Anand is World Champion! Draws Kramnik to retain Title 6.5-4.5 Print
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 14:36

Anand, V. (2783) - Kramnik, V (2772)
29.10.2008 - World Championship - Game 11
(LIVE Commentary and Analysis by GM Susan Polgar on


Anand plays e4 for the first time in this match!


Kramnik took about 2 minutes to respond with c5.

2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

It is obvious that Kramnik is going for broke employing one of the sharpest openings, the Sicilian Najdorf.

6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7

There are a number of other good choices as well such as 7...Be7, 7...Qb6, 7...Nbd7, etc.


Here 8.Qf3 is quite popular as well.

8...gxf6 9.f5

White also has many other options such as 9.Qd2, 9.Be2, 9.Qf3, etc... If Anand wins or draw with ease, he will look like a genius for employing 1.e4 to shock his opponent. On the other hand, if he loses in a sharp game, he will be questioned for his decision to play aggressively instead of going for something quiet when he needs only 1/2 point to retain his title. If I am Kramnik, I would be happy to have a chance to score in a sharp opening, especially when a draw is no good for me.


I cannot remember how many times Kramnik has used the Sicilian Najdorf in his career. You can check your database for the exact number. If I remember correctly, probably between 5-10 at most and I do not believe that he has done so well with it. I do not remember Kramnik winning any game with the Najdorf. On the other hand, at this stage of the match, the surprise element and nerve will play a very big role. 
Anand surprised Kramnik with 1.e4 and Kramnik surprised Anand by choosing the Najdorf. Welcome to the psychological part of chess! This Qc5 move seems to be a surprise for Anand. He is spending quite a bit of time on his 10th move.


A logical move It clears the way for White to castle Queenside. It also protects the f5 pawn. 10...Bh6 is now a logical move to prevent White from castling. 10...Nc6 is also a good move to put pressure in the center. In my opinion, Black has already equalized. Black has a good presence in the center and the Bishop pair. White's pieces are not optimally coordinated. I think Black has a comfortable position.

10...Nc6 11.Nb3

White should not trade the Knight. This trade would favor Black.


A logical move to keep pressure in the center. I think White has to consider O-O-O here. The Black King can reasonably stay in the center due to his strong center pawn structure. White cannot afford to do the same.


White basically offers the f5 pawn sacrifice. The compensation for White is to be able to break up black's center pawn chain while opening up the critical e file. I would not take it. I prefer either 12...Bd7, 12....Rg8, or even 12...b5 better. 12...exf5 is too scary, but you never know what Kramnik may do when he needs to win and a draw is no good.


A very brave Kramnik! Bravo! No matter what happens, no one can say that Kramnik backs off from a tough fight. This is not a blunder. It is a playable move, just dangerous. This is what the chess fans want to see, two heavyweight champions not backing off an inch. If 13.Re1 Bh6+ 14.Kb1 Be6 and the position is unclear. This is another possibility 13.Kb1 fxe4 14.Qxe4 Be7 15.Qf3 Be6 and it is also unclear.


I personally did not expect this move. In addition to clearing the diagonal for this Bishop, the d5 square for his Rook or Knight, the square b6 will be one White would have an eye on. Black might as well consider playing 13...fxe4 since he already played exf5. This position is still unclear. However, if you are Kramnik, you cannot ask for more than just a chance to have a sharp game to score a full point, even though this type of position generally favors Anand.

Kramnik has a tough decision to make. What should he play? Take on e4? Bd7, Be6, Ng7, or h5? The dynamics of the game will change quite a bit with these choices. I would probably narrow my choices to 13...Be6 or 13...h5. He is taking a lot of time for this move. He obviously understands that one error in judgment can end the match today.
I would like to make a comparison to other sports. As you probably know, it is the hardest to close out the final 2 minutes of a basketball game or to win the final game to win a tennis match. It is the same in chess. The final game to win the World Chess Championship is the hardest to play.


A very unusual choice! I do not think this is the best option for Kramnik. I do not think Anand was unhappy seeing this move. It looks like may want to get his King to the Kingside. Therefore, two good options for Anand are 14.Nd2 or 14.Rd5.


The best move here is 14...Qe7. He needs to save the e6 square for his Bishop.


The most promising move for White is 15.Qg3 to attack both the d6 pawn and Bishop on g7.


This is a possible line 15...Rg8 16.Qxd6 fxe4 17.Qxe7+ Kxe7 18.Nxe4 f5 =+. Here are more options: 15...Rg8 16. Qh4 fxe4 17. Nxe4 (17. Qxh7 Kf8 unclear) 17... Be6 18. Nxd6+ Kf8 19. Rd3 =+ Another factor to consider is both players may get into time pressure soon. They are both under 60 minutes after only 15 moves made. 


As I pointed out in the lines above, 15.Rg8 is a good choice for Kramnik. 


Black is fine with 16...Be6 if 17.Rxd6 then Bh6 +-. White should just retreat the Rook to e1. 16...fxe4 is also playable. 


If 17.Nxe4 Be6 18.Nxd6+ Kf8 19.Rd1 Rd8 and the position is unclear. White is about 6-7 minutes ahead on the clock. 

17.Nxe4 f5

Perhaps 18.Nxd6+ Kf8 19.Nxc8 Rxc8 =/+= 

18.Nxd6 Kf8 19.Nxc8 Rxc8

White is slightly better as I pointed out above. The idea for Anand is quite simple. The position was very complicated. Therefore, it is to his advantage to trade pieces and simplify the position where there will be less chances to blunder tactically. 

20.Kb1 +=

There is a very strong chance now for Anand to get at least a draw. The complications just passed and Anand came out OK. Black must try 20...Qe1 21.Nc1 Ne7 to give Black any last hope. 21.Qc1 is also fine for White, not much for Black. 

20...Qe1+ 21.Nc1

I see very few options for Kramnik to pull out a win. 


As expected. The best response for White is Qd2 attempting to trade Queens. That would guarantee Anand a draw at the very least. 


Black has no choice but to trade Queens. Otherwise, he would face checkmate with Rd8+. 

22...Qxd2 23.Rxd2 Bh6

Now 24.Rd7 =/+=


The position is still even. The only way Kramnik can win here is if Anand blunders. Once Anand gets his pieces out, Black has nothing. I assume a draw will come very soon. 



Congratulations to Anand for retaining his title. Excellent fighting spirit by Kramnik! Both players deserve plenty of respect. 
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