, activating the black pieces and gaining the powerful d5 square for a knight. 15.cxd4 Nb4 16.0-0 (16.Bb1 Bc6 17.Rh3) 16...Qd5 17.Be2 Bb5 18.Bxb5+ Qxb5 19.Rfc1 b6 (19...Ned5) ]

15.Bd4 Nxd4 16.cxd4 Qxd2+ [16...Qb6 17.Rc1=] 17.Kxd2 Nf4 18.Rac1 h5 19.Rhg1! Bc6 20.gxh5 Nxh5 21.b4! Kramnik plays the position with the energy it requires to exploit his lead in development and the awkward black pieces. Leko never recovers.

21...a6 22.a4 The threat of b5 and Rc7 forces Leko to lose time or play a pawn grab. [22.Rc5 g6+/-] 22...Kd8

[22...Bxa4!? This risky continuation was also suggested by Kasparov as a way to break the pattern of the game. 23.Rc7 Bb5 (23...Bc6? 24.Ng5 0-0 25.Bh7+ Kh8 26.Bc2) 24.Bb1 Maintaining the threat of Ng5. (24.Bxb5+ axb5 25.Rgc1 0-0 26.Rxb7 Kasparov 26...f6 27.exf6 Rxf6 28.Rc3) 24...Bd7 (24...b6!?) 25.Ng5 Rf8 26.Bd3 Ke7 27.Ke3 b5 28.Nxf7 Rxf7 29.Bg6 Rf4 30.Bxh5 Re4+ 31.Kd3 Kd8 32.Rb7 Kc8 33.Rb6; 22...Ke7 23.b5 axb5 24.axb5 Bd7 25.Rc7 b6 26.Ke3]

23.Ng5+/- One look at the four rooks shows how much trouble Leko is in despite the simplified position. White's advantage in development is close to overwhelming and there are too many weaknesses in the black position. 23...Be8 If this move is necessary than Black really is lost already! [23...Ke7 24.Ke3+/- (24.b5 axb5 25.axb5 Bd7 26.Rc7) ]

24.b5 [24.Ke3] 24...Nf4 [24...axb5 25.Bxb5 (25.axb5? Nf4) 25...b6 26.Bxe8 Rxe8 (26...Kxe8 27.Rc7) 27.Nxf7+] 25.b6! Ignoring the attack on his bishop, Kramnik begins to establish the bind that will strangle Black until the end. The rest of the game is almost painful to watch as Leko struggles for freedom without giving up too much material. Kramnik controls the position with an iron hand.

25...Nxd3 26.Kxd3 Rc8 27.Rxc8+ Kxc8 28.Rc1+ Bc6 [28...Kb8 29.Rc7 Rf8 Passive defense is hopeless. Black will soon run out of moves and enter zugzwang. (29...Rxh4 30.Nxf7 Bxf7 31.Rxf7 Rh3+ 32.Kd2 Kc8 33.Rc7+ Kd8 (33...Kb8 34.Rxg7 Kc8) 34.Rxb7) 30.a5]

29.Nxf7 Rxh4 30.Nd6+ (D3)

"A knight on the sixth rank practically wins the game by itself." A better example of this old maxim is hard to imagine, although here the b6 pawn helps quite a bit.

30...Kd8 31.Rg1 Rh3+ 32.Ke2 Ra3 [32...a5 33.Rxg7 Rb3 34.Nxb7+ Bxb7 35.Rxb7+-; 32...Rh4 33.Ke3 Rh7 34.a5+-]

33.Rxg7 Rxa4 34.f4! Kramnik heads directly for the winning e6 breakthrough. [34.Nxb7+?! Give up such a knight for the pathetic bishop? 34...Bxb7+/=]

34...Ra2+ [34...Rxd4 35.f5 exf5 36.e6+-] 35.Kf3+- Ra3+ 36.Kg4 f5 can't be stopped.

36...Rd3? Now it ends quickly, although at this point Leko could only hope to complicate and induce a blunder. Playing for checks could have delayed things only a little. [36...Ra1 37.Nxb7+ With the white king so far up the board, the rook endgame is a piece of cake. 37...Bxb7 38.Rxb7 Rg1+ (38...Rb1 39.f5 Rg1+ 40.Kh5 exf5 41.Ra7) 39.Kh5 Rd1+- (39...Kc8) ]

37.f5 Rxd4+ Fritz now announced mate. [37...Rd1 38.f6 Rxd4+ 39.Kf3 Rd2 40.Rg8+ Kd7+-; 37...exf5+ 38.Kxf5 Rh3+-]

38.Kg5 exf5 [38...Be8 39.fxe6 Rd1 40.Rxb7 Rg1+ 41.Kh4 Rh1+ 42.Kg3 Rg1+ 43.Kh2 Rg7 44.Rb8+ Ke7 45.Rxe8#]

39.Kf6 Rg4 40.Rc7 [40.Rh7 Rg8 41.e6 Re8 42.Rc7 Rf8+ 43.Nf7+ Rxf7+ 44.exf7 f4 45.f8Q+ Be8 46.Qe7#]

40...Rh4 [40...Bd7 41.Nxb7+ Ke8 42.Nd6+ Kd8 43.Nf7+ Ke8 44.b7] 41.Nf7+ 1-0 (D4)

It's mate. A brilliant, if one-sided, performance. Or maybe Kramnik just made it look easy against one of the best defenders in the world. [41.Nf7+ Ke8 42.Rc8+ Kd7 43.Rd8#]

Final standing
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko

According to the rules Vladimir Kramnik retains his title. Full report to follow

The winner, Vladimir Kramnik, gets the World Championship trophy from Dannemann's Brazil chief Hans Leusen after the match

The trophy that Kramnik received

Contacts and further information

Rolf Behovits
Press Officer World Chess Championship
Via Ruggero Leoncavallo
CH-6614 Brissago


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