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World Chess Championship Candidates 2011 (Semi-Final Gm2)

Kramnik and Gelfand fail to convert opening advantages on day 2

Grischuk working hard in a difficult position against Kramnik.

Grischuk working hard in a difficult position against Kramnik. |

Both Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Kramnik got serious opening advantages with white in the second round of the semi-finals of the FIDE World Chess Championship Candidates matches. Gelfand in particular had a winning position, at least according to his opponent Kamsky. But he didn't find the right way to exploit this and Kamsky then found his way to a draw. Kramnik got what looked like the kind of position he enjoys but in this case Grischuk found a very nice plan which kept the advantage within bounds and allowed him to hold the draw.

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Vladimir Kramnik got a very unusual English System in against Alexander Grischuk but soon both players were on their own resources. The position was definitely harder for black to play and he had to work very hard not to give Kramnik a long term advantage he could use. Grischuk engineered a good knight versus bad bishop, albeit one restricted by an extra pawn, but it seems his judgement was sound as Kramnik didn't find a way to use his advantage and the game finished in a draw.

Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [A04]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (2.2), 13.05.2011

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 e4 7.Ne5 Bd6 8.c5

Kramnik said his preparation had ended here.

[8.Bf4 1/2-1/2 Larsen,B (2486) -Pierrot,J (2430)/Buenos Aires 2002/CBM 090 ext (30)]

8...Bb8 9.Nc4 d5 10.cxd6 0-0 11.Bf4

The first new move, although already both players were on their own resources with only a very obscure Argentinian game in the databases.

[11.d5 Na5 12.Nxa5 Qxa5 13.Bg5 Bxd6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Bc4 Bd7 16.0-0 Rae8 17.a3 Qc7 18.Ba2 Bxh2+ 19.Kh1 Bd6 20.Rc1 Qd8 21.Qh5 f5 22.Bb1 Qf6 23.Rce1 Kh8 24.Re3 Qg6 25.Qxg6 hxg6 26.g3 Kg7 27.f4 Rc8 28.g4 Rh8+ 29.Kg2 Rh4 30.gxf5 gxf5 31.Rg3+ Kf6 0-1 Lida Garcia,F (2049)-Pierrot,J (2450)/Mar del Plata 2008/CBM 123 Extra]

11...Na5 12.Ne3 Bxd6

Black has at the least avoided giving Kramnik the two bishops.

13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.d5 Qe5 15.Be2 Rd8 16.Qd2 Nc6 17.Rd1 Ne7 18.Qd4 Qxd4 19.Rxd4 Nf5 20.Nxf5 Bxf5 21.Kd2 Ne8 22.g4 Bg6

White has a very nice position, it isn't very clear how this is best exploited. Black's light squared bishop isn't exerting much influence but if white wants to win the e4 pawn black will get rid of it anyhow.

23.Rc1 Rac8 24.Nxe4 Rxc1 25.Kxc1 Bxe4 26.Rxe4 Kf8 27.Ra4 a6 28.Rb4 Nd6

Alexander Grischuk


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 28...Nd6

The secret of Grischuk's success so far has been in defending some pretty miserable positions. Here at the cost of a pawn he has made things very difficult for Kramnik.

29.Kd2 h6 30.Bd3 Ke7 31.Ke3 Kd7 32.f3 Re8+ 33.Be4 g6 34.Kd4 Rc8 35.h4 Rc1

And now after activating his rook Grischuk was happy.

