It is an almost senseless challenge to describe GM Vladimir Kramnik in only a few lines. His personality has too many facets; his areas of interests are too diverse. What is clear is that Vladimir Kramnik is not solely fixated on chess. At 38, he enjoys a peaceful life in Paris with his wife and two children keeping intact the same ambition of those younger years as World Champion.
Currently rated over 2800, Kramnik is still a serious contender to the WCC title.
Current affairs interest him just as intensively as numerous sport and cultural activities, several
of which he regularly engages in. The cosmopolitan would love to enjoy life ever more intensively, but
his drive to succeed holds this inclination within limits. What is it that marks out the world champion
in him even though he doesn't focus exclusively on chess?
GM Vladimir Kramnik, World Chess Champion 2000-2007
People close to Kramnik, who presumably works less intensively for chess than most of his competitors, often claim that this has something to do with his creative nature and strategic gifts. Kramnik considers chess less as a sport and more as the art of carrying out a long-term plan. The harmonious interplay of his pieces and the beauty of his game are already legendary. He is always searching for creative and new solutions, particularly when he is playing.
In many games, they say, he sees things that no computer can calculate and no other grandmasters could discover. The ingenious ideas would come to him quite easily, providing him with moments of pure joy.
The artistic vein in the 34-year-old Muscovite must have been given to him in his cradle. His father Boris is a well-known sculptor; his mother Irina a music teacher. That this assumption is not far off the mark is evidenced by his response to the question, "What would you like to do after the end of your career?" The classical music aficionado and avid reader answered, "Start a family - and learn to play the piano." No wonder that journalists all over the world have dubbed Kramnik an "artist" or "painter".
Kramnik started to play chess at the age of five. At 12, his enormous talent was recognized in Moscow
and encouraged. As a teenager, Kramnik got better and better
– at only 16, he won the U18 World Championship.
The list of his victories is long. He has already finished all major tournaments in the world as the victor. And he holds a record which made sporting history: Kramnik was unbeaten at the highest level in 86 classical games over 18 months up to July 2000.
Kramnik sharing his experience with kids in Bahrain.
Thursday, November 2, 2000, London. Vladimir Kramnik became the 14th World Chess Champion with a brilliant 8.5-6.5 result against Garry Kasparov, who could not win a single game. After Garry Kasparov had congratulated him, the greatest dream of his life became true: World Chess Champion. Exulting, Kramnik threw his arms up into the air in triumph. The audience's applause and the subsequent tumult will not be forgotten.
It was a historic moment in the history of chess: Kramnik had not only won the lion’s share of the two-million dollar prize money; his victory had ended Kasparov's 15-year-long reign on the chess throne.
After this historic triumph, Kramnik notched up several major victories at prestigious tournaments such as Dortmund, Linares, Leon and Monaco.
Kramnik's games against Kasparov were always focus of great media attraction
In 2004, he faced off in another World Championship, this time in Switzerland: Kramnik successfully defended his title against the official challenger, Hungarian super grandmaster Péter Lékó. In a complex strategic battle, he pulled off a supreme coup, winning in the 14th game – the last in the match – with a 7:7 tie. Traditionally, the reigning World Champion has to be beaten outright based on points – the challenger Lékó came heart-wrenchingly close to doing so.
Kramnik retained his title in a hard fought match against Leko
2005 was a year of ups and downs for the World Champion. Kramnik was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, entered intense medical treatment, and disappeared from the tournament hubbub for six months. The break seemed to rejuvenate the Russian – at his comeback in the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, he had the best individual score of all 1,000 participants.
In October 2006, Kramnik faced the biggest challenge: the unification match that would decide who the next unique, absolute World Champion would be.
Kramnik - Topalov match in Elista, opening ceremony
In a historic fight against all sort of adversities, Kramnik defeated Topalov to become the first unified
World Champion after 1993, the one and only official
World Chess Champion. His win in Elista was one of the most impressive victories in all of sports
Kramnik gets his WC trophy from the FIDE President
After his remarkable victory in Elista, Kramnik took some well deserved time to improve his private
life. On 30.12.2006 he got married in Paris to Marie-Laure, a French journalist who works for
the important newspaper Le Figaro. A few weeks later, on 04.02.2007 he invited his most trusted friends
to a private ceremony held at the orthodox church of Paris.
