4 NOVEMBER 2000, Page 82


Raymond Keene

KING Ethelred was famous for being `Unready' in the face of Viking invasions. The Anglo-Saxon term was, I believe, rede- less, close to the German ratios, meaning literally without advice or counsel.

This condition can be seen afflicting none other than Kasparov in his title defence. Famed for his preparation, Kasparov always seemed to be one step behind the wily Kramnik. Known as Mr Iceberg, this imper- turbable Russian has a habit of picking just the variations Kasparov does not like, usual- ly involving an exchange of queens or of Kasparov's bishops. It is almost pitiful to see Kasparov (probably Ethelred looked the same way after the umpteenth Viking raid) sitting at the board twitching helplessly, rub- bing his eyes in disbelief occasionally and generally looking as if he is facing an oppo- nent who can read his innermost secrets. Game 11 was typical in this respect.

Kramnik–Kasparov: Ruy Lopez; Modern Archangel variation 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 135 6 Bb3 Bc5 7 a4 Bb7 8 d3 0-0 9 Nc3 Na5 This move offers a pawn sacrifice in order to obtain the bish- op pair and to activate the black position. 10 axb5 Nxb3 11 cxb3 axb5 12 RxaS Bxa8 13 Nxe5 d5 White cannot keep the pawn without serious strategic disadvantage, e.g. 14 d4 Bb6 15 Nxd5 Nxd5 16 exd5 QxdS 17 Nf3 and Black dominates the centre. 14 Bg5 dxe4 Kramnik improves on the game Kasparov–Shirov, Linares 1998 which went 14 ... Be7 15 Nxb5 dxe4 16 dxe4. 15 dxe4 Qxdl 16 Rxdl b4 17 Bxf6 This is a new move from Kasparov. However, this is not surprising as the previous try in this position, 17 Nd5, runs into a small trick which completely equalises, e.g. 17

Bxf2+ 18 Kxf2 Nxe4+ 19 Kgl Nxg5 20 Nd7 Rd8 and the game was quickly drawn in the game Topalov–Shirov, Monte Carlo 1997. 17 ... bxc3 18 bxc3 gxf6 19 Nd7 Bd6 And not 19 ... Rd8 20 Nxf6+ winning. 20 NxfS Kxt 21 f3 h5 Up to here Kramnik had moved very quickly, showing he was still in his pre-game analysis. Kramnik's prepara- don has overall been better. Astonishingly, he had only used five minutes at this point. 22 h4 Kasparov opts to prevent the black pawn from advancing further but now his own h-pawn is slightly vulnerable. However, Black cannot capi- talise on this immediately as 22 ... Bg3 runs into 23 Rd8+. 22 ...Ke7

Kasparov blamed his next move for throwing away his advantage. He claimed 23 Rat was far better. Indeed, Kasparov announced that he had even played this move in a pre-match training game. He could not understand how he had failed to carry out his own preparation. However, Kramnik denied flatly that White had any advan- tage in this position, saying, 'To put it mildly, White does not stand better.' 23 Kf2 Bb7 24 c4 Be5 25 Rd2 Kasparov improves the position of his rook, creating the opportunity of moving his rook to the a-file. White has a small advantage in this endgame, but it will be difficult for him to convert this to a win. 25 ... BcS 26 Rd5 White's plan is to batter a path through to Black's h-pawn. However, Black's bishops and his ability to punch open the centre with ... f5 twice give him plenty of counterplay. 26 ... Be6 27 Ra5 c5 Kramnik uses a small tactic (28 Rxc5 Bd4+) to attempt to clamp down on White's queen-side. 28 Ke3 Bd4+ 29 Kd3 Now White has the threat of 30 b4, exploiting the fact that the black bishop is slightly loose on d4. 29 ... f5 It was possible for Black to wait with 29 ... Bf2 but after some thought Kramnik decides on a policy of activity. If now 30 b4 fxe4+ 31 fxe4 Kd6 and Black is beginning to activate his forces. 30 b4 fxe4+ 31 Kxe4 Bf2 32 bxc5 Bxh4 33 c6 Kd6 34 RxhS Bf2 35 g4 Kxc6 36 Rh2 Bey 37 Rc2 f6 The position is now completely equal. 38 Rh2 Bxc4 39 Rh6 A last-ditch attempt, but it should be noted that even if White wins one of Black's bishops the endgame of rook and king against bishop and king is almost always a draw. 39 ... Bd5+ 40 Kf5 Bxf3 41 g5 Kd5 Draw agreed To follow the live action or access previous games, go to www.braingames.net.

White to play and win — first move only required. This week's puzzle is a variation from the game Kramnik–Kasparov, Game 11. How can White win at once with a beautiful combination?

Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 6 November or via email to vanessa@spectator.co.uk or by fax on 020 7242 0603. The winner will be the first cor- rect answer drawn out of a hat, and each week I shall be offering a prize of a bottle of Ardbeg Malt Whisky.

Last week's solution: Nxe5 Last week's winner: Duncan Johnston, London.