Världsmästare Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik


Vladimir Kramnik
Kramnik at the 2005 Corus chess tournament
Full name Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik
Country Russia
Born 25 June 1975 (age 36)
Tuapse, USSR
Title Grandmaster
World Champion 2000–06 (Classical)
2006–07 (Unified)
FIDE rating 2801 (March 2012)
(No. 3 in the March 2012 FIDE World Rankings)
Peak rating 2809 (January 2002)[1]

Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik (Russian: Влади́мир Бори́сович Кра́мник; born 25 June 1975) is a Russian chess grandmaster. He was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006, and the undisputed World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007. He has also won the two strongest tournaments (by rating strength) in chess history: the 2009 Mikhail Tal Memorial and the 2010 Grand Slam Masters Final. He has won three team gold medals and three individual medals at Chess Olympiads.[2]

In October 2000, he defeated Garry Kasparov in a match played in London, and became the Classical World Chess Champion. In late 2004, Kramnik successfully defended his title against challenger Péter Lékó in a drawn match played in Brissago, Switzerland. In October 2006, Kramnik, the Classical World Champion, defeated reigning FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov in a unification match, the World Chess Championship 2006. As a result Kramnik became the first undisputed World Champion, holding both the FIDE and Classical titles, since Kasparov split from FIDE in 1993. In 2007, Kramnik lost the title to Viswanathan Anand, who won the World Chess Championship tournament ahead of Kramnik. He challenged Anand at the World Chess Championship 2008 to regain his title, but lost.

Kramnik qualified for the Candidates Tournament which determined the challenger to face World Champion Anand in the World Chess Championship 2012. He advanced to the semifinals before losing to Alexander Grischuk.

Early career

Vladimir Kramnik was born in the town of Tuapse, on the shores of the Black Sea. His father’s birth name was Boris Sokolov, but he took his stepfather’s surname when his mother (Vladimir’s grandmother) remarried. As a child, Vladimir Kramnik studied in the chess school established by Mikhail Botvinnik. His first notable result in a major tournament was his gold medal win as first reserve for the Russian team in the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila. His selection for the team caused some controversy in Russia at the time, as he was only sixteen years old and had not yet been awarded the grandmaster title, but his selection was supported by Garry Kasparov.[3] He scored eight wins, one draw, and no losses.

The following year, Kramnik played in the very strong tournament in Linares. He finished fifth, beating the then world number three, Vassily Ivanchuk, along the way. He followed this up with a string of good results, but had to wait until 1995 for his first major tournament win at normal time controls, when he won the strong Dortmund tournament, finishing it unbeaten.

In 1995, Kramnik served as a second for Kasparov in the Classical World Chess Championship 1995 match against challenger Viswanathan Anand. Kasparov won the match 10½-7½.

In January 1996, Kramnik became the world number-one rated player; although having the same FIDE rating as Kasparov (2775), Kramnik became number-one by having played more games during the rating period in question. This was the first time since December 1985 that Kasparov was not world number-one, and Kramnik’s six month stretch (January through June 1996) as world number-one would be the only time from January 1986 through March 2006 where Kasparov was not world number-one. By becoming number-one, Kramnik became the youngest ever to reach world number-one, breaking Kasparov’s record; this record would stand for 14 years until being broken by Magnus Carlsen in January 2010.

Kramnik continued to produce good results, including winning at Dortmund (outright or tied) ten times from 1995 to 2011. He is the second of only six chess players to have reached a rating of 2800 (the first being Kasparov).

Ironically, during his reign as world champion, Kramnik never regained the world number-one ranking, doing so only in January 2008 after he had lost the title to Viswanathan Anand; as in 1996, Kramnik had the same FIDE rating as Anand (2799) but became number-one due to more games played within the rating period. Kramnik’s 12 years between world-number one rankings is the longest since the inception of the FIDE ranking system in 1971.

Playing style


Garry Kasparov described Kramnik’s style as pragmatic and tenacious, in the latter similar to Anatoly Karpov.[4] He is one of the toughest opponents to defeat, losing only one game in over one hundred games leading up to his match with Kasparov, including eighty consecutive games without loss.[5][6] Kasparov was unable to defeat Kramnik during their 2000 World Championship match, partly due to Kramnik’s use of the Berlin Defence of the Ruy Lopez.

