Anand Holds Off Kramnik, Leads 6-3, Needs Just Half Point to Retain Title Print
Sunday, 26 October 2008 14:23

Anand, V. (2783) - Kramnik, V. (2772)
26.10.2008 - World Championship - Game 9
(LIVE Commentary and Analysis by GM Susan Polgar on, Photo by Torsten Behl.)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4

Kramnik is trying to dictate this game with something new in this match. Let's see when he will uncork a novelty or will Anand beat him to the punch?

7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.Qc2 Nbd7

The most popular response here is 11.Ne5. However, 11.Rd1 or 11.O-O are fine as well. Perhaps Anand will choose a less popular line.


Anand chose a somewhat less popular continuation. 

11...Bb4 12.Ne5

This is definitely what Kramnik needs, a sharp game, to have a chance to make a comeback.

This seems to be a rare move. I believe that it was recommended in an earlier analysis by German GM Christopher Lutz (who had achieved a high rating of 2655 back in July 2002). I do not have access to that article now but you can probably search for it.


An option for Black is 13...Rg8 to be ready in case if White plays f4. I believe GM Van Wely has played this line before. Van Wely has worked with Kramnik before so I would not be surprised if Kramnik is very well prepared with this line. Other possible lines include 13...h5 and 13...Nxe5 which is not a bad idea.
I am doing the commentary from Los Angeles airport. Therefore, I do not have access to all my database and information.

13...Nxe5 14.Bxe4 O-O

Krannnik must be well prepared for this line. It looks like a dangerous position for Black at first glance with the pawn of g5. However, White cannot play f4 yet because Black could play Nd7 with an advantage. I would play h3 first to prevent Black from playing g4 with the idea of potentially playing f4 soon. The position is unclear but Kramnik has a psychological edge because he is able to bring Anand to something he cooked up at home with his seconds. Anand is spending a good amount of time here to come up with a good plan. It is obvious that White has to attack on the Kingside. The question is how?

A very surprising choice of move. The idea is to push f4 to open up the Kingside to exploit Black's weak King.

15...Qxf6 f4

Black should not take the pawn. He should move his Queen out of the way with Qg6. Here is a possible line: 16...Qg6 17.f5 exf5 18.exf5 Qf6 19.Ne4 Qe7 20.f6 Qe6 and the position is unclear. 16.Qg7 is also playable.


This is possible 17.fxg5 hxg5 18.e5.I think the opening choice in this game clears up a few issues: 1. Kramnik is not going down quietly. He is still trying hard. 2. Anand is not coasting to the finish line. He is not afraid to fight hard all the way to protect his title. Anand is spending a lot of time here.
17. e5 

I have an interesting thought with 17...f5 18.exf6 Qxf6 19 fxg5 Qxg5 with an unclear position. 17...Qh7 and 17...Be7 are also playable. White is down a pawn but he has compensation with a potentially strong attack on the Kingside. Therefore, he must try to open it up. He also has the threat of Ne4 - Nf6.
On the other hand, even though Black is up a pawn, he must find a way to coordinate his pieces. The g2 pawn may be a potential target for Black. One way is to open up the g file, move his King to the h file, and get his Rook(s) to the g file.


A very peculiar move, definitely not one I had expected. It is obvious that Black wants to open the h1-a8 diagonal for his Bishop. A possible line is 18.Nxb5 gxf4 19.Bf3 Bxf3 20.Rxf3 a6 21.Nd6 cxd4 22.Rxf4 Qxe5 23.Rg4+ Kh8 24.Nxc4 with an exciting position. 

18.Nxb5 cxd4

This has become a very complicated position. White has a number of options such as 19.Qxc4, 19.Bf3, 19.Nxd4, etc. I think it is most safe to play 19.Qxc4 to get break up Black's pawn chain in the center.


A good line for Black is 19...a5 protecting the Bishop on b4 and making the a6 square available for some potential lines.


