Saturday, 15 September 2007
Krambo Runs Amok
I tuned in to watch the tail-end of round two of the world championship and was hugely surprised by Kramnik's play in this game. It was totally out of character when compared with his post-2000 safety-first style of play. My first reaction was that this Tal-style approach was either a ploy specifically aimed at Moro (demonstrating that he was ready to go out and meet him on his own messy territory) or that he recognises the need to play more sharply in a tournament scenario in order to keep pace with the likes of Anand. It probably won't be good enough just to "do a Dortmund" and get +2, he may need +4 or +5 to retain his title.
Kramnik has just issued a DVD called 'My Path to the Top' (available from a chess shop near you) which provides considerable insight into Kramnik's planning and approach. Having spent a few hours watching the videos recently, the reality of his round 2 game came as quite a shock. In his DVD Kramnik explains how he adapted his game in the late 1990s, under the influence of his (then) coach Dolmatov, to make it more positional and less overtly aggressive. Has he changed styles again? Are we now seeing (K)rambo 2, a born-again attacking chessplayer? This makes me wonder whether he has managed to time publication of the DVD to coincide with a deliberate wrong-footing change of style.
Anyway, as sporting surprises go, Kramnik's rush of blood to the head rivals that moment earlier in the week when England defender Rio Ferdinand suddenly thought he had turned into Cristiano Ronaldo, did a little shuffle and then whacked the ball past the Russian goalkeeper.
Of course it could all have gone horribly wrong for 'Krambo' had Morozevich reacted better. I shan't attempt a discussion of the moves (just too complicated and I'm not sure even the computers can do justice to it) beyond saying that Kramnik had already committed himself to a razor-sharp struggle when he played 8 0-0 or even 6 Ne5.
On the official site they are showing an article on round one by Leontxo Garcia which has been translated from Leontxo's usual florid Spanish into rather stilted English. Leontxo castigates Kramnik and Svidler for their first round draw ("frustrating the worlds' fans with an attitude that should be prohibited") but this has now been overtaken by the more dramatic events of round two. There are various bleatings lower down the website about problems with transmission. It seems that even world championship websites can suffer from "round one syndrome".