(4172) Aronian,Levon (2820) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2801) [C65]
Match (rapid game) Zuerich (6), 28.04.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3
Showing the wisdom Kasparov lacked.

Not the only choice, but the most uncompromising one. Kritz recommends this in his recent DVD, and I believe Cox did in his book on the Berlin as well.

Very rare, but it can easily transpose to the positions after 5.0-0 and 5.c3.

5...d6 6.c3 0-0 7.0-0
Now we're back on theory's highway.

A typical idea, but rarely played quite so soon - Black generally retreats the bishop to b6 first, taking it out of the d-pawn's reach, and only then swings the knight around.

[8.d4 forces Black to surrender the center, which is why ...Ne7 has at least been implicitly considered premature. But maybe things aren't so bad after 8...exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 (9...a6!? 10.Bd3 Ba7 ) ]

But now Black shouldn't have any problems at all.

9.Re1 c6 10.Ba4 Re8N
[Another GM game to reach the same position (but by a different move order) went 10...h6 11.Nf1 Re8 12.Ng3 Bb6 13.d4 Qc7 14.Bc2 Be6 15.Be3 Rad8 16.Qd2 d5 17.exd5 Bxd5 18.Bxg6 Bxf3 19.Bc2 exd4 20.cxd4 Bh5 21.Nxh5 Nxh5 22.Bxh6 gxh6 23.Qxh6 Bxd4 24.Bh7+ Kh8 25.Bg6+ Kg8 26.Bh7+ Kh8 27.Qxh5 Qf4 28.Be4+ Kg7 29.Qh7+ Kf8 30.Bf3 1/2-1/2 Balogh,C (2562)-Gyimesi,Z (2610)/Hungary 2008]

11.d4 Bb6
Back to theory again.

12.Bc2 h6 13.a4 Be6
Beginning a three-part plan: this, take on d4 and play ...d5. [13...Bc7 14.Nf1 Nh7 15.Ng3 Ng5 16.dxe5 Nxf3+ 17.Qxf3 Rxe5 18.Be3 Bb6 19.Rad1 Be6 20.Qe2 h5 21.Bxb6 1/2-1/2 Kobalia,M (2637)-Alekseev,E (2700)/Dagomys 2010]

14.Nf1 exd4N
[Last citation we saw Alekseev with Black; this time he's White. 14...Qc7 15.Ng3 Rad8 16.Be3 d5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bf4 Nfd7 19.a5 Bxa5 20.exd5 Bxd5 21.dxe5 Bb6 22.Qh5 f6 23.Bxh6 Nxe5 24.Be3 Nf3+ 25.gxf3 Rxe3 26.Rxe3 Bxe3 27.Kg2 Bh6 28.Nf5 Bd2 29.Rxa7 Bf7 30.Qg4 g6 31.Nd4 Qd7 32.Bf5 Qe8 33.Rxb7 Rd5 34.Rxf7 1-0 Alekseev,E (2670)-Jumabayev,R (2573)/Moscow 2012]

[15.cxd4 d5 16.e5 Ne4 17.N1d2 Ba5 18.Re3 (18.Nxe4!? Bxe1 19.Nd6 Bb4 20.Nxe8 Qxe8 21.Bd2 ) ]

15...Bd7 16.f4 d5
[16...Nh7!? (Kramnik)]

17.e5 Ne4 18.Bxe4
[18.Kh2 f5 ]

18...dxe4 19.a5!?
[19.Rxe4 c5 20.Nb5 Bc6 21.Qxd8 Raxd8 ]

19...Bxa5 20.Ng3
[20.e6 fxe6 21.Qh5 e5 22.fxe5 Nxe5 23.Rxe4 Bc7 24.Bf4 Qf6=/+ (24...Nf7 ) ]

20...Bb6 21.Kh2 c5
[21...Nh4 22.Nxe4 c5 ]

22.Ndf5 Bxf5 23.Nxf5 Qxd1 24.Rxd1 Rad8 25.Be3
[25.Re1 f6 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Ra4 (27.Nxh6+ Kh7= ) 27...h5 28.Raxe4 Rxe4 29.Rxe4 Kf7 30.g4 hxg4 31.hxg4 Rd3= ]

25...Rd3 26.Re1 f6 27.exf6 gxf6 28.Nxh6+ Kf8
[28...Kg7 29.Nf5+ Kf7 30.Nh6+ Kg7= ]

29.Ra4 Rd5 30.c4?!
[30.f5 Bc7+ 31.Kg1 Bg3 32.Rf1 Ne5 33.Rxa7 Re7 34.Ra4+/= ]

30...Rd3 31.b4?
Unleashing all the power in Black's position.

