Dannemann: Leko survives Kramnik onslaught

10/16/2004 – Game 13, the penultimate in this match, saw classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik turn on the heat, with the black pieces. Challenger Peter Leko was clearly surprised and was soon hanging over the cliff. But using some incredible defensive moves he managed to hold on and is now just half a point from the title. Analysis now up!

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Games 13: Leko survives Kramnik attack

Possibly the most exciting and nerve-tingling game ended after six hours and 65 moves. Vladimir Kramnik took a lot of risks , playing a very complicated opening. He surprised Peter Leko with his plan f7-f5, and reached a promising position. Leko managed to simplify the position and went into a rook endgame. But he was also in time trouble and missed some important moves. Soon his position was considered completely lost by all expert, but under enormous pressure, Leko played his best chess and found a miracle defence to save the game.

Now the outcome of the Classical World Chess Championship at Centro Dannemann will be decided in the last game of the match, which will be played on Monday, October 18, at 15:00h CET. Title holder Vladimir Kramnik has to win the game, with the white pieces, in order to draw the match and retain his title. For challenger Leko a draw will be enough to become the new World Champion.


It will take longer than a day to get to the truth of this difficult rook endgame. We hope our lines at least provide a head start! It looks like Kramnik had good chances of playing for a win as late as move 50. Leko clearly had quick drawing methods available before the 33.g4?

Leko,P (2741) - Kramnik,V (2770) [A73]
WCh Brissago SUI (13), 16.10.2004

A73: Modern Benoni 1.d4 . Leko continues to play 1.d4, which he has done since losing game one and getting nothing in game three against the Petroff. It was quite a step to make sure there was no way Kramnik could have something special prepared just for him with black. Leko always played 1.e4. In this way he emulated Fischer, who always played 1.e4 only to vary in several games in his 1972 match with Spassky.

1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 There is some irony in the ultra-solid Kramnik playing the Benoni. Many classical players will change to the Sicilian against e4 when they have to play for a win with black. Against d4 the Benoni is in that category. Like the Sicilian, it forced both sides to play for the initiative. There is no way to calmly defuse the Benoni, so it's ideal for Kramnik's situation. That is, unless you get killed!

4.d5 [4.g3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Nc3 a6 7.Bg2 Qxc4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nb3 d5 10.Bf4 Qb4 11.Re1 Be7 1-0 Kasparov,G-Kramnik,V/Moscow 2001/CBM 87 (31)]

4...d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.Nd2 Bg7 8.e4 0-0 9.Be2 Na6 10.0-0 Ne8 11.Nc4 Nac7 12.a4 All standard Benoni play. Black looks for breaks with ..b5 and ..f5. White wants to crash through in the center.

12...f5 Kramnik had this position with white way back in 1995. It's unlikely he prepared the Benoni for the match, but a two-day crash course and a sharp, unbalanced position isn't a bad deal.

13.exf5 [13.f3 Qe7 14.Bf4 g5 15.Bg3 f4 16.Bf2 b6 17.Re1 Ba6 18.e5 Bxc4 19.exd6 Nxd6 20.Bxc4 Qd7 21.Ba2 Rae8 22.Qd3 Kh8 23.Rxe8 Rxe8 24.Rd1 Bf6 25.Bb1 Re7 26.h3 Nce8 27.Bc2 Be5 Kramnik,V-Ivanchuk,V/Belgrade 1995/CBM 51/[ChessBase]/1/2-1/2 (46); 13.Bf4 fxe4 14.Qd2 Qf6 15.Bg5 Qf7 16.Rad1 Bf5 17.g4 Bd7 18.Nxe4 Bxa4 19.Ncxd6 Nxd6 20.Nxd6 Qd7 21.Ra1 Qxd6 22.Rxa4 Bd4 23.Bh6 Rf7 24.b4 Re8 25.bxc5 Bxc5 26.Bd3 b5 27.Re4 Qxd5 Gyimesi,Z-Chatalbashev,B/Bled 2002/CBM 89 ext/1-0 (39)]

