Leko and Kramnik displaying nice fighting chess in their rapid match
In spite of some cynical comments that all games will end up drawn, Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik are displaying nice fighting chess in Miskolc. After six games, Kramnik is leading 3.5-2.5 with two remaining games to be played on Sunday. We all know how solid is Kramnik, but Leko still has chance to strike back, don’t forget his bounce after being 0-3 down against Michael Adams two years ago.
Already first game caused few giggles and “Didn’t I tell you” grumblings after Kramnik played opening without any ambition, allowing Leko to equalize without problems. Maybe he wanted to surprise the opponent, but few correct moves in right moment 8…Ne4, 14…Rd8 and 16…f5! caused an early 25-moves draw.
In the second game Kramnik was ready to repeat Marshall attack with Black pieces, which already brought him fantastic win against Leko in their Amber blindfold game few months earlier. Leko decided to avoid the possible preparation and headed into quiet Anti-Marshall with d3 and a3. In the following complicated struggle, Leko was trying to open up position for his pair of Bishops. Just when it seemed like Kramnik is getting into the trouble, he gave up his Queen for the Rook and Bishop, building a fortress that secured him draw.
The next day started with 29-move theory in a very popular and well-explored Queen’s Indian defence. 28…g6 allowed tricky 29. h4, setting Leko in the position of unpleasant choice. He immediately mistaken with 29…Rfe8 and it was already hard to defend against tenacious Kramnik.
Fourth game started with Anti-Marshall again and Leko was first to diverge from the 2nd game with 14. c3. Persistent and correct play produced 3rd draw.
Fifth game was particularly interesting because everyone expected to see Leko’s QID improvement. Kramnik didn’t allow it happen and run into English opening that both players were already using with the same colors: Leko against Gelfand and Kramnik vs Polgar, Timman, Navara, Lautier, Hjartarson… Black had some pawn structure defects but White was in problem how to complete the development. Position was considered as dynamically balanced, and then, instead of known 18. Bf3 with idea 19. Kc2, as seen in Ribli-Ponomariov, Kramnik continued with paradoxical 18. Ke1!? This move is delaying connection of Rooks, thus continuing development issue for White, but King is moving away from potential tactics on the d-file and Kramnik is preparing exchange of the Bishops. This original plan shows how deep is Kramnik’s understanding of chess. Already some six-seven moves later, White’s pieces were better placed allowing him to open files around Black King and win a pawn by imposing constant tactical threats. So far, best game of the match.
Sixth game is another Ruy Lopez. Kramnik didn’t have major problems on holding even in the 4th game, therefore Leko opted for quiet but full of poison 6. d3. The pawn structure was similar to the Anti-Marshall, but this time Leko managed to open f-file and start threatening Kramnik’s King. Kramnik was in passive position, but managed to build solid defence, and then suddenly opted for complications with 36…c4. The following tactical skirmish worked better for Leko and he scored his first win in this match.
Last two games are scheduled for Sunday 16:00 and 19:00 CET.