Kramnik V. (2760)
Qatar Masters Open (7.1)
Giri was off to a flyer in the tournament with six wins on a trot. But now he faced the most severe test in the tournament as he was up against Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces. If someone could stop Anish, it was definitely Kramnik.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 Giri chooses the Meran Variation in the Slav. Kramnik is usually in pretty aggressive mood in such open events and hence something sharp was expected of him. Would he go for the Bg5 into the labyrinths of Moscow or Botvinnik variations?
5. g3!? Kramnik chooses a quieter line that is recently gaining in popularity. It's advantages are that it is relatively unexplored and also Kramnik likes such Catalan structures.
5... dxc4 Taking up the challenge. This is the right way to play according to me.
6. Bg2 b5 Giri sticks to the line which he played with the young Ilya Nyzhnyk in 2011. Anish lost that game.
6... Nbd7 is another option. It prevents Ne5 but it has its own drawbacks. 7.
a powerful pawn sacrifice.
9. a4 looked the most logical but Black is doing very well there.
9... cxb3 9... b4 leads to some complications and could well be a better option. 10. Na4 c3
10. axb3 So White is a pawn down. What are his compensating factors? 1. The bishop on b7 is quite dead while the bishop on g2 is powerful. 2. The a1 rook is into the game without having made a move. 3. White is ahead in development. 4. It's difficult for Black to complete his development. All in all this was an excellent pawn sacrifice by White.
10... Be7 11. Bb2
The queens are off the board but the pressure remains. 23... Nd5 24. Ne5 Ra6 For the time being Black is defending everything, but now Kramnik brings the final guy into the battle. 25. Bf1! Threatening e4. 25... Nc3 Giri panics and gives back a pawn. The pawn is gone but the pain remains. 25... Nc7 was much better. 26. Bxc3 bxc3 27. Rxc3 Black is still completely bound up. 27... c5 The pressure is so great that Giri gives back another pawn. Vladimir happily chops it off. 28. dxc5 From being a pawn down, White is now a pawn up. 28... Bf6 29. f4 Bb5 30. Bg2 The c-pawn has everything in place now for its advance. 30... Ra7 31. c6 Be7 32. Be4 This is a very nice move by Vlad. He would like to play his knight to f3 and then to d4, but he wants his bishop to be open and hence brings it to e4. 32... f6 33. Nf3 Rd8 33... f5 34. Nd4 34. e3 Nd4 is too strong. 34... e5 34... f5 35. Nd4 Rxd4 36. exd4 fxe4 37. c7 35. fxe5 fxe5 36. Rc1 Another accurate move. Now the e5 pawn is hanging. 36... a4 another pawn to ease the pain. 36... Bf6 37. Rc5 37. bxa4
And this was a successful pawn sacrifice by Anish because it convinced him to resign and cut short the torture. A great game by Kramnik. 1-0 [Sagar Shah]
Game(s) in PGN