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. 

Kramnik, V. vs. Meier, Geo
42nd Olympiad 2016 | Baku AZE | Round 6.6 | 08 Sep 2016 | ECO: C11 | 1-0
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6
7... Be7 Is a more common seventh move for Black  )
8. Qd2 Be7 9. a3 A 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. dxc5 Is probably also fine.
9... Nxc5 10. a3 Should transpose to what happened in the game.
...   )
9... O-O 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Qf2! This makes it harder for Black to achieve his main plan of playing b5.
11... b6
11... Nd7 12. Bd3 Looks very pleasant for White  )
11... Qa5 This 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. bxc5 bxc5 14. Bxc5 Qa5 15. Bd4 fxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxd4 17. Qxd4 Rxf4! 18. Nc6! Bc5! 19. Qe5 Bd6 20. Qxg7+ Kxg7 21. Nxa5 Be5 22. Kd2 Rf2+ 23. Kd3 Bf4 24. Ne2 Bh6 And White would be badly tied up and have a dangerously exposed king. Still, having an extra piece would offer a lot of compensation  )
13. Bd3 White 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... Qc7 14. Ne2 And 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. O-O-O!?
15. Bxd4 Might have been even stronger, but I like Kramnik's move for its flashiness, if nothing else.
15... Nxd4 16. Nxd4 Nxe5 17. O-O-O  )
15... dxe3 16. Bxh7+! Kxh7 17. Qh3+ Kg8 18. Qxe6+ Kh8 19. Qxc6! No draw for you!
19. Qh3+ With a perpetual check.  )
19... Ra7 20. Nh4! White's pieces rush into the attack with incredible speed.
20... Qe8 21. Nd5
21. e6 Nb8 22. Qxe8 Rxe8 23. f5 Also looked very promising  )
21... Kh7
21... e2 22. Rd2 Does not change much  )
22. Nxe7 Qxe7 23. Nf5 Nxe5? 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. Nxe7 Nxc6 25. Nxc6 White is up a pawn and Black has no compensation. This is generally a death sentence against Kramnik.
25... Rc7 26. Nd4 Re8 27. Rd3 Bb7 28. Re1 Bxg2 29. Rdxe3 Rxe3 30. Rxe3 Bd5 31. Nf5 g5 32. fxg5 fxg5 33. Re5 Bf7 34. Kb2 b5 35. Nd4 Kg6 36. Nf3 g4 37. Rg5+ Kf6 38. 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.