Among the invitees, to the right, GM Boris Spassky, former World Champion
During 2007 Kramnik has kept very active in the World Chess scene. He has played in many events, like Wijk aan Zee, Monaco, matches against Leko and Aronian and Dortmund.
Kramnik is also very good giving lectures and commentaries
World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was the undisputed winner of the super strong 2007 edition of the annual Dortmund Festival. Kramnik finished with 5/7, undefeated. His victories were against Gelfand, Naitditsch and Carlsen.
Left to right Alekseev (3rd place), Leko (second) and Kramnik (big winner)
In September 2007 Kramnik defended his title fighting bravely against 7 very strong challengers. It was a closed tournament, a double round robin event where Kramnik met Anand, Aronian, Leko, Gelfand, Grischuk, Svidler and Morozevich. Kramnik missed several wins in the first half of the tournament, then lost a critical game against Morozevich early in the second half. At the end of the event Kramnik played brilliantly defeating Leko and Aronian, but it was already too late, since Anand had accumulated many points so far.
At the very end Anand was first and Kramnik second, not enough to retain his title.
Following the regulations from the Mexico World Championship, Kramnik challenged Anand in a match to regain his title of World Champion. The match took place from October 14th-31 in the city of Bonn, Germany.
The spectacular playing hall in Bonn
Anand defended his title with a 6,5:4,5 victory. Vladimir fought very hard, he even won the penultimate game, adding extra tension to the match, but at the end Anand showed his best preparation to win the match.
Kramnik gave the first clear indication that he was back! He played excellent chess at the Blindfold competition, sharing first place his two of the hottest players at the time, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian. In the rapid competition he was only half a point below the first place.
A few months later, in July, Kramnik won with authority the strong Classical Event in Dortmund, FIDE Cat XX, unbeaten, one full point ahead of the field.
The best result of the year for him was, however, the Tal Memorial Cat XXI, held in Moscow in November. Kramnik took clear first place, among a line-up full of super grandmasters, where nobody was missing. Ivanchuk and Carlsen shared second whike Aronian and Anand shared fourth.
To close up year 2009, Kramnik was second in the strong London Classical, where he lost a single game and won many.
It happened in Bilbao, Spain, during October. His opponents were Carlsen, Anand and Shirov. Kramnik took clear first with 4 out of 6, after beating Carlsen and Shirov, drawing all his remaining games.
Previously, Kramnik had played very well in Wijk aan Zee, where he was 2-3 behind Carlsen, ahead of Anand, Nakamura, Ivanchuk, Karjakin and many others.
Kramnik went all the way to the semifinals of the World Champìonship cycle. Unfortunately, there he lost to Grischuk in the blitz tiebreaks, after their matches at both classical and rapid time formats had finished in a tie.
In July 2011 Kramnik was superb once again in Dortmund, Category 20 (2731), taking clear first with 7/10, a rating performance of 2868. In November he also won Hoogeveen, Category 20 (2732) with 4.5/6, unbeaten, this time an ever higher rating performance of 2903.
Up next came London, starting on December 3rd, where he made his best performance of the year by winning the stronger Category 20 event (2748) with 6/8, unbeaten, rising his rating performance to 2932 and more importantly ahead of his main adversaries, Magnus Carlsen, Wiswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian.
Kramnik was not particulary impressive during the first half of 2012, where he was 6th at both the Tal Memorial in Moscow and the Dortmund Classical in Germany.
He played better at the Olympiad in Istanbul, with nice wins against Aronian and Naiditsch, to finish up the year with a very good performance at the super strong 4th London Classic, Category 21 (2751) with 6/8, unbeaten, where he was second to Magnus Carlsen. His powerful games in this event showed that he was ready for more in the months to come.
Kramnik came very close to reach the final match for the World Championship once again. At the Candidates Tournament in London he tied for first with Magnus Carlsen at 8.5/14. It was a great event, one of the strongest in history, reaching the 22nd Category with an average rating of 2786. Kramnik made a superb 2858 performance, missing the first place by the tiebreak regulations.
A first place would have given him the opportunity to challenge Anand to regain his World Title. It would have been exciting!
A few months later, in July, Kramnik played another excellent tournament in Dortmund, a Category 19 (2709) where he scored 6.5/9, 2866 performance, but again it was only good for a second place, this after Adams.
