Chess24 Sopiko Scotch

Zuerich Chess Challenge 2012 (3)

Kramnik wins razor sharp battle against Aronian in Game 3

Game 3 post mortem between Aronian and Kramnik.

Game 3 post mortem between Aronian and Kramnik. |

Precise calculation allowed Vladimir Kramnik to repulse early aggression from an Levon Aronian and level their match at 1.5-1.5 in the Zuerich Chess Challenge. Kramnik played 1.e4 which came as no surprise to his opponent. Aronian played the unusual 5...Bc5 against the Scotch Four Knights a move that Kramnik had looked at some time ago. Aronian sacrificed his queen and seemed to get a frightening initiative. The game was full of content and whilst objectively Kramnik was probably better Aronian was very confident of his play and position. As play continued the most dangerous looking ideas didn't quite work for Aronian and 17.Qb4 might have led to an easy win for Kramnik. Once Aronian missed 19...Rd8 his position on the board and the clock deteriorated fast. Aronian's last chance was 21...g6 instead of the faintly ridiculous 21...g5 ("I was preventing the draw and I managed to do it." Aronian) and Kramnik pressed home his advantage forcing resignation on move 41. Aronian is rightly very confident in his ability to handle almost anything but he clearly went well over the top today. Kramnik had to see a lot to get through the complications and finished things well. Game 4 Wednesday 2pm BST 3pm CET.

Aronian and Kramnik at the press conference.

Aronian and Kramnik at the press conference. Photo ©

Kramnik,Vladimir - Aronian,Levon [C47]
Zuerich Chess Challenge 2012 Zurich SUI (3), 24.04.2012


"I told you last time I could also play e4." - Kramnik referring to his comment during the last press conference. Aronian wasn't too surprised.

1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bc5

Aronian wanted to get away from Kramnik's preparation as soon as possible which he did with this move. However Kramnik had looked at this in the past. "Perhaps I will surprise him with Bc5 and he will not have a big experience." - Aronian. "I had a look at this line also. It is not a bad move." - Kramnik.

6.Be3 Bb6 7.Qd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 Re8 9.f3 d5

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 9...d5

"I didn't think during the game white could allow me to play d5." - Aronian.

[9...d6 10.g4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Be6 12.Rg1 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 c5 14.Qd2 Qa5 15.a3 a6 16.g5 Nd7 17.f4 b5 18.f5 Bc4 19.g6 fxg6 20.Bxc4+ bxc4 21.fxg6 h6 22.Qxd6 Ne5 23.Rd5 Qd8 24.Qxc5 Qh4 25.Rdd1 Rac8 26.Qa7 Qxh2 27.Nd5 c3 28.bxc3 Qh4 29.Rdf1 Kh8 30.Qd4 Nc6 1/2-1/2 Reefat,B-Hebden,M/Dhaka BAN 1995]


[10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bxb6 axb6 12.Bc4 Be6 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.Bxd5 cxd5 16.Qxd5 Qxd5 17.Rxd5 Rxa2 18.Rhd1 1/2-1/2 Hrvacic,P (2185)-Berebora,F (2415)/Split 1998/EXT 2000]

10...Nxd5 11.Bg5

Kramnik had an engine running in this position at some time in the past but all he remembered was that it wasn't worse for white. Useful information in such a tactical position.


[11...Nde7 12.Nxc6 Qxd2+ 13.Bxd2 bxc6 14.Bc4 Ng6 15.Rhe1 Bf5 16.Ne4 1/2-1/2 Kolanek,R (2098)-Popov,V (2234)/ICCF email 2008/Corr 2011]

12.Bxd8 Nxd1

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 12...Nxd1

In advance of this position Aronian thought this looked terrible for white. "I'm not yet convinced that it's all that bad for me." - Aronian.


The most principled move.


13...Bxc7 14.Nxc6 Ne3 15.Bb5!

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 15.Bb5!

This seems the only move that promises an advantage for white.


Aronian thought he was out of danger here.

[15...a6 was an alternative Aronian suggested after the game. 16.Ba4 Nc4 "Maybe I'm asking for it but I was actually think it was interesting." - Aronian.; 15...Bf5 16.Nd4 Bf4 17.Bxe8 Nxg2 18.Bxf7+ Kxf7 19.Qxf4 Nxf4 20.Nxf5 Might be a way to try and draw. "I didn't sacrifice my queen for this" - said Aronian "If I wanted to hold I'd have played Bb4."]


Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 16.Bxc6


[16...Bf4 "A very serious move." - Kramnik. 17.Kb1! when black doesn't quite get enough. (17.Re1 Bd7! is very strong for black.) 17...Bf5 (17...Rb8 18.Qd4 Be5 19.Qxe3 Rxb2+ 20.Kc1) 18.Bxa8 (18.Bxe8 Bxc2+ 19.Ka1 Rxe8) 18...Rxa8 19.Re1 Bxc2+ 20.Ka1 Re8 21.Rxe3 Bxe3 22.Qxc2 and white is winning.]


