Monday, October 11, 2004

Kramnik 4.5 - Leko 5.5

Ten games down in the World Chess Championship. Four more to go.

Leko had white in game nine. Kramnik switched openings once again, this time trotting out the Queen's Indian Defense. The players bashed out fifteen moves of a trendy variation, and looked to be settling down to a nice long game. Sadly, the players signed the peace treaty a few moves later; another draw. This was very disappointing for all the fans watching the game live on the internet. It was also a serious strategic error for Leko. He had the momentum coming off his crushing win with black in game eight. If he had won game nine, or at least put Kramnik under serious pressure, it would have solidified the psychological shift in the match. Letting Kramnik off with a quick draw effectively came him an extra day to recover.

It was a mistake Leko nearly came to regret in game ten. After an early queen trade out of a Ruy Lopez, it quickly became clear that Kramnik had a significant advantage. Not quite enough to win, perhaps, but Leko was definitely back on his heels. Sadly, Kramnik played too quickly, bashed off a series of careless moves, and allowed Leko back into the game. Leko didn't need to be asked twice and showed some good technique to reach a drawn position.

Since Kramnik retains his title if the match ends in a tie, Kramnik only needs one win and three draws in the remaining four games. Will he be able to pull it off? Or will we see our first non-Russian world chess champion since Bobby Fischer? Stay tuned!

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