Vladimir Kramnik’s most outrageously direct attacking chess game!

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Vladimir Kramnik's most outrageously direct attacking chess game!

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Levon Aronian vs Vladimir Kramnik
World Championship Candidates (2018), rd 3, Mar-12
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense (C65)

Sometimes you need to just “answer the question” in social science for example when presented by a particular essay question, you can sometimes just directly answer the question rather than try and re-use knowledge. Here in this chess game, Kramnik “answered the question” which was White playing h3 in this set up. The answer being – “why not tear the White king to shreds” by playing Rg8. One can know a tonne of opening theory but sometimes the nuances of a particular position dictate a particular question and therefore a particular answer to go with it. Sometimes we need to think “What would our 12 year old self play here for fun to attack the king”, or “What would Kingscrusher play here?”. It turns out I played this idea two years ago in a blitz game: https://lichess.org/N4vlmUS6 – this is kind of funny. Sometimes amateur players do try and “answer the specific question” and don’t know a tonne of theory but what they play might actually be effective, appropriate and dangerous. These direct answers to specific questions later get encoded in opening theory and memorised as the way to go. It is incredible that the Rg8 move is a novelty at high levels because it doesn’t seem as though the Black king is that unsafe. It seems difficult to refute and seems to give black a direct attacking game. Black still has the option of castling queenside which wasn’t even needed in this game. White’s pieces were ridiculously placed mostly on the starting blocks for much of the game, until the drunken knight move Na3 which really didn’t help. White’s queen might as well have been in Siberia as far as helping the king was concerned. Black casually could sacrifice the exchange and just push through doing even more damage to White’s king in a seemingly effortless and elegant manner. That this game was played in such a high level tournament as the World Chess Candidates 2018 is absolutely astonishing.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as me, and just think sometimes “What would my 12 year old self play here just for fun”… or “What would Kingscrusher play here” 🙂

Cheers, K

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Info about the Candidates:

The Candidates Tournament 2018 is an eight-player double round-robin chess tournament, which is currently being held in Berlin, Germany, as of 10–28 March 2018. The winner earns the right to challenge the defending world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in the World Chess Championship 2018.

FIDE’s commercial partner Agon is the official organizer.[1]

The tournament will be contested as a double round-robin with each player playing 14 games. This means players will face each other twice (once with black pieces and once with the white pieces). Four rest days will take place: after rounds 3, 6, 9, and 12. The winner of this 8-player candidates tournament will be the challenger of Magnus Carlsen at the World Chess Championship 2018.

Prize fund
The prize fund (Regulations 3.8.1)[2] is 420,000 euros:

95,000 to the winner
88,000 to second place
75,000 to third place
55,000 for fourth place
40,000 for fifth place
28,000 for sixth place
22,000 for seventh place
17,000 for eighth place
Prize money will be divided equally between players on the same score.

The time control is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game; plus a 30 second increment per move starting from move 1.

In the event of a tie, the following tie breaks are used, in order:[2]

Results in the games between the tied players;
The most number of wins;
Sonneborn–Berger score;
Two tie break games between each tied player, at a time limit of 25 minutes, plus 10 second increment per move;
Two tie break games between each tied player, at a time limit of 5 minutes, plus 3 second increment per move;
Armageddon games, at a time limit of 5 minutes for white, and 4 minutes for black, plus 3 seconds per move after move 60; with white having to win and black having to draw or win. If more than two players are tied, they play a knock-out tournament.


Games begin at 15:00 CET (14:00 UTC), each day from March 10 to 27, except for rest days on March 13, 17, 21, and 25 (after rounds 3, 6, 9 and 12 respectively).

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