Vladimir Kramnik was striving to catch the indelible Magnus Carlsen in the late rounds of the London Classic played this month. He faced Judit Polgar in the penultimate round. Polgar was having a tough tournament with only two draws at this point and hence a total of two points under the Sofia system (3 for win, 1 for draw).
Kramnik had the white pieces, and started with an English opening. Polgar defended conservatively, and allowed Kramnik’s knight to occupy d5 without immediate challenge. On the 12th move, Judit elected to sacrifice a knight rather than submit to a retreat. She received two pawns and got an additional tempo in what ultimately appeared to be a bad bargain. Kramnik defended well with 17. d4 versus his opponent’s attack. Polgar found that her queen had too many duties and could not maintain the initiative. Kramnik found weak spots and prevailed. He did not catch Carlsen in the Classic but is now rated the world’s No. 2 player. Polgar turned in a victory against Luke McShane in the last round.