Kramnik, Anand Tops in Spain
Sands, David R., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
GMs Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Viswanathan Anand of India topped one of the year's strongest fields, sharing first prize with 6-3 scores at the Category 19 Dos Hermanas tournament, which concluded Sunday in Spain.
FIDE world champ Anatoly Karpov of Russia and GMs Valery Salov of Spain and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria were a point back at 5-4, followed by Boris Gelfand (Belarus), Alexei Shirov (Spain) and Judit Polgar (Hungary) at 4 1/2-4 1/2; Nigel Short (England) 3-6; and Miguel Illescas Cordoba (Spain) 1 1/2-7 1/2.
Kramnik, the world's No. 3 player, who shared first in this event a year ago with Topalov, had perhaps his best game against Karpov in Round 3, today's Game 1. Kramnik scores the point in classic Karpovian style, squeezing his opponent in an English methodically and mercilessly until Black finally cracks.
There aren't any sharp tactical dust-ups here, so the game's two most interesting junctures relate to positional roads not taken. A very different game would have resulted from 11...Ng5!?, putting pressure on White's f3 and envisioning ...f5, ...Nf6, and a king-side attack. Karpov's 11...a5 is not unreasonable, immediately challenging White's queen-side space grab.
The bigger question is why, after 16. b5 Ra8 17. Bb2, Black felt compelled to make a double-edged break with 17...c6?!. White's obvious break is the eventual c5, and his two bishops nicely negate Black's control of the a-file by giving the Black rook no invasion squares. Then again, if Black is already so desperate for counterplay, what was his earlier mistake?
Anyway, the break comes 10 moves later with great force: 26. e4 Nb8 27. c5! bxc5 28. dxc5 dxc5 29. Nxc5 (this knight dominates play for the rest of the game) Bc8 (Bxe4? 30. Bxf6 wins a piece) 30. e5 Ne8 (and not 30...Nd7 31. Nxe6+! and 32. Rxc8+), presenting a pretty picture when every Black piece is on the back rank and his entire queen-side forces stand on their original squares!
Suffocation is the official cause of death here after 33. Ne4 Rxa4 (Nba6 34. Bd6 Ra7 35. Bb5! shows the depths of Black's predicament) 34. Rxc7 Ba6 35. Nc5!, when 35...Rxa3 36. Nxa6 sets up the twin threats of 36...Nxb8 and 36...Rc8 mate. Black resigned. …