Keeps some advantage but white could have come close to finishing things here.

[17.Qb4! Be6 18.Bxe8 Rxe8 19.Re1 is a much better version of this position than in the game. "Ah yes that's a very strong move, I didn't see this. I missed this." - Aronian.]

17...Be6 18.Bxa8 Bb6 19.Qd3

[19.Qe4 "I actually had the feeling that you're lost here." - Aronian. But on looking at the lines he couldn't find anything. 19...Be3+ 20.Kd1 Rd8+ (20...Nxb2+ 21.Ke1 Bd7 22.Qb7 Bb6+ is a draw.) 21.Ke1 "During the game I was too optimistic here." - Aronian.]


A combination of time trouble and overoptimism does for Aronian. From now on he misses things and doesn't assess the position at all correctly. Kramnik calmly meets Aronian's threats.

[19...Rd8 20.Bd5 Aronian's suggestion and he didn't like black's position. 20...Rxd5 (20...Bxd5 21.Rd1!) 21.Qxc4 Rd1+ 22.Rxd1 Bxc4 may have been the way to play.]


This move caught Aronian by surprise.

[20.b3 Rd8 21.bxc4 Rxd3 22.cxd3 was what Aronian expected.]

20...Rd8 21.Qe4

Kramnik was still feeling slightly uncomfortable here but he also thought it was a very difficult position for black to play. "I don't say I'm better but in two moves I will be. He has to find something very quick here." - Kramnik.


Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 21...g5

Completely losing his objectivity here. Aronian was avoiding drawish variations. "I was preventing the draw and I managed to do it." - Aronian. "I was already pretty sure I'm better here." - Kramnik.

[21...g6 and things are difficult for black but better than the game. 22.g4 is a computer suggestion not liked by Aronian. "g4 is out of the question actually." - Aronian.

a) 22.Qf4 Rd4 probably holds.;

b) 22.c3 h5 (

22...Nxb2 23.Kxb2 Rd2+ is an idea in the position but probably not here.

22...Rc8 "That's a very sad move." - Aronian.) ; ]


Stopping all tricks.


White was threatening b3. "I felt I'm out of danger and he doesn't really have any plans, and I don't have any plans so I thought I'll play a5-a4." - Aronian.


"I have the feeling my position is much better already. I'm just opening the king. I have clear plan, it is not only that I think white is objectively better but it is also very difficult to play with black. It's so easy to drop some piece." - Kramnik.


[23...Bf8 24.Qc6 with the idea of Rxe6 opening up the king. "I guess I just watched too many games of [Leonid] Stein." - Aronian.]

24.g3 a5 25.f4 a4 26.f5

The most direct idea.

26...Bd5 27.Qd3 Bb6

Aronian has less than 4 minutes left, Kramnik 11 minutes.

[27...f6 Aronian was getting ready to play 27...f6 but it fails spectacularly. 28.Re8+ Rxe8 29.Qxd5+ Kg7 30.Qxc4 and it is all over.]

28.b3 axb3 29.axb3 Na5 30.Re8+

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 30.Re8+

[30.Qb5?! Nxb3+ (30...Bxb3 31.Re8+ Rxe8 32.Qxe8+ should win for white. 32...Kh7) 31.Kc2 Nd4+!! 32.cxd4 Bxd4 33.Re8+ Rxe8 34.Qxe8+ Kg7 and the win is not at all easy.]

30...Rxe8 31.Qxd5 Rd8 32.Qb5 Rd6 33.Kc2 Kg7 34.b4 Nb7 35.c4 Rf6 36.g4!

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 36.g4!

[36.c5 Bxc5 37.bxc5 Rxf5 38.Qxb7 Rxc5+ with some hope of a fortress.]

36...Nd8 37.c5 Bc7 38.Qd7 Nc6 39.b5 Na7 40.Qxc7 Nxb5

The knight and rook will never be able to create a fortress.

41.Qe5 Na7 42.Kd3 1-0

Levon Aronian


Vladimir Kramnik

Final Position after 42.Kd3

Aronian-Kramnik Match Zuerich
Kramnik, Vladimir - Aronian, Levon 0-1 41 D43 Anti-Meran Gambit
Aronian, Levon - Kramnik, Vladimir ½-½ 37 C67 Ruy Lopez Berlin
Kramnik, Vladimir - Aronian, Levon 1-0 42 C47 Four Knights

Aronian-Kramnik Match Zuerich (SUI), 02-07 viii 2012
Name Ti NAT Rtng 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total Perf
Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2801 0 ½ 1 . . . 2820
Aronian, Levon g ARM 2820 1 ½ 0 . . . 2801

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