World championship results

Early setbacks

In the mid- and late-90s, Kramnik, although considered one of the strongest players in the world, suffered several setbacks in his attempts to qualify for a World Championship match. In 1994, he lost a quarterfinal candidates match for the PCA championship to Gata Kamsky 1½-4½, and later that year, lost a semifinal candidates match for the FIDE championship to Boris Gelfand with the score 3½-4½. In 1998, Kramnik faced Alexei Shirov in a Candidates match for the right to play Garry Kasparov for the Classical World Chess Championship, and lost 3½-5½. In 1999, Kramnik participated in the FIDE knockout championship in Las Vegas, and lost in the quarterfinals to Michael Adams 2-4.

2000 World Championship

Suitable sponsorship was not found for a Kasparov-Shirov match, and it never took place. In 2000, sponsorship was secured for a Kasparov-Kramnik match instead. This was somewhat controversial, making Kramnik the first player since 1935 to play a world championship match without qualifying.

In 2000, Kramnik played a sixteen game match against Garry Kasparov in London, for the Classical Chess World Championship. Kramnik began the match as underdog, but his adoption of the Berlin Defence to Kasparov’s Ruy Lopez opening was very effective. With the white pieces, Kramnik pressed Kasparov hard, winning Games Two and Ten and overlooking winning continuations in Games Four and Six. Kasparov put up little fight thereafter, agreeing to short draws with the white pieces in Games 9 and 13. Kramnik won the match 8½-6½ without losing a game (this was only the second time in history that a World Champion had lost a match without winning a single game). This event marked the first time Kasparov had been beaten in a World Championship match.

Kramnik’s performance won him the Chess Oscar for 2000; this was the first time he had received the award.

After London

In October 2002, Kramnik competed in Brains in Bahrain, an eight game match against the chess computer Deep Fritz in Bahrain. Kramnik started well, taking a 3 – 1 lead after four games. However, in game five, Kramnik made what has been described as the worst blunder of his career (a blunder that pales in comparison to his loss against Deep Fritz 10 in 2006), losing a knight in a position which was probably drawn. He quickly resigned. He also resigned game six after making a speculative sacrifice, although subsequent analysis showed that with perfect play, he might have been able to draw from the final position. The last two games were drawn, and the match ended tied at 4 – 4.

In February 2004 Kramnik won the Tournament of Linares outright for the first time (he had tied for first with Kasparov in 2000), finishing undefeated with a +2 score, ahead of Garry Kasparov, the world’s highest-rated player at the time.

2004 title defense

From 25 September 2004 until 18 October 2004, retained his title as Classical World Chess Champion against challenger Péter Lékó at Brissago, Switzerland, by barely drawing the match in the last game. The 14-game match was poised in favor of Lékó right up until Kramnik won the final game, thus forcing a 7 – 7 draw and ensuring that Kramnik remained world champion.[7] The prize fund was 1 million Swiss francs, which was about USD $770,000 at the time. Because of the drawn result, the prize was split between the two players.

2006 Reunification match

When Garry Kasparov broke with FIDE, the federation governing professional chess, to play the 1993 World Championship with Nigel Short, he created a rift in the chess world. In response, FIDE sanctioned a match between Anatoly Karpov and Jan Timman for the FIDE World Championship, which Karpov won. Subsequently, the chess world has seen two ”champions”: the ”classical” championship, claiming lineage dating back to Steinitz; and the FIDE endorsed champion.

When Kramnik defeated Kasparov and inherited Kasparov’s title, he also inherited some controversies because he was handpicked to play for the title after he had just lost the qualifying match against Alexei Shirov in 1998.

At the next FIDE world championship (FIDE World Chess Championship 2005), Kramnik refused to participate, but indicated his willingness to play a match against the winner to unify the world championship. After the tournament, negotiations began for a reunification match between Kramnik and the new FIDE World Champion — Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.

In April 2006, FIDE announced a reunification match between Kramnik and Topalov — the FIDE World Chess Championship 2006. The match took place in Elista, Kalmykia. After the first four games, Kramnik led 3-1 (out of a maximum of 12). After the fourth game, however, Topalov protested that Kramnik was using the toilet suspiciously frequently, implying that he was somehow receiving outside assistance whilst doing so. Topalov said that he would refuse to shake hands with Kramnik in the remaining games. The Appeals committee decided that the players’ toilets be locked and that they be forced to use a shared toilet, accompanied by an assistant arbiter.

Kramnik refused to play the fifth game unless the original conditions agreed for the match were adhered to. As a result, the point was awarded to Topalov, reducing Kramnik’s lead to 3-2. Kramnik stated that the appeals committee was biased and demanded that it be replaced. As a condition to continue the match, Kramnik insisted on playing the remaining games under the original conditions of the match contract, which allows use of the bathroom at the players’ discretion.

