Invisible to Engines | One Of The Greatest Moves Ever Played

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In 2002, the annual Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting had an added significance: it also functioned as a Candidates Tournament, for the winner would earn the right to play Vladimir Kramnik for the title. Seven of the top ten players competed in Germany, and emerging as winner was the Hungarian chess prodigy, Peter Leko.

The financial backing for the match (a prize fund of $1.2 million) was contributed by the the cigar manufacturer Dannemann, the latest in a line of corporate sponsors (Intel, Braingames, and Einstein) for the non-FIDE World Championship title. The match was only 14 games, one of the shortest in World Chess Championship history. Kramnik was to retain the title in the event of a tie match, a detail which was to prove very important.

The very first game illustrated Kramnik’s incredible defensive techniques. Leko, by most accounts, had the advantage by move 23; but Kramnik’s masterful handling of the ending, combined with an error by Leko, enabled the Russian to take the full point. Not until the fifth game was Leko able to accomplish what Garry Kasparov could not: beat Kramnik in a World Championship match. Then in the eighth game, Leko was able to take the lead, when he achieved victory with the Black pieces by alertly finding over the board a serious flaw in Kramnik’s immense opening preparation. Games 9 through 13 were all draws, leaving Leko ahead in the match with only one game left.

Come game 14, Leko needed only one more draw to secure the title of World Chess Champion. Kramnik was faced with the task of winning, at all costs, in order to save his title.

Vladimir Kramnik vs Peter Leko
“Marshalling his Forces”
Kramnik – Leko World Championship Match (2004), Brissago SUI, rd 8, Oct-07
Spanish Game: Marshall Attack. Modern Main Line (C89)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4 Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3 Qh3 15. Re4 g5 16. Qf1 Qh5 17. Nd2 Bf5 18. f3 Nf6 19. Re1 Rae8 20. Rxe8 Rxe8 21. a4 Qg6 22. axb5 Bd3 23. Qf2 Re2 24. Qxe2 Bxe2 25. bxa6 Qd3 26. Kf2 Bxf3 27. Nxf3 Ne4+ 28. Ke1 Nxc3 29. bxc3 Qxc3+ 30. Kf2 Qxa1 31. a7 h6 32. h4 g4
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