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Zuerich Chess Challenge 2012 (4)

Aronian vs Kramnik Game 4 drawn in dull Berlin

Kramnik and Aronian after their rapid game. Photo ©

Kramnik and Aronian after their rapid game. Photo © |

Levon Aronian could not break down Vladimir Kramnik's Berlin Defence in a technical game of not much excitement. The score is now 2-2. They played an additional rapid game as the main game last only about 1 hour 20 minutes. This was a much more exciting affair with Aronian handling the tactics faster and in the end better for a win. In the main game Levon Aronian revealed that he prepared 1.e4 for this match "lets see where it takes me". Kramnik played his front line repertoire and with 13...h4 he surprised Aronian who was under the "impression I would take the h4 pawn one day". After 17.Bf4?! black had no problems (at least not for someone like Kramnik who has researched every setup exhaustively) and a draw was agreed in 22 moves. "I'm not experience in the Berlin, I'm only experienced from black, so I am slowly gaining experience and learning from the best master." - Aronian. Game 5 2pm BST Friday 27th April 2012.

Aronian and Kramnik analyse the rapid game.

Aronian and Kramnik analyse the rapid game. Photo ©

Aronian,Levon - Kramnik,Vladimir [C67]
Zuerich 2012 Zurich SUI (4), 25.04.2012


"I'm about to be 30 so I thought it was time for something new. I prepared 1.e4 for this match, lets see where it takes me. " - Aronian.

1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6

Aronian wasn't unhappy to face this line. He was interesting in learning by taking on "the best" from the white side of this position.

7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5

I've played [this] against all the best players with Anand... The most solid and the most fashionable nowdays setup and for the moment white is struggling most of the time to get special anything here. So I was actually curious to see what was Levon's idea, it's a very crucial line. I was trying to be tricky just to see if he shows me something.

11.Bg5 Be6 12.b3 Be7 13.Rad1 h4

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 13...h4

"Actually when I was looking at this line from black's side I always felt 13..h4 shouldn't be so good. So I didn't pay attention to 13...h4. Honestly speaking I was a bit out of preparation once Vladimir played 13...h4. But now after the game perhaps I can change my mind. It looks kind of logical it's just I always felt scared to lose the pawn somewhere." - Aronian.


[14.Rd3 Rd8 15.Rfd1 Rxd3 16.Rxd3 a5 17.Ne2 Bd5 18.Bxe7 Kxe7 19.Nd2 a4 20.Nf4 axb3 21.axb3 Ra8 22.Kf1 Ra2 23.c3 Be6 24.b4 Bc8 25.Ne4 b6 26.Ke1 Ba6 27.Rd2 Ra1+ 28.Rd1 Ra2 29.Rd2 Ra1+ 30.Rd1 Ra2 31.Rd2 1/2-1/2 Volokitin,A (2661)-Pavlovic,M (2534)/Vrnjacka Banja SRB 2010/The Week in Chess 825]

14...Rd8 15.Rxd8+ Kxd8 16.Ne4 b6 17.Bf4?!

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 17.Bf4

"Then I thought I would be very smart and played the dubious innovation 17.Bf4" - Aronian. "In general black's position is very solid, maybe Bf4 is not the best move. It's really difficult for white to get anything really serious here." - Kramnik.

[17.Kf1 c5 18.c3 was discussed after the game. Equal according to Kramnik.]


Black is absolutely fine here. Some precision is required but Kramnik knows these positions inside out.

[17...c5 18.Neg5 Bxg5 19.Bxg5+ Kd7 20.Re4 Bd5 21.Rf4 was a line given by Kramnik as an example of a line where black has to be careful. Even this at the very least doesn't seem that bad.]


"I was still under the impression I would take the h4 pawn one day." - Aronian.


"Once I give up my bishop on g5 I think I was perfectly fine." - Kramnik.


