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I was taking a look at the game between Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik in the 2013 Zurich Chess Challenge which can be found here: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1711735. A few things sparked my interest, one being that I have been practicing the Ruy Lopez, so it was nice to see it played and to put it nicely, Kramnik got spanked, so I was trying to do some analysis on my own, but I am not sure that my analysis is correct and there were some moves that were not immediately clear to me. Here is the complete game with my analysis questions below:

[FEN ""]
[White "Viswanathan Anand"]
[Black "Vladimir Kramnik"]
[Result "1-0"]

 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. O-O Re8 
 8. Nc4 Nd7 9. Kh1 a5 10. a4 b6 11. Be3 Bb4 12. Nfd2 b5 13. axb5 cxb5 14. c3 bxc4 
15. cxb4 cxd3 16. bxa5 Ba6 17. Qb3 Nf6 18. h3 Nh5 19. Rfc1 Nf4 20. Rc6 Ne2 21. Qd5 Qb8    
22. Rxa6 Rxa6 23. Qxd3 Qxb2 24. Rb1 Rd6 25. Qxe2 Qa2 26. Qb5 c6 27. Qb2
  1. Why was 5.Bxc6 played? Was the c6 Knight strong at this point and would this be an even trade? Basically, why did Anand trade his light-squared Bishop?
  2. I always hear that you should capture toward the center, so was there a reason why Kramnik played 5..dxc6 instead of 5...bxc6? I know 5...dxc6 opens up the file for the black Queen, but that is all I see.
  3. Is the point of 6. Nbd2 to develop a piece and to add another defender to the e4 square?
  4. On move 9, Anand played 9. Kh1, but I did not see his King in immediate danger. I only saw that his f2 pawn was pinned by the bishop, so is it common practice to move your King away from pins or similar situations even if they are not in immediate danger?
  5. I don't see the point of 9...a5. I see that it prevents 10. b4. Anand followed up with 10. a4 and I see this prevents 10...b5, but couldn't have Kramnik just played 9...b5 initially?
  6. Apparently Anand sees his dark squared bishop not as strong and wants to trade it with Kramnik's dark-squared bishop with the move 11. Be3, but Kramnik wants no part of this and rejects the trade with 11...Bb4. Can someone elaborate on why Anand wants to trade bishops here and if it was good or bad for Kramnik to reject the trade?
  7. I don't get the move 12. Nfd2 except that it adds a defender to c4 and e4?
  8. 22. Rxa6 surprised me as a beginner. To me it looks like Anand is just giving away his Rook for a Bishop? The only thing I see is that if Kramnik captures which I believe he did with 22...Rxa6, it removes the guard of the d3 pawn allowing Anand to make a skewer (is that what this is called?) with 23. Qxd3. Was my analysis correct?
  9. 26. Qb5 threatens mate, but Kramnik stops this with c6. Anand follows up with 27. Qb2 and Kramnik resigned, but it is not immediately apparent to me why he resigned? It still looks like it could have been a draw if Kramnik decided to fight it out. What is the continuation that I am not seeing?

Disclaimer: I am a beginner and all answers on this are very much appreciated, so my analysis might not be correct, hence my reason for asking. In particular, my last question about why Kramnik resigned is one that may be apparent to some, but to beginner's it is not, so an answer such as "Black knew he was losing" is not sufficient. I only mention this because I have asked a similar question before and that is the response I got. All I am asking for on the last question is a possible continuation.

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2 Answers 2

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I'm no pro but I can offer my (potentially incorrect) thoughts.

I always hear that you should capture toward the center, so was there a reason why Kramnik played 5..dxc6 instead of 5...bxc6? I know 5...dxc6 opens up the file for the black Queen, but that is all I see.

Black gains development of both the queen AND the bishop. It's a free tempi which is important in the early game. I personally choose that much more often than taking with the Knight's pawn.

Is the point of 6. Nbd2 to develop a piece and to add another defender to the e4 square?

