This morning Vladimir Kramnik announced the end of his career as a professional chess player, at the age of 43. Kramnik was classical World Champion (all rational people consider this to have been the real world championship) between 2000 and 2006, and undisputed World Champion from 2006 to 2007.
At the start of his career he was noted for his tactical wizardry, as evidenced by this game (Brodsky-Kramnik USSR U26 Championship 1991):
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. Qh5 Rg8 13. O-O-O Rxg2 14. f4 Nd4 15. Ne3 Rf2 16. exf5 Bxa2 17. fxe5 dxe5 18. Nxb5 Bh6 19. Rhe1 axb5 20. Bxb5+ Ke7 21. Qh4+ f6 22. Qxf2 Bf7 23. Bd3 Qb6 24. Be4 Ra2 25. c4 Bxc4 26. Kb1 Qa5 27. Nd5+ Bxd5 28. Qxd4 Ra1+ 29. Kc2 Rxd1 30. Qxd1 Qa4+ 31. Kc3 0-1
You can play it through here.
As Kramnik matured, he became famous for his tough positional play, in particular his use of the notorious Berlin Wall which helped him beat Garry Kasparov in their 2000 Classical World Championship match held in London.
In this game from the same match, Big Vlad, as he is popularly known, demolished Kasparov in only 25 moves.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 c5 7. O-O cxd4 8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. Bg5 Bb7 11. Re1 Nbd7 12. Rc1 Rc8 13. Qb3 Be7 14. Bxf6 Nxf6 15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. Qxe6+ Kh8 17. Qxe7 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Qxd4 19. Nb5 Qxb2 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Nd6 Rb8 22. Nf7+ Kg8 23. Qe6 Rf8 24. Nd8+ Kh8 25. Qe7 1-0
Again, you can play it through here.
Vladimir Kramnik has been one of the most popular figures in international chess for the past 25 years. It’s always hard for a sportsperson to know when to retire: just ask Andy Murray. Do you quit while you’re still at the top, or carry on even though your powers are declining? Not an easy choice.
Although we’ll all miss his name at the top table in top international tournaments, he will by no means be lost to chess. He said he might still make appearances in rapid and blitz tournaments, and give simuls. More importantly, he will be involved in various chess education projects. This is excellent news: Vlad will be a fine role model for the next generation of players.