Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik – biography

Vladimir Kramnik truly became a player of a new format. He is the one who can use the computer correctly to prepare for the matches. It’s really hard to retain some “humanity” in games when using an engine. But he made it! And other chess players followed him. 

He was born on the 25th of June, 1975 in Tuapse. The grandmaster’s parents are intellectual people. His mother’s occupation was a music teacher, his father was a painter. 

As a child, he could easily be called a prodigy. His story of introduction to chess slightly resembles Capablanca’s. Little Vladimir enjoyed watching his father and elder brother move the chess pieces. It turned out that the 3-year-old boy learned to play by watching the process. A week later, he beat his dad. 

The sweeping rise

By the age of 10, Vladimir Kramnik had no competitors in his hometown. He needed a new challenge, and an opportunity came. Some kind of local chess amateur sent the boy’s games to Botvinnik’s school. The latter one was amazed at the depth of Vladimir’s game and invited him. Tseshkovsky became his chess trainer. The “chemistry” between the teacher and the student appeared immediately. Besides, they were both ready to play chess from morning until night. 

In 1990-1991, Vladimir won the World Youth Championships. They were held for the players under 16 and 18 respectively. His road to success is different from others. He unexpectedly participated in the 1992 Olympiad, while still being the FIDE master. There, he made himself known for the first time. The player gained 8,5 out of 9 points on the 5th board. 

He wasn’t famous in the world of chess at the time. So his rise was really sweeping. That year, he played on the second board after Kasparov in the Europe Team Championship. And once again, it was a success: 6 out of 7!

Later, Vladimir won a few open matches in Dortmund and Gausdal. Everyone in the Bundesliga was defeated. Thus, he started a new year in the 6th line of the world rating table. What an astonishing spurt!

The key victory

In 1994, he came closer to the first three places and won against Kasparov. All the chess fans were stunned. A new star appeared!

Starting from 1993, Vladimir Kramnik began to fight for the title of World Champion. He performed in the matches conducted by both FIDE and PCA. However, the player lost both tournaments at the ¼ stage. As a 17-year-old young man, he didn’t yet realize the importance of those events. 

Working with Kasparov made things more clear for Kramnik. He offered Vladimir to conduct the match and assist in the 1995 match against Anand. The young player was amazed at the coordination of the training process organization. He was also impressed by the champion’s hard-working attitude. Kramnik said that his communication with Kasparov helped him understand how to play against Garry. 

In 1996, he defeated Kasparov in a classical game. Vladimir played with black pieces and used the rival’s manner of play. He led an aggressive game and sacrificed a piece. Kramnik was, probably, the only one in the chess elite with equal scores against Kasparov. He managed to accompany Garry in the leading lines of the rating for 6 months. 

The main title

At the end of the 1990s, Kasparov found himself in a financially harsh situation. So he couldn’t afford to conduct the qualifying cycle for the World Champion title for PCA. Garry decided to organize a mini-match between Anand and Kramnik. The winner was supposed to play with Kasparov. However, Anand rejected the offer. Then, Aleksey Shirov took his place. Much to many people’s surprise, Shirov beat Kramnik. Nevertheless, the winner and Kasparov didn’t come to an agreement about the match conditions. The Latvian lost his opportunity to become a champion.

Kramnik was lucky enough to get another chance in 2000. Kasparov suggested playing the match for the World Champion title for PCA. It’s worth noting that Anand was the first one who got that offer. But, apparently, he was still oppressed by the tragic 1995 match. So Vishy rejected the offer once again. Kramnik, however, wasn’t afraid of Kasparov.

Vladimir began a large-scale preparation for the match, and it wasn’t just about the chessboard. He lost 15 kg and gave up on smoking, the changes were incredible! 

In London, Kasparov failed to beat the young colleague at least once. Kramnik won the 2nd game, creating pressure in the 4th and the 6th game. Especially for the match, he developed the Berlin Defence in the Spanish Game for Black. He managed to use this drawing weapon successfully while playing with black pieces. After obtaining the title his rating crossed the 2800 mark for the first time. He became the second player after Garry who achieved that. 

Defending the championship

The next championship against Péter Lékó didn’t go well for Kramnik. He won in the last game, and it saved him. The match was resolved in a draw, and it let him retain the title. 

Kramnik victoriously performed in the World Championship match against Veselin Topalov. The battle was scandalous. But most importantly, the champion defended the title. 

However, the 2008 match against Anand became a real catastrophe for the Russian player. He conceded without a chance. Kramnik’s continuous disease played a significant role in it. He had been suffering from a severe form of arthritis for 2 years. 

To love and enjoy

It seemed that after 2008, Kramnik’s love for the game revived. He became a true artist and played beautifully. Each of his games was amazing. Indeed, Vladimir had never been a champion since then. He had a chance in the Candidates Tournament in London, though. However, his fighting spirit is incredible! Vladimir resigned in 2019. But even then, he took the 3rd place in the World Championship among blitz players. 

Vladimir Kramnik kept the tradition of being the World Champion in chess whose name starts with “K”. He beat an invincible Kasparov and had been an elite grandmaster for 25 years! His superiority is out of the question. 

Vladimir Kramnik
Kramnik – Kasparov, Linares 1994

22. Bf5!-Bf5 23. Nc7 and the knight relocated to e6. Then, Kramnik had a confident win.

Vladimir Kramnik
Kramnik – Kasparov. The World Championship match in London, the 10th game

15. Be6 – fe 16. Qe6 – Kh8 17. Qe7 and Kasparov conceded on the 25th move.

Vladimir Kramnik
Aronian – Kramnik, the Candidates Tournament in Berlin, 2018, the 3rd tour

19. Bg5 20. hg- f4 21. Qd1- Bd8 22. Na3- Bd3 and 4 moves later Aronian conceded. 

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