Monday, October 18, 2004

Kramnik Keeps Title!!

I recently adopted a couple of very enthusiastic kittens. It didn't take them long to discover the chess set I had set-up in my spare bedroom. They weren't much interested in chess, but they did think it was very amusing to knock one of the pieces on to the floor, and then swat it around like a hockey puck. Occasionally the piece would roll behind the desk or into some other inconvenient location. No problem! One of them would jump back on to the table, knock another piece to the ground, and the game would begin anew. Swat, swat, swat. Piece after piece.

That's basically what Vladimir Kramnik did to Peter Leko in the fourteenth and final game of their World Championship match. Down by one point, Kramnik needed a win to tie the match and thereby retain his title. He introduced a novelty six moves into a Caro-Kann Defense. Leko defended well until he made an unwise decision to trade queens, thereby going into an endgame that was defensible but very passive. Kramnik kept pressing, and eventually Leko cracked. Kramnik's pieces came crashing through, Leko's forces were butchered horribly, and, two moves from checkmate, Leko resigned.

Congratulations are in order to Mr. Kramnik, who showed some serious cojones in today's game. Winning a game at the highest level is a tall order when your opponent is content with a draw. Leko went up by a point by winning game eight, but he made the mistake of thinking that he could just make draws for the rest of the match. And, come to think of it, wasn't he warned that that attitude was a mistake? Yes he was ! Readers of this blog heard it here!

For more information, have a look at The Week in Chess.

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