Did Peter Leko get bad advice?

The place was Brissago, Switerland… the stakes were high… the World Championship was on the line and Peter Leko of Hungary faced the defending champion, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.  Leko had played enterprising chess and held a  1-point lead after winning the 8th game. Then followed a spate of draws.  Time was running out.

In the last three games, Kramnik pressed for a win and nearly converted with black in game 13, but Leko miraculously held the position setting the stage for the finale. What would be the strategy for game #14? All Leko needed was a draw, but Kramnik needed to press for a win at all costs.

The Leko team decided on the Caro-Kann for the second time in the match. There would be no Sveshnikov as both teams would be well-prepared and did not want to walk into any prepared lines. In a conversation with The Chess Drum's
Daaim Shabazz, Amon Simutowe of Zambia expressed some surprise at Leko's choosing of the Caro-Kann for the last game.

GM Peter Leko

GM Peter Leko

"Kramnik's team has Evgeny Bareev who is an expert in the Caro-Kann and the French while Peter Svidler is an expert of the Advanced Caro-Kann."

The question post-mortem is why allow an ultra-sharp line that is known to bring complications? The strategy failed miserably and Leko was dealt a crushing blow in the final game to lose a chance to compete for the world title. Another strange decision took place. It appeared as if Leko was playing cautiously in the latter stages and was content at drawing out the match.  Kramnik frantically tried new approaches and his team won the strategic battle.

The 7-7 drawn result means that Kramnik will face the winner of
Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov which is scheduled to take place in January 2005. If Garry Kasparov wins, it will mark a "rematch" between the two chess titans.  Simutowe, who was cheering for Leko, said that one thing that may be good is that Kasparov-Kramnik match may add a bit more credibility for the unification. Of course… this mean Kasparov will have to defeat Rustam Kasimdzhanov first.  Things are finally looking up for the chess world.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 21 October 2004