13...Rxf5 14.Bg4 Rf8N [14...Rf7 15.Bf3 b6 16.Ne4 h6 17.Re1 Bb7 18.Ng3 Nf6 19.Ne3 Qf8 20.Qd3 Nd7 21.Qxg6 Ne5 22.Qh5 Rxf3 23.Nef5 Rxf5 24.Nxf5 Kh7 25.Ra3 Qe8 26.Nxg7 Nf3+ 27.gxf3 Qxe1+ 28.Kg2 Qxc1 0-1 Socha,C-Yudasin,L/Gdynia 1987/EXT 97]

15.Bxc8 Rxc8 16.Qb3 b6 17.Nb5 Nxb5 18.axb5 (D1)

Leko has gotten two sets of minor pieces off the board and his Nc4 is an admirable beast with a target on d6. Leko also has the a-file to work with. Kramnik has the f-file and a terrifying Gufeld bishop.

18...Rc7 19.Bd2 Rcf7 20.Bc3 Qd7 The weak b5 pawn needs constant protection.

21.f3 g5! Kramnik goes to work pressing his advantage on the kingside. He can't wait and put all his eggs in a one-game basket on the final day. He plays for a win here and comes very close to achieving it.

22.Ne3 Rf4 Covering d4 and g4.

23.Rfe1 h5 24.Qc2 Qf7 Covering g6 and increasing the kingside pressure. [24...Qxb5?? 25.Rxa7]

25.h3 Bd4 26.Bxd4 Rxd4

[26...cxd4 A major turning point that at least has the advantage of keeping the pieces on the board. Although it seems that White is quicker to exploit that. 27.Nc4 g4 28.Re6 gxf3 29.Nxd6 An interesting drawing line. (29.Rg6+ Ng7 30.Nxd6 Qe7) 29...Nxd6 30.Rg6+ Kh8 31.Rh6+ Kg8 32.Rg6+ Kh8 33.Rh6+=]

27.Nf5! (D2)

Nicely done, if a draw is what you're looking for. Getting the pieces off the board leaves White with an equal endgame. The threats against d4 and h6 force the exchanges.

27...Qxf5 28.Qxf5 Rxf5 29.Rxe8+ Kf7 Black's rooks look the more menacing, but with so many pawn targets in the black camp there should be many ways for White to draw.

30.Rb8 Rdxd5 This allows an immedate drawing continuation thanks to the trapped position of the black king.

31.Rxa7+ Ke6 32.Re8+ Kf6 (D3)

33.g4? A curious and unfortunate decision that creates a handful of weaknesses.

[>=33.Rh7= The black king is locked up. 33...h4 (33...Rde5? 34.Rh6+ Kg7 35.Rxe5 Rxe5 36.Rxd6; 33...g4 34.Rf8+ Kg6 35.Rxf5 Rxf5 36.fxg4 hxg4 37.hxg4 Rd5 38.Rb7) 34.Rhh8 Rd1+ 35.Kh2 Re5 36.Rhf8+ Kg6 37.Rg8+ Kf5 38.Rgf8+ Kg6]

33...hxg4-/+ [33...Rxf3?? 34.Rf8+ Ke6 35.Rxf3 hxg4 36.hxg4+-] 3

4.hxg4 Rd1+ [34...Rxf3?? 35.Rf8+ Ke6 36.Rxf3+-]

35.Kf2 Re5 36.Rh8 [36.Rxe5? No need to give the black king a head start. 36...Kxe5]

36...Rd2+ 37.Kg3 Ree2 Hmm, maybe Leko will fall for the mate in three... [

37...Rxb2?? 38.Rh6#; 37...Ke6 38.Re8+ (38.Rb7 Kd5 39.Rxb6 (39.Rg8 Rxb2 40.Rxb6 c4 41.Rd8 Kc5 (41...Re6 42.Rg8) 42.Rbxd6 Rxb5 43.Rd1 Rb3 (43...Kb4? 44.Rb1+ Kc3 45.Rc1+ Kb3 46.f4=) 44.Rc1 Kb4 45.Kf2 Rc5 46.Ke2) 39...Ree2 40.Rh1 Rxb2 41.Rb8 Kc4 42.Rg8 Re5 43.Rd8 d5 (43...Rd5 44.Rc1+ Kb3 45.b6 Rdd2) 44.Rc1+ Kd4 45.Rd1+) 38...Kd5 39.Rxe5+ Kxe5 40.Rg7 (40.Rf7 Rxb2 41.Rf5+ Kd4 42.Rxg5 Rxb5 43.f4 Rb3+ 44.Kf2 b5 45.f5 Ke5 46.Rg6) 40...Kf6 41.Rb7 Rxb2 42.Rxb6 Ke5 43.Rb8 c4 44.b6 d5]

38.Rf8+ Kg6 39.Rg8+ Kf6 40.Rf8+ Ke6 41.Re8+ Kd5 42.Rxe2 Rxe2 No more mate and a pair of rooks leaves the board. The problem now is that the black king is very active.

