Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik (born June 25, 1975) is a Russian chess grandmaster and the World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2007.

In October 2000, he beat Garry Kasparov in a sixteen game 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 fourteen game 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 FIDE World Chess Championship 2006. The match was mired with controversy over Topalov's protests about Kramnik's frequent use of the bathroom. Kramnik forfeited Game 5 after refusing to play when the Appeals Committee altered the conditions of the match. The match was tied at 6-6 after 12 regular games and Kramnik won the rapid tie-break 2.5-1.5. 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 September 2007, Kramnik lost his title to Viswanathan Anand at the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007.


Vladimir Kramnik was born in the town of Tuapse, on the shores of the Black Sea. It is occasionally asserted that his real name was Sokolov but this is not the case (though it is a family name). 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.[2] He went on to win eight games and one draw with 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. Kramnik continued to produce good results, including winning at Dortmund (outright or tied) for three successive years between 1996 and 1998. He is the second of only four chess players to have reached a rating of 2800 (the first being Kasparov).

Playing Style

Garry Kasparov described Kramnik's style as pragmatic and tenacious, in the latter similar to Anatoly Karpov.[3] He is one of the toughest opponents to defeat, losing only one game over more than one hundred games leading up to his match with Kasparov, including eighty consecutive games without loss.[4][5] Kasparov was unable to defeat Kramnik during their 2000 World Championship match.

World champion

In 1998, Kramnik faced Alexei Shirov in a Candidates match for the right to play Garry Kasparov for the Classical World Chess Championship. Kramnik lost the match -2+0=7. However suitable sponsorship was not found for a Kasparov-Shirov match. In 2000, sponsorship was secured for a Kasparov-Kramnik match instead.

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 Game Two 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 8.5 - 6.5 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.