21 Apr 2012


Did 16...Qe6 surprise Kramnik in the opening game of their duel in Zurich?
Luckily no boring Petroff from Kramnik today.We got a D43 Semi-Slav, which proceeded along normal lines until 12.e4, where we might have expected a Queen move, either Qc2 or possibly Qe2.

Now Kramnik as White, has used up 30 mins' thinking time and he seems to be overlooking the fact that 18.b3 is not nearly as treacherous as he thinks it is.
...18.cxb3 is the most like reply and even ...18.Ba6 or ...18.c3 are not harmful to White. Anything else played by Black would be advantageous for White, so is unlikely to be played.

But Kramnik chickens out and offers a draw, which Aronian accepts. A draw as Black is pretty good. A draw as White is not.

What a blow. And to think that i was looking forward to this match. To make matters worse, it is hailing outside and I can't even walk off my irritation without getting soaked.

People have travelled to watch this. Now we get a Blitz game as a consolation prize. Well, they can keep it.

It seems that Kramnik has some sort of strategy for his opening games in an importan match: testing the opponent's memory by forcing a long complicated line on him. If Black chugs along and is obviously in his comfort zone of preparation, than Kramnik as White simply ducks out by offering a draw. That means he can go home and prepare next day's game in peace.

It seems that is just what he did today by playing 7.e3 and then building up to 12.e4, which struck me as a testing move at the time, but then it became clear that Aronian was onto it and Kramnik's direction veered towards the draw.

A Queen move for White, 12.Qc2 or 12.Qe2 would have been a normal progression, with still a decisive advantage of White.

In the unlikely event of anybody being interested:
You can play the moves by clicking the arrows below the board.
The black dot will give you AUTOPLAY
Clicking the moves in the list on the right also works.
Red moves are the actual moves that were played [in chess parlance that is called TEXT].
Green moves are possible variations and leading off those are the brown moves.

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