Kramnik – Anand 2008

draw in game 4

Game 4 of the World Chess Championship between defending champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger Vladimir Kramnik ended in a dull draw in just 29 moves. Perhaps both players are still contemplating the match situation and strategies to be adopted for the remainder of the match.

Anand once again opened the game with the Queen’s Gambit, making it clear that his choice of this opening in the second game was not just a one-time surprise weapon. It now seems that during his preparation over last six months, he might have found Kramnik to be more vulnerable to this opening rather than the King Pawn Spanish game.

Kramnik, who must have been shaken by the depth of Anand’s preparation in the third game, decided to play it safe and went for the classical Queen’s Gambit Declined instead of his favorite Nimzo Indian Defence — used by most of the Russian masters since World War II.

The Soviet School of Chess has produced several great theoreticians in the Queen’s Gambit Declined and generally the Russians are quite comfortable with it.

On move 5 Anand chose a comparatively less venomous variation, which is supposed to give an easy equality to black. Perhaps Anand wanted to test the depth of his adversary’s general opening preparation.

Kramnik decided to follow a plan devised by Grandmaster Rustam Kasimdzhanov, one of Anand’s trainers. However Anand played a novelty on the 13th move, which gave him a slight advantage of a bishop over a knight. Anand obtained a very compact pawn structure and an extremely healthy position without any weaknesses. Kramnik, on the other hand, was left with quite a few pawn weaknesses including a central isolated pawn.

The challenger had to place his rooks in an uncomfortable position in order to defend his isolated pawn. However, his powerfully placed centralized queen and knight enabled him to cover all his other weaknesses, denying any penetration to Anand’s forces.

On move 22, Kramnik worked out an interesting plan of advancing his kingside pawns, forcing Anand’s bishop to leave it’s powerful position. The challenger then maneuvered his Knight and forced a central Pawn break on move 27.

The break resulted in the game opening up and the inevitable exchange of all the rooks. The players agreed to a draw on the 29th move in a dull and boring queen and minor piece ending.

Sunday is a rest day and that means that the players will have ample time to plan their strategies. So far, Anand, who is a true master of open games, has succeeded in achieving positions suitable to him in all games except the second.

Kramnik, who is a master of slow and closed middlegames has yet to achieve a position of his liking or a position suitable to his style.

The opening choice in the next games could prove the decisive factor in the outcome of the match. The rest of the match will not only be a test of their playing skills but will also a test of their professionalism and intelligence.

Source: The Telegraph (India)

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