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Zuerich Chess Challenge 2012 (6)

Aronian and Kramnik draw their match in Zuerich

Aronian - Kramnik in the post-mortem. Photo ©

Aronian - Kramnik in the post-mortem. Photo © |

The final game of the Zuerich Chess Challenge match between Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik finished in an interesting draw in a Berlin Defence, which left the final score at 3-3. Aronian repeated 1.e4 which was one of his clear goals for the match ("I haven't played e4 seriously for such a long time. I think I learned a lot.) and after Kramnik repeated the Berlin Defence Aronian played the quiet 4.d3. Both players admitted to playing more freely than they would have had this not been a friendly match. Aronian thought himself lucky to have drawn the match as "I was in reality playing very adventurous moves where I shouldn't have." Today Aronian sacrificed a pawn with 19.a5 which led to very interesting complications. Kramnik's 28...Kf8 was bad as he overlooked 29.Ra4 but Aronian immediately blundered back with the terrible 30.c4? Kramnik's 33.e3 looked strong and winning but things turned out to be more difficult than that and the game ended in a draw. 33...Ne7 would have been far more difficult to meet. An interesting and enterprising match.

Aronian,Levon - Kramnik,Vladimir [C65]
Zurich Chess Challenge Zurich SUI (6), 27.04.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Nbd2 d6 6.c3 0-0 7.0-0 Ne7 8.h3 Ng6 9.Re1 c6 10.Ba4 Re8 11.d4 Bb6 12.Bc2 h6 13.a4

[13.Nf1 d5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Rxe5 16.Bf4 Re8 17.e5 Nh7 18.Qd3 Nf8 19.Rad1 Qh4 20.Bg3 Qg5 21.Kh2 Qg6 22.Qd2 Bf5 23.Bxf5 Qxf5 24.Ne3 Bxe3 25.Rxe3 Rad8 26.Qd4 b6 27.Rf3 Qe6 28.Rfd3 Rd7 29.f4 Qf5 30.Qa4 Rc8 31.c4 Ne6 32.b4 Rcd8 33.Qxc6 Nxf4 34.Rd4 Ne2 35.Rxd5 Rxd5 36.cxd5 Nxg3 37.Kxg3 Rc8 38.Qb5 Qxe5+ 39.Kf2 Rc2+ 40.Kg1 Qe3+ 41.Kh2 Qe5+ 42.Kh1 Qd6 43.Qe8+ Qf8 44.Qe4 Rc7 45.d6 Rd7 46.Qc6 Qe8 47.b5 g6 48.a4 Qe6 49.Qc8+ Kg7 50.Qc3+ Qf6 51.Qc6 Qe6 52.Kg1 h5 53.Qc3+ Qf6 54.Qc6 Qe6 55.Qc3+ Qf6 56.Qg3 h4 57.Qa3 Qe5 58.Qb4 g5 59.Qg4 Qe3+ 60.Kh1 Rxd6 61.Rxd6 Qe1+ 62.Kh2 Qe5+ 63.g3 Qxd6 64.Qxg5+ Kf8 65.Qxh4 Qd2+ 1/2-1/2 Radjabov,T (2744)-Kramnik,V (2785)/Kazan RUS 2011/The Week in Chess 863]


With the idea of 14...exd4 on the following move.

14.Nf1 exd4

[14...Qc7 15.Ng3 Rad8 16.Be3 d5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bf4 Nfd7 19.a5 Bxa5 20.exd5 Bxd5 21.dxe5 Bb6 22.Qh5 f6 23.Bxh6 Nxe5 24.Be3 Nf3+ 25.gxf3 Rxe3 26.Rxe3 Bxe3 27.Kg2 Bh6 28.Nf5 Bd2 29.Rxa7 Bf7 30.Qg4 g6 31.Nd4 Qd7 32.Bf5 Qe8 33.Rxb7 Rd5 34.Rxf7 1-0 Alekseev,E (2670)-Jumabayev,R (2573) /Moscow RUS 2012/The Week in Chess 901]

15.Nxd4 Bd7 16.f4

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 16.f4

"I was considering I had a solid advantage." - Aronian.


Classical move.

17.e5 Ne4 18.Bxe4

[18.Kh2 "A little slow." - Aronian.]

18...dxe4 19.a5

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 19.a5

An interesting sacrifice. "I thought that he had blundered it." - Kramnik.

[19.Rxe4; 19.Ng3 f5 20.exf6 Qxf6 21.Nxe4 Bxd4+]


"I really liked my position." - Aronian.


20.Ng3 Bb6 21.Kh2 c5

"I didn't anything wrong with c5." - Kramnik. "I actually thought I am about to win." - Aronian.

[21...Nh4 22.Rxe4 (22.Qh5) ]

22.Ndf5 Bxf5 23.Nxf5 Qxd1 24.Rxd1 Rad8 25.Be3 Rd3

"Rook on d3 is not in place. Which is why I welcomed this move." - Aronian.

26.Re1 f6

Black needs to make this break before he ends up serious worse.

27.exf6 gxf6 28.Nxh6+

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 28.Nxh6


[28...Kh7 29.Ng4 Kg7 30.Nf2 and white is better.; 28...Kg7 29.Nf5+ Kf7 seems to be black's best continuation.]


"I simply missed this move. I thought I was already better." - Kramnik.


Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 29...Rd5


"My c4 was terrible." - Aronian. "I absolutely forgot he could play e3." "Once I blundered I realised I had no moves." Played after only 30 seconds thought this move is a serious misjudgement.

[30.f5 Bc7+ (30...Nh4 31.c4 Rd3 32.Kg3 wins.) 31.Kg1 "I didn't like it on general grounds." - Aronian.]

30...Rd3 31.b4?!

Suddenly white realises he has gone wrong with his previous move and is in danger of being seriously worse. Aronian misses the power of black's sacrifice.

31...Rxe3 32.Rxe3 cxb4 33.Rg3

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 33.Rg3


"I thought it was completely winning for black." - Kramnik. "Really tempting."

[33...Ne7 34.Rxb4 Bc7 and black really would be quite close to the win. However who can turn down the pawn push with only a few minutes on the clock for both players?]


Aronian took his time here, a sure sign of doubt.

34...e2 35.Ra1 Bf2 36.Rg8+

[36.g4 according to Shipov.]

36...Ke7 37.Rg7+ Kd6


38.Rxb7 e1Q 39.Rxe1 Bxe1 40.Nf5+ Kc5 41.Rb5+ Kc6 42.Nd4+ Kc7 43.Rc5+

Suddenly after the smoke has cleared white has enough counterplay against black's king to make up for the truly terrifying prospects of the b-pawn.


Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 32.Rc5+

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