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Final Analysis: The Results of the Kasparov - Kramnik Match in London 2000

by Boris Schipkov

Garry Kasparov became the World Chess Champion ("under the control of FIDE") on November 9, 1985, after a victory in the last game of the second match with Anatoly Karpov. The score was 13-11 (+5, -3, =16). Kasparov almost invariably won the subsequent matches, only in 1987 he had to end the next fight against Karpov in a draw 12-12 (+4, -4, =16). But on November 2, 2000, after a draw in the 15th game against Kramnik, Kasparov for the first time within almost fifteen-year period lost a match with the score 6,5-8,5 (+0, -2,=13), the Classical World Chess Championship, London 2000. Vladimir Kramnik has become the new Braingames World Champion. Complete absence of Kasparov's victories became the main and slightly unexpected result of the match. In the history of the World Chess Championship matches the same happened only once, when the 52-year-old champion Emanuel Lasker gave his crown in the hands of 32-year-old Jose Raoul Capablanca in 1921, lost the match with the final result 5-9 (+0, -4, =10).
In order to clear up the reasons of what occurred in the Kasparov - Kramnik match we shall consider play of the contenders in an opening, middlegame and endgame.

Opening.
The opening plays a huge role in the modern chess. Quite often the result of a game is determined already in the opening, if one of the contenders manages to prepare and then use a novelty changing estimation of a position. The course of a struggle in a match is strongly influenced by unexpectedly used variations or even the entire opening systems, which did not enter into a repertoire earlier. For example, in the Kasparov - Anand match, New York 1995 after the first eight drawn games and Anand's victory in the 9th game Kasparov suddenly used the Dragon Variation in the Sicilian Defence and won the 11th game. In the 13th game Kasparov again played the Dragon and achieved even more stunning success - Anand lost in 25 moves! Taking into account that in the 10th game Garry tested on Visvanathan's strong novelty in the Open Ruy Lopez and earned a point again, the further course of the match will become quite clear. The Dragon was not only unexpected for the Indian, but also well suited to Kasparov's aggressive style. The result of Kasparov - Anand match was 10,5-7,5 (+4, -1, =13). It should be pointed out here that in 1995 Evgeny Pigusov, Yury Dokhoyan and... Vladimir Kramnik were Kasparov's seconds.

In London everything was reflected as in a mirror - Kasparov did not have any Dragon. On the contrary, Kramnik unexpectedly produced the anti-Kasparov Berlin Defence in the Ruy Lopez. The wise and correct decision! In this defence Kasparov with White is compelled to trade queens at once to receive a small advantage. In exchange Black gets a solid position and the pair of bishops. Kasparov could not punch the Berlin Defence, the arising endgames did not suit his style. Before the match Kramnik played this system only once - in Wejk aan Zee in 1999 in the game against Veselin Topalov (a draw, 35 moves).
In reply to 1.e4 Kramnik usually played either the Russian Game or the Sicilian Defence. All the work accomplished by Kasparov and his team in the period of home preparation of these openings has gone for nothing since Kramnik acted not in accordance with their expectations. Earlier Kasparov, most probably, did not play the Queen's Gambit Accepted with black pieces, but this "surprise" has in no way affected Kramnik negatively, on the contrary, he could win 2 points from 2 scores in this opening.
A wide range of the contenders' opening repertoire is amazing. The Berlin Defence in the Spanish was played 4 times (1, 3, 9, 13 - draw), the Nimzo-Indian Defence - 3 times (White - Kramnik, 8 and 12 - draw, 10 - Kramnik's victory), the English Opening - 3 times (White - Kasparov, 5 and 7 - draw, White - Kramnik, 14 - draw), the Queen's Gambit Accepted - 2 times (4, 6 - draw), the Gruenfeld Defence - 1 time (2 - Kramnik's victory), the New Arkhangelsk Variation in the Ruy Lopez - 1 (11 - draw), the Catalan - 1 (15 - draw). Kramnik produced 5 novelties (2, 3, 4, 6, 9 games), whereas Kasparov - 3 (8, 11, 14). In general, when Garry played with white pieces he could not achieve an appreciable advantage in any game, only in the last 15th game he was close to this. The struggle inflamed when Vladimir played with White.
In the first two thirds of the match the pretender obviously dominated. He won the 2nd and the 10th (in 25 moves!) games, had a big advantage and could win the 4-th and the 6-th games. Only in the 8-th game Kasparov produced a strong novelty and got some winning chances. In the last third of the match the champion collected his faculties, and, probably, Kramnik relaxed a little. Vladimir played riskily in the 12th game, sacrificing a pawn, but Garry was unable to realize the advantage. Kasparov also had an extra pawn in the 14th game. Specially for mystics and fans of statistics - in the Kasparov - Karpov, Moscow 1985 match the 11th game ended by Kasparov's victory with 25 moves. And the Nimzo-Indian Defence was played with the White's isolated pawn too, as well as in the 10th game of the match of 2000, when Kasparov lost with Black in 25 moves.

In the middlegame the contenders have shown approximately equal play. Kramnik outplayed Kasparov in the middlegame in the 4th and the 10th games, and Kasparov outplayed Kramnik in the 8th and the 14th games. In the endgame Kramnik played a bit more precisely. He managed to end in a draw the endgames, in which Kasparov had an extra pawn.
Now let's consider time troubles. If a player gets in time trouble, it shows his unpreparedness to opening variations and play in positions not in his style in the middlegame, though chess players of such level should be universal players. Frequently one of the rivals finds himself in time trouble, when the opponent puts before him some complicated problems. Kasparov was in time trouble 6 times (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 11th, 12th games), and Kramnik - 5 times (3rd, 4th, 6th, 11th, 12th games).
Mental and physical conditions of Vladimir Kramnik during the match were high, some months prior to the beginning of the match he got rid of smoking, did not drink alcohol, and before the match he practiced special sports preparation including swimming and playing tennis and volleyball.
Garry Kasparov's psychophysical conditions lowered after several initial games, when he found out that his opening preparation was not equal to the task, he had to strain not only when playing but also after games' termination. The Kramnik's team appeared somewhat more professional in comparison with the Kasparov's team.

The analysis of the events in the Kasparov - Kramnik duel (London 2000) results in a simple conclusion - the score in the match reflects a ratio of forces in accuracy.
Somebody thinks that at the end of the match Kasparov could win two games and level the score. But, on the other hand, Kramnik could win the 4th and the 6th games and then the score would be completely devastating.
Kasparov came to grief because of excessive self-confidence and overestimating his own forces supported by the employees of his sites, which sang praises to "great, mighty and invincible" Garry.
One of such contributors, a mathematician, has written that he estimates chances of Kramnik to win the match as 1 to 18, and to draw as 1 to 15. Therefore the Kasparov's team had no real understanding what was occurring before the match and in its beginning.
Kramnik was not such computer aided, he saw things as they were in reality. In spite of the fact that in the upshot Garry Kasparov played more games with white pieces, he achieved nothing, Vladimir Kramnik's insight during preparation was better than Kasparov's.
The fine opening strategy of the pretender, good play both in defence and in attack - all this led Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik to winning the title of the World Chess Champion with an outstanding result - without a single defeat.

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© 2000-2003 Boris Schipkov