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Tal Memorial 04: Kramnik squashes Anand!

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 01/10/2016

The clash between the two former world champions ended with Vishy Anand losing with the black pieces. Vladimir Kramnik's consistent queenside pressure in a Giuoco Piano paid off in the end. One must admit that Vishy defended tenaciously, but it was not to be. This is a serious blow to Anand's chances in the tournament as he has slipped back to fifty percent. We have an illustrated report investigating the game, with in-depth master analysis.

Tal Memorial 04: Kramnik squashes Anand!

The clash between the two former world champions ended with Vishy Anand losing with the black pieces. Vladimir Kramnik's consistent queenside pressure in a Giuoco Piano paid off in the end. This was a refreshing comeback for Kramnik. He had lost the previous round to Nepomniachtchi.

Round Four

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili

Round 4 - Sept. 30 - 14h CET
Kramnik Vladimir
Anand Viswanathan
Gelfand Boris
Li Chao B
Tomashevsky Evgeny
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Svidler Peter
Giri Anish
Nepomniachtchi Ian
Aronian Levon

Kramnik, Vladimir 1-0 Anand, Viswanathan

Anand on his way to victory in Bonn WCC, 2008 [Photo: ChessBase Archives]

The Tal Memorial witnessed a mouth-watering clash between two former world champions. And not just that -- Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand have been rivals since close to three decades.


The game began as a Giuoco Piano and Kramnik had the white pieces. A few lost tempi due to Anand's dark-squared bishop meant that Kramnik already had a tangible edge thanks to some land grabbing on the queenside. It was still too early to say.

Kramnik plays 18.Ne4, having a visible plus.

Anand's ...Nd8 kept him in the game. A superb defensive effort.

Soon enough, Black managed to come very close to equality. Anand had fought well, reaching a symmetrical position, and it seemed that he would hold a draw.

Holding symmetrical positions against Kramnik is no joke.

White has built a vice-like grip on the queenside. Such positions are known to be Kramnik's forte, but Anand has managed to defend trickier positions in the past.

Nonetheless, Kramnik maintained serious pressure on the queenside, as he effortlessly occupied the a-file. The constant pressure paid off as Anand cracked.

45... Qf8! 46. Qe6 Ra8 47. Bxe5+ Kg8 48. Qf6 Bxe5 49. Qxe5 Qg7 should be equal.

After defending with great tenacity, Anand finally went wrong with 45...Qg8? here.

And so, 'twas not to be.

