White to play
Kramnik - Karjakin, Candidates (2) 2014
I wonder if yesterday we saw the end of Kramnik's career as a credible challenger for World Championship. Still five rounds to go, of course, so too early to completely write him off, but a point and a half is an awful lot of ground to make up. Even for a man at the top of his game you’d think that a big ask and Vlad is very much not that right now.
If that is it for Kramnik in terms of playing at the very highest level it was kind of him to check out with a rook ending. Another case study for 'active rook is often a decisive advantage' folder you might say. Mind you being multiple pawns up probably helped Karjakin a bit too.
Anyhoo, rook endings are last year’s obsession. Let’s get on with the ISEs.
Today’s, courtesy of Kramnik - Karjakin from the first cycle, is an unusual twist on a standard theme. It also reminds me to ask a question that’s been puzzling me for a while.
Rook takes minor piece on bishop three. As ISEs go, this type is not too hard to find. Usually, though, it’s a knight on the kingside.
It’s not too difficult to work out why. Chessers castle short way more often than they go long and - unless you’re my friend and fellow blogger Morgan Daniels - knights are pretty much going to be loafing around on f3, c3, f6 and c6 from the get go.
So rook takes bishop on the queenside like Kramnik - Karjakin is quite the rarity. Although do feel free to prove me wrong and point out similar sacs in the comments box if you know of any.
Theoretical ISEs - moves that are not only thematic, but which happen at a specific point in a given variation - tend to come from Black. So you get ... Rxf3 in the French Tarrasch, ... Rxc3 in the Sicilian Dragon and others (TISE III), ... Rxb2 in the King’s Indian (TISE IV).
When White plays Rxf6, say, it’s more likely to come in the middlegame. Like Kasparov - Anand, Tilburg 1991 (TISE II) for instance, or Kosten - Gordon from Torquay last year (TISE VI). Where White does have a theoretical ISE - Rxh5 against the Leningrad for example (Standard ISEs) - it seems that Black pretty quickly decides to avoid it.
Why would that be? Is it simply that starting with a small disadvantage means Black needs to work harder to muddy the waters or is there something else?
2014 ISE count: 31
Sources for ... Rxf3 in the Tarrasch ISEs:-
Andrew Martin: The French Defence (Audio Chess)
Nigel Short: The French Defence
Neil McDonald et al: Chess Pub, French Defence section
Viktor Moskalenko: The Flexible French
Simon Williams: The Killer French DVD