Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Study like play at the World Cup 2013!

If you are of the opinion that Study like play never occurs in a tournament game, then I invite you to solve the position that was reached between Kramnik as white playing against Maxime Vachier Lagrave in round 5 of World Cup 2013. 
After a long gruelling battle and incessant pressing by White, the following position was reached. What would you play?

Kramnik - Maxime Vachier Lagrave.

White to Play.
Before you see the answer I would motivate you by saying : calculate till the end, because even the great Kramnik couldn't find the win.

By being a pawn and a knight up, its easy to think that the win is a matter of technique. But the funny thing here is that there is only 1 way for white to win. As we know that the g5 pawn is the most important asset for white and a position with R+N vs R is a theoretical draw. After talking about generalities lets move onto the specifics.
Black is threatening Rf5 when g5 pawn will be lost.
Of course 1.g6? is a poor move as after Kg7 the f8 knight is attacked and if it moves then Kg6 wins the pawn.
1.Ke2 is also out of question as after Rf5 g6 Kg7 the g pawn has to be bid adieu.
1.Nh7 Kg6 Rb7 Rh1 is also a draw.
So only two logical moves are left to be examined 1.Ke4 and 1.Nd7.

The right move and solution to this problem is 1.Nd7!!
White intends to bring back his knight to e5 and push his pawn to g6 when he will be totally winning. Hence black has to be quick.
1...Rf5! (1...Kg6 2. Rg8+ Kh7 3. Rf8 Rg1 4. Rf7+ Kg8 (4... Kg6 5. Ne5+) 5. Rf5 +- is simply winning for white.)
2.Rf8+ Kg6 3.Rg8 Kf7

White to play.
How will you make progress?

The only move now to make progress is 4.Ke4!! This move forces the black rook to move sideways on the fifth rank to keep an eye on the g5 pawn. 4...Ra5 (or Rb5And now after 5.Rf8 Kg6 (5...Ke6 6.g6! Rg5 7.Ne5! Re5 8.Kf4+-) 

Is it all over for the g5 pawn? White to play.

Well its all over for the g5 pawn. This is true but he dies like a hero! His death will result in victory for white after 6.Ne5!! Kg5 7.Rf5+!+-

Its the theme of discovered check that will seal the fate for blacks rook on a5!!

A beautiful study like position wouldn't you agree? Even the classy, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik could not find it over the board. Just shows that with the shorter time controls and such high pressure events, how difficult chess can be! As it stands Kramnik played 1.Ke4? in the game and I leave it upto the reader to check the game continuation or to analyse it on his own to find the way black draws.


  1. I was following the game last night. Never even dream about this possibility. Now it is early morning 9 am and i have got this update. Really wonderful. Please keep your good work going

    Muralidhara GK