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+!
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.