A line that popped up in my head is 20.Nd6 Ba6 21.Qc2 Bxd6 22.exd6 Rfd8 and Black is fine, perhaps even slightly better. If 20.Qxd4 then 20...Rac8.


Another move I did not anticipate. 20...gxf4 21.Bf3 Bxf3 22.gxf3 Qxe5 23.Nxd4 Rac8 24.Nc6 Qf5 25.Rg1+ Kh7 with an unclear position.

An interesting move. Black wants to get his heavy artillery in play. 21.Qxd4 Bc5. This is an extremely complicated position and time may become a big factor soon.
21.Qxd4 gxf4

The idea is after 22.Bf3, Black has 22...Ba6 if 23.a4 Rc5 24.Qxf4 Rxe5 =+

22.Bxf3 Ba6 23.a4 Rc5

Black chose the plan I noted above. Black has a small advantage with the Bishop pair. Black is certainly not going away without a fight. All chess fans should be excited about the fighting spirit by both players in spite of the current score.

24.Qxf4 Rxe5 25.b3 Bxb5

Kramnik wants to squeeze out a win with a pawn advantage in a Bishop opposite color Bishop endgame.

26.axb5 Rxb5

This has to be the biggest advantage Kramnik has in the match so far. The real question is can he convert it? Is the advantage big enough?
27.Be4 Bc3 28.Bc2

Black can continue with 28...Be5 29.Qf2 Rb4 to bring the Rook to the Kingside =+

28...Be5 29.Qf2 Bb8 30.Qf3

Black can get the other Rook into play with 30...Rc5 then doubling up the Rooks.

30...Rc5 31.Bd3 Rc3 32.g3 Kh8
The players are moving quite fast here due to time pressure. Therefore, don't expect the most precise moves. 


One idea for Anand is to play Rf3 then doubling his Rooks on the f file. However, White is still worse here.


Trading Queens is fine for Black as he can squeeze the endgame without risks.I don't think Anand would want to trade Queens as he has to fight to earn 1/2 point. He wants to keep things in play.

34.Qb6 Qe5

Ouch, Kramnik blundered to allow Anand to force a draw: 35.Bxf5 exf5 36.Qxh6+ Kg8 37.Qg6+ Qg7 38.Qe6+ Kh8 39.Rxf5 Rxf5 40.Qxf5 Qb7+ 41.Rd5=


Anand did not see that line. Hard to calculate the whole thing through with little time.


Kramnik is persistent. He wants the Queens off the board. I am not sure if he has enough to win though.

36.Qxc7 Bxc7 37.Bc4 Re8 38.Rd7

Black can try 38...a4. White can probably hold with 39.Ra1 but he has to find it.
38...a4 39.Rxc7 axb3

I still do not think that Black has enough to convert this unless White blunders.

White made the time control. 


Black made time control as well.


Now 41...Rc2 42. Rxb3 Rxb3 43. Bxb3 Rxc7 44. Bxe6 -/+. 41...Rc2 42. Rxc2 bxc2 43. Bf1 Rb2 44. Kg1 e5 -/+. However, White does have this: 42.Rxc2 bxc2 43.Bxe6 Rb1+ 44.Kg2 c1=Q 45.Rxc1 Rxc1 46.Bxf5 and White holds. Well done by Anand under severe pressure

Kramnik spent about 30 minutes for this move. He realized that 41...Rc2 would lead to a draw. This is very interesting. He is counting on the fact that White cannot make much progress.

42.Kg2 h4 43.Rc6

Nice try by Kramnik but it looks almost certain that the game will end in a draw. 


White can just recapture without any danger. 


Black can play Rg8 but it will again lead to a draw. All lines seem drawish to me. 

44...Rg8 45.Rxe6 

Black can play 45...Rxc4 46.Rxb3 f4 47.Rh6+ Kg7 48.Rh4 = 



Draw agreed. Great try by Kramnik but not enough. Anand has secured at least a tie with 3 to play. Kramnik has to score a hat trick to take it to the playoff. 

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