Thursday, October 14, 2004

Kramnik 5.5-Leko 6.5

Two more draws in the World Chess Championship. With twelve games down Kramnik still trails by one point, meaning he must win one of the remaining two games to keep his title.

Game eleven was another quick draw. Leko had white and showed no desire to extend his lead. I still think this is a mistake; sitting on a one-point lead sounds like a recipe for disaster.

In game twelve Leko whipped out the Caro-Kann Defense for the first time in the match. It was a good choice. Unlike the Ruy Lopez that has shown up in every other game where Kramnik had white, the Caro is passive but solid. Kramnik managed to generate some pressure, but Leko's defensive skills were up to the task.

Leko will have white in game thirteen, which is likely to end in a draw. If that happens then Kramnik will be in a must-win situation in the final game of the match.

Loyal chess fans will no doubt remember the conclusion of Karpov-Kasparov IV from 1987. After 22 games of a 24 game match the score was tied. Karpov then brought his A-game to game 23, broke through Kasparov's beloved Grunfeld Defense, and pulled into the lead. This left Kasparov having to win game 24. Could he pull it off? Yes! Kasparov won game 24, tied the match, and kept his title. This cemented Kasparov's reputation as not only one of the greatest players of all time, but also as one of the most mentally tough.

Will Kramnik be able to do the same? Stay tuned!

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