The controversy resulted in a heavy volume of correspondence to Chessbase and other publications. The balance of views from fans was in support of Kramnik.[8] Prominent figures in the chess world, such as John Nunn, Yasser Seirawan, and Bessel Kok also sided with Kramnik.[9][10][11] The Russian and Bulgarian Chess Federations supported their respective players.[12] Kramnik’s behaviour during the match earned him widespread support in the chess community.

After twelve regular games the match was tied 6-6, although Kramnik continued to dispute the result of the unplayed fifth game until the end of the match. On 13 October 2006 the result of this disputed game became irrelevant as Kramnik won the rapid tie-break by a score of 2½-1½.

Kramnik’s victory helped him win the Chess Oscar for 2006, the second of his career.

2007 world championship tournament in Mexico

Kramnik, winner at Dortmund 2007

When Kramnik won the 2006 unification match, he also won Topalov’s berth in the 2007 World Championship as the incumbent FIDE champion. Although the rationale behind his (and Garry Kasparov’s) ”classical” title is that the title should change hands by challenge match rather than by tournament, Kramnik stated that he would recognize the winner of this tournament as being the world champion.[13]

In the tournament, held in September 2007, Kramnik finished in a second-place tie with Boris Gelfand. The tournament, and the world championship, was won by Viswanathan Anand.

2008 match

Kramnik was granted a rematch to challenge Anand for the world title in 2008 in Bonn. He fell victim to Anand’s superior preparation and was convincingly outplayed, losing three of the first six games (two with the white pieces). Kramnik’s play gradually improved, and although he managed a 29 move victory in game 10,[14] he was unable to win any others, and lost the match to Anand by a score of 6½ to 4½ (three wins to Anand, one win to Kramnik, seven draws).


Kramnik had exceptionally good results in 2009, winning once again in Dortmund and then winning the Category 21 (average Elo = 2763) Tal Memorial in Moscow with 6/9 and a 2883 performance rating ahead of world champion Anand, Vassily Ivanchuk, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich. At the time, the average Elo rating of the field made it the strongest tournament in history. Following this result, Kramnik stated that his goal was to regain the World Championship title.[15]

He also participated in the London Chess Classic in December, finishing second to Magnus Carlsen, losing their head-to-head encounter on the Black side of the English Opening. Kramnik’s performance in 2009 allowed his rating (average of July 2009 and January 2010 ratings) to be high enough to qualify for the Candidates Tournament to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship 2012.


Kramnik began 2010 at the Corus chess tournament in the Netherlands, during which he defeated new world number-one Carlsen with the Black pieces in their head-to-head encounter, ending Carlsen’s 36-match unbeaten streak.[16] A late loss to Viswanathan Anand knocked him out of first place, and Kramnik finished with 8/13, tying for second place with Alexei Shirov behind Carlsen’s 8½ points.

In May 2010 it was revealed that Kramnik had aided Viswanathan Anand in preparation for the World Chess Championship 2010 against challenger Veselin Topalov. Anand won the match 6½-5½ to retain the title.[17]

In April–May 2010 he tied for 1st–3rd with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Gata Kamsky in the President’s Cup in Baku and won the event on tie-break after all finished on 5/7.[18]

Kramnik also participated in Dortmund, but had a subpar showing, losing to eventual champion Ruslan Ponomariov and finishing in joint third place with 5/10.[19]

He then participated in the Grand Slam Chess Masters preliminary tournament in Shanghai from September 3 to 8, where he faced world #4 Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov, and Wang Hao; the top two scorers qualified for the Grand Slam final supertournament from October 9 to 15 in Bilbao against Carlsen and Anand.[20] Scoring 3/6, Kramnik tied for second place with Aronian behind the winner Shirov’s 4½/6. In the blitz playoff, Kramnik defeated Aronian to qualify along with Shirov for the Grand Slam final.[21]

Shortly after qualifying for the last stage of the Grand Slam, Kramnik played on board one for the Russian team in the 2010 Olympiad. He played 9 games of which he won 2 and drew 7.

Following the Olympiad, Kramnik participated in the Grand Slam Chess Masters final in Bilbao where he competed against Anand, Carlsen and Shirov. The average rating of the field was 2789, surpassing the 2009 Tal Memorial to become the strongest tournament in history. After defeating world #1 Carlsen for the second consecutive time, and then Shirov in his first two games, Kramnik drew his final four games to finish in clear first with 4.0/6. This gave Kramnik the distinction of having won the two strongest tournaments in chess history.

