Friday, February 25, 2011


How Equal is Equal? Continued...

by GM Magesh and GM Arun

We promised you Kramnik this week, so here is Kramnik with his weapon of mass destruction: deadly precision in the endgame. Looking at the same opening, the same dull symmetrical position, many people would think a draw was inevitable, but these results beg to differ.

So here is our instructive endgame tutorial by Vladimir Kramnik against Peter Leko. Kramnik does get a sound middle game position, but the amazing ease with which each he converts that into a win is what is truly awesome.

  A simple position with a slight advantage to white. All of white's pieces are very well placed, but what next? Let us try to come up with a plan for white to improve his position before we go on with the game.

Kramnik, V. (2770) vs. Leko, P. (2743)
RWE Gas Match | Budapest HUN | Round 9| 7 Jan 2001 | ECO: E42 | 1-0
A good time to think and try to figure out a winning plan for white. It is again obvious that white is very strong but what exactly should be done? Kramnik's play is very instructive and worth studying

Now things look even more difficult for black, but to Leko's credit he is still holding on to his position. Again, I would strongly recommend our users pause and think of a concrete plan before seeing how Kramnik implemented his ideas.

Kramnik, V. (2770) vs. Leko, P. (2743)
RWE Gas Match | Budapest HUN | Round 9| 7 Jan 2001 | ECO: E42 | 1-0
And now would be another good time to take a pause and come up with an exact plan for white to get past the finish line

A simple plan that looks like a sure thing in retrospect. Expand on the king side; completely destroy any possibilities for black's already weak bishop; open up the queen side and finally march on with your king. When I tried giving this position to some of my students I realized that I heard this plan only in bits and pieces. Everyone had one or even two of the right ideas, but getting all those ideas together and in a linear way is the key. I am sure it sounds like an easy thing now that you have seen the game, but it is a very impressive display of chess understanding from Kramnik.

Our second game is an equally instructive game by Armenian Grandmaster Sargissian Gabriel against an equally strong Grandmaster Sergey Tiviakov.

Now that you have given the endgame some good thought, let us go through the game and see white's simple idea and the ease of his execution.

Sargissian, G. (2614) vs. Tiviakov, S. (2593)
FIDE WCh KO | Tripoli LBA | Round 1.5| 20 Jun 2004 | ECO: E42 | 1-0
Both players have brought their kings to the center, but now what for white? Try to come up with a plan for white before proceeding with the game. It is important to understand such symmetrical positions from both the attacking and defending perspectives

I had a few comments in the last article about how one player was lower rated and sometimes was unnecessarily passive in such positions. However, in these two games you will see that both black players were extremely strong Grandmasters, who still played passively at critical times to get into trouble. Constant fear of having to play the best possible defense can do strange things to even the most powerful human minds. That is the specialty of such openings: it always looks like there is nothing left for a fight, but a tiny advantage lingers on for eternity!
» posted in Opening Theory

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