This match was played between May 27 and June 3, alongside seven other first round Candidates Matches in Elista, Russia.
Kamsky has been playing himself back into form after a long layoff from top-flight chess. This will be his first real match since losing the FIDE World Championship to Karpov in 1996, as in fact the first Candidates matches since the last one that took Kamsky right to the top. Ratings wise, Kamsky and Bacrot are about the same strength, but Kamsky has been on a consistent move upwards in the rankings, Bacrot’s performances have been uneven.
Game 1 is a typical tense affair, neither player wanting to overpress, so no surprise it ends as a draw. Game 2 sees Bacrot failing to capitalise on his advantage and Kamsky pressuring Bacrot into an error leading to the first decisive result of the match. Game 3 again shows Kamsky applying pressure on Bacrot forcing a mistake and another Bacrot resignation.
Game 4 sees another uneven performance from Bacrot, and again collapses under Kamsky’s pressure. And so an expected close match turns lop-sided, and its Kamsky through to the next round of Candidates Matches.
Kamsky – Bacrot, Game 1
In a Closed Slav a solid blocked position arises, neither side gaining the upper hand. Kamsky’s queenside expansion is eroded by Bacrot’s queen excursion down the a-file. The queenside pawn structures disappear along with the rooks. Neither side can make progress, so its a draw.
Bacrot – Kamsky, Game 2
Bacrot meets Kamsky’s Leningrad Dutch with an aggressive queenside expansion. As in the first game, the queenside pawn structure disappears. Bacrot has a small edge, but blunders shortly thereafter, handing Kamsky the initiative and forcing Bacrot into a retreat. This allows Kamsky the thematic …e5 break and takes over the position – even exchanging queens fails to halt Kamsky’s advantage. In the tension, both sides miss stronger moves, but Kamsky manages to hold on to his advantage. But Bacrot finally collapses under the pressure, leaving Kamsky to take a lead in the match.
Kamsky – Bacrot, Game 3
Kamsky adopts an Anti-Marshall against Bacrot’s Ruy Lopez, and Bacrot opens the centre with a prepared …d5 break. Kamsky emerges with a better position, and a flurry of exchanges sees him with a good pair of central pawns backed by his two rooks. Bacrot fails to keep a tight grip on the position allowing Kamsky to steam-roller his two central pawns forward, supported by his rooks and well-placed light-squared bishop. Bacrot blunders and allows Kamsky to create an advanced passed-pawn as well as allowing Kamsky’s rook onto the seventh rank, and Bacrot’s resignation ends the game.
Bacrot – Kamsky, Game 4
After a brief foray into the Queen’s Indian, Kamsky decides to adopt a Semi-Slav set-up against Bacrot’s unassuming development. Kamsky then evolves his structure into a Stonewall formation. Bacrot has the opportunity of seizing a large advantage, but instead is content in a quiet buildup, and emerges into the middle game with a small advantage. By rolling his pawns down the queenside, Bacrot builds his advantage. Kamsky reacts by pawn-storming down the kingside. Bacrot blunders by allowing Kamsky to open up the central dark-squares, and Kamsky’s attack is irresistible. Kamsky makes a decisive entry into Bacrot’s position forcing another resignation from Bacrot.
And the match is over after only four games.