Doubt it for e4 nothings bugging that square for a while. I think he wanted to attack e5 or just develop the knight in a fashion where the black bishop couldn't exchange for it?

Apparently Anand sees his dark squared bishop not as strong and wants to trade it withKramnik's dark-squared bishop with the move 11. Be3, but Kramnik wants no part of this and rejects the trade with 11...Bb4. Can someone elaborate on why Anand wants to trade bishops here and if it was good or bad for Kramnik to reject the trade?

I can provide two reasons. If Kramnik takes then white gets to open the file for the rook and has an extra pawn to cover the center. If Kramnik allows Anand to take he has a triple pawn stack. He doesn't like either scenario so flees.

I don't get the move 12. Nfd2 except that it adds a defender to c4 and e4?

Blocks the bishop pressure on D1, allows white to pressure king side threatening the development of the King's Bishop pawn (which possibly explains the king move as well if he was intending to do that for a while) and the queen.

  1. Rxa6 surprised me as a beginner.... Was my analysis correct?

I think so. I'm thinking its the game winning move. It's a fork btw. A skewer is like a pin but the piece of greater value is the first attacked in the line.

The resignation might be to do with his lack of options for dealing with the A pawn. He can't immediately take it due to the potential fork by the knight and white has options to both push and defend it. The only long term solution is to blockade it with one of his pieces and all his pieces are expensive. A blockade would then leave him with a queen and a rook against a queen a rook and either a bishop or a knight on the rest of the board.

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    Good analysis. I couldn't tell if you made mistakes even if you did :). I also thought Rxa6 was the winning move and that outside passed pawn was a thorn in the side for Kramnnik.
    – xaisoft
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 19:04
  • In addition to the problems with the A pawn, the prospect of Qxe4 is very dangerous, and Kramnik can't afford to trade away queens in this scenario, which would force (I think) 27...Qe3, and what looks like a very poor position.
    – Sconibulus
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 16:41
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I don't know why it doesn't have a well-defined answer yet. There's already another answer but there's some information missing (from my perspective). And the link given in the question's comment is invalid now (maybe you can check out on archive.org). the analysis might be helpful for intermediate players

Why was 5.Bxc6 played? Was the c6 Knight strong at this point and would this be an even trade? Basically, why did Anand trade his light-squared Bishop?

My first impression was, maybe he wanted some imbalances. And Bxc6 makes the e5 pawn vulnerable. Lastly, Bxc6 sort of "destroys" the pawn structure. At grandmaster level most of the time, symmetrical pawn structures is likely to be drawn.

I always hear that you should capture toward the center, so was there a reason why Kramnik played 5..dxc6 instead of 5...bxc6? I know 5...dxc6 opens up the file for the black Queen, but that is all I see.

Both moves are ok. But bxc6 makes the a7 pawn weak. And dxc6 is better cause it develops the queen and preparing to develop the bishop. What you stated is also good. Central-pawn advantage is good. Maybe, Kramnik didn't want any kind of weakness in his position. (I believe, in that position 99.99% times grandmasters likely to play dxc6)

Is the point of 6. Nbd2 to develop a piece and to add another defender to the e4 square?

Nah. e4 and c4 has no problem. don't look at the position as one mover. Look at where the knight is heading to. Vishy noticed e4 pawn is vulnerable if he attacks the pawn then Kramnik will have to defend (Nd7 made the knight passive). I think Bd6 was another alternative better option or perhaps Kramnik wanted to to use the bishop as attacker. And both move are good also.

On move 9, Anand played 9. Kh1, but I did not see his King in immediate danger. I only saw that his f2 pawn was pinned by the bishop, so is it common practice to move your King away from pins or similar situations even if they are not in immediate danger?