36.Ke5 Ke7 37.g5 hxg5 38.hxg5 Rg1 39.Kf4 f6 40.Bxg6 Rxg5 41.Be4 Rg2 42.a4 a5 43.Rb3 Kd8 44.Ke3 Rh2 45.Kf4 Rg2 46.Bb1 Rd2 47.Bd3 Rg2 48.Ke3 Rh2 49.Kd4 Rh4+ 50.Kc5 Kc7 51.Rb6 Rxa4 52.b3 Rb4 53.Rxb4 axb4 54.Kxb4 b6 55.Kc3 Kd8 56.Kd4 Ke7

White Time: 8min:40s Black Time: 8min:12s


Gata Kamsky

Gata Kamsky. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Boris Gelfand got a huge advantage out of the opening ("I was totally lost" - Kamsky) but it was not easy to realise this advantage against a defender as tough as Gata Kamsky. After the plan 27.Nc3 followed by Nd5 and e4, Kamsky's f5 meant that he was probably no longer in trouble and although Gelfand pressed the draw turned out to be easy enough.

Boris Gelfand against Gata Kamsky

Boris Gelfand against Gata Kamsky. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Kamsky,Gata (2732) [D91]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (2.2), 13.05.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 7.e3 Be6 8.Nf3 Bg7 9.Be2 c5 10.0-0 0-0 11.Rb1 Bd5

[11...Qc7 1-0 Rashkovsky,N-Zlotnik, B/Perm 1971/EXT 2001 (53)]

12.Qc2 cxd4 13.cxd4 b6 14.Bxc4 Nc6 15.Rfc1 Bxc4 16.Qxc4 Na5

White's opening pressure has brought something concrete. The black knight is out of play and white plays a simple plan of occupying the 7th with his rook.

17.Qc7 f6 18.Qxd8 Rfxd8 19.Rc7 Kf7 20.Rbc1 Ke8 21.Bg3 Bh6

Black's position is already very difficult to play.

22.Kf1 Rd7 23.Rxd7 Kxd7 24.Rc7+ Ke8 25.Nd2 b5 26.Ne4 a6

Gata Kamsky


Boris Gelfand

Position after 26...a6


[27.Nc5 is much stronger as pointed out by Gelfand after the game. In commentary Yasser Seirawan was asked to come up with a plan for white and he immediately said his dream would be to plant a knight on e6. Gelfand seemed to be going for this for some moves but then had another idea.]

27...Bf8 28.Nd5 Rd8 29.e4

allows Kamsky to more or less equalise.

[29.Nb6 was better but things are still not clear.]

29...f5 30.f3 fxe4 31.fxe4 Rd7 32.Ke2 Bg7 33.Bf2 e6 34.Rc8+ Kf7 35.Nb6 Rb7 36.d5 exd5 37.exd5 Be5 38.Ra8 Nc4 39.Rxa6 Nxb6 40.Bxb6 Bxh2 41.Kf3 Rd7 42.Ke4 Re7+ 43.Kd3 Rd7 44.Kd4 Bg1+ 45.Ke4 Re7+ 46.Kf4 Bxb6 47.Rxb6 Re2 48.g4 h5 49.Rb7+ Kf8 50.g5 h4

Black has to exercise some care but the ending is drawn.

51.Rh7 b4 52.Rxh4 Ke7 53.Rh6 Rxa2 54.Rxg6 Rd2 55.Re6+ Kf7 56.Ke5 b3 57.Rf6+ Kg7 58.Rb6 b2 59.d6 Kg6 60.Ke6 Re2+ 61.Kd5 Rd2+ 62.Kc6 Kxg5 63.d7 Rc2+ 64.Kd6 Rd2+ 65.Ke6 Re2+ 66.Kf7 Rf2+

White Time: 0h:20min Black Time: 0h:15min


In a thread which I contributed to on the Chess in Translation site we talked about the press conferences being exclusively conducted in Russian. Whilst I think in general this is fair enough as all the players are native speakers (apart from Topalov) and apparently all the journalists too I discussed whether it might not be possible to have a couple of sentences from the players summarising the game in English for the international audience as it would hardly take long. Someone else pointed out this might look a bit awkward, and it turned out a to be a bit like that as I think some of the players didn't see the point (the point being that many of us didn't understand word one of what was being said in Russian and in Kamsky's case his words in English make coverage in the American media easier and slightly more likely I guess). But I think I can't be the only one who appreciated the key information in English (used extensively by the chess sites written in English) and it only took a maximum of 90 seconds for the players to do, so I hope it continues!

