|Kramnik, V. (2772) - Anand, V. (2783)
24.10.2008 - World Championship - Game 8
(LIVE Commentary and Analysis by GM Susan Polgar on www.susanpolgar.blogspot.com)
Kramnik chose to open with d4 again.
1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4
Surprise! Anand chose to take. This is not solid opening one would expect Anand to play given the current score. He instead goes for the sharp Vienna Variation.
5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5
The most popular responses for White are 7.Bxc4 and 5.e5
7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qa5
White has a few choices: 9.Bd2, 9.Bxf6, 9.Bb5+, all are playable.
White's best choice here is to take the Knight with Bxf6
Black can either play 10...Bxb5, 10...Bxc3+ or 10...gxf6. I think Bxb5 may surprise Kramnik the most :) It may not be the best move but the surprise element sometimes is very important as we have seen in the match so far.
Once again, Anand is first to surprise his opponent. The 2 most logical responses for White are 11.Nb3 Qb6 12 Bxg7 Rg8 13.Bd4 += and 11.Ndxb5 gxf6 12.O-O Nc6 13.a3 Bxc3 14.Nxc3 +=
11.Nxb5 gxf6 12.O-O Nc6
White has a few playable continuation such as 13.a3 and13.Qf3 although I prefer 13.a3 better.
13.a3 Bxc3 14.Nxc3
The key question for Anand now is will he castle Kingside or will he leave his King in the middle again. Both 14...0-0 and 14...Rg8 are playable. I think this is probably the most "comfortable" position Kramnik has so far in this match. This is the type of position which suits him best. Unfortunately, it should have come much earlier.
True to his form in the match, Anand chose NOT to castle and instead try to create counter play on the g file and the Kingside. If I have to choose a side to play, I would pick White in this position although Black's position is fine. What White may want to do is to make sure Black does not castle on the Queenside. Therefore, it may make sense to make a move like Qf3 to attack the f6 pawn to gain a tempo to get the Rook to d1 to make sure that the Black King cannot escape to the other side.
A somewhat surprising move. One guess is he does not want Black to be able to put his Knight on e5 to support a Kingside attack.
Black has a number of playable moves such as 16...Qb6+ 17.Rf2 Na5 or something else like 16...Rd4.
This is the kind of position which is the hardest for the average player, sometimes even for more advanced players, to come up with the right plan.
This move allows White to play Nb5 and if the Queen moves back to d8 the White can proceed with e5 to build a strong d6 post for the Knight. I am still unsure of Anand's plan here.
This position reminds me of watching a heavyweight boxing bout where the two heavyweight boxers are feeling each other out in the early rounds. I am still curious about the Rd3 then Qd4 sequence for Black. It will be interesting to listen to what Anand has to say about this at the press conference. I hope someone will ask this question :) White is now threatening to play Nb5 next with excellent advantage. Perhaps Black should consider playing a6 to stop it
An interesting possibility for White is 20.Nd5 20. Nd5 exd5 21. exd5+ Kd7 22. dxc6+ Kxc6 and White has an edge.
Obviously it is to get out of the pin. Based on the time on the clock, I think both players are having a hard time coming up with concrete plans.
Black is doing the same in getting the King out of the e file to avoid the possibility of Nd5. I do not see anything convincing for either player in this position. I still think 20.Nd5 gives Kramnik better chances.
The plan is to go for f5. If Black takes, White would have the double Rooks in good position. If Black avoids the exchange with e5 then the d5 square would be vulnerable. Black can defend with 21...Rg6 22.f5 exf5 23.exf5 (23. Rxf5 Rd2 -+) 23...Rg4 the position is unclear.
A cautious move. Another possible line is 22.Rd1 Rxd1+ 23.Nxd1. I think White has a very small advantage.
22...Kg7 23.Rd1 Rxd1 24.Nxd1
White is better because 1. Black's Rook is not in an ideal place 2. Black has double f pawns. But the advantage is very small. White's goal should be to trade Queens. Then his advantage will be enhance a great deal because his Rook can get to the d file faster. Black will do everything possible to avoid trading Queens here.
The idea of this move is make room for his Rook.
An interesting idea is 25.Rf3 then Rd3.
25...Rg8 26.Kg2 Rd8
Now Black controls the d file. Very curious play by Kramnik in the past few moves. One would have expected him to go for the d file a few moves ago. One idea is he will get his Queen h5 but I fail to see a real attack.
Here is a possible line 28.Qg4+ Kh8 29.Qh4 Kg7 30.f5 exf5 31.Rxf5 Ne7 32.Qg4+ Kh8.
28.Qg4+ Kh8 29.Qh5 Kg7 30.Qg4+ Kh8 31.Qh4 Kg7
Some of these moves are just to gain time on the clock.
If Black plays 32... fxe5 33. Qg5+ Kf8 34. f5 exf5 35. Qxf5 +=. Best for Black is 32...f5
The biggest problem for White is he cannot get his Rook and Knight to involve in the Kingside attack, in spite of Black's weak King. 33.Qf6+ is obvious but then what?
33.Qf6 + Kg8 34.Qg5+ Kh8
Perhaps draw will come soon. I see nothing for White.
35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Re2
I expect White will continue with the g5 - f6 check again to gain time.
White has nothing here even though Kramnik is trying.
37...Kh8 38.Qf6+ Kg8 39.Qg5+ Kh8
The score now is 5.5 - 2.5 in Anand's favor. He needs one more point in the final 4 games to retain his title.
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