He lost his world champion title just a few weeks ago, but Vladimir Kramnik looks to be at his best now. The Russian superGM has secured victory in the 2007 Tal Memorial, which takes place in Moscow until tomorrow, with a round to go: he has 6 points out of 8 and Alexei Shirov follows on 4.5 (official site of the event: http://russiachess.org/eng/). This result is especially good for Vlad's moral in view of his match against Vishy Anand next year; speaking about that, according to a press release published on Fide website (www.fide.com), "whilst GM Vladimir Kramnik had accepted the conditions for the World Championship Match in 2008 and had signed the contract, GM Anand had raised several points". Kirsan Ilymuzhinov "asked Deputy President, Giorgios Makropoulos, to conduct negotiations with UEP, GM Anand and GM Kramnik to enable the contract to be signed". It looks like the Indian GM doesn't want to play the role of good and nice boy any longer: can you blame him?
And now here are some news from Italy. The 2007/2008 edition of the "Torneo di Capodanno" ("New year's day tourney" - December 29-January 6) in Reggio Emilia will be one of the strongest ever: a 16th category event with many well known GMs, all og them coming from different countries Zoltan Almasi (HUN - 2691), Konstantin Landa (RUS - 2669), Pentala Harikrishna (IND - 2668), Vugar Gashimov (AZE - 2663), David Navara (CZE - 2656), Sergey Tivjakov (NED - 2643), Ni Hua (CHN - 2641), Viktor Korchnoj (SUI - 2610), Mihail Marin (ROM - 2551), Michele Godena (ITA - 2535). Croatian GM Miso Cebalo will comment games live for the audience (not the web audience :-) ), Almasi will give a simul for local players at the end of the competition. Official site should be http://www.ippogrifoscacchi.it/.
And now here is a crushing victory by Kramnik in Moscow...
Kramnik,V. (2785) - Alekseev,E. (2716) [A60], Moscow, 16.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 b5
After 5...d6 6.Nc3 we would get a Modern-Benoni.
This was Sosonko's favourite move in the '70s. Kramnik had previously played 6.Nd2 Nxd5 7.Bg2 Nc7 8.Bxa8 Nxa8 9.b4 c4 10.a4 Bxb4 11.Qc2 Bb7 12.Ngf3 a6 13.axb5 axb5 14.Qb2 Qf6 15.Qxb4 Qxa1 16.0–0 Qa6 and now the immediate 17.Ba3 would have been better than 17.Bb2 f6 18.Ba3 , played by Vlad (Kramnik-Aronian, Yerevan Rapid Match 2007). In both cases White has a strong initiative in return for the sacrificed material. Perhaps Alekseev found an improvement in the 6.Nd2 line, but Kramnik surprised him first.; White's most popular choice is 6.Bg2 and after 6...d6 White can choose between 7.e4 and 7.b4!? Nbd7 (7...Na6 8.bxc5 Nxc5 9.Nf3 g6 10.0–0 Bg7 11.Nd4 0–0 12.Nc3 a6 13.Nc6 Qc7 14.Be3 Bb7 15.Bd4 Rfe8 16.a4 bxa4 17.Bxc5 dxc5 18.Qxa4± Kasparov-Korchnoj, London 1983) 8.bxc5 dxc5 9.Nh3 Bd6 10.0–0 0–0 11.Bf4 Nb6 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.Nf4 Re8 14.a3 Bd7 15.h4 h6 16.Nd2 g5 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Nh3 Bxh3 19.Bxh3 Nbxd5–+ Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov, Batumi 2001.