Chess in Translation also have an extensive account of the very long day one press conference with Grischuk and Kramnik (after a very short game) where changes in the rules were talked about.

Post match press conference. Gelfand and Kamsky with Boris Kutin.

Post match press conference. Gelfand and Kamsky with Boris Kutin. Kamsky: "What do you want me to say?" Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Boris Kutin asked the players to summarise in English and they spent 90 seconds talking in English which was incredibly useful.


We had an interesting opening today which was quite unbalanced, I don't know where the theory finished, I don't know if c5 was played or not, in fact my c5 was the last move of my preparation.

But finally OK I got some advantage. I think I was pressing the whole game I don't know if I could have done more than to get this pawn up position which of course is still better for white but is difficult to win and then maybe I misplayed it a bit and could have caused more problems before the time control. After the time control the position was drawish. Black still has to be accurate but objectively it was a draw. The way Alexander played of course I saw and it was the most forcing way but it was not the only way, but it was the nicest one definitely.


Yes I got a difficult and boring position, I was pretty happy when I managed to give up a pawn but to build some defence and after my rook was activited I felt my position was close to a draw and this was finally how the game finished.

Boris Gelfand

White had a big advantage after the opening before the first time control. I mishandled it, instead of 27.Nc3, 27.Nc5 was a much stronger then Gata defended well and it was a draw.


I agree.

Pressed for more he said "What do you want me to say?"

I was totally lost and after e4 black is OK I think

World Chess Championship Semi-Finals 2011 2011 Kazan RUS Thu 12th May 2011 - Mon 16th May 2011
Name FEDRtg1234RapidBlitzS/DPts
Alexander Grischuk RUS2747 ½ ½ 1
Vladimir Kramnik RUS2785 ½ ½ 1
Name FEDRtg1234RapidBlitzS/DPts
Boris Gelfand ISR2733 ½ ½ 1
Gata Kamsky USA2732 ½ ½ 1
Alex McFarlane during game one of the semi-finals

Alex McFarlane during game one of the semi-finals. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Alex McFarlane is one of the three arbiters on the spot and he has been sending back short reports each day. He has some interesting things to say on the filming.

Semi Final Round 2

Still both games drawn in round 2 of the semi-finals but at least we had some fighting chess.

The filming of the Candidates matches has been given some favourable comments. There are 4 cameras and three cameramen used and these continue to be used even though we are down to 2 boards. There is also a director deciding what shots are used and when. It has been said that the cameras are a bit invasive and certainly the players have, from time to time, noticed the position of a camera being changed. Whilst the cameras have encroached onto the stage periodically they are certainly not in the players faces and are probably never any closer than 2 metres away.

The camera crew were a bit bored today when both Grischuk and Kamsky were giving considerable thought to a move. Gata made his move and stood up. All three immediately shot into action to follow his movement across the stage. From what I can gather one of those filming is definitely interested in the chess, a second may be. The third seems bored out of his skull.

The going rate in Britain for a cameraman is £1425 for a 50 hour week. Therefore to have a three person crew cover an event like the British Championship would cost almost £8.5k and that is without a director/editor so you are probably talking about £12,000 and that is assuming you don't have to cover their accommodation costs as well. Perhaps the London Classic is the only event in Britain that could consider this level of filming.

And here's one for the lawyers. From the regulations 3.6 Conditions of Victory

3.6.1 Each match of the first or second round shall consist of four games and the winner of a match shall be the first player to score 2.5 points or more.

3.7 goes on to explain what to do if the scores are tied after 4 games.

But let us take a hypothetical situation where one player is leading 2-1 going into the last game. Both players are late in arriving and are defaulted. So the final score of the match is 2-1. Neither player has managed the magical 2½ and the match is not tied so no play-offs and neither player apparently qualifies. Does this mean the winner of the other semi-final would automatically qualify to play against Anand?

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