For years, Vladimir Kramnik has been dedicated to opening with his d-pawn when playing White. But recently, he has experimented more and more with 1. e4, often with great results.
Vladimir Kramnik, the Russian former World Champion, is a lifelong 1. d4 player. But in some recent tournaments, he has also been playing 1. e4, and getting excellent results. The following game against Georg Meier, a German grandmaster, from the recent Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, is a good example of what Kramnik can do.
( 7... Be7Is a more common seventh move for Black )
8. Qd2Be79. a3A sneaky little move. White does not yet tip his hand about which side he would like to castle.
( 9. O-O-O?!c4!This is probably what Kramnik wanted to avoid. Black closes the center and is ready to launch a massive attack on the queenside. He will soon follow up with b5. )
( 9. Bd3 )
( 9. dxc5Is probably also fine. 9... Nxc510. a3Should transpose to what happened in the game. ... )
9... O-O10. dxc5Nxc511. Qf2!This makes it harder for Black to achieve his main plan of playing b5. 11... b6
( 11... Nd712. Bd3Looks very pleasant for White )
( 11... Qa5This may have been best, but I would still prefer White's position. )
12. b4!Kramnik is not messing around 12... Nd7
( 12... f6!?A move that would have created some interesting complications, though Black would probably not have had enough compensation to be done a piece. 13. bxc5bxc514. Bxc5Qa515. Bd4fxe516. Nxe5Nxd417. Qxd4Rxf4!18. Nc6!Bc5!19. Qe5Bd620. Qxg7+Kxg721. Nxa5Be522. Kd2Rf2+23. Kd3Bf424. Ne2Bh6And White would be badly tied up and have a dangerously exposed king. Still, having an extra piece would offer a lot of compensation )
13. Bd3White has a clear edge because he has extra space and more active pieces. Not content with slow maneuvers, Meier tries to change the course of the game. 13... f6
( 13... Qc714. Ne2And White would have a very pleasant position. )
14. Qg3!d4!The most resilient move.
( 14... fxe5?15. Qh3!And Black cannot survive because of the double attack on h7 and e6 )
( 15. Bxd4Might have been even stronger, but I like Kramnik's move for its flashiness, if nothing else. 15... Nxd416. Nxd4Nxe517. O-O-O )
15... dxe316. Bxh7+!Kxh717. Qh3+Kg818. Qxe6+Kh819. Qxc6!No draw for you!
( 19. Qh3+With a perpetual check. )
19... Ra720. Nh4!White's pieces rush into the attack with incredible speed. 20... Qe821. Nd5
( 21. e6Nb822. Qxe8Rxe823. f5Also looked very promising )
( 21... e222. Rd2Does not change much )
22. Nxe7Qxe723. Nf5Nxe5?After being under pressure for so long, Meier's choice to bail out is an understandable one. But he had a better way:
( 23... Qe8!and Black still has chances to survive. )
24. Nxe7Nxc625. Nxc6White is up a pawn and Black has no compensation. This is generally a death sentence against Kramnik. 25... Rc726. Nd4Re827. Rd3Bb728. Re1Bxg229. Rdxe3Rxe330. Rxe3Bd531. Nf5g532. fxg5fxg533. Re5Bf734. Kb2b535. Nd4Kg636. Nf3g437. Rg5+Kf638. Rxg4
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
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