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Anand pulls off his second win as Kramnik blunders

Devangshu Datta  |  New Delhi 

It was his second victory with the black pieces

Viswanathan Anand must be brimming with confidence after winning game 5 to take a 2-0 lead in the world championship match against Vladimir Kramnik. The reigning world champion repeated his new line in the Semi-Slav Meran in the game to pull off his second win when Kramnik blundered. The idea (15- Bb7) is now being called the Bonn Variation.

A 2-0 lead alters the match dynamics with seven games to go. It forces the laggard to play to win with both colours to equalise the situation. Kramnik doesn’t relish that — he is a believer in the “win with white, draw with black” strategy. (Kramnik has never won with the black pieces against Anand and he has not won a single one out of his last 40 games with black).

Game 6 started with Anand playing 1.d4 for the third time in succession and Kramnik responded with the Nimzo Indian Defence as in game 2. This time, Anand headed for a fashionable variation with 4.Qc2 and he produced a brand new idea on move 9.

Kramnik responded solidly enough and by move 11, both players were apparently in new territory and consuming lots of time. Anand forced the exchange of queens on move 14, and this leads into a classic complex endgame that is better described as a middle-game without queens.

The pawn structure is asymmetrical though there are no big weaknesses on either side. White has the bishop pair which could give some advantage. But black has good squares for his knights and a lock on the central white squares which helps maintain the balance.

The programs say it is slightly better for white. Legendary former world champion Anatoly Karpov, who is a leading expert on both sides of the Nizmo, also says that he prefers white.

It seems white can probe for a win without taking much risk of losing — “play for two results” as it’s called. While black can limit the damage, this is an unpleasant psychological situation when 0-2 down. It is possible that Kramnik may lose patience and lash out when the situation demands that he buckle down and defend steadily.

First Published: Wed, October 22 2008. 00:00 IST