You again thought it as one-mover. I do it most of the time. If anyone asked me why did you play Kh1? Simple answer : Preparing f4 some moves later (if I can execute my plan. Or in some cases, you have to change your plan)

I don't see the point of 9...a5. I see that it prevents 10. b4. Anand followed up with 10. a4 and I see this prevents 10...b5, but couldn't have Kramnik just played 9...b5 initially?

You might see the move most of the time in Ruy-Lopez (A.K.A Spanish opening) or Italian game. Also simple answer : gaining some spaces on the queenside. And a4 wasn't played to prevent b5. You might notice that c6 pawn is protecting the b5 square so pawn b2-b5 was still possible on the next move. But he didn't play it out cause a5 pawn would hang (Knight and rook looking at the pawn)

Apparently Anand sees his dark squared bishop not as strong and wants to trade it with Kramnik's dark-squared bishop with the move 11. Be3, but Kramnik wants no part of this and rejects the trade with 11...Bb4. Can someone elaborate on why Anand wants to trade bishops here and if it was good or bad for Kramnik to reject the trade?

It has multipurpose. And you have understood one. Anand's bishop is not as strong as Kramnik's bishop. Secondly, he wanted to open up the f file to pressure on the f7 pawn with the rook on f1 he might even triple-stack there. And Kramnik rejected the trade for the second reason. Trading isn't also bad.

I don't get the move 12. Nfd2 except that it adds a defender to c4 and e4?

Let's say on the black's move, black wasted a move with 12... Kh8. In that position, if you asked me why did my play Nfd2 then I will blindly reply to play f4. That was Vishy's plan. But his plan collapsed later. So he had to make a new one. His plan collapsed when knight and bishop was traded with pawns cause if you play 17. f4 then e4 pawn will be a weakness on the white's position and black might be able to win the whole the game for that only weakness.

  1. Rxa6 surprised me as a beginner. To me it looks like Anand is just giving away his Rook for a Bishop? The only thing I see is that if Kramnik captures which I believe he did with 22...Rxa6, it removes the guard of the d3 pawn allowing Anand to make a skewer (is that what this is called?) with 23. Qxd3. Was my analysis correct?

There's nothing to be surprised. Indeed, I will indicate the move the move as great move. And it also had multi-purpose (you were looking at the position as one mover). Some moves later he got the knight also. And he calculated in his head. *Rook takes the bishop, Rook takes the Rook, Queen takes d3 pawn (Ohh, I can see a fork on rook and knight so I can win the knight also). And rook for two minor pieces isn't bad, rather it's good for the person who has two minor pieces for the rook.

  1. Qb5 threatens mate, but Kramnik stops this with c6. Anand follows up with 27. Qb2 and Kramnik resigned, but it is not immediately apparent to me why he resigned? It still looks like it could have been a draw if Kramnik decided to fight it out. What is the continuation that I am not seeing?

Your last question. What can you see in the position? White has a passed pawn. which is 3 squares away from promoting. Can black stop it? Perhaps, 17... Qxa5 18. Nc4 {ouch, a fork}. After trading the queen black can try to block the pawn but what has 3 pieces? When black tries to stop the pawn with those two pieces then white will use other two pieces to defend the pawn and another piece will do other things (like attacking. targeting pawns.) So, Vladimir Kramnik resigned. But if you are rated below 1500, then there's chance to draw the position even win.

A question from me

Why didn't Kramnik trade the queen on move 21... Qxd5 ?

It really surprised me when I was looking at the moves. I thought if Kramnik traded the Queen than he might have some advantage cause there's no Rxa6 anymore. And black's pawn can be used to guard the d3 pawn. Look at the beautiful lady knight (horse :D) on e2. It's so much powerful than rook And black will also have connected-passed pawn (white will try to break the pawn chain for sure). Though engine thinks, the position is draw despite having the beautiful knight and connected-passed-pawn (not yet) (Perhaps, it could be draw at grandmaster level). I wonder how many people below 2000 can draw the position as white. Apparently, the move Kramnik played turns out to be a blunder.

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