Sunday, October 17, 2004

Kramnik 6 - Leko 7

Peter Leko maintains his one point lead in the World Chess Championship after surviving what will surely go down as one of the most memorable games in World Championship history.

Kramnik had black in game thirteen, but with only two games left in the match he went all out for a win. His fighting intentions were made clear right from the start when he abandoned his strategy of playing solid but passive openings as black. In response to Leko's queen pawn opening, Kramnik trotted out the venerable, but highly risky, Benoni defense. In this opening black makes several clear positional concessions right from the start. He does this because if white misplays his hand even a little bit, black's pieces are well-placed for a vicious counter-attack.

That's precisely what happened. Leko chose a passive line that allowed Kramnik to build up an impressive looking king-side attack. Leko defended cooly, however, and managed to reach a four-rook endgame that appeared to be an easy draw. But then came the time scramble. Leko blundered, a pair of rooks came off the board, and it sure looked like Kramnik was well on his way to victory.

Most of the grandmaster commentators were already chalking up the game for Kramnik. But Leko defended solidly, took advantage of slight inaccuracies by Kramnik, and reached a miracle draw. It was impressive defense by Leko, and more evidence of Kramnik's poor form.

So it all comes down to the last game. Kramnik will have white and must win to keep his title. He is sure to go all out. It's largely a battle of nerves at this point. Stay tuned!

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