The FIDE World Cup is a knockout, starting with 128 players, with two games (90 min for 40 moves + 30 min for the rest, with 30 seconds increment) between pairs of players. The tiebreaks consist of two rapid games (25 min + 10 sec), then two accelerated games (10 min + 10 sec), and finally an Armageddon. The winner and the runner-up of the World Cup 2013 will qualify for the Candidates Tournament of the next World Championship cycle.
Vladimir Kramnik won his final match against Dmitri Andreikin to take clear first at the super strong World Cup held in Norway from August 10th to September 3rd.
Kramnik won all his seven matches, against Gillan Bwalya, Mikhail Kobalia, Alexander Areshchenko, Vassily Ivanchuk, Anton Korobov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Dmitry Andreikin.
|1886 - 1894||Wilhelm Steinitz||Austria/USA|
|1894 - 1921||Emanuel Lasker||Germany|
|1921 - 1927||Jose Raul Capablanca||Cuba|
|1927 - 1935||Dr. Alexander Aljechin||Russia|
|1935 - 1937||Max Euwe||The Netherlands|
|1937 - 1946||Alexander Aljechin||Russia|
|1948 - 1957||Mikhail Botwinnik||UDSSR|
|1957 - 1958||Vassily Smyslov||UDSSR|
|1958 - 1960||Mikhail Botwinnik||UDSSR|
|1960 - 1961||Mihail Tal||UDSSR/Latvia|
|1961 - 1963||Mikhail Botwinnik||UDSSR|
|1963 - 1969||Tigran Petrosjan||UDSSR/Armenia|
|1969 - 1972||Boris Spasski||UDSSR|
|1972 - 1975||Robert J. Fischer||USA|
|1975 - 1985||Anatoly Karpow||UDSSR|
|1985 - 2000||Garri Kasparow||UDSSR/Russia|
|2000 - 2007||Vladimir Kramnik||Russia|
|2007 - 2013||Vishy Anand||India|
|1990||Russian Championship, Kuibyshev||9.5/15||I|
|1991||World Championship (U18), Guarapuava I||9/11||I|
|Interzonal Tournament, Biel||8,5/13||II|
|1994||Overall result PCA Intel Grand Prix’94||I|
|1998||Wijk aan Zee||8,5/13||I-II|
|Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay)||15/22||I|
|1999||Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay)||14,5/22||I|
|Classical World Chess Championship|
|Match Kramnik v. Kasparov||8,5:6,5||Winner|
|2001||Match Kramnik v. Leko (rapidplay)||7,0:5,0|
|Monaco (blindfold and rapidplay)||15/22||I-II|
|Match Kramnik v. Anand (rapidplay)||5;0:5,0|
|2002||Match Kramnik v. Anand (Leon)||3,5:2.5|
|2002||Man vs Machine (Bahrain)||4,0:4,0|
|Rapid World Chess Championships||8,5/13||II|
|Kramnik vs. National Team of Germany||2,5:1,5|
|Monaco (Overall result)||14,5/22||I-II|
|Classical World Chess Championship|
|Match Kramnik v. Leko||7-7||Winner|
|2006||Chess Olympiad Torino/Italy||6,5/9|
|Best Player Trophy|
|Classical World Chess Championship|
|Match Kramnik v. Topalov||6-6; 2.5-1.5||Winner|
|Miskolc match against Leko||4,5/8||I|
|Mexico City (World Championship)||8/14||II|
|Moscow Tal Memorial||6.5/9||I|
|Prague match against Navara||5.5/8||I|
|Moscow World Blitz championship||22,5/34||II|
|2009||Dortmund (classical) Category XX||6.5/10||I|
|Moscow Category XXI||6/9||I|
|2010||Wijk aan Zee Category XIX||8/13||II-III|
|Bilbao Category XXII||4/6||I|
|2011||Dortmund (classical) Category XX||7/10||I|
|Hoogeveen Unive Crown Category XX||4.5/6||I|
|3rd London Classic Category XX||6/8||I|
|2012||Zurich match (against Aronian)||3/6|
|4th London Classic Category XXI||6/8||II|
|2013||London Candidates Category XXII||8.5/14||I-II|
|Dortmund Category XIX||6/9||II|
|World Cup Norway||I|