[19.Nxg5 Kramnik thought this might be a better try. 19...c5 (19...Rd8) 20.Nxe6 fxe6 with the idea of quick counterplay with a5 followed by c4. "Structurally white is better here but my experience is that it is difficult to be in time for white because black gets his counterplay on the queenside." - Kramnik. ]

19...Bd5 20.Nh2

An artificial idea to try and keep some tension. "Of course maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm overoptimistic but somehow I think it is a little bit better for black already after 19...Bd5 20.Nh2 so maybe there is a way to be very delicate, to try to play for a win somehow." - Kramnik. Who added that he would prefer to be black here but "of course it is very drawish."

20...c5 21.Rd1 Bc6

"Stopping Nf3 forever." - Kramnik.

[21...Be6 was an alternative suggested by Kramnik after the game. ]

22.c3 a5 23.Ng4 Bd7

Black's light squared bishop moves only after the white knight moves so it can't go to f3.

24.f3 a4 25.Kf2

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian

Position after 25.Kf2

White offers a draw, he is the only one in any danger here but objectively the position must be equal so draw agreed and on to the rapid.

[25.b4 Be6 26.a3 Kb7 "Now it is a bit uncomfortable for white. I thought this can be my chance." - Kramnik.; 25.Kf2 Be6 (25...axb3 26.axb3 Be6 27.b4 and the problematic a-pawn is no longer there.) 26.bxa4 is the point. 26...Bxa2 27.a5 followed by mass exchanges.]


Kramnik,Vladimir - Aronian,Levon [C77]
Zurich Chess Challenge Rapid Zurich SUI (1), 25.04.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.Bg5



[8...Be6; 8...Bb7; 8...0-0; 8...Bg4]




[9...0-0; 9...Bb7; 9...g5]

10.Nbd2 Rb8

[10...g5 11.Bg3 Na5 12.Bc2 c5 13.Nf1 Nc6 14.Ne3 Be6 15.0-0 Qd7 16.a4 0-0 17.Qd2 Kg7 18.h4 g4 19.Nh2 Nh5 20.Qe2 c4 21.Kh1 Bxe3 22.Qxe3 f5 23.exf5 Bxf5 24.f4 Qa7 25.Qe1 cxd3 26.axb5 dxc2 27.bxc6 Bd3 28.Bf2 Qe7 29.fxe5 Bxf1 30.Bd4 dxe5 31.Bxe5+ Kg8 32.Ra4 Bd3 33.Rxg4+ Kh7 34.Qe3 Bf5 35.Re4 0-1 Holderer,E (2202)-Haverkamp,K (2013)/Goch 2006/EXT 2008]

11.Qe2 a5 12.a4 b4 13.0-0 g5 14.Bg3 0-0 15.Nc4 Ba7 16.Nfd2 h5 17.h3 h4

Double edged play from both players.

18.Bh2 Kg7 19.Kh1 Rh8 20.d4!? bxc3 21.bxc3 exd4 22.e5 dxc3 23.exf6+ Qxf6 24.f4!?

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 24.f4!?

[24.Ne4 was less violent.]

24...cxd2 25.fxg5 Qe6

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 25...Qe6


[26.Ne5!! with complications that are not necessarily unfavourable for white. 26...Rxb3 27.Rxf7+ Kg8 28.Rf6 Nxe5 29.Rxe6 Bxe6 30.Bxe5 dxe5 31.Qe4]

26...Rxb3! 27.Qxb3 Ba6

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 27...Ba6


White was in time trouble here whilst black had as much as he wants.

[28.Nxd2 Bxf1 29.Rxf1]

28...Bxc4 29.Qxc6 Bd4

A nice centralisation.

30.Bg1 Bxa1 31.Rxa1 Re8 32.g6

A last try for counterplay.

32...Qf6 33.Qxc4 Re1 34.Kh2 Rxa1 35.Bd4

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 35.Bd4


The only move to win but crushing.

[35...Rh1+ 36.Kxh1 d1Q+ 37.Bg1 Kxg6]


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