Zurich Challenge Aronian-Kramnik: Second game drawn

by ChessBase
4/23/2012 – Levon Aronian surprised his opponent by playing 1.e4 instead of his customary d-pawn push. Vladimir Kramnik played in pet Ruy Lopez Berlin, and a moderately tense struggle ended after three hours and 37 moves in a draw. In the post mortem a spectator showed the players a devilishly clever win that both had overlooked. You will never guess who this super-talent was.

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Zurich Chess Challenge: Kramnik vs. Aronian

The Zurich Chess Club announces a six-game chess match between Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) and Levon Aronian (Armenia) from 21 to 28 April 2012. The numbers two and three of the world ranking will meet in the time-honored Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville at Paradeplatz, the venue of many a famous chess event in the past. Kramnik and Aronian are the winners of the two most prestigious tournaments of the last months. While the 36-year-old Kramnik gained a convincing victory at the London Chess Classic in December, the 29-year-old Aronian won the famous tournament in Wijk aan Zee with an outstanding score.

Swiss alpenhorns on Paradeplatz heralding the start of round two

Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian wait for the clocks to be started

[Event "Zurich Chess challenge Kramnik vs Aroni"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2012.04.22"] [Round "2.1"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2820"] [BlackElo "2801"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. e4 {60 This is actually the biggest opening surprise of them all as Aronian is a noted 1.d4 player. He explained that it was to try to surprise Kramnik, an opponent whose preparation is so refined.} e5 {60} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {0} 3. Bb5 {0} Nf6 {0 Kramnik explained in the post-game conference that he considered deviating from his pet Berlin, but decided to see what Aronian had prepared, betting on his opponent's inexperience to weigh in his favor.} 4. O-O {0} Nxe4 {60} 5. d4 {0} Nd6 {0} 6. Bxc6 {0} dxc6 {0} 7. dxe5 {60} Nf5 {0} 8. Qxd8+ {0} Kxd8 {0} 9. Nc3 {0} Be6 {180 This is the first deviation. Although the development to e6 is nothing odd, this particular move-order plans to bring it back to c8 a few moves later. Owing to the nature of the endgame, he feels that the idea, while exotic looking, has a good basis of logic behind it.} 10. Rd1+ {0} Ke8 {0} 11. Ng5 {60} Bc8 {0.21/0 0} 12. h3 {0.14/0 180} Be7 {0.14/0 60 Here 84 of the 85 games on record continued with Nf3, but Aronian has a very different idea.} 13. Bf4 {0.03/0 120 A theoretical novelty, but apparently not the result of any deep preparation. Considering the unusual Be6-c8 played by Kramnik, this is no surprise.} Nh4 {0.07/0 420 A deep thought, and a good reaction. Vladimir felt that as a result of his unorthodox choice, he had succeeded in tripping Levon and now stood at least equal.} 14. e6 {-0.02/0 1380 } f6 {0.00/0 1020} 15. Nf7 {0.15/0 0} Rg8 {0.08/0 60} 16. Bxc7 {0.00/0 0} Bxe6 {0.04/0 0} 17. Nd6+ {0.04/0 0} Bxd6 {0.00/0 120} 18. Bxd6 {0.06/0 240} Kf7 {0. 09/0 60} 19. f3 {0.15/0 0} Nf5 $6 {0.11/0 240 Here Kramnik played this rather quickly and offered a draw. In hindsight, he agrees with Aronian's choice to decline as he felt this was a very poor move that did not suit the position. There is a certain irony that the engines place it as best or top two best.} 20. Bc5 {0.16/0 60} b6 {0.14/0 420} 21. Bf2 {0.15/0 0} Rgd8 {0.18/0 420} 22. a4 {0.31/0 60} Ne7 {0.16/0 540} 23. a5 {0.21/0 120} c5 {0.28/0 360 In spite of it all, the position is equal.} 24. Nb5 {0.31/0 480} ({There was considerable debate on the engine choice of} 24. g4 $5 {After examining it with the commentators IM Werner Zug and GM Yannick Pelletier, the players conceded it was an option though it was merely a fork in the road, and not a deal-changer. Aronian pointed out that he would reject a move such as 24. g4 purely on principle, and the only way for it to enter his list of candidates would be after analysing the position very deeply.}) 24... Nc6 {0.30/0 360} 25. Rxd8 { 0.00/0 840} Rxd8 {0.00/0 0} 26. axb6 {0.02/0 0} axb6 {0.01/0 0} 27. Ra6 {0.00/ 0 60} Rd1+ {0.00/0 540} 28. Kh2 {0.00/0 0} Rd2 {0.00/0 60} 29. Rxb6 {0.00/0 0 By now, there was the question of whether they would be shaking hands soon and play a rapid game, as there was 20-25 minutes left before the three-hour rule kicked in, or whether the spectators would be deprived of the option. The players eventually played three hours and *five* minutes, and did not play a rapid, but the Armenian said that the choice was not related to the possible rapid game, but because he was under the impression he still had the better chances. Kramnik joked that he was probably not enthusiastic either of the idea of playing a rapid game with Black, since the colors would be reversed. This actually brings up a psychological question. By winning the first game as Black, and having put a bit of pressure as White, however little, would he want to risk his mental edge by possibly losing a rapid, and facing a refreshed Kramnik in game three?} Rxc2 {0.00/0 120} 30. Nd6+ {0.00/0 720} Ke7 { 0.00/0 60} 31. Ne4 {0.00/0 60} Nd4 {0.00/0 420} 32. Rb7+ {0.00/0 60} Kf8 {0.00/ 0 120} 33. Rc7 {0.00/0 60} Rxb2 {0.00/0 180} 34. Rxc5 {0.00/0 0} Nf5 {0.00/0 120} 35. Ng3 {-0.02/0 420} Rxf2 {-0.03/0 25} 36. Nxf5 {-0.02/0 0} Bxf5 {5} 37. Rxf5 {0} Ra2 {4} 1/2-1/2

The games were broadcast live on the official web site, and naturally on Playchess. In addition there was a video broadcast with commentary and images from the playing hall. If you missed it you can follow the entire four hours of action and the press conference in this video stream:

In the postgame analysis at the board Kramnik's super-cute three-year-old daughter Daria joined in

At one stage – you can watch it at 03:15:20 into the video stream on the match web site – she
suggests a devilishly clever move that both players had completely overlooked:

... reinsert the captured black queen on the square a8, with a winning advantage for her daddy!

The press conference after game two (Game 2 - Part 4 in the video list above)

Remaining schedule

  Monday April 23 Rest day
Round 3 Tuesday April 24 15:00h CEST
Round 4 Wednesday April 25 15:00h CEST
  Thursday April 26 Rest day
Round 5 Friday April 27 15:00h CEST
Round 6 Saturday April 28 13:00h CEST

Analysis of games one and two – provided by Andrew Martin


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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