Anand=Godzilla, Kramnik=Tokyo

Anand won game six of the big chess match. He has now won three out of the six games played (the other three ended in draws.) Kramnik will have to repeat that feat just to tie the match. Not too likely, but who knows?

Playing white, Anand once again opened with the d-pawn, and as in game two the Nimzo-Indian Defense appeared. But instead of the sharp line with 4. f3, Anand understandably went for the more conservative 4. Qc2. Once again Anand got in the first novelty:

V. Anand – V. Kramnik
World Championship 2008
Position After 8. … 0-0

The usual move here is the natural 9.e3, with the simple idea of developing the bishop. Instead Anand tried the more ambitious 9. h3. White is preparing g4, forcing black to waste more time with his queen and gaining space on the kingside. On the other hand, it also weakens the kingside, making it difficult for white to castle there.

Anand carried a small advantage into the endgame. It became a big advantage when Kramnik got too ambitious in this position:

Position After 18. Bd2-b4

Kramnik faces an annoying skewer down the a3-f8 diagonal. He should probably bite the bullet and play the passive 18. … Re8, which keeps all of his material but makes it harder for him to play the freeing move c5. Kramnik is a real master at passive defense, so he probably would have held the position.

Perhaps because he was already two points down in the match, Kramnik uncharacteristically made a bid for glory with 18. … c5, which gives up a pawn in exchange for some activity. Superficially it even looked like Kramnik might have sufficient compensation. After 19. dxc5 Rfd8 20. Ne5 Bxg2 21. Rxg2 bxc5 22. Rxc5 Ne4 23. Rxc8 Rxc8 24. Nd3 Nd5 25. Bd2 Rc2 26. Bc1 f5 we have the following position:

Position After 26. … f7-f5

It looks like black is doing fine. All of his pieces are active, while white’s are tied up in knots. Sadly, however, Kramnik has milked his position for all it is worth and white is hanging tough. Over the next several moves white will gradually untangle, and emerge with a solid extra pawn.

Fast forwarding ahead fifteen moves we come to a critical position:

Position After 40. … Nb2-c4

White has steadily pushed his pawns on the e and f files. The time has come to find a final breakthrough. Here the computer recommends either 41. Rxg7+ or 41. Ng5+ as obviously winning. Anand chose a third alternative in 41. fxg7. This certainly gets the job done, but it is not quite as incisive.

The point of Anand’s play was revealed after 41. … Kg8 42. Rd3 Ndb6 43. Bh6 Nxe5 44. Nf6+ Kf7

Position After 44. … Kg8-f7

Now comes 45. Rc3! Since black will simply be an exchange down and completely lost after something like 45. … Rb8 46. g8Q Rxg8 47. Nxg8 Kxg8, he tried instead 45. … Rxc3. But this gets crushed as well after 46. g8Q+ Kxf6 47. Bg7+!

Final Position

Black resigned since he will be losing at least the knight on e5 since 47. … Kf5 48. Bxe5 Kxe5 49. Qh8+!, leads to the loss of a rook.

An impressive performance by Anand and further evidence that Kramnik is hopelessly out of form. Kramnik is basically playing for pride at this point.


  1. #1 Paul
    October 22, 2008

    Kramnik looks completely outclassed in this matchup. Who would have thought it?

  2. #2 Thony C.
    October 23, 2008

    …three out of the sixth…

    Could be the title of a Peter Gabriel album πŸ˜‰

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 23, 2008

    Paul –

    I suspect Anand is a lot more motivated for the match. He feels he really has something to prove, having won the WC title in a tournament as opposed to a match. Kramnik did the impossible by beating Kasparov, but has had trouble returning to that level since then.

    Thony C –

    Oops! The typo has been corrected.

  4. #4 Dave S.
    October 23, 2008

    Game 7 a smooth trouble-free draw by Anand in another QG Slav with the white pieces. He had white twice in a row because they switched alternating half-way through. Now its 5-2, Anand needing only 3 draws out of the remaining 5 games.

  5. #5 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 23, 2008

    It looks like even in Game Seven Kramnik was slightly on the defensive. I kind of hope he wins game eight, just to provide a little bit of drama!

  6. #6 Dave S.
    October 24, 2008

    Yes, Anand had the edge but Kramnik built up an inpenetrable fortress. That would be a nice way to draw by Kramnik – if he were in the lead. But as it is, it looks like the rout continues. I’m starting to get more interested in the sponser babes at the after game debriefings than the match.

  7. #7 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    October 24, 2008
  8. #8 Dave S.
    October 25, 2008

    Game 8 another draw. Anand is now only 1 point away from touchdown with 4 games to go. Kramnik again plays 1. d4. Anand replies not with a solid defense, but with the sharp Vienna game. Even now Anand is clearly not afraid to mix it up, confident that in a tactical slugfest, he’s the better player. And oh yes, Anand plays yet another novelty. Tremendous preparation on his part.

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that Anand never wears a tie?

  9. #9 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 25, 2008

    Bayesain Bouffant –

    That video is amazing! Thanks for linking to it.

    Dave S –

    Persoanlly I think it’s a point in Anand’s favor that he doesn’t wear ties. Frankly, though, I’ve already moved on to the Kamsky – Topalov match in November. Hope it actually happens!

  10. #10 VS
    October 26, 2008

    Dave and Jason,
    I think it is the Madrasi in him, that makes Anand reluctant to wear a tie. If you live in Madras even for a few days (any time of the year) you will never wear a tie again in your life!

    He is called the tiger from Madras, however there are no tigers near Madras at all! There are a lot of Eagles though, being a coastal area, so I proppse renaming hin as the Sea-eagle of Madras.


  11. #11 Dave S.
    October 28, 2008

    And Kramnik comes roaring back!

    As much as you can roar in chess anyway.

    Game 9 was a draw, but at least that time Kramnik put up a scrap, and it was Anand who was lucky to scrape by with a draw. Unfortunately that left Anand with 6 points and Kramnik needs to win all the remaining 3 games just to tie the match.

    Fast forward to Game 10, and indeed Kramnik does win his firat game of the match! Anand choses a Nimzo, but soon gets into difficulties and has to resign before move 30.

    Too little, too late? Probably. Can Kramnik make one of the greatest comebacks in chess history? Errr…probably not. I just said that. πŸ™‚

  12. #12 Dave S.
    October 29, 2008

    Oh look…its Adbot and Sockpuppet…the dynamic duo.

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