Kramnik will next attempt to defend his 2009 title at the Tal Memorial in Moscow, followed by playing in the London Chess Classic in England for the second consecutive year.


2011 brought varied results. Kramnik won the third London Chess Classic with 4 wins and 4 draws, and a rating performance over 2900 elo. Hikaru Nakamura came second.[22] However in the earlier 6th Tal Memorial 2011 Moscow he came 8th out of 10, with 2 losses (to Nepomniachtchi and Svidler) and 7 draws, with Magnus Carlsen winning the overall tournament on tiebreak from Levon Aronian.

Deep Fritz match

Kramnik played a six-game match against the computer program Deep Fritz in Bonn, Germany from 25 November to 5 December 2006, losing 2-4 to the machine, with 2 losses and 4 draws. He received 500,000 Euros for playing and would have received another 500,000 Euros had he won the match. Deep Fritz version 10 ran on a computer containing two Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs. Kramnik received a copy of the program in mid-October for testing, but the final version included an updated opening book.[23] Except for limited updates to the opening book, the program was not allowed to be changed during the course of the match. The endgame tablebases used by the program were restricted to five pieces[24] even though a complete six-piece tablebase is widely available.

On 25 November the first game ended in a draw at the 47th move.[25] A number of commentators believe Kramnik missed a win.[26] Two days later, the second game resulted in a victory for Deep Fritz, when Kramnik made what might be called the ”blunder of the century” according to Susan Polgar, when he failed to defend against a threatened mate-in-one.[27] (see also Deep Fritz vs. Vladimir Kramnik blunder). The third, fourth and fifth games in the match ended in draws. In the last game Fritz with the white pieces impressively defeated the World Champion,[28] winning the match.

There is now speculation that interest in human vs. computer chess competition will plummet as a result of the Bonn match and other recent matches involving Kasparov, Kramnik, Adams, and various chess programs. According to McGill University computer science professor Monty Newborn, for example, ”the science is done”.[29]

Private life and health

Kramnik has been diagnosed with an uncommon form of arthritis, called ankylosing spondylitis. It causes him great physical discomfort while playing. In January 2006, Kramnik announced that he would skip the Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee to seek out treatment for his arthritis.[30] He returned from treatment in June 2006, playing in the 37th Chess Olympiad. He scored a +4 result, earning the highest performance rating (2847) of the 1307 participating players.

On 30 December 2006 he married French journalist Marie-Laure Germon. He has a daughter named Daria who was born 28 December 2008.[31]

Notable tournament victories

  • 1990 Russian Championship, Kuibyshev (classical) I
  • 1991 World Championship (U18), Guarapuava (classical) I
  • 1992 Chalkidiki (classical) 7½/11 I
  • 1994 Overall result PCA Intel Grand Prix’94 I
  • 1995 Dortmund (classical) 7/9 I
  • 1995 Horgen (classical) 7/10 I-II
  • 1995 Belgrade (classical) 8/11 I-II
  • 1996 Monaco 16/22 I
  • 1996 Dos Hermanas (classical) 6/9 I-II
  • 1996 Dortmund (classical) 7/9 I-II
  • 1997 Dos Hermanas (classical) 6/9 I-II
  • 1997 Dortmund (classical) 6½/9 I
  • 1997 Tilburg (classical) 8/11 I-III
  • 1998 Wijk aan Zee (classical) 8½/13 I-II
  • 1998 Dortmund (classical) 6/9 I-III
  • 1998 Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay) 15/22 I
  • 1999 Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay) 14½/22 I
  • 2000 Linares (classical) 6/10 I-II
  • 2000 Dortmund (classical) 6/9 I-II
  • 2001 Match Kramnik vs. Leko (rapidplay) 7:5
  • 2001 Match Botvinnik memorial Kramnik vs. Kasparov (classical) 2:2
  • 2001 Match Botvinnik memorial Kramnik vs Kasparov (rapidplay) 3:3
  • 2001 Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay) 15/22 I-II
  • 2001 Match Kramnik vs. Anand (rapidplay) 5:5
  • 2001 Dortmund (classical) 6½/10 I-II
  • 2002 Match Advanced Chess Kramnik vs. Anand (Leon) 3½:2½
  • 2003 Linares (classical) 7/12 I-II
  • 2003 Cap d’Agde (France)
  • 2004 Handicap Simul (classical)
  • 2004 Kramnik vs. National Team of Germany 2½:1½
  • 2004 Linares (classical) 7/12 I
  • 2004 Monaco (Overall result) 14½/22 I-II
  • 2006 Gold medal at Turin Olympiad with overall best performance (2847) 7/10
  • 2006 Dortmund (classical) 4½/7 I
  • 2007 Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay) 15½/22 I
  • 2007 Dortmund (classical) 5/7 I
  • 2007 Tal Memorial 6½/9 I
  • 2009 Dortmund 6½/9 I
  • 2009 Zürich (rapidplay) 5/7 I
  • 2009 Tal Memorial 6/9 I
  • 2010 President’s Cup in Baku (rapidplay) 5/7 I-III
  • 2010 Bilbao Grand Slam final 4/6 I
  • 2011 Dortmund 7/10 I
  • 2011 Hoogeveen 4,5/6 I
  • 2011 London 6/8 I

