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2004 Dannemann World Chess Championship Match : Kramnik - Leko
Vladimir Kramnik played a tied match with Peter Leko to retain his title of non-FIDE World Chess Champion.

(October 2004) Vladimir Kramnik of Russia played a tied match with Peter Leko of Hungary to retain his title of World Chess Champion. The match, sponsored by the Dannemann cigar company, took place during three weeks at the Centro Dannemann in Brissago, Switzerland.

Dannemann is the latest in a line of sponsors -- Intel, Braingames, and Einstein -- for the non-FIDE World Championship title. The title came into existence when then-World Champion Garry Kasparov broke from FIDE in 1993 to create the now defunct Professional Chess Association (PCA).

Kasparov beat Nigel Short of England in 1993, and Viswanathan Anand of India in 1995, before losing to Kramnik in 2000. The match with Leko was Kramnik's first defense of the title. Leko won the right to challenge Kramnik by winning the Dortmund Qualifier in 2002.

Kramnik came close to losing to Leko. Although he won the first game, he lost the fifth and eighth games, leaving him a point behind Leko. The other games through game 13 were drawn. Match rules stipulated that in the event of a drawn match, Kramnik would retain his title. In the last game, Kramnik managed to win with the White pieces, saving his right to be called World Champion.

You can play through all the games of the match using the About Chess game viewer. See the link box in the upper right corner of this article.

The Official Site


Dannemann World Chess Championship
Brissago, Switzerland
September-October, 2004
    10 11 12 13 14 Total
P. Leko  -  0 = = = 1 = = 1 = = = = = 0 7.0
V. Kramnik  -  1 = = = 0 = = 0 = = = = = 1 7.0

The red '*' marks Brissago.
Image: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Kramnik (left) and Leko (right) with Arbiter Albert Vasse (standing).


Let's look at important positions from the four decisive games played in the match. In the first game, Kramnik played the opening quickly and surprised Leko with an innovation prepared before the match.

Game 1; after 17...Nc6-a5

Black's last move offered a tactical challenge which Leko accepted. After 18.c4 Nxc4 19.Bxc4 Qxc4 20.Nd2 Qd5 21.Nxe4 Qxe4 22.Bg5 Qxe1+ 23.Qxe1 Bxg5, Kramnik had good positional compensation for the material disadvantage.

Game 5; after 55..Be7-h4

In the fifth game, Leko won material with 56.e6+ Bf6 57.e7 Rxd4+ 58.Ke3 Bxe7 59.Kxd4 Bh4. This left a technically difficult endgame with all Pawns on the same side of the board. The game continued 60.f3 f5 61.Rc7+ Kf6 62.Kd5 Bg3, where Kramnik had better drawing chances with 62...Be1.

Game 8; after 25.b5-a6(xP)

The eighth game was the most exciting game of the match. Leko forced a win with 25...Qd3!. White can obtain a new Queen with 26.a7 Qe3+ 27.Kg2 Bxf3+ 28.Nxf3 Qe2+ 29.Kg1 Ng4 30.a8=Q+ Kg7, but gets checkmated with either
  • 31.Qxc6 Qf2+ 32.Kh1 Qf1+ 33.Ng1 Nf2 mate
  • 31.Bxg5 Qf2+ 32.Kh1 Qxf3+ 33.Kg1 Qf2+ 34.Kh1 Qxh2 mate

Game 14; after 14...Ne7-g6

In the final game, Kramnik needed to win. He surprised everyone by offering to trade Queens, which Leko accepted : 15.Bd4 Nxd4 16.cxd4 Qxd2+ 17.Kxd2. Kramnik worked simultaneously on the open c-file and on the Kingside to trap Leko's King around the 40th move in a mating net.

Left: The prize ceremony; Kramnik and Hans Leusen (Dannemann)

Right: Centro Dannemann World Chess Championship trophy

Near the end of the match, FIDE announced that FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov would soon play Kasparov in Dubai with the FIDE title at stake. Kramnik is expected to play a title unification match with the winner of the Kasparov - Kasimdzhanov match, thereby ending the World Championship schism which has plagued top-level chess since the 1990s.

 More of this Feature (offsite)
• 2004 Match : View Games
• 2004 Match : PGN
 Related Resources (offsite)
• Reunification
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Official site
• TWIC Coverage