Now it gets even wilder, and White is in trouble. [31...Nh4= ]

32.Rxe3 cxb4 33.Rg3 e3?
Missing his best chance. [33...Ne7! 34.Rxb4 Bc7! White is really stuck here! 35.Rb1 (35.Ng4 Bxf4 36.Rb5 Kf7 37.Rxb7 Rd8-+ ; 35.Rg4 f5 36.Nxf5 Nxf5 37.Rxb7 Re7 38.Rb5 Nh6 39.Rg6 e3 40.Rb1 e2 41.Kg3 Nf5+-+ ) 35...Bxf4 36.Rf1 Bxg3+ 37.Kxg3 Kg7 38.Ng4 f5-/+ ]

34.Rxg6 e2 35.Ra1 Bf2
[35...e1Q?? 36.Rg8++- ]

[36.Rxf6+ Kg7 37.Rd6 e1Q 38.Rxe1 Rxe1 39.g4 b3 40.Nf5+ Kf7 41.Rd2 Bg1+ 42.Kg2 a5 43.Rd7+ Kf6 44.Rd6+ (44.Rxb7 a4 45.Ng3 (45.Nh6 Bc5 46.g5+ Kg6 47.Rb5 a3-+ ; 45.Nh4 Bc5 46.g5+ Ke6 47.f5+ Kd6 48.f6 a3 49.f7 Ke6-+ ) 45...a3 46.g5+ Ke6 47.f5+ Kd6 48.Rxb3 a2 49.Ra3 a1Q 50.Rxa1 Rxa1 51.h4 Ke5 52.f6 Ke6 If there are any chances here they're Black's, but who knows what's going on here.) 44...Kf7 45.Rd7+= ]

36...Ke7 37.Rg7+ Kd6 38.Rxb7 e1Q
[38...a5 39.Rb5 Ra8 40.Ng4 (40.Nf5+ Kc7 41.h4 Rd8!! 42.Ne3! Bxe3 43.Re1 Re8 44.Kg3 Bd4! (44...Bd2 45.Kf2 Bxe1+ 46.Kxe1 Re4= ) 45.Kf3 Re3+ 46.Kf2 a4 47.Rd5 (47.Rxe2 a3! 48.Ra2 Re5+ 49.Kf3 Rxb5 50.cxb5 Bb2 51.Ke3 b3 52.Rxa3 Bxa3 53.Kd3 f5 54.h5 Kb6 55.Kc3 b2 56.Kc2 Kxb5 57.h6 Bf8 58.Kxb2 Bxh6 59.Kc3 Bxf4 60.Kd4 Kc6-+ ; 47.Rxb4? Rb3+ 48.Kxe2 Rxb4-+ ) 47...Rd3+!! 48.Kxe2 Re3+ 49.Kf2 Rxe1+ 50.Kxe1 b3 51.Rxd4 a3-+ ) 40...e1Q 41.Rxe1 Bxe1 42.Nxf6 a4 43.Ne4+ It's almost an immediate perpetual, and it would be if the pawn were on g4! White's rook has protection on every square on the 5th rank except for a5 and h5, and as for a5, Rb5+ Ka6?? walks into mate in two by Nc5+ Ka7 Rb7 mate! So let's see what happens if the Black king heads for h6: 43...Ke6 44.Re5+ Kf7 45.Nd6+ Kf8 46.Rxe1 a3 47.c5 b3 48.Nc4 a2 49.Ra1 Ra4 50.Nb2 Rxf4 51.Kg3 Rd4 52.Kf3 Rd2 53.Na4 Rd4 54.Nb2 Rd2 Draw!]

39.Rxe1 Bxe1 40.Nf5+ Kc5
[40...Kc6 looks like a better try, but in some quick analysis I've been unable to prove a win. 41.Rxa7 b3 42.Nd4+ Kb6 43.Ra1 Bc3 44.c5+! Kb7 45.Nxb3 Bxa1 46.Nxa1 Kc6 47.Nb3 Re4 48.Nd2 (48.g3?? Rb4! traps and wins the knight, e.g. 49.Na5+ Kxc5 50.h4 Rb5-+ ) 48...Rxf4 49.Kg3 Rd4 50.Nf3 Rc4 51.h4 Kd5 52.h5 Ke6 53.c6 Kf7 54.Kf2 Kg7 and White draws with tricks: 55.g4! Rxg4 56.c7 Rc4 57.Nd4! Kh6 58.Nb5 Kxh5 59.Ke3 f5 60.Kd3 Rc6 61.Nd4 ]

41.Rb5+ Kc6 42.Nd4+ Kc7 43.Rc5+ 1/2-1/2