Kramnik-Anand (Analysis by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "10th Tal Memorial 2016"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2016.09.30"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2808"]
[BlackElo "2776"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
{It's always a pleasure to see the two ex-World Champions face off against
each other.} 1. e4 {0} e5 {0} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {0} 3. Bc4 {0 Anand has been at
the forefront from the white side of the Guioco Piano. Today against Kramnik
he has to defend from the other side.} Bc5 {0} 4. O-O {0} Nf6 {0} 5. d3 {0} O-O
{17} 6. h3 {1 Kramnik goes for the same line in which Harikrishna was able to
get the better of Sergey Karjakin.} (6. c3 d5 {seems to be doing quite well
for Black.}) 6... d6 {208} 7. c3 {753} (7. Bg5 {Now that the bishop cannot go
back to e7, it makes sense to pin the knight. This is quite an irritating pin
but there is a more important thing that is happening in the position and that
is the c4 bishop is lost after} Na5 $1 $11 {Usually the loss of this bishop
means that White cannot fight for an advantage.}) 7... a6 (7... Na5 8. Bb5 a6
9. Ba4 b5 10. Bc2 {And Black is unable to win the bishop.}) 8. Re1 Ba7 {
156 Now Black is once again threatening Na5.} (8... Na5 9. b4 $5 Nxc4 10. bxc5
Na5 11. Be3 $14 {This must surely have been prepared by Kramnik at home.}) 9.
Bb3 {178} h6 {520 Once the light squared bishop on b3 is out of reach (it can
always go to c2 when attacked), Black makes the move h6 and stops the Bg5 pin.}
10. Nbd2 {5} Re8 {74} 11. Nf1 {11} Be6 {62} 12. Bc2 {6 Overall the position is
round about equal, but the nice thing about such positions is that unlike the
Breyer or the Chigorin or the Zaitsev it has not been extensively played at
the highest level. So there is always scope for new ideas. That being said
this position has been reached in nearly 200 games, so it is not particularly
virgin territory.} d5 {124 Usually this central break signals that Black has
equalised out of the opening. But Kramnik hardly cares about the evaluation of
the position. He just wants to have an interesting position on the board.} 13.
exd5 {5} Bxd5 {175} (13... Nxd5 {is also fine. The e5 pawn is not hanging
because of the typical trick of Bxf2+} 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. Rxe5 Bxf2+ 16. Kxf2
Qf6+ $17) 14. Ng3 {78} Bc5 {254 Anand played this after four minutes of
thought. What the idea of this move is, is unclear. Vishy would like to put
his bishop on f8 and reroute it to g7 after g6. But frankly speaking the
bishop on a7 looked pretty good. The simple plan of Qd7 followed by Rad8
employed by Mamedyarov against Nisipeanu looks decent.} ({Anand has already
had this position in his game against Giri in 2015 Stavanger Blitz.} 14... Qd7
15. b4 (15. Nh4 Rad8 16. Nhf5 Kh8 17. d4 exd4 18. Nxg7 Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 Kxg7 20.
Bxh6+ Kh8 21. Qd2 Rg8 22. Qf4 Qd6 23. Qh4 Qxg3 24. fxg3 {1-0 (26) Giri,A (2773)
-Anand,V (2804) Stavanger 2015}) 15... Rad8 16. a4 b5 17. axb5 axb5 18. Nh4 Bb6
19. Nhf5 Ne7 20. Nxg7 Kxg7 21. Rxe5 Ng6 22. Bxh6+ Kxh6 23. Nf5+ Kh7 24. Qc1 Kg8
25. Qh6 Nh5 26. Rxe8+ Rxe8 27. Qxh5 Qc6 28. c4 (28. Nh6+) 28... bxc4 29. d4 Be6
30. Ba4 Qa8 31. Nh6+ Kg7 32. d5 Bd7 33. Nxf7 Bxa4 34. Ra3 Bxf2+ 35. Kxf2 Qa7+
36. Kf1 c3 {0-1 (36) Nisipeanu,L (2683)-Mamedyarov,S (2743) Reykjavik 2015})
15. b4 {42} Bf8 {172} 16. a4 {28} g6 {424} 17. Bb2 {517 The bishop on b2 takes
aim at the e5 pawn and threatens c4 at an appropriate moment. However, it will
be interesting to see how Kramnik is flexible in his thinking and drops back
the bishop back to c1 within a few moves.} b5 {493} 18. Ne4 {1108} (18. axb5
axb5 19. Rxa8 Qxa8 20. c4 Bxf3 21. Qxf3 Nxb4 $17) 18... Rb8 19. Bc1 $1 {
Things have changed. The c5 square has been weakened and Be3 is the ideal
square for the dark squared bishop.} Nd7 {1273} 20. Bb3 $1 {264 Once againa
very nice move. Once the bishop on d5 is exchanged a lot of the light squares
in Black's position would be weakened.} Bxb3 {68} 21. Qxb3 {163} Re6 {10} (
21... Nf6 22. Be3 $14) 22. axb5 {309} axb5 {22} 23. Be3 {82 Kramnik has got
all his pieces nicely co-ordinated. His knight on e4 and bishop e3 work well
in tandem. The rook on the a-file is actively placed and the queen on b3 is
also ideal. As for Black's part, it is difficult to suggest an active plan.}
Nf6 {286} 24. Rad1 {491} Nxe4 {138} 25. dxe4 {43} Qe8 {43} (25... Qe7 26. Bc5
$16) (25... Qf6 26. Rd7 $16) 26. Rd5 {121} Nd8 $1 {111 If Anand were given a
few moves he would like to push his pawn to c6 and get his knight from
b7-d6-c4.} 27. Ra1 {669} Nb7 {70} (27... c6 {was possible.}) 28. Ra7 {217} c6 {
27} 29. Rd1 {478} Nd6 {129} 30. Nd2 {88} Ra8 {76 Anand has defended
tenaciously and has kept Black's disadvantage to a minimum. However, Kramnik
is not one of those player's who is going to give up easily.} 31. Rda1 {142}
Rxa7 {12} 32. Rxa7 {1} Re7 {10} 33. Ra6 {20 It made complete sense to keep the
active rook on the board.} Rc7 {147} 34. Qa2 {36} Kg7 {247} 35. Bb6 {240} Rb7 {
253} 36. Bc5 {57} Be7 {161} 37. Ra8 {307} Rb8 {344} 38. Ra7 {12} Rd8 {23} (
38... Nc8 {might have been a good idea to try and get a pieces off the board.}
39. Bxe7 Nxe7 40. Qa5 $14 {White keeps a slight edge.}) 39. Bb6 {337} Rc8 {23}
(39... Rd7 40. Ra8 $14) 40. Bc7 {0} Qd7 {0 Anand defends in the most tenacious
manner possible.} 41. Bb6 {254} Qe8 {180} 42. g3 $1 {1028 Just a waiting move
asking Black to come up with something. Surprisingly it is not so easy for
Black to move.} Bg5 {972} 43. Bc7 $1 {134} Bxd2 {46} (43... Be7 44. Qa6 {
Tightens the noose.}) 44. Bxd6 {12} Bxc3 {8} 45. Re7 {11} Qg8 $2 {7 After
defending with great tenacity, Anand finally goes wrong. But I can tell you
that to find just about only moves for such a long duration against a player
of Kramnik's calibre is no easy task.} (45... Qf8 $1 46. Qe6 Ra8 47. Bxe5+ Kg8
48. Qf6 Bxe5 49. Qxe5 Qg7 $11 {/+=}) 46. Qe6 $1 {74} Qf8 {246} (46... Ra8 {
No longer makes any sense because} 47. Bxe5+ Bxe5 48. Qxe5+ Kh7 49. Qf6 Rf8 50.
Qxc6 $18 {is just game over.}) 47. Kg2 {630} (47. Rc7 $1 {was winning as after}
Rxc7 (47... Qe8 48. Qxc8 $18) 48. Bxf8+ Kxf8 49. Qd6+ Re7 50. Kg2 $18 {Should
be a technical win for White.}) 47... Rd8 $6 {619} (47... Ra8 $5 {Now that the
rook has moved to a safe square and can always go down the a-file Black is
threatening Kg8, and this gives Black better chances of survival.}) (47... Kg8
48. Rxf7 $1 Qxf7 49. Qxc8+ $18) 48. Bc5 {305} Bd4 {439} 49. Qxc6 {23} Kg8 {26}
(49... Bxc5 50. Qxc5 $16) 50. Qxb5 {254} Rb8 {152} 51. Rxf7 $1 {149 A nice
finishing blow. Black is two pawns down and has almost no compensation. A
fantastic game by Kramnik who showed some really high class middlegame play.
Anand was at his defensive best, but one error is all that it took for the
Russian to score an emphatic victory.} 1-0

Standings after Round Four

International Report

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