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From paint brush to hammer

other Updated: Oct 27, 2008 22:57 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Former World chess champion Vladimir Kramnik has always believed in a certain style — a subtle, patient grinding of an opponent with combinations and sequence of moves.

Kramnik has in the past compared himself to an artist — albeit this one crafts creative patterns on the 64-square board. His artistic temperament and upbringing perhaps nurtured him into this slow, deliberate player. Chess connoisseurs have applauded his subtle style of play as he tries to patiently piece together a fault-less game rather than rely on flamboyant sacrifices or spectacular risks.

However, it is this style that has proved a stumbling block for the 33-year-old Russian Grandmaster in the World Chess Championship clash with Viswanathan Anand. While Kramnik has tried to patiently create chances on the board, Anand has taken risks like opting for an opening that he has rarely played while also introducing well-thought and rehearsed new moves. He has also created complications in the middle games instead of letting things go into the end game that is Kramnik's forte.

Kramnik's style has been very successful in the past but against Anand he looked to make a change as he got desperate in the second half of the 12-game match. It is not his character to throw wild punches just in the hope of forcing his opponent into making mistakes. He is not one to come out swinging, guns ablaze and take big risks in order to force a position.

However, in the ninth game on Sunday, Kramnik for the first time did try something new, and against his usual style, by opening with a queen-pawn combination. In fact, Anand has used the same earlier as a surprise tactic in this contest. Kramnik then played a number of attacking moves, at times risky, and nearly upset the Indian favourite but for some mistakes on account of time pressure.

The move had the desired effect and Anand was on the brink of losing. "It was my worst game in this match. At one moment I thought I would lose," the Indian admitted in the post-game press conference. But, the new Kramnik did not stay around for long. In the 10th game also Kramnik opened with queen-pawn but quickly reverted to the Nimzo Indian opening.

Kramnik lost it in the 3rd game

AS ONE of the official commentators for the World Chess Championship match here, German Grandmaster Klaus Bischoff says Anand has silenced all those who doubted his credentials when it comes to match-play.

Talking about Kramnik’s loss, the German said, "I think his loss with white pieces in the third game rattled him and then when he lost again with white in the fifth and that was like decisive. Kramnik made the mistake of playing to Anand's style.”