43.Rg7 Re5 (D4) [43...Rxb2 44.Rxg5+ Ke6 45.Rg6+ Ke7 46.f4 Rxb5 47.f5 c4]

This is the position where everyone knew that Peter Leko was completely lost. But watching the game on Playchess.com Garry Kasparov suddenly said "Wait a minute, after 44.Rb7 White has chances to draw."

In spite of harsh contradiction by the heavily armed spectators (equipped with Fritz, Junior and even the 16-processor Hydra) Kasparov stuck to his analysis, which Leko went on to play, almost move by move. GM Jon Levitt called it a magical draw.

44.Rb7 c4 [44...Kc4 45.Rxb6 d5 (45...Rd5 46.Rb8 Kb4 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Ke3 Rxb2 49.f4) 46.f4 Re3+ 47.Kf2 gxf4 48.Rd6 Rg3 49.b6 Rxg4 50.b7 Rg8 51.Rb6 Rb8 52.Kf3 d4 53.Kxf4]

45.Rxb6 Re2 [>=45...Re3!?-+ Preventing f4, but how can Black make progress?]

46.f4! The key move Kasparov predicted. 46...Re3+ 47.Kf2 gxf4 48.Rb8 Rb3 49.b6?! [49.g5 Ke5 50.b6 Rxb2+ 51.Kf3=]

49...Ke4 [49...Rxb2+ 50.Kf3 c3 51.b7-+ Kd4 52.Rd8 Rxb7 53.Rxd6+ Kc5 54.Rd1 Rf7 55.g5 Kc4 56.g6 Rf8 57.g7 Rg8 58.Rd7 c2 59.Rc7+ Kd3 60.Rd7+ Kc3 61.Rc7+ Kd2 62.Rd7+ Kc1 63.Kxf4=]

50.Re8+ (D5) [>=50.g5 Rxb2+ 51.Ke1-+]


[>=50...Kd4 Apparently the last best chance to press hard for a win. With the king on d4 Black can disrupt the defensive plan that Leko establishes in the game. 51.Re2 (51.g5 Rxb2+ 52.Kf3 Rxb6-+ 53.Kxf4 Rb1 54.Re4+ Kc5 55.g6 Rg1 56.Kf5 c3; 51.Rb8 Rxb2+ 52.Kf3 c3 53.b7 c2 54.Rc8 Rb3+-+)

51...f3 Possible with the black king on d4 instead of d3 as in the game. 52.Rd2+ (52.Re1 d5 53.g5 Rxb2+ 54.Kxf3 c3 55.g6 Rxb6 56.Rd1+ Kc4 57.Rg1 Rb8 58.g7 Rg8 59.Ke2 d4 60.Kd1 d3-+) 52...Ke4 (52...Ke5) 53.Rc2 (53.Rxd6 Rxb2+ 54.Kg3 f2 55.Kg2 c3 56.Rc6 c2 57.b7 Kd3-+) 53...d5 54.Kg3 Rxb6 55.g5 d4-+]

51.Re2!= d5 [51...Kd4 Trying to reestablish the f3 threat now, a tempo behind, doesn't seem to work. 52.b7 Rxb7 53.Kf3]

52.Kf3 d4 53.g5 c3 54.bxc3 dxc3 55.Rg2 Rb2 56.b7 Rxb7 57.Kxf4 Rb2 58.Rg1 c2 59.Rc1 Rb1 60.Rxc2 Kxc2 61.g6 Kd3 62.Kf5 Rb5+ 63.Kf6 Rb6+ 64.Kf7 Rxg6 65.Kxg6 1/2-1/2

Current standing
Vladimir Kramnik
Peter Leko

Contacts and further information

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


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