Thursday, 26 April 2012

Kramnik vs. Aronian after four games

Aronian played 11...Nxc3
It would be unfair to not start with diagram position. It is already very famous and is discussed on all possible levels.
It is , of course, position from a third game from Kramnik-Aronian match. Kramnik played with white pieces and he surprised his opponent with 1.e4 (he is well known as a player who likes 1.Nf3 or 1.d4 ). He even said in press conference after game two, that he was not surprised by Aronian´s 1.e4 and that even he can play that move. In the press conference people thought that he was joking but apparently he was very serious.
It seems that 1...e5 is almost automatic replay on the highest level especially in the match games. In the tournaments, you sometimes have to play for a win and have to play 1...c5 or 1...e6 (witch gain on popularity lately) but on the very top level 1...e5 is a main choice.
Kramnik really surprised again by playing Scotch opening (by the way with move order 3.Nc3, Nf6 4.d4 witch restricted him to four knight variation) but than Aronian surprised by choosing 5...Bc5 (a very rare move). They play couple of natural moves and than Aronian tried to get immediate equality by playing 9...d5. Kramnik reacted good and players reached a position on the first diagram. It looks that Aronian has some problems, but he sacrificed a queen with 11...Nxc3!? and he did it very quick.
Click to enlarge
 Objectively speaking this is the best move in position. After a eight additional moves position  stabilised and Kramnik had a queen and two pawns against three minor pieces. White is of course better but how much is not so clear. It is very interesting that Aronian misjudged a position and he said after the game that he tried to avoid a draw.
He explained that on a diagram position if it is Kramnik´s move he can play 22.b3 (notice that all black pieces is somehow on best positions and in situations like that it is not easy to find a good plan) and than he should take a draw with 22...Bc5 23.bxc4, Ba3+ 24. Kb1, Tb8+ 25. Ka1, Bb2+ 26.Kb1 and Black has no more than a draw. However, if his pawn is on g5 than in reached position he could win with 26...Be5+ 27.Kc1 and than 27...Bf4+ (pawn on g5 protecting a bishop on f4). That´s why he played 21...g5?! . What I think of this move is very clearly explained in following quote from William Napier (yes, an American chess master who I already quoted in the header of my blog):
"The Pawn move is a capital investment. Every one of the forty-eight should, from the beginning, be spent as if it were one of the last forty-eight apprehensive and responsible dollars between yourself and starvation." William Napier
Before this move position was probably holdable, but after 21...g5 Kramnik played very well. What was a reasons for such a move from Aronian. All right, he explained short calculation with a point but why he calculated something like that in position like this. I think that he is still behind  players with a style of Karpov (for example Carlsen) who can feel that position demands something not to much direct, like 21...g6. Kramnik instantly played 22.c3 and his king became  safe. The next critical moment is very interesting.
White to move
Kramnik could play 30.Qb5 which is indicated by computer but after 30...Nb3+ 31.Kc2, Nd4+! (On you can see just 31...Bc5 32.Re5 and it is indeed winning for White) 32.cxd4, Bxd4 33.Re8+ and endgame easily can be a fortress (witch computer can not understand).
Kramnik played a very human move 30.Re8+! and that can be explained by following a rule from positions with queen against two bishops. It is very useful to know that standard technic is to give a rook for one bishop with idea to overtake control on squares of one colour. In this position Black has a knight but White pawns should decide a battle. Soon, Aronian was in time trouble and he was forced to give up his bishop for one of white free pawns. Aronian played just to reach time control and eventually he resigned. Kramnik levelled a score and he could play with more optimism. A fourth game was really boring for public but probably for everyone except those who are very interested in theory of Berlin Wall variation in Ruy Lopez opening.
Click to enlarge
Players reached a position on the next diagram and Aronian proposed a draw. Kramnik accepted and by a special rules of this match, if some of games be finished before they played three hours than they will play a rapid game. In a rapid game Kramnik had a white pieces and played out of control. Position was unclear when he sacrificed a piece just to found out that he has nothing. Aronian won by some nice tactical strokes. I will not analyse rapid game because it was obvious that players didn´t played very seriously and a game was just a show for a public.
I want to give my opinion about first four games. I think that Aronian is a slightly better player than Kramnik at the moment (Professor Elo agrees) and he probably feels that. A problem for him is that he can not develop his real strength. That is exactly what is a Kramnik´s big advantage. He is experienced match player and he knows how to restrain opponents strength. That is a very common match strategy and was used by many great players. 
Ewe won against Alekhine using this strategy and Botvinnik was very successful in his revenge matches against Smyslov and Tal. Even Kramnik won against Kasparov by using this cunning strategy. It seems to me that Aronian is not aware of that or at least don´t think that is too important. 
By playing six-game match he probably has right, but I still think that Kramnik would won a match against him with ten or more games. Unfortunately for Kramnik, this can not be used in the tournaments or short matches so if he still has ambition to fight for World Champion title a bigger problem would be to win a candidate tournament (or short matches) that to win against World Champion.
Today is a rest day and match will be continued tomorow.
You can follow fifth game here : Kramnik-Aronian 5th game  ....and if you like live commentary and a video from playing hall you can find it here: Video stream and commentary .

1 comment:

  1. Interesting thoughts. Excellent service. Thankyou!