[The usual preview and live discussion item. Update post-game. You know the drill. Kasparov doesn't think Kramnik plays to win with black in game six. Says he should just worry about surviving tomorrow after such a blunder in game five, then decide on a game plan for the final six games. Sounds like pretty good advice since the chances of going too far and losing with black when in bad shape must be much greater than pulling off your first ever win with black against Anand. He also figures Anand should stick with 1.d4 since he doesn't want to run into any surprises and playing for two results suits his match situation. Deep Thought Dept: Is it unethical to root for Kramnik now because I'll lose a day's pay at Chess.FM if the match ends early?]
Hmm, apparently Vishy Anand doesn't care about my losing work. The world champion beat Kramnik again, burying the Russian's chances in the match and at the same time burying his own reputation for lacking a killer instinct. Instead of coasting with his lead he played a sharp new kingside push with h3 and g4. As in the other two games Anand won, Kramnik got through the opening fine, but went slowly downhill. The difference in game six was that this wasn't one of the razor-sharp tactical positions Kramnik lost in games 3 and 5. Here Anand won on Kramnik's home turf, a dynamic maneuvering position with queens off the board.
Kramnik's time handling was curious at times. He wasn't in bad time trouble but played a few key moves very quickly, as if they were obvious only moves. From what we could tell on the ICC, 33..a4 was one (33..Re8!?) and 37..Nxb2 was another of these, when 37..Nxe4!? was certainly worth a look. But GM Larry Christiansen was already saying Black's position was probably beyond salvation by that point.
As I did after game five I ask, is it over? I would say so. The score is bad enough, but how they are playing says much more. Kramnik has been outprepared, he's blundered in tactics, and he's lost a defensible endgame. He hasn't had real chances in any of the six games. Anand has played superlatively in every phase of the game. (Lest we pile too much scorn on Kramnik's doorstep.) Momentum might not count for much, but unless Kramnik comes out for game seven wearing a cape it's going to be the same two guys for the second half. That spells victory for Anand even if he doesn't win another game. The big lead going to his head and messing with his concentration is the only real pitfall remaining.
Of course that's just my practical side speaking. The fan in me wants to see Kramnik go down swinging, trying with ever fiber to win three games from six. We could have some sensational chess even if the match turns out to be far shorter than its scheduled short 12 games. But it's more likely that desperation would lead to further losses and Kramnik knows that. He's not the desperation type. He'll go out and play his game ("a painter paints") and either win quietly or lose quietly. I don't see a KID or Benoni from Kramnik, but Larry suggested the Leningrad Dutch as a way to get a sharp game against 1.d4. Other suggestions? The way the preparation has gone so far, Kramnik might be willing to boot his seconds and listen! 9.h3 was surely more home cooking today.
As I mentioned yesterday, both Korchnoi (against Karpov in 78) and Karpov (against Kasparov in 86) made up a three-point difference in fewer than six games in WCh matches. (Coincidentally both lost in the end.) So not only is a mathematically possible, it's been done more than once. The difference in those cases and now was that both of those comeback streaks came very late in very long matches. Hard to see Vishy tiring or losing focus in this sprint.
The match is only halfway over, and we all know Kramnik is capable of winning three games. Maybe it's not to late for him to invite Gata Kamsky over to be his new second. Or at least he can rustle up a "Sanghi Nagar" t-shirt for game seven? (In 1994 Anand led Kamsky by two games with three to go in a candidates match held in that Indian city. Kamsky won twice and then won the playoff.) If Kramnik does come back to win I'll happily make him a shirt with this item's headline as a "Dewey Defeats Truman" souvenir!