How did the Legendary Kasparov lose the world champion title to Vladimir Kramnik?

How did the Legendary Kasparov lose the world champion title to Vladimir Kramnik?

Written by: Emadeldin Teama

In 2000 at the start of a new millennium, Garry kasparov was the undisputed world chess champion. At that time, he hadn’t lost a single match for so long defeating any challenger who came his way.

It was obvious that it would be very hard for anyone to defeat him. At that time the young superstar Vladimir kramnik just turned 25 years old and he was the third highest chess player in the world!

Garry kasparov was looking for a new challenger for the world championship match. He had to negotiate with the second and the third highest rated players in the world to organize a series of games between them that would decide the one who would challenge him.

So he offered Vishy Anand who was the second highest rated player and Kramnik a contract for it. However, Anand and Kasparov sponsors couldn’t come to an agreement together regarding the finances for the match and Anand declined it all together.

The match was then decided to be between Garry and the next player in the list of the highest rated players in the world which was the super grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik. The young Kramnik saw an opportunity to write his name in history and to become the world chess champion if only he can defeat Kasparov!.

He already had a good game score against Kasparov far better than many other grandmasters at his time and he knew that his playing style would annoy any aggressive player in the world!, he only had to prepare very deep against the living legend of kasparov and to prove that young blood will always pose a huge threat to old legends!

In a cold day in 8th October 2000 the first game of the match started .Kasparov with the white pieces and kramnik with the black pieces.

As we see, the game started with the Ruy Lopez. Kramnik defended well this game using the Berlin defense. His strategy for the game was simple yet brilliant.

He knew that kasparov is a great attacking player.

He analyzed kasparov’s games and knew that playing an open middle game will be putting him on a disadvantage against Kasparov. For that reason, Kramnik chose all his openings to transit quickly to an endgame where he would try to grind kasparov down!.

The first game shows this strategy exchanging queens after the eighth move! Black carefully blocked the game totally giving white no chance to attack. It was obvious that Kasparov will be uncomfortable playing the 15 round match.

The second game started with kramnik having the white pieces. He started as 1-d4 and kasparov defended with black pieces using the Grunfeld defense!

This was a risky choice from Kasparov for a couple of reasons.

First, it was a general knowledge that kasparov love to play this opening and he should expect deep analysis from Kramnik team if he would play it. The second reason is that the grunfeld itself is a risky choice!. Black is allowing white to have a space advantage and nice center then he counter attack it. If white manage to keep black passive for few moves. The position would be totally lost for black!

As we see, Kramnik handled the game in a brilliant manner. He played the opening and middle game perfectly and then entered the endgame with a better minor piece and a pawn up!. Although the endgame was tending to be drawish due to the fact that it is an opposite color bishops endgame. Kramnik kept his advantage and kept pressuring kasparov in the endgame till they reached this position where kramnik has an outsider passed extra pawn.

better endgame for kramnik

Here Kg7! keeps kasparov surviving. It is really hard to push the extra pawn further. Instead kasparov in move 39 and under time pressure played the 39-..Ke7?? which looks nature .However, it fails tactically in a terrible way after the next move 40-Bd5 threating the rook and threating the check on e6 winning the bishop for free. The only move would be to play Re2 to protect the bishop after Re6+ Kd7 and a6! There is no way to stop the promoting of the queen without losing the bishop at least.

winning position of game 2  for kramnik

After that round result, Kramnik knew what he has to do. He needed to survive next thirteen games with draws in order to emerge as the world champion!

It is definitely not an easy task especially against the world best attacking player. He simply won’t let you have a single round of peace. Kasparov would fight in every aspect of the game in order to keep his title!

The next round was a very important one. Kramnik didn’t hesitate to go again into the Berlin defense. He shows confidence in his new weapon asking kasparov what did you prepare this time for my Berlin wall?

Kramnik stays consistent with his strategy. He forced the trade of queens in move 8 and played his endgame in a very solid manner. White succeeded this time to get a more active position with many ups and downs, yet the main issue for Kasparov is that there isn’t enough complications In the game to outplay kramnik. It felt like the game was going well according to kramnik strategy and it ended up in a draw.

In the next rounds from four to nine Kasparov tried so many things from the English opening to the queen’s gambit accepted and everytime it seemed like kramnik had a great preparation and was always going for the queen exchange as early as possible limiting Kasparov choices and forcing drawish positions.

In game ten Kasparov totally lost it! He tried to play actively in the opening playing the nimzo indian. However, he was tricked into a transposition to an isolated queen’s pawn where white gets a weak pawn and a very active play on the center and the kingside.

Ironically enough,Kasparov would love to be on the white side of this game as it suits his style to attack instead of being on the defense. The game felt like it was going more and more wrong with every move till kasparov blundered in the middle game leading to a better position for white where he won an extra pawn with an ongoing attack on kasparov’s king as well!

winning position of game 10 for kramnik

Kramnik followed up with brilliant moves supported by poor defending technique from Kasparov. The game ended up in a deserved win for kramnik!

After this round it was obvious that Kasparov’s mission had become really hard!. He had to win 2 games at least in the next 5 rounds.

Kramnik didn’t let his two victories affect his performance and he didn’t get relaxed at all. He kept his cool playing brilliant chess and defending very hard.

The following round game was extremely difficult for Kramnik. He had the two bishops in the endgame.However,Kasparov had too many pawns for it and great activity for his Rook. Kramanik managed to hold the beast back getting a crutial draw in the following position with extrememly brilliant endgame technique!

kramnink in game 11

With every round passing, Kramnik felt more close to becoming the world chess champion. Kasparov faught very hard in, yet kramnik always managed to hold him down!

And by round 14 where kasparov had to win or it would be over, kramnik played the English opening leading to many simplifications. He simply needed a draw with the white pieces to become the world champion!

winning position of game 10 for kramnik

Black is slightly better here due to the passed pawn yet white is active and threating to force a draw by reparation!

Kasparov was able to get an extra pawn in the endgame.however, it ended to a known drawish position with rooks on the board. Lramnik kept his perfect technical play reducing kasparov’s winning chances to zero. Kasparov had no choice but to accept the draw!

By the end of this game kramnik was officially the new world champion! For so many years no one was able to take the title off the Legendary kasparov. Yet the young grandmaster from Russia was able to achieve his dream and record his name in history books as the world chess champion in Year 2000!

Here is a very short video recording the moment he became the chess world champion!