World championship matches and qualifiers

See also


  1. ^ The graph on the FIDE site gives Kramnik’s peak rating as 2811,[1] but this appears to be incorrect: it is contradicted by FIDE’s published ratings for January [2] and April [3] 2002; and also by the reports in TWIC for January [4] and April [5] 2002 (Whether FIDE rated or not his four-game match against Kasparov of December 2001).
  2. ^ ”Men’s Chess Olympiads: Vladimir Kramnik”. OlimpBase. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  3. ^ Vladimir Kramnik and Iakov Damsky, Kramnik: My Life and Games (London: Everyman Chess, 2000), pp. 21-22.
  4. ^ Garry Kasparov, My Great Predecessors, vol 1 (London: Everyman, 2003), p. 9.
  5. ^ Raymond Keene and Don Morris, The Brain Games World Chess Championship (London: Everman Chess, 2000), p. 42.
  6. ^ Bob Ciaffone, ”World Championship Chess Match,” Michigan Chess Magazine (2001) http://www.michess.org/webzine_200102/worldchampionship.shtml.
  7. ^ ”Classical World Chess Championship 2004″. Retrieved 2006-10-14.
  8. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – World Championship Crisis – what our readers think”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  9. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – Bessel Kok on the World Championship crisis”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  10. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – John Nunn: ‘It’s about imposing your will on the opponent’”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  11. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – Seirawan: highly-charged situation calls for a compromise”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  12. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – Elista 2006: Match to continue with game six”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  13. ^ Vladimir Kramnik on the world of chess (Part 2), Chessbase, 1-Jun-2007
  14. ^ Kramnik with 29 move victory against Anand, game analysis by GM Dimitrov
  15. ^ ”Kramnik: I am counting on regaining the world title”. Chessbase. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-05-19.
  16. ^ Valaker, Ole (26 January 2010). ”Så tapte Magnus” (in Norwegian). Nettavisen. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  17. ^ ”Chess News – Anand in Playchess – the helpers in Sofia”. Chessbase. 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2010-05-19.
  18. ^ Crowther, Mark (2010-05-03). ”The Week in Chess: President’s Cup Baku 2010″. Chess.co.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  19. ^ The Week in Chess: Dortmund 2010
  20. ^ Final Chess Masters 2010 in Shanghai and Bilbao
  21. ^ Shanghai Masters 2010
  22. ^ London Chess Classic 2011
  23. ^ The last man vs machine match?, translated from Spiegel Online, 23 November 2006
  24. ^ Official rules of the match Kramnik vs. Fritz, from Susan Polgar‘s blog.
  25. ^ (Russian) Echo.MSK.ru
  26. ^ Seirawan on Kramnik vs Deep Fritz game one
  27. ^ Blunder of the century
  28. ^ Kramnik vs Deep Fritz: Computer wins match by 4:2, Chessbase News, 6 December 2006
  29. ^ Dylan Loeb Mcclain (Published: 5 December 2006). ”Once Again, Machine Beats Human Champion at Chess – New York Times”. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  30. ^ ”ChessBase.com – Chess News – Kramnik drops out of Wijk Super-Tournament”. Chessbase.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  31. ^ ”kramnik.com”. Retrieved 2009-08-15.

External links

  Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Vladimir Kramnik
Preceded by
Garry Kasparov
Classical World Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Viswanathan Anand
Preceded by
Veselin Topalov
FIDE World Chess Champion
Preceded by
Garry Kasparov
Viswanathan Anand

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