The game Manor-Greenfeld, Rishon Le Zion 1996, continued 6...Bb7 7.Bg2 d6 8.a4 b4 9.Nd2 g6 10.Nc4 Ba6 11.Qc2 Bg7 12.Nf3 0–0 13.Nfd2 Nbd7 14.0–0 Nb6 15.Re1 Ng4 16.Ne3 Ne5 17.Bf1 c4 18.a5 Nbd7 19.Nexc4 Rc8 20.Qb3 Nc5 21.Qe3 Nxc4 22.Bxc4 Bxc4 23.Nxc4 Re8 24.Qf3 f5 25.Bf4 Nxe4=
7.Qe2 Qe7 8.Bg2 Nd6
Alekseev probably did not know (or remember) the old theory. Black should keep the knight on e4; the game Sosonko-Timman, Amsterdam 1980, continued 8...f5 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Qxe2+ 11.Nxe2 Na6 12.0–0 Rb8 13.Bf4 d6 14.Bd2 Be7 15.Nf4 Kf7 and Black is better.
9...Na6 10.Nh3 g6= looks more precise.
10.Bxc5 Qxe2+ 11.Nxe2 Na6 12.Bxd6!?
A new move. White helps Black to develop, but Kramnik probably felt that knights would be superior to bishops in a position where Black has a lot of weak squares. The game Sosonko-Olafsson, Wijk aan Zee 1977, continued 12.Bd4 Nf5 13.0–0 Bc5 14.Bxc5 Nxc5 15.Nd2 Ba6 16.Rfc1?! (16.Nb3!?; 16.Rfe1) 16...Nd3 17.Rc2 0–0 18.Bh3 Rfe8 19.Nb3 Re5 20.Ned4 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 Rd8 22.d6 g6 and now after 23.Bf1 White would have a slight edge.
12...Bxd6 13.Nd2 Rb8
After 13...Bb7 14.Nc4 Bc5 15.Nf4 White is slightly better anyway.
14.Nc4 Be7 15.d6 Bf6 16.Nf4 Nc5 17.0–0 Ba6 18.Nd5
18.Rfe1+ was an interesting alternative, e.g.: 18...Ne6 (18...Kd8 19.Ne5 Rf8 20.Rac1 Rb5 21.Nh5 is good only for White) 19.Ne5 Rb6 20.Rad1 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Bxe5 22.fxe5 and Black's position is difficult.
Obviously not 18...Bxc4?! 19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Rfc1 0–0 21.Rxc4 Ne6 and White is clearly better.
19.Nxf6+ gxf6 20.Bd5
20.Rfd1!? is probably better, but after 20...Bxc4 21.Rdc1 Bxa2!? Black can hold on, e.g.: 22.Rxa2 (22.Rxc5 Be6 23.Rxa7 Rb6 24.Bd5 Rxd6 25.Bxe6 fxe6=) 22...Nd3 23.Rb1 (23.Rd1 b3 24.Rxa7 Nxb2 25.Rb1 Nc4 26.Bd5 Nxd6 27.Rxd7 Rbd8 28.Rxd8 Rxd8 29.Rxb3 looks drawish.) 23...Rb6 24.Rxa7 Rxd6 25.Rd1 Rc8 26.Ra8 Rxa8 27.Bxa8 Ra6 28.Rxd3 Rxa8 29.Rxd7 and White can try to convert his slight edge into a full point, but it is not as easy as it looks.
A serious mistake. This knight was very well-placed on c5. Black should have tried 20...Rfc8
21.Rfc1! Rfe8 22.Ne3! Rb6
After 22...Nxb2 23.Rc7 White is better as well.
23...Bb5 and 23...Rd8 were both better alternatives. Now Black is almost hopeless.
24.Rd1! Kh8 25.Nf5
25...Rb6 26.Bxf7 Nxb2?
The last mistake in a desperate position: after 26...Rd8 27.Rdxd7 Rxd7 28.Rxd7 Rb8 29.Rxa7 Bd3 30.Rxa4 Bxf5 White wins anyway, but not as fast as in the game.
Now White wins easily.
27...Re1+ 28.Kg2 Bf1+ 29.Kf3 Be2+ 30.Kf4 Rb8
If 30...Nd3+ then 31.Rxd3+-