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Vladimir Kramnik is the new Chess World Champion!! October 13, 2006

Posted by dorigo in chess, games, news.

Today four rapid-chess games were played in Elista, to determine the winner of the match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. After 12 regular-time-control games,  the score was tied to 6-6. Four games with 25 minutes for player (plus 10-second increment per move) were scheduled to determine the World Champion.

If the score had been tied after those 4 additional games, two more at blitz speed (5 minutes each) would have been played, plus an eventual Armageddon game (6 minutes for white, 5 for black, but if black draws he is the winner).

But it did not end in an Armageddon game after all.

This final day was even more exciting, if possible, than the last three weeks of play – which had seen Kramnik ahead 2-0, then Topalov fighting back to 5-4, and finally match tied at 6-6. After a very well fought draw in game 1, where Topalov had pressed with the white pieces but had found a tough opposition in Kramnik’s active defence, game 2 was a disgrace for Topalov, who did not get a chance from Kramnik’s precise technique. 

In game three, Topalov fought back with the white pieces again. He played a masterful attacking game, pressing extremely hard, and sacrificing material which in the end paid off. Kramnik lost his queen for rook and knight, and soon had to resign.

Then game four, with Kramnik again white. Topalov defended a bit too happily and ended in an ending with two rooks and bishop each, where Kramnik had one pawn advantage in exchange for black’s activity. Here Kramnik’s ending technique weighted in, but the game was still balanced – but with difficulties for black – when the following position arose:

Here black, who thought he could end the torture immediately, had just given a check with Rc3-c2, allowing the white king to march closer to the scene with Kf2-e3.

Topalov did not think much after white’s move, and played immediately Rc2xc5??

I was following the game online on the internet chess club, and had anticipated that Rc2xc5 would lose on the spot! So I was shocked to see it played on the board…

The idea of  Rc2xc5 is that the obvious response by white, Ra5xc5 check, runs in Kc7xb6, and black has won a pawn, with an easy draw since the a6-pawn will not go anywhere. White’s advantage will then be purely aesthetic.

But I had seen how white would have answered to black’s Rc2xc5… Can you ?

It is not too hard in fact to see that after Rc2xc5?? white does not take the rook, but rather plays Rb6-b7 check!! and now if Ra7xb7 there comes Ra5xc5 check, Kc7-b6, axb7! and either black captures the remaining white rook with his king, allowing the b7 pawn to promote to a fresh new queen, or he captures in b7, and white remains a rook to the good.

You can look at other possibilities for black (one of them, after Rb6-b7 check, is Kc7-d6, but that too loses by force). Topalov realized in an instant he was lost, and resigned.

Well done Grandmaster Kramnik. He showed he is the strongest in match play. Topalov remains the highest-rated player in the world, but the World Championship title is not his anymore.

Most of all – the chess world is happy today, because after twenty years of scissions, deprivation of a real World Champion, and of WC matches, we got a real one going. And it was terrific!



1. Joachim - October 16, 2006

Hi Tommaso,
i see the victory of Kramnik with mixed feelings. On the one hand i really would have liked Topalov to win, simply because his playing style nearly always ensures an interesting game. On the other hand i did not like his protests (quite harmless, but developed into a media frenzy) and we now have a chance for a unified, single title.
I’m not sure on the last point though. Should Kramnik decide that his chances to win in Mexico are not that good or if he becomes ill again, he might start pulling the old “i do not recognize this tourney as classical WC tournament” and we have the same situation as before, albeit with his position significantly weakened. But let’s wait and hope for the best.


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